Tag Archives: Baath Party

Death of Tariq Aziz: Last Evocation of a Bygone Potemkin Arab Order…….

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Tariq Aziz died in prison in his homeland, Iraq.

The significance of remembering the old Iraqi Baathist is not related to Tariq himself and his achievements. It is that he reminds us, me and most others, of a bygone era in Arab politics and history. Aziz was one of the last survivors of the old Arab post World War II order that almost lasted fifty years. An order that saw the rise of militarized secular Pan-Arabism through the messages of Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, the Baathists of Syria and Iraq, and the leftist young revolutionary rulers of Libya and Algeria. There was a period of hope in the fifties and sixties, but it did not last. That movement also gradually degenerated into tribal and family dynasties. A stagnant Arab order followed that was seen as stability.

That old Arab order unravelled with the Iraqi Baathist invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The 1990-91 invasion of Kuwait and the consequent war was a direct consequence of the financial bankruptcy of the Baathist regime after the invasion of Iran in 1980 and the war that lasted eight years. The Arab order had begun to crack with the war of 1980, as Syria and other Arab states, including Libya and Algeria and some Palestinian factions, refused to support Saddam Hussein.

The Salafi terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their consequences formalized the collapse of the old Arab regime. The West is now back in the region in force. Even the old British colonials are establishing a military base in little Bahrain (now if they can only take it over again and rebuild its political system back to 1971).

The Arab uprisings of 2011 have mostly failed, but they showed a positive development: it underlined a new disrespect to their ruling oligarchs and dictators and a willingness by Arabs to express it. Then along came AQI, ISIS, Al Nusra, Army of Islamic Conquest, Al Tibin, Al Zift and other Salafi groups. They make even the old Al Qaeda look tame. The horrendous mass atrocities by various armed factions in Syria and Iraq and Libya and Egypt are clear signals that the old Arab order is effectively buried. What we have now is a Potemkin Order: all front but no substance behind it.

The death of Tariq Hanna Aziz, one survivor of the older order, came as a symbolic event at a convenient moment, with ISIS expanding in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and possibly the Arabian Peninsula. His death is a reminder of how much has changed and the uncertainty of the future.
That is why it is a sad occasion. Not because the old Baathist died, but because of what it reminds us of.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

A Rehabilitation of the Iraqi Baath Party? Good Cop, Bad Cop, Ugly Cop……

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This is not about Iraqis rehabilitating the Baath: most Iraqis would have nothing to do with the party. I mean the outsiders, the foreign Arabs, seeking to rehabilitate the Baath. Seeking to rehabilitate the Baathists as guardians of the ‘eastern gate’ of the Arab world. The good old days of Iran-Iraq War, Desert Storm, Iraqis suffering an international blockade, another long war, and the rest.

There are many former, actually current, Iraqi Baathists hanging around the capitals of absolute tribal Arab potentates and princes. From Manama to Abu Dhabi, they seem to have their uses, be it as mercenaries in the security forces or interrogators or small cogs in the regime sectarian media propaganda of these Persian Gulf potentates.

The Wahhabi crazies of ISIS, the Caliphate of pink Hello-Kitty and female genital mutilation and destroying churches and shrines and chopping heads, are making a lot of noise in the northwest of Iraq. They are definitely the ‘bad cop’ of the terrorist campaign in Iraq (but not necessarily in Syria, where there are too many such groups). So who can be the ‘good cop’ of the terrorist campaign in Iraq? Who else would the forgetful fools in the neighborhood select but the remnants of the Tikriti Baath Party? The logic might go like this: if the Mubarakist remnants, the feloul, maneuvered themselves into aborting the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and regaining power in Cairo in 2013, why not the Baathist remnants in Iraq?

I don’t mean the have-been softened Baathists like Iyad Allawi who are now acting as representatives of the Al Saud and other petroleum princes. No, I mean real true blue Baathists who have now gone temporarily religious for the convenience of it.

So the ISIS and its presumptuous Caliphate is the “bad cop” which is supposed to make the Baathists the “good cop”. Then there are the “ugly cop” in the neighborhood, those potentates who aid and abet it all.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum