Al-Jumhuriyyah As-Suriyyah Al-Kabir/Republic of Greater Syria





Head of State

Antun Saadeh (from 1943)

Ruling Party

Suri Al-Qawmi Al-Ijtimai/Parti Social Nationaliste Syrien/Syrian National Socialist Party

Head of Government

Husni al-Zaim (1943-1958), Adib al-Shishakli (1958-1970), Rifaat al-Assad (from 1970)


The French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon was occupied by Italy during the war, with the full consent of the French government at Vichy. The Italians, with German support, immediately pushed for the creation of a puppet regime composed of locals. The man chosen to head this government was Antun Saadeh, a Greek Orthodox Lebanese exile living in Latin America. He returned to the Mandate to head an administration in which his Syrian National Socialist Party would be dominant.

Saadeh intended, and had in fact been promised by the Italians, that he would control both Syria and Lebanon as 'Greater Syria'. However late in the war they had switched their support in Lebanon to the Maronite Catholic-dominated Phalanx movement. Saadeh attempted to unite the two countries by force, launching an invasion of Lebanon, in support of a local uprising by the Lebanese SNSP and their allies in the Najjadeh Party in 1949. This failed, as did a second invasion in 1958, which caused the Lebanese government to request the German intervention, and led to the brief invasion of northern Syria by Turkey.

After Lebanon attacked Egypt in 1957, Saadeh led Syria into an alliance with Egypt, culminating in a short period of alliance between the two nations. The alliance ended in acrimony between and within the participating states, with each accusing the other of 'colonisation'. In Syria, pro-Egyptian figures like Michel Aflaq and Abdul Hamid Sarraj, were purged and exiled, often to Egypt.