Baath Party

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Baath Party


(Arab Socialist Renaissance Party; Hizb al-Baath al-Arabi al-Ishtaraki) of Iraq, a revolutionary-democratic party. The name “Baath” means “Renaissance.”

The Baath Party of Iraq was founded in 1954 as a regional branch of the pan-Arab Baath Party, which had been founded in 1947. It comprises members of the revolutionary-minded intelligentsia, servicemen, peasants, artisans, small-scale merchants, and workers. The party program is based on the program that the pan-Arab Baath Party adopted in 1947. As set forth in its program, the party’s task is to construct a unified Arab socialist society free from imperialist exploitation and social inequality. Along with the Communist Party of Iraq (CPI), the Baath Party of Iraq was one of the participants in the Front of National Unity, which prepared and carried out together with the army an anti-imperialist revolution on July 14, 1958.

The Baath Party came to power on Feb. 8, 1963, as a result of a military coup. Its right-wing extremist leaders embarked on a campaign of terror against Communists and other progressive forces. On Nov. 18, 1963, the first Baath regime was overthrown. After 1963 the party subjected its previous errors to criticism, and a substantially new leadership took control. On July 17, 1968, the party came back to power, and the Baath government adopted an anti-imperialist policy and began to carry out progressive socioeconomic reforms. In 1970 and 1971, new laws concerning labor, pensions, agrarian reform and other issues were adopted. A major step toward strengthening national independence and achieving economic autonomy for Iraq was the nationalization of the Iraq Petroleum Company and other foreign oil concerns from 1972 to 1975. On Mar. 11, 1970, the Declaration on the Peaceful Democratic Regulation of the Kurdish Problem was issued, in accordance with which the law on the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan was enacted on Mar. 11, 1974. In 1973 the Baath Party and the CPI agreed to establish the National Progressive Patriotic Front. A congress of the Baath Party, held in 1974, adopted a program of social and economic reforms and confirmed its progressive anti-imperialist policy and the intention to develop friendly relations with the USSR and other socialist countries.

The secretary-general of the regional command of the party is Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. The party’s press organ is the newspaper Al-Thawra.

A. G. AKSENENOK and V. G. ZENCHEV [19–728–3; updated]

Baath Party


(Arab Socialist Renaissance Party; Hizb al-Baath al-Arabi al-Ishtaraki) of Syria, a revolutionary-democratic party. The name “Baath” means “Renaissance.”

Founded in 1947, the Baath has been the ruling party in Syria since 1963. The party includes members of the revolutionary-minded intelligentsia, servicemen, peasants, artisans, petty merchants, and workers. The main slogans of the Baath as proclaimed in 1947 are unity, meaning the creation of a united Arab state; freedom, meaning the liberation of all Arab states from the dominance of imperialism; and socialism, meaning the building of a “united Arab democratic socialist society.”

A special regional conference of the Baath in June 1965 elaborated a step-by-step program which stated that during the transition period of the path to socialism (1) the country’s economy is to comprise state, cooperative, mixed, and private sectors with the state sector prevailing; (2) the economy is to be planned; and (3) a people’s democracy is to be developed. In foreign policy, guiding principles are to be nonalignment, support of the peoples’ anti-imperialist struggle, and cooperative relations with all states that take a positive position with regard to Arab national problems, above all with socialist countries. The Baath program contains a number of nationalistic provisions. Under the leadership of the Baath, a series of progressive social and economic reforms were carried out in Syria.

The Baath cooperates with other patriotic forces in Syria within the framework of the National Progressive Front (NPF), which was created in 1972 and which also includes the Syrian Communist Party, the Arab Socialist Union, and several other progressive anti-imperialist organizations. The central command of the NPF consists of the chairman—the president of Syria— and 16 members, including eight from the Baath. The tasks set forth in the NPF charter include the struggle against imperialism, the liberation of the Arab territories seized in 1967 by Israel, and the securing of the legitimate rights of the Arab people of Palestine.

The party is organized according to the territorial-and-pro-duction principle. The secretary-general is Hafiz al-Assad. The party’s press organ is the newspaper Al-Baath.

A. A. SERGEEV [19–728–4; updated]

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The author's contribution lies in detailing certain aspects of the Ba'thification of society such as the professional and mass organizations, and Faust's assertion and documentation that the violence of the Ba'th "was not to inculcate fear but rather to root out, destroy, and deter threats that the regime perceived to its security" is absolutely correct (91-96, 151).
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