Myths and Realities
The Untold Story of Syrian-Israeli Negotiations in 1949
Thuraya Ismail
Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, some Israelis have claimed that apart from Anwar al-Sadat in 1977 and King Husayn in 1993, there was no real Arab partner, no one to talk to, and no one willing to negotiate. Ben Gurion, for example believed that 'Israel had no other alternative but to take its conflict with the Arabs as a given.'(1) Furthermore, the works of Israeli historians Chaim Herzog and Abba Eban have furthered reinforced such a belief. Herzog has argued that Israel was always actively pursuing peace but it was the Arabs who blocked their initiatives.(2) Eban has also argued that peace remained elusive due to the lack of real diplomatic offers of peace from the Arab states.(3) However, Colonel Husni al-Za'im's brief dictatorship of Syria between March 30 and August 14, 1949, arguably undermines what can only be described as this somewhat historical myth. Za'im was among the first Arab leaders to express willingness to meet Israeli leaders and discuss a peaceful settlement to the Syrian-Israeli Conflict.
Whether he truly believed in peace or not is hard to fathom, but Za'im nevertheless tried through both public and secret negotiations to portray himself as a peacemaker. He failed at reaching a peace deal, however, and only achieved an armistice agreement in July 1949. The talks failed not because of Za'im, but mainly due to the divided politics of the Israeli Government and the reluctant and suspicious approach of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion toward the Syrian initiative. The Israeli leader was neither ready to meet Za'im, nor was he ready to sign a binding peace treaty with any of the Arab States. In fact, he merely wanted an armistice agreement and was able to realize his limited ambitions.
The talks between Syria, under Zaim, and the Israelis have remained an under researched topic. However, prominent Israeli historians such as Itamar Rabinovich, Moshe Ma'oz, and Avi Shlaim have come to acknowledge the role of Zaim. The literature provided by Rabinovich and Ma'oz is invaluable and both authors present a balanced description of the talks, and why they went wrong. Rabinovich sees the talks as a missed opportunity, and a "road not taken" while Ma'oz tries to show that his government, despite the setbacks, wanted to deal with Za'im but did not have the time to do so. Shlaim, however, argues that Za'im was not so much of a peacemaker, but rather more of an adventurer who had an ambition that knew no bound. One problem with all three authors however, is that they rely almost completely on American and Israeli archives whilst failing to consider Syrian sources. In addition, all figures interviewed and quoted in all three works are either Israeli or American.
The Syrians, on the other hand, ashamed of the fact that their President was willing to give in to Israel at such an early stage, have remarkably turned a blind-eye to the negotiations of 1949. Of all the literature written on Za'im in Arabic, only three mention the secret talks. These include; the memoirs of Adel Arslan, Zaim's Foreign Minister, the autobiography of Sami Jum'aa, a Syrian intelligence baron, and Suhayl al-Ashi, the ex-Director of Aleppo Police. This study is an attempt at trying to bridge the gap between the sources available in Damascus and those analyzed by the Israeli historians in question. Primary information was gathered through exclusive interviews with Za'im contemporaries and newspapers available from the Asad National Library in Damascus. It was supplemented with official documents from the current office of the Armistice Committee. 

The Armistice Talks

The US administration began to seriously consider a regime change in Syria following the War of 1948. When Quwatli claimed that he would not give-in to US demands "even if it meant defying America."(4) Miles Copland, the CIA officer in charge of Syrian affairs, wrote to the State Department in late 1948 saying, "If you cannot change the board, then change the players." He confessed to having "searched for a man, preferably an officer, who would have more power in his hands than any other Arab leader ever had before." This was needed, he added, in order for this officer to make what he described as "an unpopular decision" such as peace with Israel. He added, "The only kind of leader who can acquire such power is one who deeply desires power for the mere sake of it. Husni al-Za'im was power crazy!"(5) Following the US orchestrated coup d'etat in March 1949, Za'im lived up to his promises, which were viewed favorably in Washington. He outlawed the Communist Party and arrested 400 leading Communists, ratified the Tapline agreement, and sent off signals to Tel Aviv that he was ready to talk peace.(6)
Once firmly in power, Husni al-Za'im set out on achieving his promised cease-fire with Israel. He commenced on official talks, under UN auspices, less than one week after coming to office, but meanwhile, tried to portray himself as an ardent Arab nationalist. He wanted to show the Syrians that he was no less of a nationalist than ex-President Shukri al-Quwatli had been. After all, Quwatli had refused to take part in the UN-sponsored Arab-Israeli talks in Rhodes and Za'im had to live up, in rhetoric at least, to his predecessor.(7) On April 6, one day after the talks began, 60 Israeli soldiers, penetrated about 100 meters into Syria and Za'im ordered that they be "round up and eliminated" unless they "withdrew immediately."(8) This added credit to his record at home. Za'im authorized the peace talks, but maintained a theme in his speeches and interviews, claiming that the talks were simply ceremonial, and that they did not mean that an eternal peace treaty with Israel was in the horizon. Simply put, he said, it was a temporary truce with the Zionist State.(9) Even if he wished, Za'im could not have said anything different to the people, for he knew that the degree of anti-Zionist rhetoric was boiling and the notion of peace with Israel was enough to make the Syrian people turn against him. On August 5, two weeks after an armistice with Israel was commenced, an angry riot in Aleppo where demonstrators broke into a Jewish Synagogue, demolished it, and killed 6 Jews and wounded 27, took place. They threatened Za'im with a similar fate if did not cease talks with Israel. So he cracked down on the instigators of the violence.(10) 
While he continued to preach slogans of Arab nationalism, however, Za'im did in fact commence on secret talks with the Israeli Government. The ambitious officer, it is believed, wanted to show the USA that he was willing to go to great lengths to bring peace to the region.(11) Za'im only wanted to save himself from the trouble of having to deal with the Arab-Israeli Conflict. To secure a smooth administration, where concentration would be based on domestic reforms and not on war with Israel, he decided to bring an end to the conflict once and for all.(12) On April 13, he signed an official cease-fire agreement with Israel, which Quwatli had refused to sign when the war ended in 1948.(13) The Americans rewarded him by giving official recognition to his regime on April 26. His compromising attitude took everyone off guard, and even Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion did not grab at the opportunity, thinking that it was too good to last-and that surely, strings would be attached to it.(14)
