Anglo-American 1957 Secret Plan to Assassinate the Syrian President. Déjà Vu?
by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
August 7, 2012
At a time when the British press was still "reporting the truth", London's Guardian (27 September 2003) published a
detailed report of a 1957 Anglo-American assassination plot directed against the Syrian president, with a view to
implementing "regime change". The similarity to today's war on Syria is striking.
What is revealing is that the political assassination of the Syrian president has been on the Anglo-American drawing
board for over half a century.
The article, which reviews the text of the leaked 'Secret Document", confirms that British Prime Minister Harold
Macmillan and President Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered the assassination of the Syrian Head of State.
"Macmillan backed Syria assassination plot
Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan"
To consult the complete article by Ben Fenton, The Guardian, 27 September 2003 click here http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/sep/27/uk.syria1
The stated objective of this Secret Plan, entrusted to Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) [today's MI6] and the
CIA, consisted in assassinating the Syrian president together with key political and military figures. "Mr Macmillan and
President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus."
"In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, reduce the capabilities of the Syrian regime to organise and
direct its military actions, to hold losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring about desired results in the
shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. Their removal should be
accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention and in the light of circumstances existing at the
time." (The Guardian, 27 September 2003)
The stated pretext of the Macmillan-Eisenhower plan was that Syria was "spreading terrorism" and "preventing the West's
access to Middle East oil" Déjà Vu
The secret 1957 Plan called for the funding of a so-called "Free Syria Committee" equivalent to today's Syrian National
Council (SNC). It also involved "the arming of "political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities"
within Syria. Under the plan, the CIA together with Britain's Secret Intelligence Serivce (SIS) "would instigate
"Internal disturbances" in Syria would be triggered through covert operations. The "CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will
attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents [sic] within Syria, working through contacts with
An all out invasion plan had also been envisaged.
What was lacking from the 1957 plan, formulated at the height of the Cold War, was the "humanitarian" R2P envelope.
Moreover, in contrast to today's Free Syrian Army (FSA) (i.e the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance), the
1957 Anglo-American plan did not contemplate the recruitment of foreign mercenaries to wage their war:
[in 1957] Britain and America sought a secretive "regime change" in another Arab country they accused of spreading
terror and threatening the west's oil supplies, by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures.
Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to
stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria's pro-western neighbours, and then to "eliminate" the
most influential triumvirate in Damascus. (The Guardian, 27 September 2003)
The insidious plan was known to key political figures in the British government. It was made public 46 years later in
Although historians know that intelligence services had sought to topple the Syrian regime in the autumn of 1957, this
is the first time any document has been found showing that the assassination of three leading figures was at the heart
of the scheme. In the document drawn up by a top secret and high-level working group that met in Washington in September
1957, Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus.
Part of the "preferred plan" reads: "In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, reduce the capabilities of
the Syrian regime to organise and direct its military actions, to hold losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring
about desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key
individuals. Their removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention and in the light
of circumstances existing at the time."
The document, approved by London and Washington, named three men: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, head of Syrian military
intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, chief of the Syrian general staff; and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist
For a prime minister who had largely come to power on the back of Anthony Eden's disastrous antics in Suez just a year
before, Mr Macmillan was remarkably bellicose. He described it in his diary as "a most formidable report". Secrecy was
so great, Mr Macmillan ordered the plan withheld even from British chiefs of staff, because of their tendency "to
Driving the call for action was the CIA's Middle East chief Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of former president Theodore
Roosevelt. He identified Colonel Sarraj, General al-Bizri and Mr Bakdash as the real power behind a figurehead
The "preferred plan" adds: "Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is
prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through
contacts with individuals.
"The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid any overlapping or interference with each other's
activities... Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus; the operation should not be overdone; and to the extent
possible care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection
The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be
staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention. Syria had to be "made to appear as the
sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments," the report says. "CIA and SIS should
use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension." That meant operations in Jordan,
Iraq, and Lebanon, taking the form of "sabotage, national conspiracies and various strong-arm activities" to be blamed
The plan called for funding of a "Free Syria Committee", and the arming of "political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities" within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the
Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.
The planners envisaged replacing the Ba'ath/Communist regime with one that was firmly anti-Soviet, but they conceded
that this would not be popular and "would probably need to rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of
power". (Ben Fenton, The Guardian, 27 September 2003, emphasis added)
In contrast to the 2011-2012 Plan, which is supported by the Arab League, with the participation of Saudi Arabia and
Qatar in covert ops., the 1957 Eisenhower Macmillan Plan was not carried due to lack of support by neighbouring Arab
countries: "The plan was never used, chiefly because Syria's Arab neighbours could not be persuaded to take action and an attack from Turkey alone was thought to be
unacceptable. (Ben Fenton, The Guardian, 27 September 2003, emphasis added)
The ongoing US-NATO aggression directed against Syria has been planned for several years.
An invasion of Syria was contemplated in the immediate wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion by US Secretary of Defense Donald
"Regime change" in Damascus was again put forth by the Bush adminstration in the immediate wake of the assassination of
former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The assassination was casully blamed, without evidence, on Damascus.
President George W. Bush "denounced Syria and its ally, Iran, as 'outlaw regimes... Syria and Iran deserve no patience
from the victims of terror,'" The British media confirmed in October 2005 that Washington was "looking for a pro-western replacement for Mr Assad."