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  1. The International History Review articles
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  4. Iran; Iraq, 1973–1976
  5. The Heirs of Nasser | Foreign Affairs

Being still a boy his uncle, Abdul Ilah, a faithful ally of the British took the reigns as regent and soon Nuri al-Said himself was returned to power with the assistance of a further coup. British interests seemed firmly back in the saddle but the nationalist officers, who remained in their positions, had other ideas.

In a group of four nationalist officers availed themselves of the discontent with the rule of Nuri and the regent, and the conditions of the World War, to depose the pair. Whereas Nasser would, after his coup in Egypt, use the classical Bonapartist method of resting upon the mass movement to cut a semi-independent course, Iraq's officers could rest on no such movement and so instead looked towards Hitler and German imperialism as an alternative point of support.

The regime however was doomed to a short lived existence. The British undertook to reoccupy Iraq, depose the nationalist officers and reinstate Nuri and the regent, ushering a new period of occupation that would last until well into the 's. Iraq was once more under the jackboot of British imperialism. The army was again reduced and conscription brought to an end as the British reasserted their control. The contradictions that riddled the Iraqi state were far from diminished however.

The monarchy emerged from the crisis more undermined than ever and a dangerous precedent had been set for a new generation of officers to intervene in the national political scene. More importantly however, the period beginning in the early 40's saw class antagonisms in Iraq heated to boiling point and all of this would reflect itself in continuing discontent in the ranks of the armed forces. The main effect of the oil boom for ordinary people was the influx of huge amounts of money into circulation and the resultant inflation of prices.

With no Chinese wall isolating the army from the rest of society, the moods of the different classes inevitably found their reflection with splits in the armed bodies of the state as well as the penetration of revolutionary parties into the ranks. The results of galloping inflation on the lives of soldiers and their families were only compounded by the British policy of reigning in the state, the net result being the creation of a parlous state of affairs that produced an ideal ground for the spread of revolutionary and conspiratorial ideas.

In the cities the migration of peasants continued to swell the ranks of the reserve army of labour, whose pressure combined with inflation to bear down on wages. Economic distress was coupled with humiliation by the British dictatorship. For a brief period of months the British experimented with the legalisation of trade unions and workers' organisations.

However, this only led to the working class immediately going on the offensive with huge strikes in Basrah's port and the railway workshops in the environs of Baghdad. Far from taming or channelling the mood of discontent building up in the depths of society, legality only served to reveal the full extent of Communist influence in fierce outbursts; with the Schalchiyyah railway workshops of Baghdad now emerging as a major center of Iraqi communism - similar to the role the Putilov works in Petersburg played for Russian revolutionaries 30 years before.

In panic the imperialists quickly clamped down and once more illegalised the unions. Communists were swept up in a wave of repression, hundreds of political prisoners being left to languish in Kut jail including the party's general secretary, Fahd. To ease the way for the treaty the hated British stooge, Nuri al-Said, stepped aside as prime minister and gave way to Salih Jabr in early ; the two travelling to England to begin negotiations in December of that year.

The masses were not about to be deceived by a slight shuffling at the top of the pack however, and the negotiations served to blow sparks onto the bone-dry tinderbox of Iraqi society. Unwitting of the scale of the events they were about to usher in, the bourgeois nationalist Independence Party took the initiative in calling the first demonstrations. On 5th January they called for student protests against the secret negotiations.

Intending to march from Baghdad Law School to the royal palace, the students were met by mounted police and live ammunition. Many were injured. It was clear that the embers of protest, now lit, were waiting for the next gust to burst into flames. On 16th January the humiliating results of the treaty were made public and events began moving at lightning speed. Under the initiative of a Communist-organised front of opposition parties, a three day student strike and continuous demonstrations took place. The mobilisations peaked with a huge march on 20th January. Now the working class threw its tremendous social weight onto the scales.

Students were accompanied by railway workers, the proletarian hard core of the ICP, and thousands of impoverished mud hut dwellers from the periphery of the city. Police fired once more with live rounds into the crowd. Students fell dead; more still were murdered at the hospital where they attempted to accompany their fallen comrades to the morgue. Suddenly anger turned to rage — before evening the streets were streaming with vast numbers of Baghdadi workers and youth, and at the head of every throng were Communists.

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The bourgeois nationalists, up to this point actively involved in the demonstrations, similarly took fright when presented face to face with the stirring masses. The Independence Party, whose actions had ironically initiated the events, declared that their aims were met with the repudiation of the treaty by the regent and called for protests to end.

