Iraq: May 11, 2003

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The Baath Socialist Party, the organization Saddam Hussein took over and used to control Iraq, was officially dissolved by the American military commander in the region. The Baath party basically represented the interests of the Sunni Arab minority (about 20 percent of the population) in Iraq. Even though the Baath party is gone, the Sunni Arabs are still there. Moreover, the Sunni Arabs have the highest education levels in Iraq (and always have) as well as the most management experience in running the country. This is causing problems. When Japan and Germany were occupied after World War II, you could ignore, in most cases, that key government officials were members of the ruling party. This was because such party membership was required of senior officials, whether they believed in the party or not. But in Iraq, these senior officials belong to a religious and tribal minority. These men may not have believed in Baath, but they surely believe in Sunni Arab domination. This creates a tricky problem, as not only are the Sunni Arab technocrats qualified to get the country operating again, but they are also hated by most of the population and likely to start conspiring to put the Sunni Arabs back in charge. This would eventually mean another Saddam Hussein (a Sunni Arab strongman running a dictatorship for the benefit of the benefit of the Sunni Arab minority.) The Sunni Arabs still have weapons, organization, local leaders and a lot of attitude. It should not be surprising that most Iraqis want Baath party members barred from political activity for life. Meanwhile, the armed Sunni Arabs continue to terrorize and intimidate Iraqis in several parts of the country (Tikrit, and some neighborhoods in Mosul and Baghdad.) Moreover, Saddam Hussein and his two sons is still at large, possibly in the Tikrit area. Many Iraqis believe that Saddam and his crew could make a comeback. 

 

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