The Syrian-Israeli armistice talks began on April 5, 1949 and initially received mild coverage in the Syrian press. Pro-Za'im newspapers, such as Alef Bae and al-Inkilab tried to portray the talks as a mere cease-fire, meaning under no circumstances, a far-reaching deal with Israel. Hostilities would be halted but they would not end, the papers explained, while the Arab Armies would prepare for a resumption of fighting in Palestine. Alef Bae reported on April 5 that Za'im was conducting talks with Israel, based on the standards of President Quwatli, and that he would not give in on issues that Quwatli had refused to cede. Primary on his agenda, the paper claimed, was the issue of Galilee, which Quwatli had insisted he re-occupies from Israel.(15) Haitham al-Kaylani, a prominent officer who was serving as military assistant to Za'im, said that the Syrian leader insisted that the talks were "a temporary halt to combat and nothing more!"(16) Alef Bae, which was run by his in-law Nazir Fansa, ran a front-page story saying that Za'im wanted a cease-fire with Israel that had "strictly military and no political" bindings to Syria. It also stressed that Syria commenced on the talks from where the war had halted, meaning where the Syrian Army was in-control of territory allocated to Israel by international agreements. To show that he was not giving in to the Zionists, Za'im refused to return to the pre-May 14, 1948 borderlines, where Israeli-allocated territory was not under Syrian occupation.(17) As the talks commenced, Za'im also gave an interview saying that if Israel was not committed to the talks "then Syria has the right to respond as it sees fit." He added, "Syria's commitment to international law and its desire for peace is completely ready, due to the greatness of its army, to confront all possible events if these talks fail."(18) Fearing a public resentment to his maneuvering, however, Za'im clamped down on political parties, arrested their leaders, and shut down newspapers that had the potential of speaking out against the armistice talks. To avoid dealing with un-compromising officials who were resentful of peace, he created a new cabinet on April 16 and appointed himself Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Interior, and Military Governor of Syria.(19) Kaylani recalled: "The Syrian people back then were suppressed. Za'im's rule was a dictatorship in every sense of the word."(20) As the talks carried on, they became complicated and were interrupted on several occasions. In all, the two sides held 19 meetings under UN auspices, during which Syria filed 500 complaints against the Zionist State to the UN. (21) To some, the complaints were simply media talk given from Za'im to his subjects, to show that he was negotiating with a tough attitude. On the other hand, according to the official documents present at the office of the Armistice Committee in Damascus, Israel wanted to step out of the talks on different occasions. The Israeli delegates missed two of the 19 meetings, where a quorum was not present and had to be called off. There were two Israeli absences in two weeks. (22) This added to Za'im's alibi before the USA that he was enthusiastic towards peace, but that the Israelis were putting sticks in his chariot. He tried to avoid upsetting the Israelis by calling off military operations across the border. As a result, Israel filed only 18 complaints against Syria. (23)
The talks were held, on the Syrian side, by the army officers Fawzi Sello, Mohammad Nasser, and Afif al-Bizreh, and the Foreign Affairs Secretary-General Salah al-Tarazi. All of these figures are dead, and this made getting first-hand information out of them impossible, but according to interviews with contemporaries who knew the men and knew Za'im, none of them, except for Nasser, were willing to negotiate a cease-fire. The rest were attending the talks because they had to. Salah al-Tarazi, reportedly, sluggishly went and wept before assuming his duties.(24) General Abdul Hamid al-Jamal, a prominent officer who was close friends with Tarazi, recalled that the latter called him up and told him, "I was surprised when attending the talks. Everything had been prepared beforehand. Za'im had been a conspirator and had come to power simply to sign an armistice with Israel."(25) Suhayl al-Ashi, however, mentioned "Of all the negotiators, Nasser, who was an ambitious man, wanted to give concessions to the Israelis to project himself as a suitable leader and a possible president-in-waiting for Syria. His willingness to give in probably explains why Za'im chose him to lead the talks in 1949. He wanted someone who would be willing to yield and show some lenience, and apparently, Nasser was perfect for the job."(26) In the talks, he announced Syria's readiness to give up Galilee, which Za'im had promised his people to uphold, in exchange for half of Lake Tiberais (whose east shore the Syrian Army had occupied during the War of 1948). He added that Syria was willing to cede the occupied region of Mishmar Hayarden in exchange for all territory east of Tiberais, from al-Kursi to Samakh. He assured his Israeli counterparts that Syria's previous uncompromising attitude had been taken only because Shukri al-Quwatli had been in power.(27) Mordechai Makhleff, an Israeli negotiator, laughed and responded, "True, you had Shukri al-Quwatli but you seem to forget that we still have Ben Gurion."(28)
The talks went on a bumpy ride due to the disputes between both parties regarding control of the three Demilitarized Zones on the borders and the northeastern bank of Lake Tiberais. Israel claimed that these territories were situated on its sovereign territory as defined by the UN resolution of 1947. Syria, on the other hand, believed that it had occupied these territories in 1948 and therefore, was entitled to keep them.(29) The Syrians considered the fact that they had ended the war in possession of Israeli territory as an important achievement. They wanted to exploit their position on the ground, as territory-holders, to obtain a better hold over two important water outlets for the region, the Jordan River and Lake Tiberais. Za'im, additionally, demanded a veto power in Israeli civilian activities in these territories; a demand that he knew would be turned down.(30) He pursued a bargaining policy of demanding more than what the other side would be willing to offer and, in fact, more than he himself wanted.(31) When the Israelis would refuse, he would cross off some points from his agenda and repeat the same process until reaching the real objectives. Za'im explained the disagreement on borders with Israel in an interview with the Al-Ayyam saying "We asked Israel to give us Al-Dardara in the north and Ein Gev in the south, as well to keep Al-Sharee'a River between us - on borders - in order to give them Mishmar Hayarden. They refused but their refusal will not bring them any good, because we won't give up on these demands, which we consider essential for our army, positions, and future." He added "the armistice negotiations standstill on this point."(32) To Ben Gurion "the negotiations with Syria took more than three and a half months, and were the most difficult of all."(33)
The gridlock in talks began in late April and reached its peak in May 1949, when the talks were under threat of collapsing altogether.(34) This gridlock, however, was mainly due to Ben Gurion's uncompromising attitude. On April 21, the Syrian team sent a message to the secretary general of the UN, claiming that Israel was refusing to abide by UN laws, and threatening to pull out of the talks.(35) On April 16, five days earlier, according to Ben Gurion's Diary, Za'im instructed his envoys to meet with the two Israeli negotiators Mordechai Makhleff and Josh Palmon and promise that if the talks resumed, he would be willing to conduct a long-term peace treaty with Tel Aviv. Ben Gurion noted, "first there would be an armistice agreement, and then a discussion of peace. We are ready for maximal cooperation."(36) Za'im tried to push him into a compromise by threatening to call off the talks altogether on April 22, but his efforts failed.