The Iraqi national bourgeois were weak and dependent upon British imperialism from their very inception and it ought to come as no surprise that in the decisive moments they acted with utter cowardice and fled the field. They entered the streets in the early days of the Wathbah with the intention not of overthrowing the government but of frightening the regime and imperialism with the prospect of unrest so as to receive concessionary crumbs from their table.

However, at the first show of strength by the working class, and when confronted with the tasks of a genuine social revolution they immediately pulled back and cowered behind the monarchy and imperialism. The movement shrugged off the flight of its fair-weather friends and continued to gather momentum.

The only ones willing to fight through to the end were the workers lead by the Communists, and behind them all classes of the urban and rural poor, and the lower layers of the middle classes. These forces, in themselves, were more than sufficient to bring down the regime and establish a revolutionary government. This lesson was now being learnt by thousands of individuals, not through books but through the school of revolution itself. Within the ranks of the Communist Party the most farsighted cadres were rapidly drawing the conclusion that the task of leading the Iraqi revolution fell to the working class alone, and that this meant the seizure of power by the Communist Party, not only without the assistance of but directly against the bourgeois nationalist parties.

These remarks precisely expressed the actual situation of the Iraqi revolution. Had these correct theses been taken to their logical conclusion the ICP would have been politically equipped for the historic tasks now upon the party. As the principal tasks of the revolution were bourgeois-democratic repudiation of the imperialist treaty, democratic elections, land reform and so on the ICP leadership persisted in the false conclusion that the leading role in the revolution must therefore be taken up by the national bourgeoisie, and that the ICP ought therefore to seek out an alliance with the bourgeois nationalist parties at any cost.

On 23rd January huge demonstrations were convoked by the Communist Party. The problem was that despite all the moderation of the Communist leaders, the national bourgeois could see the force that stood behind them: the workers and poor. Any revolution which achieved genuine democracy could do so only by the revolutionary action of this class and, just as the aforementioned internal ICP circular explained, it could not be assured that these classes would not go on to expropriate the bourgeoisie themselves.

Kazzar had set several conditions for the release of his prisoners: that the Iraqi Army be sent to the Palestinian battleground, that military action against the Kurds be resumed, that rightist leaders be removed from the government and the party, and that the dominant role of the Regional Command of the BPI be given to the National Command. The last two demands were used to implicate Abd al-Khaliq al-Samarrai, party theoretician and rival of Saddam, in the plot. The BPI was purged of Samarrai supporters and in August, two months after the coup attempt, Bakr delegated to Saddam Husayn full responsibility for holding party elections that fall.

The coup attempt had other far-reaching political ramifications. With the death of Shihab, only Bakr and Sadun Ghaydan remained of those officers who had made the revolution. Ghaydan was demoted a year after the coup from Interior to Communications Minister [Page ] and the military was thus excluded from top policy-making positions in the government. Saddam Husayn and the civilian wing of the BPI Regional Command emerged in full control of both the party and the government. Bakr remained the focus for military support, however, as a possible counter to the growing influence of the civilians and Saddam Husayn.

In addition, the President now assumed the post of Defense Minister while the RCC issued a resolution decreeing decisions of the President of the Republic and the Defense Minister to be final. The Cabinet was reorganized a year later, given budgetary and administrative responsibilities, and several members of the Regional Command added to it.

Government by National Front, — The purges plus the constant reshuffling of military and civilian personnel were meant to stabilize the regime and consolidate support for Bakr and Saddam Husayn. However, the constant rumors of plots and the repressive tactics utilized by the regime had alienated and frightened many political moderates. Party members to the left of the government continued to demand rapid nationalization of industry and drastic economic and social reforms. If the regime were to survive, the internecine strife which had marked its history thus far had to stop. If the government were to receive the foreign military aid and developmental assistance it desired, the appearance of political unity and stability was crucial.

In the fall of , sometime before the Kazzar coup, the Baath government adopted a different tactic to consolidate support for the regime and stabilize the system. Discussions among the parties dragged on for almost two years. In July , one month after the Kazzar coup attempt, Bakr and the pro-Moscow Central Committee of the CPI , in a show of national unity, signed an accord which called for the creation of a council of ministers, the establishment of a national assembly, and the formation of a national front.

Talks with the Kurds for a similar agreement continued but the KDP refused to join either the negotiations or the front. They, in turn, are maintained in power through their control of the party, the government bureaucracy, the military and the secret police. The Party and the Government. The relationship between the party and the government is a symbiotic one. The relationship was defined shortly after the 30 July coup in a party manifesto:.

The role of the Party today differs by necessity from the role of the government, not on general principles and relations with the masses but with regard to the difference between official position and Party position. As for the Party, its role is to guide the policy of the regime and make plans for carrying out the policy. The party monitors and supervises the government on two levels.

