Ba'ath Party

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حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي
Arab-Socialist Ba'ath Party
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.svg
founding April 7, 1947 by Michel Aflaq , Salah al-Din al-Bitar and others
resolution 1966: Split into two factions: Iraqi and Syrian Baath parties
Headquarters Iraqi branch: Baghdad until 2003 , since then still active underground; Syrian branch: Damascus
Alignment Baathism:
Arab socialism , Arab nationalism , Pan-Arabism
Colours) Pan-Arabic colors : black, red, white and green

The Baath Party ( French Parti Baas arabe socialiste ; full name hizb al-baʿth al-ʿarabī al-ischtirākī  /حزب البعث العربي الإشتراكي / ḥizb al-baʿṯ al-ʿarabī al-ištirākī  / 'Arab Socialist Party of Resurrection', from arab. Baʿth  /بعث / baʿṯ  / 'rebirth, resurrection, renewal, awakening') is a political party that is active with branches in numerous Arab countries.

The ideology of Baathism combines nationalist pan-Arabism and revolutionary secularism with the elements of Arab socialism . Baathism is also the ideology of the so-called Neo-Ba'ath Party , an offshoot of the Ba'ath Party in Syria . In the course of time, a Syrian and an Iraqi party emerged, which feuded among themselves. After 40 years of rule in Iraq (1963–2003), Baathism is only a state ideology in Syria today .


The party was founded in 1940 by the Syrian Michel Aflaq , who came from a Greek Orthodox Christian family, and the Sunni Muslim Salah ad-Din al-Bitar in Damascus . There are different opinions as well as competing Iraqi and Syrian versions about the founding date. Apparently there were two trends from the start. After 1939, both the intellectual Zaki al-Arsuzi, who had been expelled from Alexandrette , and the Damascus Sorbonne graduates Michel Aflaq and Salah ad-Din al-Bitar founded political clubs.In 1940, the party journal al-baʿth appeared for the first time (initially irregularly) , from 1944 both clubs worked together. The official unification and founding day of the Party of the Arab Revival is dated April 7, 1947, and from July 1947 the newspaper al-baʿth appeared regularly. The predominantly intellectual followers united first middle-class (non-Marxist, French) socialism notions and nationalist ideas (z. B. of Antoun Saadeh ) instead of religious orientation. The relationship between the Ba'ath and the communists was marked by sharp arguments. The reason was that the communists showed no understanding of Arab nationalism. The Arab socialists also added to the communists that they demonstrated for the anti-Hitler coalition - including Charles de Gaulle - during the Second World War, when the Arab countries were still colonies of England and France .

The term Al-Baath ( rebirth ) was initially borrowed from the concept of the Risorgimento from the writings of the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini .

"Unity, Freedom, Socialism"

The motto “Unity, Freedom, Socialism” on a party logo used by the Iraqi Ministry of Information for propaganda publications

According to its nationalist- laicist program, the Ba'ath Party preached unity (of the Arab homeland), freedom (and independence from the colonial powers) and (an Arab) socialism of the “third kind”. Due to the first point, the Baath Party has been a driving force for the unification of Syria with Egypt to the United Arab Republic (1958-1961) and the new edition of 1963 , the latter two goals led both Western to acquire ideas about life and from the Eastern bloc originating views of a modern socialist society.

According to the Iraqi-born American Adeed Dawisha, violence and coercion were firmly established in the party's ideology as legitimate means of politics. The party founder Michel Aflaq justified this political practice in a written publication of his speeches in 1963: "When we are cruel to others, we know that our cruelty only serves to bring them back to their true selves, from which they are alienated." According to the American author Paul Salem, Aflaq's concept of freedom did not describe the individual as the bearer of freedom rights, but the freedom that the members of a party-led collective would experience in a socialist society.