Knowing no limit to his pursuit for peace, Za'im offered further concessions. On April 28, Za'im met with James Keeley, the US Minister in Damascus, and showed willingness for realistic frontier adjustments, and for resettling a quarter of a million Palestinians in Syria (to be discussed in Chapter 2). Referring to a question about the armistice with Israel, Za'im said in a BBC interview: "At present we are in a state of cease fire. For my part, I would like to conclude an armistice, but if Israel will not implement its undertakings I shall take the necessary measures required by their disregard of their undertakings!"(37) Moreover, on April 29, Za'im sent off Mohammad Nasser to meet with Palmon and assure him that the armistice borders would be different from the political borders that would be defined after Syria and Israel signed peace.(38) On May 3, he lifted the restrictions on Syrian Jews, another sign of goodwill, who had been forbidden the right of travel and conducting commerce by Shukri al-Quwatli.(39) It was also discussed at length that the gridlock could be broken if a senior meeting takes place between Za'im and David Ben Gurion. The proposal, however, came from Syria and was turned down by Israel.
The talks resumed in mid-June, after Syria agreed to demilitarize the territory it had been in control of following the cease-fire with Israel. Kaylani believed, referring to Za'im's conciliatory attitude "what could he give more to ensure his desire for peace?"(40) Then, when the armistice was in-fact signed, the territory West of the town of Banyas on the Syrian coastline, the territory south of Lake Hula, and the Hamma region in the south, with the area adjacent to the southern shore of Lake Tiberais became demilitarized parts of Syria. The border became through the River Jordan and the shore of Tiberais, and not as, had been planned, 10 meters away from the Lake. Meaning, according to international law, and as called for by President Quwatli, Tiberais should have been divided between Syria and Israel. Instead, Za'im agreed to let Israel keep the entire region. The central region in Tiberais remained in Israeli hands, and was also demilitarized.(41) Overall, both Arabs and Israelis 'showed less intransigence' on their return to Lausanne, due in large part to internal and external pressures that had operated during the recess."(42)
The Syrian-Israeli armistice agreement was finally ratified on July 20, 1949. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett addressed the Knesset on July 30, saying: "The ceasefire agreement that Israel signed with Syria does not achieve for Israel the privileges that other cease-fire agreements (with other Arab countries) achieved. The Syrian Army is the only one that entered the cease-fire negotiations based on the resolutions of the Security Council while its troops still occupied Israeli territory." He added: "However, it was not a bad bargain."(43) On July 21, in an attempt at selling it to the Syrian people, Za'im outlined that it was "an agreement like no agreement before it" and was signed in "what was best for Syria."(44) To Syrian 1949 hard-liners, like Foreign Minister Adel Arslan, the armistice marked a real concession by Za'im, who "wanted to sign the armistice as soon as possible, regardless of the conditions, and even if it implied a recognition of Israel's political borders. His main aim was, in fact, to withdraw the Syrian army from the front and use it to suppress internal opposition and terrorism, in order to protect the existence of his regime."(45) Arslan added, "Za'im, to confront us with inevitable position, made his contacts with Israel secretly and alone without referring to us."(46) On the Israeli side, men like Sharett, Sasson, and Eban were normally committed to exerting maximum efforts to reach a satisfactory agreement with the Arab states at Lausanne.(47) Sharett believed "even if we did not acquire new political advantages, but we secured stability to our state and prevented the outbreak of a new war."(48) To Ben Gurion, however, July 20, 1949 marked "the formal end to the War of Independence."(49)

The Secret Talks

Husni al-Za'im put the armistice talks behind him in July 1949 and set out to discuss a complete peace deal with Israel. Parallel to the official track, Za'im started a secret one. In this track, Za'im proposed making a peace treaty with Israel, meeting directly with Ben Gurion, and absorbing around 250,000 refugees in Syrian territory. To his dismay, the Israeli Government was divided on how to deal with the maverick Syrian leader. One camp, headed by David Ben Gurion, was not too enthusiastic about peace and wanted to deal with Syria in a calm and suspicious manner. The other, headed by Moshe Sharett, wanted to grab at the opportunity while they still had the chance. Caution, mainly was what led the Syrian-Israeli peace talks, not to be confused with the armistice talks, to be secret. The Syrian leader could not run the risk of exposing the talks to his people, for they would have surely shunned them and worked for his downfall while labeling him a traitor. Ben-Gurion, however, did not welcome Za'im's proposals immediately, but also, did not grab at them, as Sharett wanted. In fact, the secret talks failed mainly because of Ben Gurion's belated response to Za'im's generous offers.
Ben Gurion advocated force in dealing with any crisis Israel was facing while Sharett favored a diplomatic approach to all matters.(50) Sharett "sought to strengthen Israel's position by statesmanship rather than confrontation, emphasizing caution rather than courage."(51) He had little doubt of Za'im's intentions while Ben Gurion, who was concerned with the image he had achieved for himself as the number one hawk in Israel, was skeptical. Many hard-liners in Israel, having won such an easy war with the Arabs, and apparently enjoying international support for their statehood, saw no need for a peace-treaty with the Arabs. To them, talking peace with the Arabs was unacceptable, and it was seen as an attempt at giving off concessions. Meeting Husni al-Za'im would have led to a barrage of criticism for Ben Gurion, that while establishing his state, he wanted to avoid. Also, it would have given the USA enough pretexts to force him to make concessions that would match those being given by Za'im. In order to match Za'im's generosity, Ben Gurion might have been forced to yield on issues that he saw as crucial to the security of Israel.(52) This was something he was also not prepared to give since any concession at the time would be considered as a gamble on Israeli security.