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First, a monopoly of power is maintained through the appointment of members and sympathizers to key positions in the administration, the military, the police and intelligence agencies. Party members dominate the RCC and hold all important ministerial and diplomatic posts. On the provincial level governors and important administrators are chosen from party ranks and serve to make Baath influence felt throughout the administrative apparatus. Secondly, party power is exercised through the various bureaus within the organizational structure of the BPI Regional Command which implement leadership decisions.

These include a peasants bureau, a workers bureau, a students bureau, a cultural bureau and a military bureau. The role of the military bureau is crucial to the regime. Its members include the Commanders of the Baghdad Garrison and the Republican Guard Brigade, both important factors in the making and unmaking of past Iraqi governments. Control of the Guard and the Garrison is essen [Page ] tial to the regime.

The party bureaus and all government committees are directly responsible to Saddam Husayn. Party discipline is maintained through periodic purges from the government and the party, indoctrination courses for the military, and occasional reorganization of the civil services and armed forces with recruitment of new members from party ranks.

The Peoples Army could play a greater role in party and state affairs than its predecessor, however. It is conceivable, as well, that the Peoples Army could be used in the event that an intraparty power struggle develops. Little is known of the size and composition of the general Baath Party membership. In the s the party was of necessity small and clandestine with its members being primarily young civil servants, teachers and intellectuals.

A estimate set party membership at 5,—9, active members. We have no way of judging the accuracy of these figures. Membership data for the party and its Commands are not available; even the membership of the RCC is not publicized. They are the party in microcosm—for the most part young—average age in their 30s to 40s—with little experience outside the party, men who held no positions before the coups of and whose status within the party depends on factors other than professional competence or merit. Most members of the Regional Command have degrees in law, education or medicine; all hold high government posts and have served in party ranks for many years.

Nor is much known of the Baath recruitment process. The party has traditionally appealed to educated and professional people, particularly university students earning degrees in engineering, law, medicine, government and education. While party membership is a necessary tool for advancement and promotion to any important post, the ramifications of membership in terms of education and general employment opportunities are not clear.

While there have been and are Kurds, Shiahs and even a Christian in the government, the Baath Party in power today represents a continuation of the pattern of Sunni Arab dominance which has characterized Iraqi politics since the mandate period. Recruitment for party membership and leadership roles in the government still is most frequently from the towns of Tikrit and Samarra north of Baghdad on the Tigris River, and from Anah, Hadithah and Hit, northwest of Baghdad on the Euphrates River.

The political center of gravity, thus, is a triangle encompassing the Baghdad—Mosul—Anah region and excluding the Kurdish region in the north and the Shiah tribal areas in the south. However, too much emphasis can be placed on the accident of geography. It is the kinship factor, the dependence on family and clan loyalty, and party affiliation which influence political relationships and appointments. Broadened recruitment procedures, then, do not indicate any democratization of the party.

The Baath Party today remains [ 2 lines not declassified ] an organization which continues to set a premium on isolation and secrecy. The structure remains highly centralized and authoritarian. Uncompromising, determined, often ruthless, its leaders have not hesitated to use violence to suppress any suspicion of opposition. The National Front in is a vehicle by which the fiction of unity and participatory government is maintained by the Baath.

There is no national assembly. Power is still exercised by the few with the business of government determined by personalities, not by institutions and not [Page ] by constitutional procedures. While the actual work of the government is conducted through the committee and bureau structures, neither these nor any other group in the National Front has the ability to influence or alter government policy decisions. The Kurds and the National Front. The Kurds have posed a consistent threat to the internal security and stability of several governments of Iraq. On 11 March a 10 year period of revolt ended with the signing of an armistice agreement between the Kurds led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani and the Iraqi Government represented by Saddam Husayn.

The agreement recognized the national rights of the Kurdish people and granted regional autonomy. Kurdish was to be an official language in the Kurdish autonomous region and educational institutions, including a university at Sulaymaniyah, were to be established. Kurds would be appointed to posts in the government, the military, the police and the universities in proportion to their number. Areas having a Kurdish majority were to be administered by the Ministry for Northern Affairs.

Barzani retained his heavy arms and a radio station, while the government promised to pay his Pish Mirga troops 12,—15, men to act as a frontier force. This agreement marked a high point in Iraqi-Kurdish relations. Barzani had control of more territory than he had ever held, with an officially recognized KDP , a newspaper, a radio station, and the promise of participation in the government of the country.

His Pish Mirga force was armed and intact. He had yielded nothing. On 29 March, five Kurds, all supporters of Barzani, were appointed to the Cabinet. What soured the idyll? Essentially, two issues emerged: power and oil. A census was to be taken to determine the boundaries of the Kurdish autonomous province; where the Kurds were not in a majority, the territory was to revert to the administration of the central government.