In a sense, Baathism first developed in opposition to the Sunnah . After the predominantly Sunni pan-Islamism failed to prevent colonialism, pan-Arabism took its place with a similar motivation. Instead of religious unity of all (Sunni) Muslims across national borders, Baathism demands national unity of all Arabs across religious borders; including Shiite, Christian Arabs, etc., and with no involvement of Turks and Persians . The Ba'ath ideology is therefore fundamentally secular and reinterprets Islam as a religion of the Arabs. She defines the former in her doctrine

"Art. 10: is an Arab whose language is Arabic and who lives or strives to live on Arabic soil and who believes in his connection with the Arab nation. "

Organizational principles

The Ba'ath Party was organized according to the principle of democratic centralism borrowed from the Bolsheviks . The party cell functions as the smallest unit. The highest body is the National Command, which has the right to speak for the entire Arab world. Separate regional commands were created for the various countries . According to Israeli historians, membership in the party in Iraq was a social privilege that was only granted after several years of candidate status and that required loyalty. For a career in the military, the bureaucracy or the trade unions, party membership was essential. In addition, non-party members were discriminated against in admission to higher education. In Syria in 1985 there were around 4 to 5 registered supporters for every full member who took several years to acquire full membership. The supporters were grouped into a three-tier ranking system. The party expelled full members and supporters who seemed unsuitable at various intervals. In Iraq under Saddam Hussein, there were around 1.5 million supporters for every 25,000 full members. The party tried to penetrate society through its sub-organizations for work, leisure, culture and education. In Syria, for example, the party's sub-organizations formed an extensive network for social control of the population. According to the American historian Ibrahim al-Marashi, the party paid special attention to the penetration and so-called Baathization of the armed forces in order to maintain the party's political power. On the one hand, this was done through direct monitoring and through the formation of party-owned military structures that existed parallel to the regular armed forces.

Party history

The Ba'ath Party is therefore an example of the mixing of non-Sunni and socialist views. In addition to the Sunnis al-Bitar and Jalal al-Sayyid, two non-Sunnis were among their pioneers and founders: the Orthodox Christian Michel Aflaq and the Alawit Zaki al-Arsuzi .

Association with the socialists in 1953

Akram al-Haurani (left) with Michel Aflaq (1957)

The Syrian version of the party history reports in 1953 about the unification of the party with the socialists. The Iraqi version adopted by the West ignores al-Arsuzi and ascribes the leading third role in his place to the Sunni Akram al-Haurani . With Haurani's "Arab Socialist Party" the Ba'ath Party had merged in 1953 to form the Socialist Party of the Arab Rebirth (Socialist Arab Ba'ath Party). Haurani became party chairman, Aflaq general secretary, and since 1952 a section of the Ba'ath party had also emerged in Iraq under the Shiite Fuad ar-Rikabi .

However, al-Arsuzi protested against the unification, change of course and expansion and turned away from the environment of the Baath party, which was later to be exploited ideologically.


With the founding of the Iraqi branch, an Iraqi regional leadership of the party had arisen, in addition there was a Syrian regional leadership and further regional leaderships in every other Arab country as well as a superordinate all-Arab national leadership, initially still uniform. In 1958, General Secretary Aflaq dissolved the party in Syria as a condition for unification with Egypt, Haurani became Egyptian Vice President, but in 1959 Aflaq, Bitar and Haurani left the alliance with Nasser and fled to Lebanon.

The Iraqi Ba'ath Party under Regional Secretary General ar-Rikabi continued to exist and took part in the revolution of 1958 and in coup attempts against Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1959. After these coup attempts failed, ar-Rikabi was expelled from the party and ran in 1961 over to the pro-propaganda splinter group around the former Ba'ath General Secretary of Jordan, Abdallah ar-Rimawi . Aflaq and the National Command then appointed Hamdi Abd al-Madjid, a distant uncle of Saddam Hussein, as the new general secretary of the Iraqi Ba'ath party.

Joint seizure of power in 1963

Three stars in the flag of Syria until 1972 and the flag of Iraq until 1991/2008

After the dissolution of the United Arab Republic , it was re-established in Syria in 1961 and al-Haurani was expelled from the party. In Iraq, the Shiite Ali Salih al-Sa'di took over from al-Majid as Regional Secretary General.

In the spring of 1963, the Ba'ath Party seized power in Iraq by means of a bloody coup. Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim was shot and his body was displayed on national television. The coup took place in coordination with the CIA . After the successful takeover of power, a wave of repression followed with mass executions of true and alleged communists in cooperation with the US intelligence service. The new government operated under the presidency of the non-Baathist Abd as-Salam Arif . In the background, however, key positions were held by Baathists. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr became Prime Minister and Ali Salih As-Saadi became Minister of the Interior. The party's Revolutionary Command Council, previously created underground, became the country's real center of power.