On May 1, 1949 Za'im met with US Minister Keeley and demanded a speedy solution to the Syrian-Israel crisis. He said that he, "honestly wishes come to terms with Israel." He added that "Syria had no aggressive intentions against any of her neighbors" and he realized that "resumption of hostilities with Israel was madness and would only lead to disaster for Syria."(53) Za'im then boldly stated that his current objective was "to reach a lasting agreement with Israel."(54) By mid-May, despite Za'im's good intentions, the official talks had been called off. It was then that Za'im offered Israel a 'golden' chance toward peace by claiming that the only way for the talks to re-start was for him to meet with David Ben Gurion in person. The proposal, brave as it was, was refused by the Israeli Prime Minister.(55) Ben-Gurion conditioned a prior commitment from Za'im to evacuate Israeli territory and withdraw to the international border.(56) Although the Syrian leader eventually gave into both demands when the armistice was signed on July 20, he refused to do so in mid-May. In trying to encourage the Israelis, Za'im let his envoys convey that he had broad ambitions for both countries-an exchange of embassies, trade agreements, and the establishment of a joint army that can reach 500,000 soldiers to defend both Syria and Israel against Arab aggression.(57) This would only be done if a speedy solution were formulated immediately.(58) On May 2, Za'im proposed, via the UN diplomat Henri Vigier, that he meets Ben-Gurion or Foreign Minister Sharett. Three days later, Ben Gurion dispatched Shiloah and Yadin for 'clarification talks' in a "secret session."(59) Za'im, who had expected to meet the Israeli leaders in person, in turn sent two of his own officers, Ghassan Jadid and Akram al-Dayri.(60) Vigier complained, on May 6, that Sharett should have represented Israel in the May 5 meeting, and the Israelis missed "a unique opportunity to come to long-term agreement with the Syrians."(61)
Furthermore, on May 17, Za'im conveyed to Israel, via General Riley, his desire to resettle Palestinian refugees in Syria en mass, in exchange for peace. He proposed to settle 300,000 refugees in Syria, withdraw to the international frontiers drawn before the war, and to sign an armistice agreement on the present cease-fire lines.(62) He also agreed to reduce the number of troops in the Syrian Army, provided that Israel was willing to do the same.(63) The UN diplomats, along with Riley and Keeley, were impressed by Za'im's proposals and so was Moshe Sharett.(64) Washington was also enthusiastic to his proposals and declared that it was "very worried" over Israel's stubborn attitude. It added that "delay in solving the refugees problem falls on the shoulders of both Arabs and Jews equally" and that "it was willing to apply pressure on the Israelis to accept Za'im's proposals."(65)
Za'im's inclination toward peace didn't diminish when facing Israeli rejection to his proposals; rather, his secret attempts knew no limit. Kaylani recalled that "Major Shaftai Rozen, of the Israeli Army, and Captain Hartshon Gelad, met with Captain Jadid on July 20, 1949 (the day of the signing of the armistice) to discuss Za'im's "ambitions" for Syria and Israel."(66) However, the talks held by Jadid remained secret and were not conveyed to the Arab press until after Ghassan Jadid was assassinated in 1955.(67) In early August 1949, when Muhsen al-Barazi became Prime Minister in Syria, another meeting took place between Moshe Dayan, Ghassan Jadid, and Fawzi Sello. Unlike earlier talks, however, the two Syrian negotiators had more room to maneuver since by the time, Za'im had officially become President of Syria (he was sworn in on June 25, 1949) and had more constitutional authority in his hands. He was, by then, the uncontested military dictator who could crush any opposition to his maneuvering with no questions asked.(68) These talks remained, as former ones, confidential and were only known to a certain number of UN officials who worked as mediators. In fact, the meetings amounted to nothing and Za'im described them as "fruitless", requesting once again that he meet Ben-Gurion. He further explained himself saying that the talks should be conducted in a "candid spirit of give and take" where "mutual advantages could be agreed upon." He added, "It was natural in negotiations, particularly among juniors, to demand more than was expected and to make minimal concessions. When candid men with the authority to settle things meet, an agreement becomes feasible."(69) He was sending off signals to David Ben Gurion, but the Israeli Prime Minister would simply not listen. In his War Diary, dated July 14, 1949, Ben Gurion mentioned that he does not want to run after peace. An armistice is enough for us. If we run after peace - the Arabs will demand a price from us - borders or refugees or both. We will wait a few years! In fact, Za'im order was cooling in face of evident Israeli insatiability.(70) Elias Sasson, a seasoned Israeli statesman who had led the 1936 talks with Shukri al-Quwatli, privately conceded that "the Israeli line was absurd: The Jews think they can achieve peace without paying any price, maximal or minimal."(71)
Israel, in fact, holds the responsibility for missing the opportunity for solving the refugee problem and for meeting face-to-face with Husni al-Za'im. Za'im had great difficulties in working out a ceasefire with Israel and simply could not make direct concessions without getting something in return from the Israeli leadership. Otherwise, it would be impossible to sell the peace deal, if it ever materialized, to the Syrians and to the Arab community at large.(72) Ben Gurion had a specific line of thought that he sought to apply to the Za'im talks. He wanted to lay down maximum demands and insist that they be accepted in full, as a condition for negotiations and for meeting Za'im in person. This explains the fundamental rift in what Za'im and Americans like McGhee thought, and in what Ben Gurion believed.(73)
As he noted in his Diary on April 30, 1949, Ben Gurion agreed to meet Za'im but only if the latter committed himself prior to the meeting to withdraw all his forces from Israeli territory and to return to the international border. Although such a request was almost impossible, the Syrian representative intimidated that a return to the international border might be possible, but only within the framework of peace agreement. (74) Ben Gurion's response was again negative. This outraged Sharett, who Shlaim describes as "one of the few Israelis, who understood the significance of meeting Za'im and his refugee offer. He figured that Za'im was prepared to absorb three times the number of refugees currently living in Syria and Lebanon, which would break the united Arab front."(75) During this time, although the exact date has not been found, it is believed that Sharett came for a secret meeting with Za'im in the summer resort of Bludan on the outskirts of Damascus. The tale, controversial as it was, has never been confirmed or denied by Israel. It is absent from the lengthy memoirs of Sharett and Ben Gurion and is not present in the memoirs of any of the Israeli leaders from that era. Some Syrian sources, including Za'im's bodyguard Haitham al-Kaylani, his bureau chief Nazir Fansah, the Director of Intelligence Sa'id Hubbi, and Sami Jum'aa, who was in-charge of security in Bludan during the Za'im-Sharett meeting, confirm the tale. Apart from Hubbi, the remaining three Syrians are all still alive and have recounted it frequently and mentioned it in their memoirs. Jum'aa recalls that Sharett came to Syria, disguised as a Syrian officer, and was spotted as a fraud because of his rank (Jum'aa knew that no officer of that specific rank looked like Sharett). Za'im also met this mysterious officer, according to Jum'aa, with extreme hospitality and invited him for lunch at his Bludan resort-something that the Syrian President would not do to a normal officer in the Syrian Army. Although he saw Sharett enter and leave Za'im's quarters, Jum'aa claims that he does not know the exact nature of these talks.(76) A group of disgruntled officers, who discovered that Sharett was in Syria, approached Za'im to complain, but he dismissed them all, claiming that his visit was a matter of national security that did not concern them. The following day, all of them, including Jum'aa, Hubbi, and Major Adib al-Shishakli were transferred from their posts at home to military posts abroad, where they would be unable to oppose the talks or threaten the regime with a coup if a peace deal was ratified.(77) Jum'aa confirms that Za'im's new Foreign Minister Adel Arslan, who was described by the State Department as "an implacable foe of Israel," and the Secretary-General of the Ministry Salah al-Tarazi, attended the meeting.(78) In his memoirs, however, Arslan denies to having met Sharett and claims to have been fired from his post for defying Za'im's orders when the later asked him to meet with the Israeli Foreign Minister.(79) He warned Za'im that this was a trick, aimed at relieving Israel's forces from the Syrian frontier, once a settlement is reached, to concentrate them in the Holy City of Jerusalem.(80)
On May 26, Za'im announced that Sharett had agreed, under pressure from Truman and the French Foreign Minister, to come to the town of Qunaytra in the Golan Heights, for official talks with Arslan.(81) Za'im then explained to Arslan on May 31 "we are being pressured by a great power to meet with Sharett. I think we can't escape it."(82) When Arslan refused, Za'im dismissed him from office, and created a new cabinet on June 26, headed by Muhsen al-Barazi, a liberal politician who wanted to advance peace.