Initially, the Kurds had not sought to administer the oil installation in Kirkuk; they had asked for a proportionate share of the oil revenues and they insisted that Kirkuk city, center of the Iraq Petroleum Company, become the new capital of the Kurdish autonomous province. The city, despite its location in a Kurdish region, had a mixed Arab, Kurd, Assyrian and Turkman population. To influence a planned plebiscite, the government brought back Assyrian families who had fled Kirkuk during the revolt to counterbalance Kurds moving in for voting purposes.

The plebiscite was not held and the dispute escalated. Did the right to profit from the mineral and natural resources of the autonomous region belong to the central government or to the Kurds? Did the Kurds have, in effect, control of their province and its resources? The Kurds refused to sign the National Action Charter; they refused to join the National Front or to nominate another vice president. Nor would they agree to a constitution or to a definition of their relations with Iran. They demanded increased budget allocations for development to be controlled by a Kurdish development committee.

The government continued to reject Kurdish demands for Kirkuk. A stalemate ensued until February when fighting broke out. On 11 March , four years after the initial agreement had been signed and the date by which it was to have been implemented, the RCC announced the granting of self-rule to the region in which the majority of residents were Kurds.

Irbil would be the capital city of the autonomous province which would have a legislature, an executive council and a special budget with revenues derived from property taxes. The KDP rejected this unilateral declaration of autonomy and more clashes were reported by mid-March. This the Baath rejected and major fighting ensued. The following autumn, in the midst of war with the Kurds, the government established an executive council and a legislative assembly for the autonomous region. Why war again? The timing may have been a result of the Baath refusal to carry out the census while insisting on the four-year time table for implementation of the agreement.

Or, it may have been a direct result of worsening relations with Iran and encouragement given Barzani by the Shah. In a speech made that April Saddam Husayn noted somewhat cryptically that:. Those who sell themselves to foreigners will never become our allies as long as we live and as long as this revolution exists. To people who imagine that with US help they can obstruct the march of the revolution, and with US help they can divide this people, we tell them without hesitation, with high confidence and without delusion, with accurate calculations, and with a clear vision of the present and future aims—we tell them: You will only meet failure.

Barzani sought aid from many sources—American as well as Iranian. With Soviet support and military assistance now flowing to the Baath government and with the CPI fighting on the side of the government, Barzani told the Christian Science Monitor that his group stood in the way of Soviet influence in Iraq. Mullah Mustafa now envisioned a Kurdish state within a state which would represent all Kurds, those physically present in the autonomous region as well as those living outside the region, in Baghdad, Basra or even outside Iraq.

He disavowed, however, any ambitions to expand his demands to include the sizeable Kurdish populations in Turkey and Iran. The revolt most probably would have occurred at some point, given the nature of Kurdish demands and the reluctance of any Iraqi Government, be it Baathist or not, to accede to those demands. The revolt created several internal dilemmas for the Baath leadership. Differences on the conduct of the war, the planning of offensives, and a negotiated peace threatened to divide both government and party in Iraq.

Conditions in , however, clearly differed from those influencing the decision to negotiate with Barzani. The Baath was in firmer control of both the political and military scene than it had been previously. The Iraqi army of was larger, better equipped, and better trained than the force which had fought the Kurds. The recurring Kurdish conflict had the potential to disrupt the Baath regime just as it had disrupted previous governments.

The stability of the regime as well as the prestige of the Deputy were at stake in resolving the Kurdish revolt. The death knell for the latest Kurdish revolt was sounded not by the Baathists but by Iran. Helping the Kurds had become an expensive risk for the Shah by late , however. Iranian planes and troops were increasingly involved in border incidents with Iraqi troops and were close to fighting directly with Iraqi forces. For reasons strategic and political, then, Iraq and Iran chose to resolve their differences and seek a more pacific solution to the escalating conflict.

Iraq had long encouraged Arab and Baluchi resistance to the Shah and had laid claim to the province of Khuzistan in Iran as part of the Arab homeland. The Baath government now conceded all claims to Khuzistan, and agreed to a boundary along the center of the Shatt al-Arab. It also acceded to other territorial border arrangements long sought by Iran. Iran, in turn, stopped aiding the Kurds.

Iraq gained much in return for its concessions. Instead of making yet another agreement with the Kurds to end yet another war, the government signed an accord with Iran which both stopped the fighting and ended the threat of foreign intervention. In the wake of the Algiers Accord, the Kurdish front collapsed and between 90, and , refugees fled to Iran. The policy of the Baath government toward the question of Kurdish autonomy has taken a predictable tack.

