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.
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.
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 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, 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.
Hussein hurriedly convened an assembly of party leaders on July 22. During the assembly, which he ordered videotaped,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, were sentenced to execution. Those spared were given weapons and directed to execute their comrades.
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.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" .
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 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.
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 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.
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, and later, the Baghdad-based Ba'ath Party and its regional organization the Iraqi Ba'ath Party—which espoused Ba'athism, a mix of Arab nationalism and socialism—Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to power in Iraq.
Watban Ibrahim al-Tikriti was a senior Interior Minister of Iraq. He was the half brother of Saddam Hussein and the brother of Barzan al-Tikriti. He was taken into coalition custody 13 April 2003, following his capture as he was attempting to flee into Syria.
‘Abd ul-Salam Mohammed ‘Arif Aljumaily was President of Iraq from 1963 until his death in 1966. He played a leading role in the 14 July Revolution, in which the Hashemite monarchy was overthrown on July 14, 1958.
Al-Awda is a secular guerrilla organization in Iraq. Al-Awda's name began appearing in Iraq in June 2003 in anti-occupation graffiti and leaflets in Baghdad and to the north and west of the capital. The group is led by Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, who is based in Syria.
Leyla Qasim was a Kurdish activist against the Iraqi Ba'ath regime who was executed in Baghdad. She is known as a national martyr among the Kurds.
Salah Omar Al-Ali was a member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, Iraqi Minister of Culture and Information from 1968 to 1970, and subsequently ambassador to Sweden, Spain and the United Nations from 1973 to 1981. He is currently a leading member of the Iraqi opposition.
Adnan Khairallah, was Saddam Hussein's brother-in-law and cousin. He held several titles and was a member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council. He also served as the Defence Minister of Iraq from 1979 to his death, having been appointed days after Saddam Hussein succeeded to the Presidency. He died in 1989 in a helicopter crash that was officially labeled an accident. The circumstances surrounding his death, including his disputes with Saddam and rumors of a potential coup have led some to believe Khairallah was assassinated under orders from Saddam.
The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has had a long history of its involvement in Iraq. Although the CIA was not directly involved in the 1963 Ba'athist coup that ousted Abd al-Karim Qasim, it had been plotting to remove Qasim from mid-1962 until his overthrow, developing contacts with Iraqi opposition groups including the Ba'ath Party and planning to "incapacitate" a high-ranking member of Qasim's government with a poisoned handkerchief. After the 1968 Ba'athist coup appeared to draw Iraq into the Soviet sphere of influence, the CIA colluded with the government of Iran to destabilize Iraq by arming Kurdish rebels. Beginning in 1982, the CIA began providing Iraq intelligence during the Iran–Iraq War. The CIA was also involved in the failed 1996 coup against Saddam Hussein.
Iraq–Syria relations are marked by long-shared cultural and political links, as well as former regional rivalry. The two countries took their present form after the Sykes–Picot Agreement to dismember the Ottoman Empire into British and French spheres of influence after World War I.
The Ramadan Revolution, also referred to as the 8 February Revolution and the February 1963 coup d'état in Iraq, was a military coup by the Ba'ath Party's Iraqi-wing which overthrew the Prime Minister of Iraq, Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1963. It took place between 8 and 10 February 1963. Qasim's former deputy, Abdul Salam Arif, who was not a Ba'athist, was given the largely ceremonial title of President, while prominent Ba'athist general Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr was named Prime Minister. The most powerful leader of the new government was the secretary general of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party, Ali Salih al-Sa'di, who controlled the National Guard militia and organized a massacre of hundreds—if not thousands—of suspected communists and other dissidents following the coup.
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region, officially the Iraqi Regional Branch, is an Iraqi Ba'athist political party founded in 1951 by Fuad al-Rikabi. It was the Iraqi regional branch of the original Ba'ath Party before changing its allegiance to the Iraqi-dominated Ba'ath movement following the 1966 split within the original party. The party was officially banned following the American invasion of Iraq, but despite this it still continues to function.
The November 1963 Iraqi coup d'état took place between November 13 and November 18, 1963 when, following internal party divisions, pro-Nasserist Iraqi officers led a military coup within the Ba'ath Party. Although the coup itself was bloodless, 250 people were killed in related actions.
The 17 July Revolution was a bloodless coup in Iraq in 1968, led by General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, which brought the Iraqi Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power. Both Saddam Hussein, later President of Iraq, and Salah Omar al-Ali, later a Ba'athist dissident, were major participants in the coup. The Ba'ath Party ruled from the 17 July Revolution until 2003, when it was removed from power by an invasion led by U.S. and British forces.
Abdullah Sallum al-Samarra'i (1932–1996) was an Iraqi Ba'athist politician and leading member of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party in Iraq. He was a member of the Regional Command from 1964 to 1970, when he was expelled.
Abd al-Khaliq al-Samarra'i was an Iraqi Ba'athist politician and leading member of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party in Iraq. He was a member of the Regional Command from 1964 to 1973, and considered a serious rival of Saddam Hussein for leadership of the civilian faction of the Ba'ath Party. He was arrested in 1973 for his alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow the government, and executed in 1979 by Hussein.
The 1959 Mosul Uprising was an attempted coup by Arab nationalists in Mosul who wished to depose the then Iraqi Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim, and install an Arab nationalist government which would then join the Republic of Iraq with the United Arab Republic. Following the failure of the coup, law and order broke down in Mosul, which witnessed several days of violent street battles between various groups attempting to use the chaos to settle political and personal scores.