Although Ben Gurion remained firm in his attitude toward Za'im's initiatives, other Israeli officials showed more leniency. On June 10, 1949 Sharett gave an interview to the New York Times, which was re-printed in al-Ayyam, saying, "We started to feel that our position of stubbornness and rigidity has reached a degree that would cause real danger to all that we have cultivated so far." He added, "If I find on the Arab side a desire for compromise and a readiness for sacrifice to reach a final settlement, I am sure we can attain the final settlement very soon. I will do my best to reach a satisfactory agreement (with the Syrians)." Then, on July 23, he gave a speech before the Israeli Knesset reminding, "Tranquillity for the Jewish State could not be achieved unless a far-reaching peace deal is signed with the Arab neighbourhood."(83) On August 6, Elias Sassson began acting according to his government's new line toward Syria. He approached Barazi to schedule a meeting, either on the border or in Europe.(84) To Sasson "It was important to speak to Za'im face to face."(85) He had little time, however, because both Barazi and Za'im were killed in a military coup d'etat on August 14, 1949. Before his death, Barazi said, "I am probably committing political suicide (by meeting Sharett) and I am even taking a calculated risk of assassination in the hope of getting American assistance to put my country on its feet."  He added, "I am sitting on a volcano and I don't know when it will erupt!"(86) Apparently, the bold initiative was too late.
Among all Arab States in 1949, however, the first peace agreement was possible with Syria and Za'im had the intention to be the first Arab leader to meet the Israelis face to face.(87) Even Ben Gurion himself noted in his diary on July 9, 1949 that the fact that "Za'im was prepared to settle for an armistice agreement, which entailed a total withdrawal to the border, proved that for some reason he wanted good relations with them." In fact, although Za'im was eager to give concrete proof of his sincerity, which was already evidenced by his proffered concessions, he emphasized that "unless Israel also manifested a spirit of compromise, the stalemate would continue, as the Arab states cannot be expected to make all the concessions."(88)

The Outcomes

Today, 53 years after the passing of Za'im, many questions naturally present themselves and remain open to controversy: If Za'im was a true peacemaker, why did he fail in achieving peace for Syria? Were his motifs personal or national? Was 1949 a failure in terms of peacemaking and a success in groundbreaking diplomacy? And finally, what have caused the failure of 1949 secret talks: Ben Gurion's uncompromising attitude or Za'im's unstable personality, or simply there was no real meeting of minds?
Husni al-Za'im came to power on March 30, 1949 and wanted, more than anything else, to conciliate his power base both at home and in the international community. An avant guarde politician, he knew that the road to continued success had to go through Washington. He is probably pro-American to the extent that he desires American assistance to carry out his plans for mobilization of the country under military supervision to effect "social reform and land redistribution."(89) And when asked, in a press conference, about the Marshall Plan, he declared "if the U.S. wants to include us we will accept it with full welcoming."(90) In fact, Washington wanted three things from Syria: an end to the Communist Party, an approval to let the Tapeline Company pass through Syrian territory, and an armistice agreement with Israel. Za'im was willing to offer all three.