New schools, new industries, new hospitals, extended social benefits—the north, then, is to be transformed and unified with the south. Centralization, not autonomy, will be the key to any future northern policy with the emphasis on the unity of Iraq, not the national rights of the Kurds. Prospects for a large-scale renewal of hostilities between the Kurds and the Iraqi Government are unlikely at present.

Kurdish acquiescence to Baath appeals for unity and cooperation will depend very much on the extent of the resettlement program in the south, the scope of Arabization in the north and the benefits to be realized from development programs in the autonomous region. While the Algiers Accord removed Iran as a major source of assistance and encouragement, the Kurds could now become pawns in the Syrian-Iraqi rivalry.

Syria has offered shelter, training and supplies to Jalal Talabani , rival of Mullah Mustafa, and his Kurdish revolutionary movement in their guerrilla [Page ] operations against Iraq. This support would escalate if the level of animosities between the two Baath states were to escalate. It rapidly developed into a blood feud, during which the Communists sought and found opportunities to eliminate Baathists. Wholesale killings in Mosul in laid the foundations of a pervasive hatred by Iraqi Baathists of Iraqi Communists.

The time for revenge came in The brief period of Baath rule was marked by rigid anti-Communist policies and a brutal suppression of the CPI , with many party members killed, arrested or exiled. The Communists managed to survive, however, and to reorganize despite internal splits. A estimate put party membership at 2,; by membership was estimated at 4,, not enough to pose a threat to the Baath government.

After the revolution, as a gesture of reconciliation to the pro-Moscow Central Committee of the CPI , 12 Iraqi citizenship was re [Page ] stored to Communists in exile. This raised once again the issue of cooperation with the BPI , an issue which still threatens to divide the CPI today. Where Aziz Muhammad feared Baath dominance of and control over the CPI , Amir Abdullah believed a policy of cooperation would inevitably make the Baath government dependent on the Communists.

Aziz Muhammad, convinced the Soviets would not support a divergent CPI policy, revised his position and in July signed the pact that established the National Front in Iraq. The CPI seemed to have won a major victory—it was now a legal party with the opportunity to rebuild its organization as well as the hope of influencing government policy.

Soviet insistence on CPI participation in the government influenced the Baath as well as the Communists. From the Baath point of view, however, domestic needs were a paramount consideration. The Baath hoped to solve problems of domestic disunity, i. In — a political alliance with the CPI seemed necessary, given Soviet and CPI support for the Kurdish movement and Iraqi dependence on Soviet military aid and technological assistance.

Communist units fighting in the north on the side of the government were allegedly kept short of arms and equipment. The CPI was not allowed to establish branches in captured Kurdish areas and, following the March Accord with Iran, Iraqi military commanders were ordered to prohibit heavy concentrations of CPI forces and to keep CPI units out of populated areas in the north. Other dissatisfactions arose: despite the appointment of several Communists to the Cabinet and the promise of cooperation on affairs of state, there has been virtually no policy consultation between the Baath government and the CPI.

A proposal by the CPI in fall to establish a joint higher committee on economic problems was rejected by the Baath. Although the fiction of government by National Front is being maintained, the policy of cooperation did not survive the end of the Kurdish war. By spring CPI members in ranking civil service positions and in universities were being replaced by BPI members and the party is closely watched for signs of opposition.

Fearing a recurrence of repression, the CPI will maintain a clandestine organization even while it functions as a legitimate member of the National Front. There has not yet been a complete transfer of power in Iraq from the makers of the July revolution to a new political constellation. What has occurred thus far have been piece-meal replacements and rearrangements in both the government and the party. Since Saddam Husayn has exercised an increasing amount of control over decision-making in both the government and the party, albeit under the aegis of Bakr.

Bakr seems voluntarily to have relinquished much of the routine exercise of power although he participates in ceremonial functions and is probably still a force in major political decisions. Although the reasons for this retreat are not clear, health is most probably the determining factor. Bakr and Saddam differ in both the sources of their support and in certain of their approaches to policy. Saddam derives his power from his control of the party apparatus, the security and intelligence bureaus, and the government bureaucracy. He is not popular with the military hierarchy but through periodic purges of the government and the Regional Command he has elevated his own supporters to important positions.

Bakr and Saddam have had their differences, e. They have disagreed, as well, on personnel appointments and on the degree of support to be extended to other Arab countries and for the Palestinian fedayeen.

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Independence of action and ideology is crucial in the ongoing conflict with Syria yet unity is a favorite theme in the confrontation with Israel. However, it is solidarity within the vaguely defined Arab cause and unity in regional development which the Iraqis are stressing, not union in a political sense. It is not a new theme in Iraqi history or politics. Its origins lie with Nuri al-Said and with Qasim. What is different are the means employed to attain those ends, and the different approach the Baath government has taken to ensure that independence. Given their control of the internal political structure, they have been willing to attempt new modes of political behavior, i.

