The Damascus notable and National Bloc chief Nasib al-Bakri pictured in the early 1920s.

Views: 5396


Nasib al-Bakri (1888-1966) was born and raised to Damascus to a notable family with strong ties to the Imperial Court in Istanbul. His father Ata Pasha al-Bakri was one of the most influential Arabs in the Ottoman Empire. Bakri studied at Ottoman schools in Beirut and joined the Arab underground in 1913, becoming one of the co-founders of al-Fatat, the leading pre-war anti-Ottoman movement in Syria. He hosted the prince of Hijaz, Faisal Ibn al-Hussein at his Damascus residence and convinced him too to join al-Fatat. When the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans began in 1916, Bakri fled Damascus and joined the Arabian guerillas in Mecca. He returned to Damascus in 1918, after the Ottomans left, and became political advisor to Faisal, who became monarch of Syria, crowned as Faisal I. In 1925, Bakri co-led the Syrian Revolt against the French Mandate with its commander, Sultan Pasha al-Atrash. In response, the French bombarded and destroyed his family mansion in Damascus. He co-founded the National Bloc with a group of Syrian notables in 1928 and became an MP for Damascus in 1932. His anti-French views landed him in jail in 1936. When the National Bloc was elected to power that same year, Bakri was appointed governor then Minister of Justice in the government of Prime Minister Lutfi al-Haffari. In 1941, he became Minister of Economy and Agriculture. Bakri was re-elected MP for Damascus in 1943 and 1947 and helped co-found the Aleppo-based People’s Party. He retired from politics briefly in the early 1950s, re-emerging as Syria’s Minister in Amman in 1956, during the era of President Shukri al-Quwatli. He retired completely from public life during the Syrian-Egyptian Union of 1958-1961 and died at the age of 78 in 1966.