Za'im saw his treaty-to-be with the Israelis not in ideological terms, as a commitment to Tel Aviv, but merely, as a means of securing his self-aggrandizement and power.(91) He harbored no anti-Israeli policies, so the Israelis and Americans thought.(92) Moshe Ma'oz, the Israeli historian, believes that Za'im wanted to talk with Israel out of "personal greed" and adds, "the Syrian leader wanted to put some money in his own pockets" and sought to do that through Israel."(93) Haitham Kaylani, Za'im's private bodyguard, added "he wanted money to be given for the renaissance of Syria and was willing to conduct peace for the purpose."(94) Most Syrians believe that had he been given more time and space, Za'im would have given in more concessions to Israel.(95) Basam al-Asali, a retired officer from the Syrian Army, recalled: "He would have been willing to sell out all of Syria."(96) This argument, however, is subjective and varies between those who were pro-Za'im and those who were not. Since his regime did not last and it became a taboo in Syrian politics to have worked with Husni al-Za'im in the four brief months of 1949, all of those who knew him tended to portray him, after his death, as "an unprincipled ego-crazy officer with no pan-Arab ideology."(97) When becoming President, he would walk around his new office and boast "I am the grand seigneur-I am king!"(98) The Foreign Office described him on coming to power in 1949 as one who saw himself as "the Napoleon of the Middle East."(99)
The motifs of Za'im vis-à-vis Israel remain unclear but vary between self-interest and national aspirations. Some western observers and Israeli historians are somewhat moderate in judging Za'im. A British diplomat in Damascus described him as follows: "Colonel Za'im is a man of the people. He is proud of being a poor man. He is not an ascetic and is, I think, essentially a human man, wishing for the happiness of his fellow countrymen." He added "Za'im made a good impression and didn't strike me as obviously unbalanced Za'im made the point that there must be serious efforts to improve conditions so as to remove the social and economic distress in which communism flourishes."(100) Avi Shlaim, an Israeli new historian, added "despite Za'im's undeniable defects of character, he was a serious and consistent proponent of social reform and economic development and regarded peace with Israel and the settlement of the refugees as essential for the attainment of these greater goals. During his brief tenure he gave Israel every opportunity to bury the hatchet and lay the foundations for peaceful coexistence in the long term."(101)
Others, however, argue that the peace efforts of 1949 failed because essentially Husni al-Za'im was "an unstable man with little principle and no legitimacy to sign a treaty that would be respected or honored by the Syrian people."(102) The British Military Attaché in Damascus described the slump in Za'im's image in May 1949 saying: "Za'im has lost a great deal of his initial popularity. One of the reasons was Za'im's personal immorality." (103) Abd al-Rahman Azzam, the former Arab League Secretary-General, described Za'im saying that he was "headstrong and without political experience."(104) Former Iraqi Minister Justice Jamal Baban told British ambassador "Za'im is a stupid person drunk with power overreaching himself, unable to stabilize situation."(105) Za'im's composition, in fact, was one of the reasons that the peace initiative failed in 1949. Ben Gurion did not have faith in Za'im unpredictable personality and decisions, and thought that he would not be willing or able to fulfill Syria's peace commitments to Israel in the future.(106)
However, few Israeli new historians, Shlaim in particular, calculated that in 1949 Israel "missed a chance for peace with Syria" mainly because of Ben Gurion's general preference for "force over diplomacy" and his "short-sighted" personality.(107) Za'im mistakenly believed that all that was needed for the peace negotiations to commence was a signal from him to his Israeli counterpart. He did not imagine that, simply put, Israel was not yet willing to talk peace. As Shlaim argued "his gestures did not have the intended effect on the road to progress" and "there was no real meeting of minds between the Arabs and the Israelis."(108)
The failure to achieve peace in 1949 could, also, be attributed to the conflict in the Syrian government, as well as division in the Israeli approach. In Syria, at first Za'im wanted peace while his aides, most notably his Foreign Minister Adel Arslan, were opponents of normalization with Israel. When Za'im became President, both he and his Prime Minister Barazi wanted peace and sincerely worked for peace while the Israeli Government remained divided in its approach. While Ben Gurion was by no means a peacemaker, Sharett was a conciliatory man.(109) According to Kaylani, "Ben Gurion was still working on the mindset of 1948, believing that Israel would one day be able to conquer other Arab territories and emerge victorious, as it had been in the first Arab-Israeli War." He added, "Ironically, Ben Gurion was miscalculating because Israel in 1949 was not a firm state yet and needed Arab recognition more than the Arabs (and Za'im) needed a coalition with Israel."(110)
Almost all the academic and political sources agree that the failure of 1949 can be attributed mostly to David Ben Gurion's reluctance and not to Husni al-Za'im's eagerness. The Syrian President had both a will and a way for a peace settlement but the Israeli Prime Minister apparently had neither. Washington brought Za'im to power because he had the courage to take what it described as "an un-popular decision" vis-à-vis the Arab-Israeli Conflict. According to his bodyguard Haitham Kaylani, the fact that he was willing to talk with Israel was "a de facto recognition of the Jewish State."(111) Za'im knew, however, that the Israelis were not too enthusiastic about doing peace with Syria. Ben Gurion had made this clear in an interview with an American journalist: "Although I am prepared to get up in the middle of the night and sign a peace agreement, I am not in a hurry and I am prepared to wait ten years. We are under no pressure to do anything."(112) According to Israeli statesman Itamar Rabinovich, who documented the 1949 talks, some Israelis were skeptical that if they negotiated with Za'im they would, in effect, be giving recognition to his regime, which was a military dictatorship that contradicted with what they stood for as a democratic republic. They feared that by collaborating with Za'im, they would be offering recognition to a regime that no other country in the region had recognized.(113) Other historians even claim that Za'im had tried approaching the Zionist leader, during the War of 1948, where he had asked Ben Gurion for $1 million to overthrow the anti-Zionist Government of President Quwatli and received a cold shoulder.(114) Therefore, Za'im was determined to make the Israelis an offer they could not refuse. In secret, he offered Ben Gurion an exchange of ambassadors, resettlement of Palestinian refugees, and complete normalization between Damascus and Tel Aviv.(115) Avi Shlaim claims that this offer, which in fact was a break-through, was a success largely due to "Za'im's flexible and conciliatory attitude in the face of unremitting Israeli intransigence."(116)
The deal that was signed in July 1949 was, in fact, a stepping-stone to what Za'im wanted to sign later-a complete peace agreement with Israel. He had the courage but did not have the time to do so, since he was killed in August 1949. However, despite the amount of criticism that was directed at Za'im by future regimes for his early dealings with the Israelis, it is interesting to note that he was not executed because of the armistice, but for many other reasons: toppling a democratic regime, for establishing a military dictatorship, and betraying the Lebanese philosopher Antun Saadah.(117) Were the Syrians actually relieved that he had signed an agreement with Israel "like no agreement before?" Of course, even if they did, nobody would admit it since it became politically and socially incorrect to be a peacemaker during the Arab Nationalist craze that took over the Arab World in the 1950s and 1960s. There is no evidence that his peace imitative brought him to blows with the public, but even if it did, he had enough power in his hands to clamp down on opposition. What then went wrong in 1949? Za'im faltered for many reasons. He apparently lost the confidence that he enjoyed in himself early on in his regime, from both the general public and the USA. Domestically, he knew that Syrians were upset at the military dictatorship he had set up and that public discontent was rising. He became increasingly paranoid and applied heavy protection, fearing that some enemy of peace would try to kill him.(118) The Americans knew that too, and Copland confessed to having told Mead in the summer of 1949 that, "this is the stupidest, most irresponsible action a diplomatic mission like ours could get itself involved in."(119) This lack of confidence, accompanied by a constant fear of a military coup d'etat, was topped with a hesitant Israeli administration that did not grab at Za'im peace efforts. All combined, the reasons mentioned above account to the "road not taken" in 1949.


