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SUBJECT: Political Study
This paper doals in brief with the Iraqi politicalbackground, structure, and conflicts. It reviews some of the predominant political forces in the country and some of the recent political changes that have been set in notion.
Iraqase study of military involvement in the political lifeountry. The Iraq Army had the dubious honor of introducing the military coup to the modern Arab political scene In the decadealf sxnce the coup8 that toppled the monarchy ande jure republice facto dictator-snip, Iraq has experienced four distinct changes in regime, ten coups d'etat or attempted coups, and atith an average longevity of lessear. In virtually every instance, the military was involved to some extent, and was often the prime mover.
The military revolution8 altered the entireof Iraqi politics and government. It virtually eliminated the upper class "old guard' and placed thein the hands of -core radical officers drawn primarily from the lower middle class and lacking political training and experience. The ensuing uncertainty and lack ofhas resulted in an increasing concentration of political power in the handsew men.
The current regime, which seized powers an alliance of moderate officers and the socialist Baath Party. It has substituted one-party government for one-man rule, but like its predecessors, is inherently unstable. If it differs in any appreciable way it is in the tenacity with which it clings tothe many political observers who expected it to tear itself apart long ago. The recent coup attempt has tended to unify competing forces
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within the regime, temporarily at least, and has accelerated the trendurther consolidation of power.
The_ Dynamics of the Regime
Iraq isonstitutional republic, but in fact power is concentrated in the offico of the president,mentor Revolutionary Command Councilnd the leadership of the Baathonly legitimate political party in Iraq. There are no popular elections per se,there are intra-party elections. In the aftermath of the recent coup attempt, the RCC seems to be moving toward the establishmentational Council which will have at least symbolic legislative functions. It will be appointed by the RCC, however, and presumably will be responsive to the present leadership. (See annex for discussion of the structure of government.)
The principal actors in Iraqi politics include:
military, and particularlyman army, which is the mainstay of any Iraqi regime. The army is the self-appointed "custodian of the national interest" and as such can impose its will on any government. In the current scene, however, the army has been content to remain aloof from the political turmoil in the wake
of the abortive coup attempt. The army per se apparently was not involved, although individual soldiers may have been along with the internal security forces. The army's interests are represented in both the RCC and the Regional Command of the Baath Party.
ruling Baathecular politicalwith an involved, if somewhat vague, left-wing socio-political philosophy. Its credo appeals to the educated middle class elite more than to the less sophisticated peasants and workers. Like the Communist Party, itradition of clandestine activity andighly compartmentalized structure composed of cells, sections, and branches. The entire structure (defined in party termsregion" of the Arabs directedan Regional Command. Baath members tend to combine informally into "civilian" and "military" wings; rivalries between the twoource of friction.
political parties. Although they areproscribed, the government apparently sanctions the numerically small but influential Communist Party and the Kurdish Democratic Party as long as theywith the regime andow profile.
Kurds, who make up aboutercent of the Iraqi population. They are concentrated in the northern mountains and arehronic state of revolt. They are part of theillion Kurds located inareas of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Their ultimate goal is an independent Kurdish state, but the Iraqi Kurds will settle, for the moment at least, for autonomynified Iraqi state as long as they also share in the central government. The Bakr regime by an agreement signed inromised autonomy to the Kurds by Recently the government
has begun to hedge on this commitment. Persistent rumors of sharp clashes between the Kurds and government forces remain unconfirmed, but the Kurds reportedly expect further serious fighting. The Kurds have token representation in the national government, and tho Kurdish Democratic Party headed by Darzani has been invited by both the Baathist and the Communists to joinational front government. Barzani, highly suspicious of the motives of both groups, remains aloof in his mountain fastness.
The two most influential leaders are President Bakr and Saddam Husayn Tikriti, Vice Chairman of the RCC and Deputy Chairman of the Regional Command of the Baath Party. In addition to his role as chief of state, Bakr serves as his own prime minister and assumed the defense portfoliothe death of General Shihab during the Juneoup attempt. Although there is no stipulated presidential term, he presumably may be removed by action of the RCC. Tikriti has been described by some political observers as the "strong man" of the regime. Certainly heey role in putting down the recent coup attempt, although some suspect he may also haveand in planning it. Tikriti hasore prominant public role in recent weeks through public appearances, announcements, and pressand has engaged in important meetings with foreign representatives. Bakr and Tikriti are potential rivals.
but for the present at least, thoy appear to be working together to consolidate their power and to unify the country They are also probably purging suspected disloyal elements from the Baath Party, the government, and the security forces.
Point ofsocial philosophies, and ethnic differences, rather than political, social, or economic issues per se, underlie the various political groupings and power blocs in Iraq.