Barring coup or assassination, then, Saddam Husayn will be the successor to Bakr. The Deputy at 40 is essentially an opportunist, not an ideologue. He has a reputation for courage, ruthlessness and shrewdness. He pays lip-service to an ideology of Arabism but realizes that, given the substantial non-Sunni Arab population, Iraqi nationalism and Arab unity are not necessarily one and the same thing.

In his world-view Iraq is independent, socialist, nonaligned and anti-imperialist. The Deputy is ambitious, both nationally and personally. He would have Iraq, too, resume its place as a maker of Arab policy, a participant in the shaping of Arab and Gulf affairs. However, in January Saddam was given the military rank of general by Bakr. This appointment may have been intended as a prelude to making Saddam Minister of Defense; the Deputy at present holds no Cabinet or government position other than as Deputy Chairman of the RCC.

It may have been intended as a means of guaranteeing his ultimate and solo accession to power. But Bakr has not relinquished the Defense Ministry and Saddam is no more palatable to the military as a general than he is as the Deputy. The Baath Party, then, appears to be firmly in control of the country and Bakr and Saddam Husayn are in control of the party. Policies established by them are not likely to be drastically affected by an alteration within the Baath government. Despite recent turnings to the West for arms and technology, close ties will be maintained with the [Page ] Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Iraq will no longer deal exclusively, however, with the East; large oil revenues now permit the government to shop East and West, to encourage commercial contacts and contracts with Japan, France, Italy, and the US as well as Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. These trends are likely to continue and will be pursued by the Baath and by Saddam as long as they provide results. The one area of major alteration of present policy is that of relations with Syria; a coup against the BPI or one from within the party could bring to power men disposed toward radically revising the current state of tension.

These themes are traced in subsequent sections. In addition to Bakr and Saddam Husayn, there are two groups having the potential to exercise power and influence the succession of Saddam Husayn—an inner circle of RCC members and a second-level group of Baath bureaucrats who hold multiple positions in the government and the party.

A Baathist since the s, Mustafa has been a staunch supporter of Bakr but has the respect apparently of the Deputy as well. Duri is a leader of the civilian wing of the party and has been critical of leadership decisions in the past. His recent promotion from Minister of Agrarian Reform to Minister of Interior—he is the first civilian to be appointed to that post—reflects his status in the party as well as the support of both Bakr and Saddam.

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Sadun Ghaydan al-Ani, currently Minister of Communications and a member of the RCC , was commander of the Baghdad Garrison and one of the senior military officers taking part in the July coups. Ani may not be a member of the party; he does have considerable support from the military although he no longer holds military rank. Mustafa, Duri and Ani owe their positions to influential sources of support and are probably too powerful for Saddam Husayn or anyone else to challenge at present.

However, the position of the Deputy has been strengthened in recent years by the emergence of a new class of party bureaucrats. Young Baathists with some education and experience in government and with proven loyalty to the party have risen to [Page ] new and sudden prominence, frequently holding positions in the Cabinet, the RCC and the Regional Command simultaneously. This multiplicity of positions, however, suggests more power and independence of action than they actually possess.


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Jazrawi, a Kurd, was active in Baath underground activities in the s and has been a member of the Regional Command since In November he was appointed to the RCC. In October he was named Commander of the Peoples Army described above. This promotion, made at the same time he held important party and government posts, was soon followed by a demotion of sorts, a shift from Minister of Industry to his current post. There are others like Jazrawi in the government. These individuals, through their positions, their party affiliations, their alliances with the leadership, function as executive supports for the regime.

However, the extent of their influence, the degree of their independence of action, can only be estimated. That they have survived purges and coups indicates some base of support and strength. Their ability to effect administration decisions would seem to be limited at best. Real decision-making still appears to be controlled by Bakr and Saddam Husayn, with the Deputy in firm control of both the party and the government.

The only potential source of organized opposition remaining outside the government and the party is the military. The army has played a major role in Iraqi politics since At the time of the coups, the military was at the height of its political influence and prestige; all five members of the ruling RCC [Page ] were military men. Beginning in , however, the role of the military in the politics of the Republic was severely curtailed with the introduction of civilian Baathists to the RCC and the government and by the ascendance of Saddam Husayn.

There are several explanations for this shift. Politics in the military is closely controlled. A decree of the RCC in banned all non-Baath political activity and organizations within the Iraqi armed forces. That same year a large number of party members were added to military units and to the police and security apparatus. The party has since tried to extend its influence in and control over the military in other ways. After the July 14th Revolution, Law No.

