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Socialism was no longer subordinate to Arab nationalism; it was becoming a major component of any Arab nationalism. In other words, the Marxist concept of the class struggle began finding its way into the ideology of the Ba’th, eventually putting socialism on a par with Arab unity as essential components of Arab nationalism. Whereas the party before the merger appealed only to the educated of the Syrian cities, it now began to attract a wide range of 22 Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror membership extending to the rural areas.
About this time, in 1960, Salah Jadid, Hafiz al-Asad, and Muhammad Umran founded the secret Ba’thi military organization, known as the Military Committee. Meanwhile, chafing under Egyptian lordship, a group of Damascene officers staged a coup d’etat and broke up the union in 1961. In this interim period, the Ba’th was able to reorganize itself again to become a significant force in Syrian political life. Cradle of Arab Nationalism 23 In March 1963, the party and its allies (Nasserite and independent officers) were able to seize power following an Iraqi Ba’th takeover of Iraq in February 1963.
As European powers continued to make political and economic inroads in the Ottoman Empire, particularly in the nineteenth century, they supported their penetration with missionary activities in the Arab Middle East. The cultural and political ideas spread by these missionaries appealed to many in the multinational and multireligious Ottoman Empire, especially to the Lebanese Christians. The political climate under which the Christian missions operated improved drastically when the reforms of Muhammad Ali emancipated the Christians in Lebanon and Syria (1831–1840).