Within the Baath Party government itself, there appear to be no basic policy differences, but there are varying degrees of emphasis among individuals and groups jockeyingposition. President Bakr,ormer army general,en identified with the so-called "military wing" of the party and Saddam Husayn Tikriti, the Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council is generally viewed as the head of the party's "civilian wing." But here also the differences are largely personalities rather than issuos. Tne recent coup attempt brought yet another apparentperhaps subfaction of the civiliantho open. Again it wasase of personalities rather than basic issues, although the individuals behind the coup attempt apparently favored greater Iraqi participation in the Arab-Israeli conflictore aggressive program against the Kurds.
The general climate among intellectuals, traditional politicians, and the general public seems to be one ofwith the regime, but as long as the Baath maintains the loyalty and control of the military, any increase in unpopularity is not likely to affect its tenure.
The recent Baath decision to join with the Communist Partynationaldevelopment which the bulk of the Ccwanunists have longpoints to the lack of major contentious issues between the two groups. As long as the Baath Party remains pro-CSSR and continues to wage an "anti-imperialist" campaign, the Communists probably will lend open support. The Communist line on US strategy in the Middle East is identical with the views of the Baath. The Communist Party of Iraq probably will
press the regime to improve domestic living conditions, to increase economic and cultural cooperation with the socialist Dloc, to take decisive measures against domestic reactionary elements, to callore vigorous policy in fighting
imperialism, Zionism, and reaction" and to solve the Kurdish issue on the basis of autonomy, but differences with the government on these issues is one of degree rather than principle.
The Communist Party itself is divided on the extent to which it should cooperate with the Baath Government, and the regime's record of arrests and suppression suggests that some Communist concern is justified. There arethree ostensible Communist representatives innenber cabinet; one of these at least has been disavowed by tba party, however, and only one of the three holds a This number probably will increase if andational front government is established.
The Kurds, with aboutercent of the population,ignificant power bloc with military strength to back up their demands. Although there are currently five nominal JJrJ.on the.cabinet, only four of them are in any way affiliated with the Kurdishotherembernone has been given an important ministerial post.
The Kurds have very specific differences with the Baath Party and the government, but the points at issue are parochial rather than national in scope. Kurdish demands include:
for the area undera regional president, council,to pass regional laws,regional economic plans.
Kurdish representation in the national assembly or council proportionate to the size of the Kurdish population;
proportionate share of the national budget and development expenditures.
The Kurds, who remain on the defensive both militarily and politically, have thus far rejected all invitations toational front government with the Baath andParties.
The Kurds themselves are not without dissension. Mulla Mustafa Barzani is the acknowledged leader of the bulk of the Kurdih minority, several thousand broke away from the parent body several years ago and have aligned themselves with the Baath government. Factionalism, however, iserious concern of the Kurdish Democratic Party.
Other political forces to be reckoned with include inter-communal, intertribal and class friction resulting from the predominant role being played by the Sunni Muslim minorityountryistinct Shiite Muslim majority.
The current regime under the leadership of Bakr and Tikriti has made little progress in solving Iraq's basic national problems and remains insecure. Nevertheless, it has weathered the recent coup attempt and is working to undergird its power position. It is going through the motions of restructuring party and government institutions, although this is likely to behange in facade, leaving the government no more responsible or responsive than before. Tikriti has indicated that he intends to democratize the government, but bona fide elections appear to be out of the question in the foreseeable future. questionable elements are reportedly being purged from positions of influence.
The main potential threat to the regime is from as yet unidentified opponents within its own ranks, or from the military. The track record of the Bakr regime suggests that no significant shift in the power balance is to be expected as long as Bakr andas long as the party's military and civilianto cooperate reasonably well. These alliance could come unstuck under the pressure of outside circumstances however. Major new trouble with the Kurds, for example, could shake the regime.
An irreconcilable split in party ranks could prompt the army to step in once again. Give the lack of popular support for the regime and its vulnerability to coup attempts, key army officers such as the commanders of the Baghdad Garrison and the Republican Guards Brigadearticularfar beyond their ranks. As in theilitary coup probably would only perpetuate the existing system albeit under stronger military influence.
Structure of the Iraqi Goverrre-t
Iraq isonstitutional republic with de facto power concentrated in the office of the president, the Revolutionary Command Council, and the leadership of the Baath Party. membor Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) is defined by the Provisional Constitution as "the highest authority in the state" and is described as "the revolutionary organ which led the masses of the people and the armed forces on the morning of" The members of the RCC are also members of the top policy body of the BaathRegionalall apparentlyignificant role in theuly coup.
Tho Revolutionary Command Council has the constitutional authority to:
appoint or dismiss members of the RCC as long as the total number does not
elect the President of the Republic who also becomes the chairman of the RCC;
-- Control the armed forces and the internal security forces;
appoint members of the cabinet and to relieve them;
supervise the affairs of the republic;
issue edicts which have the force of law;
ratify laws and treaties.
