Akram al-Hawrani bigraphy, stories - Speakers

Akram al-Hawrani : biography

1912 - 1996


Al-Hawrani's family had its origins in the Arab al-Halqiyyin tribe and moved to Hama in central Syria from the town of Jasim in the southern Hawran region (hence the surname al-Hawrani.)Batatu, 1999, p. 370. Akram al-Hawrani himself was born in Hama and grew up in modest circumstances as the family's wealth had dissipated. He was educated in Hama and Damascus before joining the medical faculty at the Jesuit University in 1932. He was forced to leave the institution soon thereafter, having been implicated in the attempted assassination of former Syrian president, Subhi Barakat.

In 1936, he enrolled in the Damascus Law School, and became a member of the Syrian Social National Party. In 1938 he left the party and returned to Hama to practice law. There he took over the Hizb al-Shabab (Youth Party) founded by a cousin.

The province of Hama in the earlier part of the twentieth century was characterised by feudalism, with landlords owning most of the land . The landlords exercised complete control over the peasantry, backed up by what amounted to private armies. al-Hawrani set about attacking this system and called for agrarian reforms, giving him considerable popular support in Hama and its province, and in 1943 he was elected as a deputy to the Syrian Parliament. He retained his seat in the elections of 1947, 1949, 1954, and 1962.

While it was in defence of social justice in his home region that al-Hawrani made his name, he also had a strong Arab nationalist outlook, and headed to Baghdad to support the Rashid Ali movement in Iraq in 1941; in 1948 he commanded armed groups who engaged in attacks against Zionist settlements in Palestine.This section is based on the account of Hawrani's origins and early political career given by Batatu, pp. 728-729.

Closer to power

In 1950 al-Hawrani renamed his party the Arab Socialist Party; at that point, Batatu states, "it counted no fewer than 10,000 members and was able to attract as many as 40,000 people from the countryside when in the same year it convoked at Aleppo the first peasant congress in Syrian history."Batatu, p. 729.

Between 1949 and 1954 Syrian politics was punctuated by four military coups. Based on his strong influence in the army, al-Hawrani was considered to have played a part in these coups, however there is no concrete evidence to support that. He was initially particularly close to the leader of the third and fourth coups, Adib al-Shishakli, who effectively ruled Syria from 1951 until 1954. Al-Shishakli's decision to sign a decree distributing state lands to the peasantry in January 1952 appears to have been under al-Hawrani's influence.Seale, p. 47. However, as the dictator grew more autocratic his influence waned, and when al-Shishakli decided to ban the Arab Socialist Party in April 1952, he went into exile in Lebanon. There, in November that year, he agreed to merge the Arab Socialist Party with the Arab Ba'th Party led by Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. The latter thus gained a substantial base of active supporters for the first time. The unified party adopted the name Arab Ba'th Socialist Party. It was disbanded, along with all Syrian political parties by president Nasser in 1958. The relation between Al-Hawrani and Aflaq ended acrimoniously in 1962.


  • Batatu, Hanna, The Old Social Classes and New Revolutionary Movements in Iraq, Saqi Books, London, 2000
  • Seale, Patrick, Asad: the struggle for the Middle East, California University Press, Berkely, 1990. ISBN 0-520-06976-5
  • Mufti, Malik, Sovereign Creations: Pan-Arabism and Political Order in Syria and Iraq, Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1996. ISBN 0-8014-3168-9

Category:1912 births Category:1996 deaths Category:Arab nationalist politicians Category:Members of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party Category:Members of the Syrian Regional Branch of the Ba'ath Party Category:People from Hama Category:Speakers of the People's Council of Syria Category:Syrian nationalists Category:Syrian ministers of defense Category:Syrian socialists

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