In the same year, the Syrian wing of the party took power in the March 8 Revolution , with al-Bitar becoming the country's premier. In both Syria and Iraq, the Baathists first had to form an alliance with Nasserists. Soon, however, there were power struggles between the allies.

However, the unification of the two states with Egypt , decided in April 1963 , did not materialize. Only the three stars in the Iraqi flag (now also in the Syrian flag) reminded of the project.

Secession and splitting

Even before the more well-known schism of 1966, the Ba'ath party had gone through several splits or party splits

  • In 1960 the “Rimawi Group” declared itself to be the rival “Revolutionary National Command of the Baath Party” instead of the “Aflaqist” national command that had emigrated from Syria to Lebanon. After the collapse of the union with Egypt, Rimawi had to withdraw to Cairo in 1961.
  • Accused of both the dissolution of the party and the collapse of the Union, Aflaq, Bitar and Haurani both left the Ba'ath Party in 1961, both Haurani and the Union's most ardent supporters. The excluded Haurani founded his former "Arab Socialist Party" as the Arab Socialist Movement new, the Unionist Jamal al-Soufi, the movement of the unit Socialists (Socialist Unionist Movement). Both movements split into other parties.
  • Instead of unity, al-Sa'di forced Aflaq and Bitar to be voted out of office at the National Congress of the Baath Party in Damascus in October 1963 with the help of the Syrian left Baathist Yasin al-Hafiz. As-Sa'di's attempt to exclude Iraqi rivals from the party through an extraordinary regional congress in Baghdad in November 1963 resulted in a coup that overthrew the Ba'ath government and ended with the expulsion of al-Sa'dis, Yasin al-Hafiz and Abd al-Madjids and the temporary loss of power of the Ba'ath Party in Iraq. Abd al-Madjid and Yasin al-Hafiz then founded the “Labor Revolutionary Party”, and al-Sa'di also founded its own splinter party, but both parties quickly sank into insignificance.
  • After the new Baathist-Nassist alliance broke up in 1963, the chief ideologue of the Syrian Baathists, Jamal al-Atassi , left the party and sided with Nasser. Together with other anti-Baathist factions, he founded the Arab Socialist Union in Syria in 1964 . From the Unity Socialists, however, Sami al-Jundi returned to the Ba'ath Party in 1963 and was Atassi's successor as chief ideologist.

February Revolution in Syria

In February 1966, Syria's Prime Minister al-Bitar and President Amin al-Hafiz were overthrown by Alawite and Druze rivals within the Syrian Ba'ath Party ( Salah Jadid ). These excluded the founders al-Bitar and Aflaq in March and formed a new regional leadership in Damascus as well as a new all-Arab national leadership under Nureddin al-Atassi . The Iraqi regional leadership (since 1964 under al-Bakr) did not recognize the new national leadership in Damascus.

From then on, both regional parties fought each other as “ deviants ” and “regionalists”, which was a major factor in the defeat of the Syrians in the six-day war, despite Iraqi arms aid. The Syrian Ba'ath regime had withdrawn elite troops from the front to Damascus to prevent Iraqi reinforcements from a coup in favor of the ousted Ba'ath faction, while the Israelis pushed into the gap in the front.

July Revolution in Iraq and November Revolution in Syria

National leadership in Baghdad:
Michel Aflaq , Saddam Hussein , Shibli al-Aysami , Hasan al-Bakr (from left to right)

In July 1968, the military coup in Iraq brought al-Bakr to power again, while in November 1970 Alawite Baath officers under Hafiz al-Assad in Damascus ousted their Druze and Sunni brothers in arms (" corrective movement "). Despite the joint struggle of Syrian and Iraqi troops in the 1973 Yom Kippur War , al-Bakr formed a rival national leadership of the Ba'ath Party alongside his regional leadership in Baghdad in 1974. The old party founder Aflaq became general secretary and first Shibli al-Aysami , then al-Bakr (1979–1989 Saddam Hussein ) his deputy. After Aflaq's death, Saddam Hussein became general secretary in 1989, while Aflaq's long-time employee Elias Farah took over the party's ideological orientation towards a personality cult around Saddam Hussein.

