Until almost the beginning of the 1980s the political structure of the Iraqi Baathist regime had displayed the same unorthodox feature – being headed by a military man – as its Syrian counterpart. But with the formal transfer of power from President (Field Marshal) al-Bakr to his deputy Saddam Hussein in 1979 the regime had completed its gradual shift from military rule to being an orthodox, party-state Baath regime. Although the Iraqi Baathists had come to power in July 1968 through a military coup, during the 1970s the civilian wing of the Party and regime had become more powerful than the once-dominant military wing. The gradual shift in power was largely because the military man who headed the regime and Party, al-Bakr, had allowed his young (born 1937) civilian protégé and trusted deputy, Saddam Hussein, to build up the civilian wing’s control of the regime. (In fact al-Bakr had entrusted this young relative and fellow-townsman with the formal deputy leadership of the Party years before the 1968 coup and with the formal deputy leadership of the coup’s RCC junta as early as 1969.) In particular, he had allowed Saddam to become the real ruler of Iraq several years before the shift in power was formally completed in July 1979 when al-Bakr retired and passed on his posts of President, RCC Chairman and Party General Secretary to his civilian deputy. However, one unorthodox feature was being replaced by another in 1979, for Saddam Hussein was also completing his move towards achieving a degree of personal rule within the now party-state Baathist regime. During the 1980s he would strengthen and display his personal rule in what would also be the most significant change in the regime’s structure. Although this was a change in degree rather than in kind, he would be moving towards attaining a virtually monarchical degree of personal rule similar to that being achieved by Asad in Baathist Syria in a less flamboyant fashion.
KeywordsEconomic Reform Arab World Personal Rule Political Risk Military Coup
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