In looking back at the Husni al-Za'im interlude regarding peace with Israel, it is more than apparent that both Israeli, and Syrian sources in particular, point to the concrete attempt on behalf of the Syrian leader to reach out and pursue a peace with Israel. In other words, he sought to conclude political agreements with the new Jewish state rather than to fight it.(120) Unfortunately no peace agreement between Syria and Israel ever materialized as a consequence of the 1949 negotiations. Zaim can be said to have had the correct attitude but was caught up in unfavorable circumstances. In Syria, Zaim was an un-popular dictator who wanted to talk peace, while his people cried war. In Israel, David Ben Gurion, a renowned hard-liner, was more involved in state building rather than peacemaking, and apparently believed that the two tasks did not compliment one another. Furthermore a divided Israeli cabinet did not help matters. As the State Department concluded, "The Israelis are letting slip an excellent opportunity to win peace, and Western interests in the Middle East are likely to suffer accordingly."(121) It is important to stress that the failure of the negotiations should not take away from the fact that Zaim extended his arm out 'to the other side' in an attempt to embrace peace with Israel. Yet it must be pointed that his real intentions, which some describe as patriotic, and others as personal remain open to question. Haitham Kaylani, Za'im's private bodyguard who was by his side during his four-months rule, said "He was an adventurer by nature-a man who jumps over all norms and principals. He was unstable, both politically and personally, and had no bounds. Everything was possible for him." Suhayl al-Ashi, the Director of his Aleppo Police, recalled, "He was a simple man who was not bloodthirsty. But, he had a problem of being ego-crazy."(122)
The failure of the 1949 negotiations also raises an important and yet unanswered question. Why did successor Syrian regimes not attempt to reverse the accomplishments of Zaim by annulling the Ceasefire Agreement? Was Za'im really a lone player on his chosen path? Arguably, consecutive leaderships in Syria were relieved that he had signed in 1949 and he had talked peace, otherwise, they would have inherited the burdensome task and the bad domestic image that came with it. Different figures in consecutive Syrian regimes would say that due to the instability in Syria and the constant coups and counter-coups, not one leader had the time or the ability to revoke what Za'im had signed. But in fact, none of the successor regimes in the 1950's and 1960's tried to change what Za'im had reached with Israel. Instead, they kept the Syrian-Israeli armistice agreement of 1949 in force and the borders quiet. A closer look at Syrian domestics proves that Adib al-Shishakli, the second dictator who came after Za'im and ruled from 1951-1954 was by far, more in control of Syria and could have easily terminated the agreement, had he so wished. Other leaders include the civilians Hashem al-Atassi (1949-1951) and Nazem al-Qudsi (1961-1963) who were all initially pro-Western and despite their rhetoric to Arab nationalism, did nothing to disturb border peace or revoke what Za'im had signed. President Amin al-Hafez (1963-1966) is another case in point who was very loud in his outcry against the notion of peacemaking with Israel. In his eyes, Husni al-Za'im was a traitor with no questions asked. But why didn't he terminate the armistice agreement? Why didn't he provoke armed resistance on the border, similar to the Palestinian fedayen attacks that were instigated by Shukri al-Quwatli, when he returned to office in 1955-1958? Moshe Dayan, who served as Defense Minister in 1967, made it clear to a New York Times correspondent on May 11, 1967 that "in post-1948, it was Israel that was provoking firefights and hostilities with Syria, and not the other way around," and "he and some of his fellows officers did not accept the 1949 armistice lines with Syria as final and hoped to change them by means that fell short of war, by snatching bits of territory and holding on to it until the enemy despairs and gives it to us."(123) Was Za'im truly an exception for wanting peace, or was it that all his successors wanted peace but didn't have the courage to say it?
Despite its faults, the Za'im interlude in 1949 was a phenomenon in the modern Arab World that is worth studying. The Syrians should have learned how much courage it actually needs to achieve peace and comprehend the rewards, and hardships, that might follow. The Israelis should have learned that gains are not always obtained through victorious military battles but also through victorious secessions of bargaining. Had Husni al-Za'im come to power in a different era, maybe all sides would have better received his initiative. The right time would be when an Israeli administration would be more willing to pursue a policy of give and take with the Arabs, and an Arab community would be willing to accept that war, in the understanding of 1948, is impossible.


1David Ben Gurion, My Talks with Arab Leaders (Jerusalem, 1972) p.266.
2 C. Herzog, The War of Atonement, (London, 1975).
3 A. Eban, An Autobiography, (London, 1978). Moshe Dayan commemorated Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981 by stating that  "he reached the revolutionary decision that there was no hope to solving the Arab conflict with Israel through force of arms and therefore, turned in a totally different direction: peace with Israel instead of war." He added, "For the first time, the Arab World was presented by one of its leaders with a vision of the Middle East that did include the sovereign state of Israel." (Taken from M.Dayan, Breakthrough.. A Personal Account of Egyptian-Israeli Peace Negotiations, (New York 1981, p.284).
4 S. Moubayed, Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship (USA, 2000) p. 13.
5 M. Copland, Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics (Great Britain, 1969) pp. 49-50.
6 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
7 Ibid.
8 M. Mansoor, Political and Diplomatic History of the Arab World: 1900-1967 Chronological Study (Wisconsin, 1972) April 1-August 14, 1949.
9 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002, Damascus.
10 State Department Confidential Files (S.D.C.F.), Vol. III, 1949. Report from American Legation (Damascus) to Secretary of State (Washington), 6. 8. 49, No. 437.
11 I. Rabinovich, The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations (New York, 1991) pp. 86.
12 Interview with Suhayl al-Ashi, July 16, 2002, Damascus.
13 Mansoor, Chronological, April 1 to August 14, 1949.
14 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002, Damascus.
15 'Za'im's Firmness Towards Israel', Alef Bae, April 5, 1949.
16 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002, Damascus.
17 'Positive Traits of the Agreement', Alef Bae, April 30, 1949.
18 Ibid.
19 N. Fansa, The Days of Husni al- Za'im: 137 Days Shook up Syria (Damascus, 1993) pp.55-64.
20 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002, Damascus.
21 Syrian National Archives (S.N.A.), 1949. Strictly Confidential Report from Syrian Delegation to the Ministry of Defense (Syria), 17. 11. 49, No.44.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 Interview with Suhayl al- Ashi, July 16, 2002.
25 Interview with Abdul Hamid al-Jamal, July 13, 2002.
26 Interview with Suhayl al-Ashi, July 16, 2002.
27 'Za'im Giving up Galilee', Al-Qabas, April 9, 1949.
