Sunday, March 15, 2009

Iraq's Post-December 1963 History Revisited: Part 6

(See parts 1-5 below)

The history of Iraq is still being influenced by 150,000 U.S. occupation troops and 200,000 private contractors. Yet the mainstream "educational television" stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) often appear more eager to broadcast programs about the history of rock music since 1960 than programs about the history of Iraq.

But as Rashid Khalidi observed in the introduction to the 2005 edition of his Resurrecting Empire, "the hubris that allowed Pentagon planners to think that they were somehow immune to the lessons of history produced a grossly mismanaged occupation that has become hated by most Iraqis and has engendered fierce resistance." U.S. anti-war activists, however, may find some knowledge of post-December 1963 Iraqi people's history of use in debating with U.S. opponents of an immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in 2009.

After the then-Iraqi Internal and Military Intelligence Chief, Saddam Hussein, took over as president of the Ba'th regime in 1979, the repression against the surviving Iraqi communist activists again intensified even more. In April 1979, Saddam Hussein's Ba'th regime again completely outlawed the Iraq Communist Party. According to The People's History of Iraq book, "it is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people were arrested in the period 1979-81 (thousands of whom were subsequently detained), while hundreds [of Communist militants] `disappeared' or were killed."

Not surprisingly, after Iraq's Ba'th government ordered the Iraqi military to attack Iran in September 1980, the surviving Iraq Communist Party leaders decided to retreat into Iraqi Kurdistan and form an alliance with Kurdish nationalist activists in Iraq. In 1981, the Iraq Communist Party then expressed its support for the overthrow of the Ba'th regime by means of armed struggle in the countryside.

The Ba'th regime's war with Iran lasted eight years and cost the lives of about 500,000 Iraqis and 500,000 Iranians, before an August 1988 cease-fire agreement between the Iraqi and Iranian governments was finally reached. War damage in Iraq resulting from the Ba'th regime's policy of 1980s military adventurism also exceeded $67 billion.

During the 1980-1988 war, domestic political opponents of the Ba'th regime and war against Iran continued to be persecuted. Between 250,000 and 400,000 Iraqis of Kurdish or Shiite background in Southern Iraq were also deported to Iran in the early 1980s by the Ba'th regime. In 1981, meanwhile, an Iraqi nuclear plant near Baghdad was bombed and destroyed by the Israeli government's jets, in violation of international law.

After 1984, the U.S. government replaced the Soviet Union as the major supplier of foreign military aid to Saddam Hussein's Ba'th regime. But when the Ba'th regime moved Iraqi troops into the oil-rich area of Kuwait that Iraqi nationalists have traditionally claimed as part of Iraq's national territory in August 1990, the U.S. government then adopted a more hostile policy towards Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government. (end of part 6)