While One Ba’athist Regime Perishes, the Other Adapts
Syrian government consists of a group of thugs cut from the same bolt as
Saddam’s henchmen. Ostensibly, they are another branch of the Ba’ath Arab
Socialist Party, but in practice, like in Iraq, where the party and the
government form a cult of personality focused on Saddam Hussein, in Syria it is Bashar
al-Assad, son of the fabled late
al-Assad who was listed by Forbes Magazine
as the eighth-richest person in the world, worth $2.3 billion - an impressive
accomplishment in a state where the economy is nationalized.
Americans have come to understand that an Islamic country does not recognize any
difference between church and state, but sees them as elements of a unified
system of rule. This
unified rule is governed by the Shari'ah, which is analogous to codified law in
Western society. The Shari’ah consists of the Qur'an, which Muslims believe
was revealed by Allah to Mohammad during the 7th century, the Sunnah, which
records the Prophet Mohammad's life, and a constantly evolving collection of
Fatwas or rulings that deal with every aspect of Islamic life from ideology to
practical daily matters. Taken together, the Qur'an and Sunnah form the basis
for Islamic jurisprudence, very much like our Constitution forms the basis for
our secular laws.
originally offered freedom from Western colonialism and Arab unity under the
banner of socialism. It was the brainchild of two expatriate Arabs living in
contrast to then-currently popular Marxism, the early Ba’athist movement was
based on classless racial unity. Early Ba’athist ideas contained a heavy dose
of fascism, with nationalized industry and a centralized economy serving the
needs of the nation. As such, it opposed both Marxism and Western capitalism.
1941, Rashid Ali al-Kailani conducted an army coup against the pro-British Iraqi
monarchy and requested help from Nazi Germany. Al-Kailani was an Arab
nationalist who was strongly pro-Axis.
World War II, the Ba’athist Party emerged as the leading secular party of Arab
unity. Like Islam, it offered a coherent ideology, but young Arabs saw it as a
modern replacement for the tired ideas of ancient Islam with its tyrannical
Mullahs and arbitrary rules and restrictions on behavior.
offered Arab youth tight, internal discipline that contrasted sharply with the
corruption-ridden loose nature of many Arab civil institutions. It
a rigidly organized hierarchy of small cells. Members, who were expected to
devote their lives to the party, passed through four stages before being granted
full membership: supporter, sympathizer, nominee and trainee. Both
Recently, Saddam extended this principle by establishing the Fedayeen Saddam, the irregular guerrilla force that has been engaging allied troops. The Fedayeen consists of teenage members or novices eager to move up in the Ba’ath hierarchy ladder, very reminiscent of the Hitler Youth movement in Nazi Germany
1947 the Ba’athists set up a single party under a National Command out of
in power, both the Syrian and Iraqi versions of Ba’athism underwent dramatic
changes, but in different directions. The Syrians have retained their
secularism, and have been moving away from the precepts of national socialism
that formed the original foundation of Ba’athism. Under the stern control of
both countries, the internal corruption so characteristic of this region of the
world has taken full control of daily government operations. The only way to
accomplish any action requiring participation of the bureaucracy is to arrive
with a pocketful of money.
reports about military equipment moving from
its saber-rattling in response to American pressure to stop the shipments,
dream of the founders, Aflaq
and Bitar, for a unified secular Arab world has vanished into the morass of the
the founders themselves?
Aflaq became an adviser to Hussein, but was soon sidelined as that dictatorship
mutated into the fascist horror that enslaves
Deposed Prime Minister Salah al-Din Bitar eventually left the corrupt Syrian regime in disgust in the mid-1960s for exile in