Iraqi Leadership

Political power in Iraq lay exclusively in a repressive one-party apparatus dominated by Saddam Hussein and members of his extended family. The provisional Constitution of 1968 stipulated that the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party would govern Iraq through the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), which exercised both executive and legislative authority. President Saddam Hussein, who also is Prime Minister, Chairman of the RCC, and Secretary General of the Regional Command of the Ba'th Party, wielded decisive power. Hussein and his Government continued to refer to an October 1995 non-democratic "referendum" on his presidency, in which he received 99.96 percent of the vote. This referendum included neither secret ballots nor opposing candidates, and many credible reports indicated that voters feared possible reprisal for a dissenting vote.

Under Article 37, Para A of the Constitution, the Revolution Command Council is "the supreme body in the state which has undertaken since the 17th July 1968 the responsibility of carrying out the people's public will by stripping off the power from the reactionary, dictatorial, corrupt system and restoring it to the People." Because of its special constitutional position, the Revolution Command Council practiced a wide-range of legislative powers, stipulated in the Constitution. Under Article 42, Para 2 of the Constitution, the RCC "shall enact laws and shall issue resolutions that shall have the power of the law." Since 1977 the Baath Party has regarded all members of the Baath Party Regional Command as members of the RCC. The interlocking leadership structure of the RCC and the Regional Command has served to emphasize the party's dominance in governmental affairs. Article 38 stipulates that all newly elected members of the RCC must be members of the Baath Party Regional Command. Under 1982 Amendment, the RCC was made up of nine members, eight of whom are members in the Regional Leadership of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party; the ninth was the Vice-President. As of 2001 it appeared that the Revolutionary Command Council consisted of twelve 12 members.

Iraq presented a more monolithic, authoritarian regime than that of Nazi Germany or even the Soviet Union. While Hitler enjoyed a similar singular position of authority and a pervasive security apparatus, he was dependent upon a number of industrialists, bankers, military officers and party technocrats to keep the country running and to feed his war machine. These were Germany's elite - a narrow, constrained elite, but an elite nonetheless. While the Soviet Union did not have to contend with private enterprise, its sheer bulk gave rise to a powerful bureaucracy, special interests within the party itself, and "power ministries" which enjoyed considerable influence, not to mention the Red Army and the Committee for State Security. These important divisions also constituted an elite. But, in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, there are no counterparts. The administration of the country and the economy is performed by faceless technocrats who are replaced regularly. Important posts are entrusted to highly-loyal long-term Ba'thi or members of Saddam's family. Members of Saddam's local clan, the al-Khatab, are given preference in joining the sensitive security units -- as bodyguards to the inner circle of the regime and to Saddam, his family and protectors of special sites and programs. The next layer involves Saddam's tribe, Albu Nasir [al-Bu Nasser]. He takes from its ranks his bodyguards and paramilitary units. Finally, there is a federation of about 15 tribes that work in conjunction with Albu Nasir.

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Page last modified: 22-08-2016 18:33:28 ZULU