History, Union with Egypt
steamship lines, plebiscite, UAR, Army units, National Union
On February 21, 1958, a plebiscite held in Syria and Egypt gave nearly unanimous approval to the federation of the two countries as the United Arab Republic (UAR), with Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt as president. The following month Nasser dissolved all Syrian political parties, including the Communist Party, and dismissed pro-Soviet army officers.
Under a system of land reform introduced in September, individual holdings were limited to 80 hectares (200 acres) of irrigated and 300 hectares (750 acres) of unirrigated land. Separate ministries for Syria and Egypt were abolished on October 7 in favor of central ministries in Cairo. The first distributions of confiscated land occurred in Syria on February 23, 1959. Elections for local councils, held on July 8, resulted in a setback for socialists in Syria. On March 18, 1960, Nasser appointed several Syrians to his cabinet in a move to strengthen his hold on the country. The National Union, the single legal party of the UAR, held its first congress in Cairo during July. A further step toward unification, taken on August 16, 1961, was the establishment of a single UAR cabinet. Meanwhile, a vigorous policy of nationalization, including steamship lines and banking and insurance firms, intensified conservative opposition to the UAR. Army units seized Damascus on September 28 and the following day proclaimed the renewed independence of Syria. Nasser decided not to resist the new regime.
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