In contrast to Aflaq's national leadership, the national leadership formed in Damascus in 1966 is therefore also known as the Neo-Baath party .

Further splits

Syria's ex-Baath chief ideologue al-Jundi (2nd from left), Prime Minister Zuayyen and Foreign Minister Makhous (2nd from right) in Paris in 1967

The Baath-internal struggles for direction and the change of government in Syria in 1966 and 1970 led to further splits.

  • The "old Baathists", overthrown by Jadid and al-Atassi in 1966, led by ex-President Amin al-Hafiz, who fled to Iraq, and ex-Secretary-General al-Aysami formed a rival Syrian in exile in Iraq (and with the support of the Iraqi Baath Party) Regional command, supported the uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982 and formed a national front for the liberation of Syria together with moderate Muslim Brotherhoods and liberal Islamists, a communist splinter group around Riyadh al-Turk , the socialists around Hawrami and Syrian Nasserists .
  • After the overthrow of Jadid and al-Atassi in 1970, their "left" supporters split off as the Arab Socialist Democratic Baath Party and in 1980 joined the democratic opposition movement. Since Jadid, al-Atassi and Zuayyin were imprisoned, Ibrahim Makhous became chairman of the ASDBP.
  • After 1973 Iraqi Ba'athists in exile in Syria (and with the support of the Syrian Ba'ath Party) formed a rival Iraqi regional command under Abd al-Jabbar al-Kubaisi and allied themselves with Iraqi Communists and Kurds.
  • Salah Umar al-Ali , 1969–1970 member of the Iraqi Ba'ath regional command, founded an anti-Iraqi opposition alliance with various non-Baathist splinter groups in 1982 in exile in London.


Baath founder Aflaq (right) finally sided with the Iraqi party leaders after 1974

From then on, both Syrian and Iraqi Baathists tried to find an ideological justification for their position and their claim to leadership. The repeated self-designation or flagellation of the respective other wing as left or right, old Baathist or neo-Catholic, civil or military, regionalist or nationalist, Sunni or Alawite, radical or pragmatic etc. only helps to a limited extent to classify the split comprehensively.

Left or right

Both sides accused themselves as both “ left ” and “ right ” deviants and of betraying the goal of Arab unity. Al-Sa'di had already described his Iraqi group as the revolutionary “left” ( Marxists ) and Aflaq and Bitar as the “right”, and the Syrian neo-Baathists of 1966 were therefore also seen as radical “left”.

However, these categorizations seem pointless. Because it was just as-Sa'dis party militia that destroyed the communist (Marxist) "left" of Iraq, while the "right" al-Bakr from 1974 converted the Iraqi Baath party into a "left" coalition ( National Progressive Front ) led with communists and Sunni Kurds.

In Syria, too, where Hafiz al-Assad overthrew the “left” again in 1970 , the Neo-Ba'ath Party concluded a similar coalition front with communists, Nasserists and the left-wing ex-Ba'athists who split off in 1961. The disempowered “left” then referred to themselves as “democrats”. In Iraq, on the other hand, Saddam Hussein was originally counted as part of the “left” Ba'ath wing, although under him cooperation with the communists was ended and Iraq condemned the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan.

Saddam Hussein defined socialism as follows:

“The general social orientation in the view of our party and the great July Revolution (of 1968) is the elimination of every form, every policy or every measure that can lead to the creation of wealth, which can exert pressure on the people, on the Life of people, on their freedom and which determines the role of people in life. "

- Saddam Hussein : Economy and Management in Socialist Society , p. 23

“Socialism does not mean the equal distribution of wealth between the wealthy and the poor; that would be too inflexible. Rather, socialism is a means of increasing productivity. "

- Saddam Hussein : in: ath-thawra , cit. in: Working Group Backgrounds Middle East (Ed.): Crises, Conflicts, Wars. Gulf and Middle East; Münster 1991, p. 18

Nationalist or regionalist

Logo of the Ba'ath Party, as it was used for a long time by its Syrian offshoot (meanwhile a torch replaces the Ba'ath flag)

Another accusation is the mutual defamation that the other side has given up pan-Arabism and the fight for the Palestinian cause, Syria has tended only to Greater Syria since Antun Sa'ada , Iraq since Abd al-Karim Qasim to Iraqi Arabism (regional patriotism).

