chapter  2
8 Pages

The Syrian Coup d’Etat of February 1966

A Turning Point?
ByIlana Kass

Soviet foreign and military policy immediately after World War II concentrated largely on the West. The Third World remained a region of marginal interest to the USSR at least until the mid-fifties. The prevailing “two camps” concept of the international situation made it difficult for the Soviet Union to cooperate with the countries that had only recently acquired independence from the West. On February 23, 1966, after a bitter internal struggle, a radically leftist faction of the Ba’th party assumed power in Syria. On March 8, 1966, Krasnaia zvezda, the press organ of the Ministry of Defense, joined Izvestiia in publishing Atasi’s statement that “Syria’s main objective is the implementation of socialism.” The Soviet press debated the significance and ramifications of the Syrian coup d’etat for another month, with the controversy ending only on the eve of the Syrian prime minister’s arrival in Moscow on April 19, 1966.