28 Moubayed, Damascus, p. 38-9.
29 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
30 M. Ma'oz, Syria and Israel: From War to Peacemaking (Oxford, 1995) pp. 26-7.
31 Interview with Suhayl al-Ashi, July 16, 2002.
32 'The Borders that Syria Won't Give Up in Negotiations', Al-Ayyam, May 7, 1949.
33 D. Ben Gurion, Israel: A Personal Diary (Tel Aviv, 1971) p. 328.
34 'The Jews Don't Want to Discuss the Refugees Issue', Al-Inkilab, May 25, 1949.
35 'Israel Creates Obstacles to Refugees Return', Al-Ayyam, April 22, 1949.
36 Rabinovich, Road, pp. 68-70.
37 PRO: FO 371/75542 B. B. C. Monitoring Report, 3. 7. 1949.
38 Interview with Haitham al-Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
39 Mansoor, Chronological, April 1 to August 14, 1949.
40 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002, Damascus.
41 Interview with Yasin Zakariyya, July 22, 2002, Damascus.
42 N. Caplan, Futile Diplomacy: The United Nations, The Great Powers, and Middle East Peacemaking (Britain, 1997) p.104.
43 'Sharett Speech', Alef Bae, July 31, 1949.
44 Alef Bae, July 21, 1949.
45 A. Arslan, Memoirs About Husni al-Za'im: Leader of the Military Coups in Syria (Beirut, 1994) p.16.
46 Ibid, p. 24.
47 Caplan, Futile, p. 106.
48 Fansa, Days, p. 173.
49 Ben Gurion, Israel, p. 328.
50 L. Rokach, Israel's Sacred Terrorism (Mass., 1980) p. 11.
51 Interview with Munir al-Ajlani, July 11, 2002, Beirut.
52 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002, Damascus.
53 S.D.C.F. Vol. VI, 1949. Secret Report from J. Keeley (Damascus) to G. McGhee (Washington), 28. 4. 49, No. 256.
54 S.D.C.F. Vol. VI, 1949. Secret Report from American Legation (Damascus) to Secretary of State (Washington), 1. 8. 49, No. 187.
55 Rabinovich, Road, pp.70-1.
56 Ibid, p.79.
57 A. Shlaim, 'Husni al-Za'im and the Plan to Resettle Palestinian Refugees in Syria', Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XV, No. 4 (1986), p.73.
58 Rabinovich, Road, p.70.
59 Ibid, p.72.
60 'Exclusive Political Report: Studies About Arab-Israeli Relations 1948- 1973', Arab press for Studies and Publications, (Cairo), July 8, 1994.
61 Rabinovich, Road, p. 73.
62 Shlaim, 'Husni Za'im and the Plan', p.74.
63 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
64 Shlaim, 'Husni Za'im and the Plan', p.75.
65 'Washington is Worried', Al-Ayyam, June 25, 1949.
66 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
67 Interview with Abd al-Ghanie al-Itri, July 2, 2002.
68 'Exclusive Report', Arab press for Studies and Publications, (1994).
69 S.D.C.F. Vol. II, 1949. Secret Airgram from American Legation (Damascus) to Secretary of State (Washington), 4. 6. 49, No. 3539.
70 Shlaim, 'Husni Za'im and The Plan', p. 74
71 Ibid, p. 76.
72 G. McGhee, Envoy to the Middle World: Adventures in Diplomacy (USA, 1983), pp. 35-6.
73 Shlaim, 'Husni Za'im and The Plan', p. 74.
74 Ibid, p. 73.
75 Ibid, p. 75.
76 Interview with Sami Jum'aa, July 17, 2002, Damascus.
77 S. Jum'aa, Papers From Homeland Book: 1946- 1961 (Damascus, 2000) P. 69.
78 Interview with Sami Jum'aa, July 17, 2002, Damascus.
79 Arslan, Memoirs, p.27.
80 S.D.C.F. Vol. II, 1949. Secret Airgram from American Legation (Damascus) to Secretary of State (Washington), 20. 6. 49, No. 3539.
81 Arslan, Memoirs, p.21.
82 Ibid, p. 22.
83 'Sharett Speaks To His People', Al Ayyam, July 23, 1949.
84 Rabinovich, Road, p. 79.
85 C. Malek, From Rhodes to Geneva: An Arab-Israeli Struggle in its Past, Present, and Future? (Beirut, 1974,) pp70-1.
86 Interview with Basam Asali, July 14, 2002, Damascus.
87 Shlaim, 'Husni Za'im and The Plan', p.77.
88 Rabinovich, Road, p .71.
89 S.D.C.F. Vol. V, 1949. Secret Airgram from American Legation (Damascus) to Secretary of State (Washington), 9. 4. 49, No. 3409.
90 'Syrian Position Toward Israel', Al Ayyam, July 4, 1949.
91 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 21.
92 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
93 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 22.
94 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
95 Interviews with Suhayl al-Ashi, July 14; Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002; and Abdl al-Ghanie al-Itri, July 12, 2002, Damascus.
96 Interview with Basam al-Asali, July 14, 2002, Damascus.
97 Interview with Suhayl al-Ashi, July 16, 2002.
98 S.D.C.F. Vol. V, 1949. Secret Airgram from American Legation (Damascus) to Secretary of State (Washington), 9. 4. 49, No. 3409.
99 PRO: FO 371/75534 Telegram by Sir O. Franks, 14. 4. 49.
100 PRO: FO 371/75536 Secret Telegram , 6. 5. 49.
101 Shlaim, 'Husni Za'im and The Plan', p. 79.
102 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002. 
103 PRO: FO 371/75536 by British Military Attaché, 24. 5. 49.
104 S.D.C.F. Vol. VI, 1949. Confidential Airgram from American Embassy (Cairo) to Secretary of State (Washington), 11. 4. 49, No. 4452.
105 S.D.C.F. Vol. VI, 1949. Secret Airgram from American Embassy (Baghdad) to Secretary of State (Washington), 9. 4. 49, No. 174.
106 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 24.
107 Ibid, p. 23.
108 'Husni Za'im and The Plan', Shlaim, p. 76.
109 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 21.
110 Interview with Haitham Kaylani, July 13, 2002.
111 Ibid.
112 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 21-2.
113 Rabinovich, Road, p. 67.
114 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 22.
115 Rabinovich, Road, p. 10.
116 Husni Za'im and The Plan', Shlaim, p. 78.
117 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 24.
118 Moubayed, Damascus, p. 32.
119 Copland, Game, p. 43.
120 Ma'oz, Syria, p. 20.