“The main difference between Bathism in Syria and Iraq before the party's split in 1966 was that the movement had deep roots in Syria, home of Arabism. However, this tradition was much less pronounced in Iraq. "

- Sluglett, pp. 102f

In fact, however, the Iraqi Ba'ath Party had helped Abd al-Sallam Arif to power against Kassim in 1963 , and the Syrian Ba'ath Party, in turn, made several attempts at reunification with Egypt and Libya in 1970-80 as part of the Arab unity struggle. In the inner Palestinian power struggle, both parties supported rival factions, Iraq supported Yasser Arafat's allies , Syria his opponent.

Alawitic or Sunni

Iraqi leaders Saddam Hussein and Hasan al-Bakr came from the Sunni Takriti faction , while Assad's Alawite Latakia faction dominated in Syria

In order to justify the rivalry ideologically, the Neo-Ba'ath Party in Damascus invokes al-Arsuzi, who rejected the Ba'ath realignment under Aflaq, while the Ba'ath Party in Baghdad sees itself as the keeper of Aflaq's "right" path wanted to.

While al-Arsuzi died in 1968 and has since been interpreted as required, Aflaq in Baghdad is said to have converted to Sunni Islam before his death in 1989. This is where at least one of the “real” differences can be found. While the Iraqi Baath Party since ar-Rikabis replacement mainly from the Sunni triangle recruited and ruled over a majority Shiite population, the leaders of the Syrian Baath Party since 1970, coming almost exclusively from the region of the Alawite -Minderheit and dominate a Sunni Majority of the population.

“Since the fall of Qasim, every group that came to power has relied on the support of the region or family. An important function of the 'party' in Iraq and similar states (e.g. Syria) is to support these personalized political systems and to conceal their actual mechanism of rule. "

- Sluglett, p. 224

For the Sunni Baathists of Iraq, the reconciliation with their Syrian comrades decided in 1978 and the planned Syrian-Iraqi unification would have broadened their power base to a certain extent, whereas the Alevite Baathists of Syria would have become an even smaller minority in a larger state. Nevertheless, it was not the Syrian Baathists but the Iraqi Baathists who abandoned this project in 1979. The main reason for this was again the Syrian refusal to reunite the party apparatuses before the state apparatuses, which would have called for a reconciliation with Aflaq for the Syrian Neo-Ba'ath Party. In any case, the religious difference plays only a subordinate role in view of the secular orientation of the Ba'ath party.

“The hard core of the supporters of Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad are members of his own community, the Alawites, a minority from the mountains behind Latakia (Antioch). Indeed, Bathism is flexible enough to be adopted by any grouping in the Arab Middle East (whether 'majority' or 'minority') because it is extremely vague and has neither an analytical background nor clearly defined goals. That is why the mere repetition of pious sayings was and is still sufficient today. For example, the establishment of 'Arab unity' is used to give the false impression that Bath parties or Bath regimes are seriously striving to achieve this goal. "

- Sluglett, pp. 120f

Military or civil

Another difference is the relationship between the military and the party apparatus. In Iraq after 1965 with the expulsion of al-Sa'dis, the “military” wing of the Baath party was ousted, with the handover of the military al-Bakr to Saddam Hussein in 1979, the non-military or “civil” wing of the party finally sat down by. In order to control the military and to secure power with its help, the armed forces were "baathized" with the help of party officers (similar to the political commissars of the Eastern Bloc).

"At this point it should be emphasized that the civilian appearance of the regime, which is expressed by the fact that civilians have been more numerous than the military in the Revolutionary Command Council since 1969, is relativized by the fact that the civilians were always supported by an officer corps, which was increasingly 'bathed' over time, so that the distinction between 'civil' and 'military' is not very meaningful. "

- Sluglett, p. 132

“Although the regime is not a purely military regime as in countries where a few generals take power and then form a pro forma party, the army is one of its pillars. It is therefore misleading to characterize the regime as 'civil' rather than 'military', since in the case of Iraq no clear dividing line can be drawn between the two areas. "

- Sluglett, p. 218

In the case of Syria, the opposite is a reality. Since 1970 at the latest, the Ba'ath Party has been an extension of a small group of Alawite generals who subordinate the civilian party apparatus to the exclusively Alawite military . But even before that, “left” or “right” civilians had repeatedly joined forces with “left” or “right” military to overthrow the other group.