Revolt In Iraq (1963)

Small and middle-size ownerships increased greatly. But because of the reformist rather than the revolutionary nature of the law and the many loopholes compensation was guaranteed as was the choice of land for distribution among relatives and favourites. The bureaucratic and rightist nature of the Qassem and Aref regimes compelled them to introduce modifications in the interests of the feudalists. Apalling conditions prevailed in the countryside in Iraq. The feudal influence, though theoretically and legislatively destroyed, was still very strong on the eve of the July 17th Revolution.

It gained in strength because of the misapplication of the law and the run-down of the agricultural sector. The small holdings sector created by the law of agricultural reform was weak and unproductive. Farmers lacked capital, seeds, machinery and market expertise.

Arable land decreased because of increased salinity and government negligence. The farmers' inability was compounded by the increase in the number and influence of usurers. New exploitative relationships appeared as a result of the leasing of lands, which the farmers, beneficiaries of the land reform, could not work on, to the bourgeoisie and feudist classes. In the North, old patterns of ownership and feudal relationships remained intact because of armed conflict.

The number of landless peasants increased in the countryside as did the exodus to the cities. Lower agricultural productivity made Iraq, for many years after the revolution of July 14th , an importer of agricultural produce after it had been an exporter or at least self sufficient. This was not the result of population growth or increased consumption. In the industrial field, the July 14th revolution brought about many significant progressive developments. The agreement of economic and technical cooperation concluded with the Soviet Union in led to the creation of industries which would establish decisively the State's sway over this vital sector and build a new industrial infrastructure in the country.

At the same time, the government provided wide opportunities for the growth of the private sector in industry through loans, protection and other facilities. But the nature of the two bureaucratic regimes of Qassem and Aref was counterproductive. The implementation of many projects in which large amounts of capital had been invested was delayed. By the time some projects were finally completed, they were out of date technologically. Maladministration made many projects uneconomic.

Measures to prepare the required personnel for industry. In , the Aref regime nationalized many large and middle - sized factories belonging to the private sector. This increased the dominance of the public sector in industry and confined the private sector to small and middle-sized industries and to some mixed public-private industries. Such a progressive step would have produced better results had it not been for the impetuous way in which it was taken and the insincerity of its motivations.


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  • The nationalized industries came directly and indirectly under the mismanagamant and corrupt manipulation of the rightist bureaucrats and bourgeoisie class. Thus, the progressive step was emptied of its progressive content. The industrial public sector became a burden on the state, a drain on the budget instead of a source of income and hard currency. The July 14th Revolution did not impose any essential changes on internal and external trade which remained largely in the lands of the bourgeoisie.

    Indeed, the Revolution made the first step towards establishing a public sector in internal trade by the establishment of the governmental Transactions Department. Nationalization decrees in enlarged further the trade public sector. But the general phenomena of corruption prevalent in the industrial and agricultural sectors were also apparent in commerce.

    The State did not reap any benefit. Only some basic consumer goods were provided for the people at reasonable prices. Perhaps the most important results of the decrees of were those concerning foreign and Iraqi private banks and the insurance companies. This sector, despite the prevalent corruption, maintained a degree of efficiency under state control. It should be noted, however, when evaluating the nationalization measures that the public sector had been itself the highest shareholder in the factories and corporations that were nationalized.

    This may indicate that the nationalization was propagandistic in nature, and may explain also why it was later emptied of its progressive content. It is clear therefore that the Revolution of July 17th had to face three tasks in the field of socialist transformation:. It is natural that these aspects should interweave in the interests of achieving economic independence.

    Reform requires large scale administrative and organizational power. It also requires changes in government structure and methods of work and legislation. There is a need also to emphasize national and progressive cultural values. Because of the relative scarcity of national cadres, in particular, socialist and revolutionary cadres, for such tasks, it was necessary to depend on the available national cadres without emphasizing their class identity and ideological background. At the same time, socialist transformation relies on socialist culture and on socialist revolutionary cadres to confront the bourgeoisie and the remnants of feudalism.

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    That is why it is no easy task to fulfill the process in its three aforementioned aspects. It involves many-sided activity, great flexibility of means, no loss of equilibrium, a meticulous attention to the circumstances, quick resolution of the contradictions that arise and a singleness of purpose that would lead in the end to the realization of socialism. However, the shortcomings in ideological activity and the weakness of socialist education among the circles concerned made this task more difficult and led the Party and government machinery into many errors.

    A trial and error method was often followed. While it is true that experimenting is necessary, it is true that it needs clear theoretical pointers to make it meaningful and purposeful. This was lacking in the past phase. Many things were done without proper theoretical framework and scientific research. They were not accompanied by revolutionary re-evaluation, at a distance from subjective outlooks and narrow interests.

