Ch6-BaathistRise2010 - 6 Consolidating Baathist Power,...

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Unformatted text preview: 6 Consolidating Baathist Power, 1968-1979 Iraqs Arab Baath Sot Party organized a coup detat on 17 July 1968, replacing the government of Abd al-Rahman Arif. There are many factors that contributed to the Arif regimes downfall. The government, for example, was fighting a war with Kurds in the north, and this destabilized the regime. Further, Arif had created networks of patronage that heavily favored a very narrow group, namely his own Sunni al-Jumayla tribe (Fattah, 207). Factors contributing to the Baaths overthrow of the Arif government, however, included more than just widespread domestic discontent with the regime. In June 1967, the Arab world suffered a humiliating defeat in the Six Day War with Israel, and this wreaked political havoc in Iraq. Under Arif, Iraq had remained neutral in this struggle, and Iraqis and the officers in the army were unhappy with this (Fattah, 208). 77 The Arab Baath Sot Party espoused a populist ideology, but it did not necessarily have widespread support at the time of the coup. The political party of the Baath had been created in Syria in 1941, and its principal ideologue was Michel Aflaq, a Christian. It was a secular party that theoretically welcomed people of different faiths. It was pan-Arab in its orientation, meaning that it intended to draw together all states--viewed as artificial constructions--of the Arab-speaking world. Since European powers that had artificially divided the Arab nation, it enunciated anti-imperial ideas. In the economic sphere, the Baath sought a sot program that would spread the wealth of the old elite fostered by colonialism. In this way, the Baath sought to be a mass movement. Baathism flourished throughout the Middle East, though in Iraq it would remain a relatively small movement until the end of the 1960s. The historian Hala Fattah notes, Baathist ideology was sufficiently vague and adaptable to accommodate a number of disparate elements in the Iraqi population (Fattah, 209). 78 Leaders of Iraqs Baath party would ultimately eschew many of the ideologys basic tenets. The two key actors in the Baath Party during its first ten years of rule would be President Hasan al-Bakr and Vice-President Saddam Hussein, who took over for al-Bakr in 1979. These men were, as identified by Charles Tripp, nominally Baathist, meaning they privileged national priorities over the Pan-Arab goals (Tripp, 186). Hussein, in particular, exercised primordial influence in Iraq, beginning to forge what one historian calls the Saddamist State by the 1970s (Dawisha, 211). Such a state was based on highly personalized networks of patronage, whereby the Baath privileged certain groups, most notably Sunnis from Tikrit, hometown of Bakr and Hussein. In retaining power, the Baath had to neutralize its political rivals--Communists, Shii clerics and Kurds-- and it did so by relying on mechanisms of political violence that pitted the state against opposition groups....
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This note was uploaded on 02/17/2011 for the course HIST 246 taught by Professor Holden during the Spring '11 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.

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Ch6-BaathistRise2010 - 6 Consolidating Baathist Power,...

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