MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA REVIEW

Created: 3/30/1979

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Middle East and South Asia Review

Iraq: Baathist Crackdown on the Communist Party (u)

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The Iraqi Conanunist Party, buffeted lorear by the government's anti-Communist campaign, seems to be on the verge of withdrawing from or being kicked out of the Popular and Progressive National Tront. The Front serves as an umbrella organization that provides the fiction of unified political support for the Baathist regime. Furthermore, the internal strains produced by the government's arrests, executions, and general ha:ass-ment mayarty splitajority opting for membershiplandestine Communist party. Thu Baathifits* inability to tolerate opposition to their rule, no matter how small, could come back to haunt themew, underground Coiami'nist appaiatus is abl to exploit Shia Muslim and Kurdish grievances to wc.ih public support for tho government, r

Government Crackdown

;uppr

The qovernment's latest heavy-handed campaign to

ress Communist activities reflects the regime s

opponents.

Communists, whom Baghd.id believes are Moscow's cat's-paw, began last spring on the heels of the Soviet Union's successes in thefrica and Iraqi strongman Saddam Husayn saidewsweek interview that the execution last May ofommunists convicted of having engaged in subversiven the armed forcer, was interredarning for the Soviet Union not to intervene in Iraq's internal affairs. The press has carried reports of morethis Dcccmberf-

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Earlier this month the Baathist-controlled National Fronttrong denunciation of Arab Communists, especially the Iraqi party. The statement charged the Communists withoft stance on how to achieve peace in the Middle East and accused the Iragi party of stirring up unrest among Kurds and Shia Muslims. (Iraqi Communists have long had strong followings in both of these groups.) This blast was followed by additional charges printedovernment-controlled nublication claiming the Iragi Communist Party was riddled with Zionists. (U)

Communist Response

The Communists have been powerless to repel the government's attacks, but they have taken some steps to minimize the damage. |

Iragi Communists have also tried to line up some international support for their position from among Arab Communists, some West_European media outlets, and _the Soviet Union. /

/ Iraqi Communists have saleni-ivrn TTTtne UbSK and FasTern Europe./^

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