    It has been therefore very difficult to measure real success or failure. Even inability to draw accurate conclusions greatly affects the capacity of the Party and the Revolution to measure the rate of progress in this sphere or that. Among the unhealthy phenomena which deserve special attention is that of reliance on "accumulated achievements". In the first days of the Revolution there was an urgent need for projects to employ the people and give them a feeling of confidence in the Revolution.

    Time and temper did not allow for long-range efforts. Quick results with direct moral and material impact on the masses were wanted. But to continue in this way trying to win over the masses with semiplanned projects, to deceive oneself that this is the socialist way is mistaken and can lead to chaos not only in the political, economic and development fields but also in the fields of thought and social development.

    For this would impede the development plan and work against the completion of the necessary steps in the preparation for the application of socialism. Accumulation of achievements in this sense is not only born out of a weak socialist culture and ideological activity but also out of complacency by some Party members and organizations who try to take the easy way out, shying away from hard work with the masses and long term effort.

    Even self-seeking trends amongst the unions, who fought only for their own sectional gains without enough attention to the interest of society as a whole, hindered the course of socialist transformation. In addition to this there has been sonic later confusing of socialist tenets and State capitalism, the democratic content of socialism which requires dialectical commitment to centralism, and other chaotic thoughts and practices. Centralism with a democratic content must be differentiated from the centralism of state capitalism which was rejected by the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party as contrary to the interests and ideals of the Revolution.

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    The Party's awareness of the risks of deviation towards state capitalism, and its continuous education against such a deviation, compels it on assumption of power to exert special effort towards complementary socialist democratic transformation. State capitalism is a distorted image of socialism.

    It negates or at least fakes democratic relations in production, freezes the role of the working class and kills its vitality. It makes the bureaucrats, the masters and overlords of production who impose upon the working classes and lower strata of employees, a new dictatorship not very different from that of the bourgeoisie class and its exploitation. It has a distorted view of socialism as a mere economic activity unrelated to the other aspects of the life of Society.

    Justifications of centralism with democratic content are one thing and the centralism of the capitalism of the State are another. They are contradictory and run counter to each other. When the working class, its organizations and some officials of the various production sectors are not sufficiently aware of this, it is the responsibility of the Party to raise their cultural, technical, organizational and political standards in order to protect the interests of all in Arab society. It is our responsibility to meet any such lack of awareness and not allow it to obstruct the development of the working class by sliding into State capitalism.

    Lack of awareness and experience is not helped by preventing the working class from taking part in the actual programming and control of development, thus depriving them of ever acquiring the necessary experience and knowledge regarding the problems involved. One of the main tasks of the Revolution was make radical agricultural reform very early on. It was also necessary to modify radically the old agricultural reform law of The modifications were made in and cancelled compensation for the feudal landlords and their so-called land option for the areas left to them under the old law.

    The land was distributed free to the peasants. This stemmed from an outlook which does not recognize feudalists' ownership of land or any other privileges over the landless peasants. The Revolution issued another new law for agricultural reform, No. Expropriation and redistribution of land were carried out all over the country, except for a few areas in the North where abnormal circumstances prevail.

    The Revolution of July 17th achieved the great mission which should have been realized by the July 14th revolution. Feudalism and feudal relationships in the Iraqi countryside were obliterated. Legal status of land ownership under the Revolution was confined to small and medium size holdings. Production relationships underwent a significant change.


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    • Arable land in Iraq is equal to 23 million donums. State farms occupy thousand donums, collective farms 64 thousand donums, and cooperative farms 11 million donums. The State owns a further 2 million donums which have been contracted out to farmers collectively. Private and other forms of land ownership hold 8,, donums. Such development is of significance. The back of feudalism in Iraq has been broken. No material or legal supports for it have remained outside some tribal and backward social links which are on the decline. Except for the North, there is no feudal influence in the country.

      Democratic practices in the countryside have progressed and developed with the participation of farmers' leagues in the political, economic and social life of the country. New production relations and traditions are replacing the old ones. It must be added, however, that in spite of all this progress in the countryside the model is still not socialist. New measures must be taken to increase the socialist sector state farms, collective, and cooperative farms to render it dominant and better in all respects.

      Efforts must be redoubled to spread socialist culture among the farmers. There remains the fact that the arable land is still not enough for the farmers. In spite of the new agricultural reform law and the reduction of' the maximum ownership, a large number of farmers are still landless and obliged to labour for wages with the small or medium-size owners, or migrate to cities.

      This number will increase with the natural population increase and the spread of farm mechanization.