Ideological, economic and military expansion efforts of Baathist Iraq in the Arab world 1963-2003 (subsidiary parties, economic alliances, union projects and military interventions)
Ideological, economic and military expansion efforts of Baathist Syria in the Arab world 1958-2005 (subsidiary parties, alliances, union projects and military interventions)

In addition to the Syrian and Iraqi regional leadership, Baath parties had also sprung up in other Arab regions (countries) before the split in 1966. Some of these Baath offshoots or spin-offs were called or are now or in the meantime called the avant-garde party (Tunisia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Yemen).

Ba'ath parties in Arab states

  • 1947: Syria
  • 1949: Palestine
  • 1951: Lebanon
  • 1952: Iraq
  • 1954: Jordan
  • 1956: Bahrain
  • 1958: South Yemen
  • 1964: Sudan
  • 2011: Tunisia (founded after the revolution)

In addition, regional Ba'ath parties also existed or exist in Libya (1952–1962), Saudi Arabia and Mauritania. Most of them were banned and dissolved after unsuccessful coup attempts (most recently in 2003 and 2004 in Mauritania). After the split, the regional parties also faced the question of which of the rival national leaderships they should follow from now on.

The change of the Lebanese Baath party from a Baghdad-oriented or pro-Bitar / Aflaq party after 1966 to a Damascus-oriented party after the Syrian invasion of Lebanon in 1976 (the pro-Iraqi wing split off and went under in 1990) is remarkable. . After the death of Syrian President Assad, however, the Lebanese Ba'ath Party is said to have been embroiled in a power struggle between his brother Rifaat and son Bashir .

Two Palestinian Ba'ath parties

There are even two Ba'ath parties among the Palestinians; the unified Ba'ath party founded in 1949 disappeared with the split in 1966 and the Israeli occupation since 1967. In their place and from what was left of them , a pro-Syrian Ba'ath faction founded the as-Saiqa pioneers of the wars of people's liberation in 1968 , while a pro-Iraqi Ba'ath fraction in 1969 established the Arab Liberation Front (ALF). Both Palestinian Ba'ath parties are members of the PLO and the Palestinian National Council (PNC) and are recognized by the respective national leaderships in Damascus and Baghdad.

The as-Saiqa officers lead the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) established by Damascus and stationed in Syria , but became increasingly isolated after the defeat in the power struggle with Arafat and the rejection of peace with Israel. The numerically smaller ALF supported both Arafat and Saddam Hussein, but fell with the fall of the Ba'ath regime in Baghdad.

Representatives of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party and the ALF have repeatedly tried to emphasize that the Ba'athist policy and the armed struggle in Palestine are against Zionism and the "Zionist entity 'Israel' on the soil of occupied Palestine" (the official Iraqi name for the State of Israel), but not against Judaism and the Jewish population.

“The defeat of Zionism does not imply a Jewish genocide, as propagated by the imperialist circles of the West; it implies securing justice for all Arabs and oriental Jews who are suffering under the Yoke of racial discrimination. By the realization of Arab unity the Jews would enjoy the opportunities of a happy and dignified life all over the Arab homeland, notably as history has always lent evidence to a healthy coexistence between the Arabs and the Jews. "

- Hassan Tawalba : The Ba'th and Palestine

Contrary to this statement, on April 7, 1980, ALF terrorists attacked the children's home at Kibbutz Misgav Am in northern Israel and killed the kibbutz secretary and a small child.

Two Yemeni Ba'ath parties

At the time of the proclamation of the republic in North Yemen (1962), Muhsin al-Aini was the leading Ba'ath politician before turning to the Nasserists and then the moderate republicans. After the party split in 1966 and the emergence of a second Yemeni state (South Yemen's independence in 1967), the Yemeni Ba'ath Party faced an acid test.

