1979 Ba'ath Party Purge

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The 1979 Ba'ath Party Purge was a public purge of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party orchestrated on July 22, 1979 by then-president Saddam Hussein.

In history, religion and political science, a purge is a removal of people who are considered undesirable by those in power from a government, another organization, their team owners, or society as a whole. A group undertaking such an effort is labeled as purging itself. Purges can be either nonviolent or violent; with the former often resolved by the simple removal of those who have been purged from office, and the latter often resolved by the imprisonment, exile, or murder of those who have been purged.

Baathist Iraq covers the history of the Republic of Iraq from 1968 to 2003

Ba'athist Iraq, formally the Iraqi Republic, covers the history of Iraq between 1968 and 2003, during the period of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party's rule. This period began with high economic growth and soaring prosperity, but ended with Iraq facing social, political, and economic stagnation. The average annual income decreased because of several external factors, and several internal policies of the government.

Baath Party (Iraqi-dominated faction)

The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, also referred to as the pro-Iraqi Ba'ath movement, is a Ba'athist political party which was headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq until 2003. It is one of two parties which emerged from the 1966 split of the original Ba'ath Party.



Earlier in 1979, Iraqi president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr had begun to make treaties with Syria, also under Ba'athist leadership, that would lead to the unification of the two countries. Syrian president Hafez al-Assad would become deputy leader of the union, and this would drive Saddam Hussein into obscurity. Hussein acted to secure his grip on power. The ailing al-Bakr resigned on July 16 under the threat of force, and formally transferred the presidency and chairmanship of the RCC to the "cherished comrade Saddam Hussein". RCC secretary Muhyi Abdel-Hussein objected to the transfer of power.

The Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council was established after the military coup in 1968, and was the ultimate decision making body in Iraq before the 2003 American-led invasion. It exercised both executive and legislative authority in the country, with the Chairman and Vice Chairman chosen by a two-thirds majority of the council. The Chairman was also then declared the President of Iraq and he was then allowed to select a Vice President. After Saddam Hussein became President of Iraq in 1979 the council was led by deputy chairman Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, and Taha Yassin Ramadan, who had known Saddam since the 1960s. The legislature was composed of the RCC, the National Assembly and a 50-member Kurdish Legislative Council which governed the country. During his presidency, Saddam Hussein was Chairman of the RCC and President of the Republic. Other members of the RCC included Salah Omar Al-Ali who held the position between 1968 and 1970, one of Saddam's half-brothers, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Taha Yasin Ramadan, Adnan Khairallah, Sa'adoun Shaker Mahmoud, Tariq Aziz Isa, Hasan Ali Nassar al-Namiri, Naim Hamid Haddad and Taha Mohieddin Maruf. It was officially dissolved on 23 May 2003 by Paul Bremer per Order Number 2 of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr Iraqi president

Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr was President of Iraq, from 17 July 1968 until 16 July 1979. A leading member of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, and later, the Baghdad-based Ba'ath Party and its regional organisation Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region, which espoused Ba'athism, a mix of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.


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Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg BBC News "Saddam's 1979 Baath Party purge", Footage of the purge from a Ba'ath Party video

Hussein hurriedly convened an assembly of party leaders on July 22. During the assembly, which he ordered videotaped, [1] he claimed to have uncovered a fifth column within the party. Abdel-Hussein, broken after days of physical torture and under the threat of his family's execution, confessed to taking a leading role in a Syrian-backed plot against the Iraqi government and gave the names of 68 alleged co-conspirators. These were removed from the room one by one as their names were called and taken into custody. After the list was read, Hussein congratulated those still seated in the room for their past and future loyalty. Those arrested at the meeting were subsequently tried together and found guilty of treason. Twenty-two men, including five members of the Revolutionary Command Council, [2] were sentenced to execution. Those spared were given weapons and directed to execute their comrades. [3] [4]


By August 1, hundreds of high-ranking Ba'ath Party members had been executed. On August 8, the Iraqi News Agency announced that twenty-one of the twenty-two Iraqis were executed by firing squad for "their part in a plot to overthrow Iraq's new president". The twenty-second man was condemned to death in absentia because he was "nowhere to be found", the agency said. [2] A tape of the assembly and of the executions was distributed throughout the country. "On an August afternoon in 1979, his face tense and somber, Saddam Hussein from the balcony of the presidential palace in Baghdad "informed a chanting crowd of 50,000 supporters "that he had just witnessed the punishment the state court had ordered for 21 of those men: They had been executed by a firing squad. The crowd cheered" [5] .

Essayist Christopher Hitchens argues that the purge was the watershed moment in which Hussein became absolute master of Iraq, comparable to the Night of the Long Knives in Nazi Germany or the murder of Sergey Kirov, culminating in the Great Purge in the Soviet Union.

Christopher Hitchens British-American author and journalist

Christopher Eric Hitchens was a British-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, journalist, and social critic. Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays on culture, politics and literature. A staple of public discourse, his confrontational style of debate made him both a lauded intellectual and a controversial public figure. He contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Slate, Free Inquiry and Vanity Fair.

Night of the Long Knives purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934

The Night of the Long Knives, or the Röhm Purge, also called Operation Hummingbird, was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when Adolf Hitler, urged on by Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, carried out a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate his hold on power in Germany, as well as to alleviate the concerns of the German military about the role of Ernst Röhm and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazis' own mass paramilitary organization. Nazi propaganda presented the murders as a preventive measure against an alleged imminent coup by the SA under Röhm – the so-called Röhm putsch.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

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  1. A Documentary on Saddam Hussein 5 on YouTube
  2. 1 2 "Iraq executes coup plotters". The Salina Journal . August 8, 1979. p. 12. Retrieved April 25, 2018 via Newspapers.com. Lock-green.svg
  3. Bay Fang. "When Saddam ruled the day." U.S. News & World Report. 11 July 2004. Archived 16 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine .
  4. Edward Mortimer. "The Thief of Baghdad." New York Review of Books. 27 September 1990, citing Fuad Matar. Saddam Hussein: A Biography. Highlight. 1990. Archived 23 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine .
  5. BEHIND IRAQ'S BOLD BID, by Claudia Wright, 26 October 1980, The New York Times.