The RCC also acts as the legislative body pending the formation of the National Council which now appears to be in the works. ember council will be chosen by the RCC, presumably within the next few months, and willvarious political, economic, and social elements in the country. The National Council will be the first Iraqi
parliament inears, and it is certain, despite the declared intention toational front, that the rulinq Baath Party will occupy the majority of Council seats. There are no popular elections per se in Iraq, although there are intra-party elections. The announced primary mission of the Council when formed will be toermanent constitution.
The President of Iraq is chosen by the members of the RCC and has the following powors and functions:
to safeguard the 'independence and integrity of the country;"
to safeguard internal and external security;
to supervise "the sound implementation of the Constitution, laws and decision;"
to appoint and dismiss vice-presidents, ministers, governors, judges, civil servants, and military officials.
Heimited veto over tho decisions of the RCC.
raember cabinet, named by the President and the RCC and serving at their pleasure, drafts laws and submits them to the RCC for approval (to the National Council whenssues administrative regulations and decisions, draws up tho state's General Plan, and prepares the general budget. Individually, the cabinet members preside over the operations of the ministries they head.
Tho structure of government below the cabinet level is as highly centralized as it was under the monarchy with the result that initiative at the lower levels is discouraged and the ministers and governors are overburdened with routine decisions and administrative detail.
Iraq is divided intorovinces of unequal size which are further subdivided into districts and subdistricta. The provincial governors are chosen by and responsible to the Minister of Interior and the chief district and subdistrict officers are chosen by and generally responsible to the governors.
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q.esert, waste, oreasonal and other grazing land,orest and woodland landl,
Limit* o* territorial Haters? n. mt. Coastline:i.
verage annual growthX)
uslim,hristian,ther Language: Arabic, Kurdish minority speaks Kgrdtlti
Labor11ther; rural underc*ploy*ient high, but not serious because low subsistence levels nake it easy to care for unemployed; severe shortage of technically trained personnel Organizedf labor force
Legal naee: Republic of Iraq
type: republic; one-party military regime established In8 Capital: teghdad
Political subdivisions:rovinces under centrally appointed officials Legal system: based on Islaaic law ift special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere; provisional constitution adopted Inudicial review was suspended; legal education at University of Baghdad; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Branches: "moderate* wing of Ba'th Party of Irea, has been in power8eaders: President hasan al-Bakr; Deputy Chairman of tne Revolutionary
Conoand Council Saddam TikHtl Suffrage: no elective bodies exist Elections: none since overthrow of Kknarcny8 Comunlsts: Coemnist Party allowed token representation in cabinet Political or pressure groups: political parties banned, mjor opposition to regime is from leftwing of the Ba'th Party, Comunlst Party and haiirist groups, disaffected terCers of the regime and army officers Herter of: Arab League, HQ, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFC, ILO. IHf, ITU,NESCO, UPU, WHO, WHO
3 million0 per capita
Agriculture: dates, wheat, barley, rice, livestock; largely self-sufficient In food
Major Industry; crude petroleum (fourth largest producer in Middle East) Electricw.illion kw.-hr.
w.-hr. per capitaillion. not including oil revenue0 BillionllionComjnlst) Major trade partners: exports (nonestern European
CoBBunlst countries lSx. Arab,; imports.
Western Europeanoraiunist, Arab
1 Cotirrunist countries2 million in credits andil Hons of;. economic aid duringillion; assistance from international organizations duringasillion; allltary. -Illtary aid. given only duringndtllion (insignificant Wins) " tries.9ef*er
l-cnetary COfirer* io*raqifreely
Iraqi dinar-USSl Fiscal1 March
n. meter gave double track0i.i. crushed stone, gravel, or
. earth and sand tracks InlandShatt al Arab navigable by writir* traffic for
aboutigris and Euphrates navigable bystea-ersjor
Pipelines: crude0 ml. refinedi. natural gas Merchant0 GR1 or over)0
OUTanker Civilajor transport aircraft
otal.sable;ith peraianeiu-surface rum-ays;ith
9h9 ft. Telecoawjm cat ions: fair international radiocoaunicatiori service; poor
telephone and telegraphXadio
Military manpower:it for military service;
each unitary) annually Personnel:. air0ubile police
Major ground!nfantryraoredepublican guards
nfantry trainingpecial forcesarge guided missile boats.otor torpedolarSA+QmU.
1 servicemall submarine chasersf5 jet.boprop,rop,elicopters) Supply: produces sore amnunitlon; dependent mainly. Wiast European Corrrunist countries, particularly Chechoslovakia; some equipment from Western Europe including COBRA anti-tank missiles for West Germany
on; ll'nJ of
Military budget: for fiscal year ending4 totalOriginal document.