The pro-Syrian faction in South Yemen, which is allied with Syria, was re-established as an avant-garde party and in 1975 concluded an alliance (United Political Organization of the National Front) with the ruling nationalists of the NLF (National Liberation Front) and the communists. Ultimately, these three parties united in 1978 (under the leadership of the NLF) to form the Yemeni Socialist Party (JSP). The pro-Iraqi wing did not join and remained illegal because of the party ban. The pro - Syrian avant-garde party in North Yemen formed an opposition National Democratic Front against President Ali Abdullah Salih in 1976, together with Nasserists and other leftists and nationalists , which was supported by South Yemen and waged an armed struggle from 1978 to 1982. The pro-Iraqi Ba'ath cells stayed away from the front from 1978 onwards and were benevolent towards the Salih regime, which was allied with Iraq, which is why they enjoyed a certain semi-legal tolerance, despite the ban on parties in North Yemen.

With the re-admission of parties within the framework of the unification of Yemen in 1990, the Avant-Garde Party was re-established and registered under the old name of the Baath Party. The pro-Iraqi wing re-established itself as the National Ba'ath Party . Both Ba'ath parties formed an electoral alliance in 1993 and together won a handful of parliamentary seats. Then, however, the pro-Iraqi faction left the alliance and from then on only played a certain role locally, before, after the fall of the Iraqi Ba'ath regime (2003), they again sought rapprochement with the pro-Syrian Baathists who were now allied with the JSP. Both Ba'ath parties took part in the overthrow of the Salih regime in 2011 .


The fall of the Iraqi Ba'ath regime in the attack by the US Allies in 2003 drove parts of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party into exile in Syria. The pro-Iraqi split of the Syrian Ba'ath Party, which had been in exile in Iraq since 1966 and 1970 and had been led by old Ba'athist politicians (e.g. Amin al-Hafiz) until 2003, also returned to Syria. In addition, since 1965 and 1979, respectively, there was a pro -Syrian split from the Iraqi Ba'ath party in exile in Syria, led by Abd al-Jabbar al-Kubaisi . In 1980, at Syrian behest, Kubaisi's faction had allied itself with exiled Iraqi factions of communists, Nasserists and left Kurds to form the National Democratic Patriotic Front , but then in 1995 in Paris merged its splinter party with most of the others to form a new Arab-Socialist party, which from then on became the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance called.


Even before the US invasion, al-Kubaisi returned to Iraq at the invitation of Saddam Hussein at the end of 2002, but then after his overthrow in 2003 claimed his party's approval on the grounds that his pro-Syrian Baathists had fought against Saddam Hussein's regime for years. Instead, al-Kubaisi was arrested and tortured in 2004, and was not released until 2005.

Informal variant of the Ba'ath party flag with a Saladin eagle , as used underground on a website of the Iraqi regional administration ad-Duris

The Ba'ath Party, which has been fighting in the Iraqi underground since 2003, has been led by Izzat Ibrahim ad-Duri since Saddam Hussein's arrest and execution . However, his leadership role within the Ba'athist resistance in Iraq has been challenged by Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmad , who has been operating from Syria since 2003. Yunis al-Ahmad had initially hoped for some form of agreement with the US occupation forces and tried, with Syrian help, to reunite both party wings (his and that led by ad-Duri). In December 2004 he had himself elected as the party's new general secretary in al-Hasakah, Syria, by Baathists in exile in Iraq. Even Saddam Hussein's daughter Raghad had risen from her exile in Jordan from leadership claims and supports the Baathist resistance in Iraq. In Iraq itself, however , in Ramadi , ad-duri was finally elected general secretary by Ba'athist underground officials and commanders in January 2007. Since then, Ad-Duri has led the remnants of the Ba'ath Party into a broader Sunni resistance alliance, which is supported by fighters of the Naqschbandi order.

A large proportion of the Baathists who fled into exile in Syria or who continued to fight in the Iraqi underground apparently hoped for a long time that (as in 1963) it would only be a temporary loss of power. Some of the Baathist underground commandos therefore call themselves, for example, the "Second Return" ( al-'Awda at-Thaaniya ) etc. Numerous Sunni ex-Baathists have instead more or less resigned themselves to the new regime and, in 2010, to the large pro-American Shiite electoral alliance Irakija Iyad Allawi (including Salah Umar al-Ali), although several ex-Baathist candidates (e.g. Salih al-Mutlak ) were not allowed to stand for election.


