Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973
The Armed forces generally and the army in particular are considered to be one of the most important pillars of society: the Army's role being to defend the country against any kind of aggression. Other armed forces, such as police and security forces are to protect the country's internal security against internal and alien sabotage. It is only natural that the State should build and equip such forces so they can carry out their duties.
The army in our country and many other Arab and Third World countries has an exceptional importance in view of the decisive political role it plays. In our country, the army has played a direct role in the political life since 1936. It sparked off the revolutions of May 1941 and July 14th 1958. The revolutionary military platoons under the leadership of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party took a direct part in bringing down the dictatorial and deviationist regimes on February 8th 1963 and July 17th 1968.
The participation of the military in the various aspects of national action against dictatorial and client regimes was a positive sign in the Arab revolutionary movement. The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party was at the forefront of political movements which worked in the ranks of the army in many Arab countries to enlist revolutionary men in addition to other revolutionary forces of workers and peasants in the service of Arab Unity, freedom and socialism.
The social structure of the army's base, belonging to peasants, workers and small bourgeoisie classes, together with the patriotic education of our army made it identify personally with the aspirations of the people and pushed many of its members to participate in the revolutionary struggle as happened in 1941, 1958, 1963 and 1968.
The participation of the army in politics, however, has not been all positive. In some cases it greatly harmed the interests of the people and their aspirations.
The army and its good reputation was used by the dictatorial and deviationist regime of Qassem to deprive the people of their democratic liberties and curtail the freedom of political organizations. A military artistocracy of elite officers took control of the State. They committed all kinds of oppression and exploitation against the people while retaining for themselves unlawful privileges. Their behaviour was widely resented by the wide base of the army which did not want to involve the army and its reputation in such exploitation. This resentment was shared by other circles, which were not very different from the military aristocracy, for ulterior motives.
The Revolution of February 8th 1963, was infiltrated by rightist elements which helped in the implementation of the regressive move of November 18th 1963. It was against the ideology of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party from the beginning that such elements should be allowed to infiltrate the Revolution. The general conditions, however, called for the widest possible alliances in accordance with the concepts of a popular revolution.
The Novemberist regime was a clear example of the entrenchment in power of the military aristocracy who had no real roots in the army and with the people. They, therefore relied almost completely on personal, tribal and sectarian relationships. Their only standbys were the opportunists and the drop-outs of the nationalist movement.
The rightist military aristocracy which was influential during the Aref regime, tried again to infiltrate and take over the Revolution of July 17th as was explained by the statement of July 30th. But the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party was on the alert and was able to nip the attempt in the bud. The Party was able to forge the course of the Revolution according to national concepts of socialism and democracy with wide support from the masses and the national army.
The Party and the Revolution were faced with two basic and urgent tasks: One, to consolidate the Party's leadership of the army by purging it of suspect elements, re-education and immunization against deviation and by insuring that it would always be completely identified with the popular movement under the leadership of the Party.
The Second task was to rebuild the army, retrain it and re-equip it along modern lines and to enlarge it so that it could carry out its duty in safeguarding the unity and territorial integrity of the country and in contributing to the national battle against the imperialist Zionist enemy.
The process was extremely delicate and complex but it was carried out with a high degree of success. It was easy to talk about the dissolution of the old army and the rebuilding of a new one. But it was easier said than done. The country was in a state of quasi-civil war. A large section of the army was concentrated in Jordan, while the state of the Arab Nation called for an increase of the Jordan garrison until it reached fifty thousand.
Before the end of the first year of the Revolution, the Iranian Government abolished the 1937 treaty and created thereby a new military threat on our eastern borders.
We must keep in mind that, in addition to these peculiar circumstances which needed the help of many sections of the army in spite of their not being absolutely identified with the aims of the Revolution, the nature of modern armies is vastly different from that at the beginning of this century. The building of a new army requires many years of training the officers and men to use modern complex equipment.
The relatively small size of Iraq, compared to the Soviet Union or China, is another very important consideration which had to be kept in mind in view of the advanced long range weapons of modern times. It was necessary therefore to adapt long range graduated plans in rebuilding the army. It was difficult to purge the army during the first few months of the Revolution in view of the pockets and cliques in the army which were not to be trusted. Patience and long term work within the ranks of the army produced an unprecedented success unequalled anywhere in the Arab World or in the Third World.
The Party organization entrusted with the work in the army did an excellent job under the supervision of the Party's leadership. Our military comrades demonstrated total loyalty to the Party, practiced the outmost discipline and spread traditions of subordination to the Party. Their organizational and educational activities within army ranks made the Party organization within the army a vanguard which together with the other patriotic officers and soldiers form a strong arm and vigilant eye for the Revolution.
On the other hand, great progress was achieved in rebuilding the army along modern lines. During the past few years, new methods of training have been introduced as well as new equipment and technological means. The combat efficacy of the army has been greatly enhanced. Our army now possesses one of the best fighting structures in the World. The formations and numbers have been greatly increased. The rate of development has been great. We are still, however, working continuously toward a better army. We can be proud today that our national army is capable of safeguarding the country and carrying out its tasks.
The Party started right from the beginning to build a special security branch which was called at first "the Public Relations Bureau" and later "the Department of General Intelligence".
Party control over the police and security was tightened by placing Party members and loyal nationalists in the sensitive posts and by re-organization and re-education in accordance with the concepts of the Revolution and the requirements of the new phase.
The special security branch, composed of Party strugglers, was exemplary in efficiency, discipline and loyalty. It was meticulous in carrying out security missions ordered by the Party. Members of this branch had had little formal experience in this field of work except for some aspects of Party activity prior to the Revolution. But they were quick to learn and prove their high calibre by liquidating external and internal conspiracies and exposing intelligence networks.
The security force was innoculated on all levels by Party elements and other patriotic and qualified men. This force, however, was difficult to reform and rebuild because of its longstanding rotten structure. During the past few years, this force has reflected badly on the Party in many aspects. We must confess that the leadership was wrong in not tightening control further over this very important apparatus. The leadership had full confidence in the Party members in this force which caused some of them to abuse it and conspire against the Party as was shown in the June 30th criminal conspiracy. This conspiracy, however, sounded the alarm, and the leadership made extensive changes.
Some Party, members in the security force and other independent patriotic elements did serve and still are serving the Revolution and the Party. The police force was one of the worst forms of government machinary during the previous regimes. The Revolution was careful to reform it and re-educate its members with new values and practices as well as infuse it with fresh blood. A significant improvement has been felt, but it is still needed to rebuild this force to the standard required by the Revolution.
On the whole, these three branches have made some strides on the lines of modern reorganization and in technical equipment. The security branch in our country can be said to have reached a good standard in counterespionage and safeguarding the stability of the country. This can be most effective with constant Party supervision.
The participation of some elements from the General Security in the abortive conspiracy of June 30th must not lead us to irrational reactions nor to placing less confidence in this apparatus, but should show us the importance of Party control and supervision. Otherwise, we would lose an eye which the Revolution and the people need in order to watch the movement of enemies.