Friday, April 27, 2007

De-Baathification (II)

To get promoted in the party, one should write as much as possible secret reports. Promotion means that one is evolving into a Baathist. Secret reports were used by plotters to get rid of rivals. It became the suitable mean way for a wife to get rid of a husband & vice versa; to get rid of a competitor in work; to harm an annoying neighbor…etc. Many filthy stories were known to the Iraqis about people who did so, and many others were discovered after the fall of Saddam's regime.

Unforgettable incident was an occasion on which Saddam rewarded a man for killing his son who was a conscientious objector during the Iraqi-Iranian war. Secret cassette recorders were the most deadly weapon in this system. One might find himself accused for saying words while he was drunk. More guilt and pricking of the conscience might be felt on finding oneself a witness in a recorder case, especially when the investigators do not tell the witness about the recorded tape. A famous Iraqi singer, Sabah As'sahil, was executed because of something he said, against Saddam, while he was drunk. His wife was the one who set the trap for him and taped his words.

One category of active writers of secret reports was those who have one of their family or relatives had been executed or fled the country. They did so to protect themselves by showing loyalty. Another was the opportunists who had no morality. In general, one can imagine what kind of organization the Baath party was.

The vast majority of the Baath party members were just like me. They wanted, and still, to live in peace. To avoid this mafia which is called Baath, they join the party and remain in the lowest levels. The Baath hierarchy consists of more than eleven levels. It begins with 'Moayeed' which means 'supporter'. Promotion means less work and more privileges. A privilege is not leading a luxurious life; it could be staying alive.

Depriving the people of their basic rights changes any kind of gesture from the ascending chain of comrades to a privilege. The gesture could be as trivial as several packets of cigarettes.

Hassan Alawee is a journalist, who was of the first generation of Iraqi Baathists (early 1950s), wrote many books about his experience for more than 25 years as a member of the Baath party. By the late 1970s he became Saddam's press secretary. He fled the country after executing his cousin (Saddam's minister of planning) in 1979. One of the books he wrote is 'Iraq the State of the Secret Organization' (1990). Let's quote some extracts from it. These extracts are translated by me, so it is not official one and I hope it conveys the essence of the Arabic text.

"The comrades in charge are usually individuals with no responsibilities (in practical life) assigned to run the party affairs. These comrades are helped by partially devoted members who could be employees, students, military personnel, doctors, workers, farmers…etc. The secret dedication does not let the latter to have sufficient time to develop their skill and be successful in the fields of their specialty. They are not active in their firms. The sluggish & indolent in the society are the ones who are active & influential in the party.

So, the party cadres in charge do not contain a notable sociologist, historian, surgeon…etc. inconsistency between the party cadres and experts or specialists had its profound effect on the governmental administration. One of the secret organization traditions is to treat intellectuals & scientists as inferiors since they can't carry out the party tasks efficiently. On the other hand, indolent people & losers represented the leading cadre of the organization which became later the leading cadre of the nation.

Here is one story 'Professor Khalid Mohammed Sa'eid, a friend of mine, was a university lecturer in brain surgery at the college of medicine. He and I were members of the same party cell. The comrade in charge of our cell was Abdul Kadir Hummadee Al-Anee. The man was a ticket seller at the governmental public transport company. The comrade enjoyed annoying Dr. Sa'eid by ordering him to tour the streets carrying a ladder and a bunch of pieces of cloth, on which the party slogans were written, to post them in public places. If Dr. Sa'eid refused to undertake the assignment, he would be considered a disobedient or undisciplined in the better. Dr. Sa'eid wished that he could be accompanied by his younger brother, who was a loser, to help him with this task!

Suddenly, Dr. Sa'eid disappeared. I think he fled Iraq. Years later, his younger brother, the loser, Salam Mohammed Sa'eid became the minister of health and to be the first Iraqi minister of health with no medicine degree. The party rejects the brain surgeon and prefers his brother, the loser, as a minister of health. This is not a special case or a paradoxical one; it is the essential body in the governmental working rules under the domination of the secret organization.'

From the above, it becomes obvious that the membership of the central leadership of the party is exclusionary. Only those who are unqualified (scientifically & intellectually) & of limited qualifications could promote and join the central leadership. Because of the secretive life & seclusion of the secret organization, it becomes plain that it turns out to be an excellent place for introverts, recluses, and uneducated people. Indolent people, who come from remote secluded villages of deteriorated agricultural and commercial production, will become the best social class to get along with the secret organization.

While normal persons, outside the organization, feel disgust & restlessness for the life of seclusion & conspiracy inside the organization; the party cadres feel great psychological joy in secret work between the walls of their hidey-hole.

A hidey-hole which is engulfed by mystery, fear, and terror from the milieu; a hidey-hole which is filled with aggressive feelings against the state institutions, unexpectedly changes into a state!"

To be continued…