Since the end of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq and the overthrow of the Arab-socialist regime in Libya (2011), the regime in Syria has also been fighting for its political survival. After Hafiz al-Assad's death (2000), his son and successor Bashar al-Assad initially initiated the so-called Damascus Spring , but the cautious reform approaches quickly ended and the social problems remained unsolved. With the dismissal of long-time prime minister Mahmoud Zoubi († 2000) and the break with long-time Baath politicians Mustafa Tlas (2004) and Abd al-Halim Chaddam (2005), the Assad regime increasingly lost its already weak base under the Sunni Majority of the population. After the outbreak of the civil war in Syria (2011) and the defection of Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab (2012) to the opposition, the Arab states supporting the opposition suggested that Assad should hand over power to the Sunni Vice President Faruk al-Sharaa . However, the Shiite regime in Baghdad fears that this could rekindle resistance from Sunni Baathists in Iraq. In July 2013 al-Sharaa lost all positions in the Ba'ath leadership as part of a reshuffle of the party leadership carried out by Assad, but is still Vice President of Syria.

See also


Web links

Commons : Ba'ath Party  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hasan M. Dudin: Between Marx and Mohammed: Arabian Socialism . Ed .: Mey Dudin. Createspace, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-1-5351-6286-9 , p. 123 .
  2. Kamal Salibi: The Modern History of Jordan , 2nd edition, 1998, p. 173
  3. Adeed Dawisha: Iraq, A Political History from Independence to Occupation , Princeton, pp. 214-215; Kanan Makiya: Republic of Fear , Berkeley, 1998, pp. 206-208
  4. quoted from Adeed Dawisha: Iraq, A Political History from Independence to Occupation , Princeton, p. 215; Original text in English: "When we are cruel to others, we know that our cruelty is meant to bring them back to their true selves, of which they are ignorant."
  5. ^ Paul Salem: Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World , Syracuse, 1994, p. 67
  6. Andreas Meier: The Political Order of Islam , Wuppertal 1994, p. 135
  7. Edmund E. Gareeb: Historical Dictionary of Iraq, Oxford, 2004 S. 134f
  8. a b Efraim Karsh, Inari Rautsi: Saddam Hussein - A political biography , New York, 1991, pp. 175–178
  9. Nikolaos Van Dam The Struggle for Power in Syria , 4th Edition, New York, 2011, pp. 126–128
    Itamar Rabinovich: Syria Under the Baʻth, 1963–66: The Army Party Symbiosis , Piscataway, 1972, p. 230
  10. ^ Elie Elhadj: Arab Resistance to Democratic and Religious Reforms , Boca Raton, 2007 pp. 107f
  11. Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Sammy Salama: Iraq's Armed Forces: An Analytical History , New York, 2008, p. 8, p. 124
  12. a b Phebe Marr: The Modern History of Iraq , Boulder, 2012, pp. 115 - 117
  13. Shiva Balaghi: Saddam Hussein - A Biography , Westport, 2006, pp. 33f
  14. Saddam Hussein: Economy and Management in the Socialist Society , p. 23. Dar al-Ma'mun, Bagdad 1988
  15. Gerrit Hoekmann: Between olive branch and Kalashnikov, history and politics of the Palestinian left . Unrast, Münster 1999, ISBN 3-928300-88-1 , p. 34
  16. ^ A b c d e Marion and Peter Sluglett: Iraq since 1958 - from revolution to dictatorship . Frankfurt 1990.
  17. Hassan Tawalba: The Ba'th and Palestine , p. 79.Dar al-Ma'mun, Baghdad 1982
  18. Barry Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin: Chronologies of modern terrorism . Sharpe, Armonk 2008, ISBN 978-0-7656-2047-7 , p. 195.
  19. this edition also as a special edition of the state center for political education North Rhine-Westphalia with the same ISBN. All editions are abridged versions by the same publisher: The Political Mission of Islam. Programs and Criticism between Fundamentalism and Reforms. Original voices from the Islamic world. Peter Hammer, Wuppertal 1994, in this edition pp. 133–144, with an introduction by the editor.