Iraqi Baath Is Reborn

Three factions of Saddam Hussein‘s old ruling Baath party are preparing for a clandestine convention to reconstitute the banned grouping under the name of The New Baath Party. The venue they have chosen is the restive al Anbar province of northwestern Iraq. The move defies the 2003 US action to outlaw the Baath party and shut its members out of administrative and security jobs in the Baghdad government. This step helped push dispossessed Baathists, many of them experienced administrators in civilian and military government, into the arms of the insurgent movement. Rather than being allowed to continue in office and earn a living for themselves and families, these former officials were purged by the Shiite government’s National Debaathification Commission.

The displaced, jobless officials were left with two options. Those with money in their pockets left Iraq and settled abroad; the penniless turned to insurgency groups which offered them monthly paychecks amounting to 60% of their former earnings in Saddam’s government. This did not represent great riches in present-day Iraq, a few hundred dollars a month, but it was enough to lift them out of penury and keep the wolf from the door.

The three groups planning to get together in al Anbar are:

1. A National Leadership headed by Abdel Baqi Saadon.

2. The Syrian Tanzim. Its members are not Syrian but Iraqi Baathists who spent most of the years of Saddam’s rule in Syria because they disapproved of some of his works.

After the 2003 US-led invasion, they returned to Iraq, hoping to make a fresh start. Their leaders are Mohammed Mashahadni and Fawzi Rawai.

3. The Provisional Leadership which is headed by Sabah al Madani.

The three groups have drafted a paper to submit to the conference. It focuses on exposing the “big mistakes” committed by the deposed ruler, especially in his treatment of Iraqi Shiites and his divide and rule tactics against the communities making up Iraqi society. But by and large, despite these errors, they laud Saddam Hussein as one of the greatest leaders in Iraq’s history and maintain their allegiance to him.

This paper has been circulated in Iraqi Sunni circles, with the proposal that the founding meeting of the New Baath Party adopt it as its party platform.

The organizers have also distributed flyers calling on veterans who resigned their party membership in the 1960s and 1970s over ideological controversies to return to its ranks and take part in elections for its institutions.

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