The nationalists, for their part, considered the pact a submission to Western imperialism and a betrayal of the cause of pan-Arabism. One of the many people who roamed the streets during those heated days was Saddam, who felt in his element in this turbulent environment.
The political milieu was not daunting to him; indeed he was well suited to it. Finding anti-government activity far more gratifying than studies, he plunged wholeheartedly into the seething streets of the capital.
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A radical, secular, modernizing party, its ideology is a patchy mixture of pan-Arabism and socialism, which can be reduced to three organizing principles: unity, liberation, and socialism. None can be fully achieved without the attainment of the other two; all are means to promote the ultimate goal of the spiritual rebirth of the Arab nation. The colonial powers must be pushed out of the region, and the artificial boundaries left behind should be abolished to accommodate the advent of a unified Arab state.
These local branches are called Regional Commands, implying that all Arab states are merely parts of the wider Arab nation. Although Baghdad had once been a major center of learning and the arts in the more distant past, particularly under the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid — , years as one of the more desolate corners of the Ottoman Empire had left a deep intellectual void. A fragmented society, beset by unbridgeable ethnic and religious divisions, Iraq hardly represented a model nation. And yet from its early days of statehood, modern Iraq has vigorously and persistently championed Arab nationalism.
At the highest level of abstraction this aspiration can be viewed as a continuation of the historical struggle between Mesopotamia and Egypt for regional mastery of the ancient world.
Saddam Hussein by Karsh, Efraim; Rautsi, Inari
At a more proximate level, however, it reflects the inextricable mixture of great personal ambition and perennial vulnerability characterizing twentieth-century Iraqi politics. On the one hand, the mantle of the pan-Arab cause offered the regime a potent instrument to assert its leadership role in the region. Each offered its own unique concoction of nationalism and social reforms. Yet such inclinations could have been readily satisfied within the other, more prominent, nationalistic parties.
It was he who played the role of father to the boy and was his object of male identification. As both model and mentor, he nurtured the nationalistic sentiments of the young Saddam. After his nephew began rising in power, Khairallah became the Mayor of Baghdad, a position he exploited to the full in order to accumulate fabulous wealth. A greedy and exploitative person, his corruption reached such preposterous proportions that Saddam was eventually forced to remove him from office: shortly before the occupation of Kuwait in the summer of , seventeen companies run by Khairallah were closed and their executives arrested.
That Saddam Hussein was a man of action rather than of letters, an operator rather than an intellectual, was evident from his earliest days of political activity.
SADDAM HUSSEIN A POLITICAL BIOGRAPH: A Political Biography
This he did with great enthusiasm, rallying the students as well as some local thugs into an organized gang that struck fear into the hearts of many inhabitants of his Baghdad suburb of Karkh by beating political opponents and innocent passers-by. In late , at the age of 21, Saddam was implicated in the murder of a government official in his hometown of Tikrit and thrown into jail. Yet relations quickly soured as the two parties found themselves hopelessly polarized over the key political issue facing Iraq at the time: whether or not to join the Syro-Egyptian union called the United Arab Republic UAR , established in February This was a political union of Egypt and Syria, with Nasser as its President and Cairo as its capital.
Yemen joined in to form a federation called the United Arab States. The union was, however, short-lived, for Syria withdrew in , soon followed by Yemen.
His position was essentially pragmatic. He would not transform Iraq into yet another part of an Egyptian-dominated wider state, thereby subordinating himself to Nasser, whom he disliked and feared. These fears were fully justified. Word of this conversation soon reached Qassem.
The communist militias were given a free hand in Mosul to take revenge. Rapes, murders, lootings, summary trials and executions in front of cheering mobs followed. Hundreds lost their lives, most of them Arab nationalists. A fanciful story came to embellish his role in the assassination attempt. Saddam, the young idealist waits pistol in hand for the hated dictator, ready to martyr himself for a national cause.
Wounded in the act, the revolutionary on the run is denied proper medical aid. Unflinchingly, he uses a knife to extract the bullet from his flesh and gallops through the desert on his horse, resourcefully escaping numerous military patrols in hot pursuit. The determined fugitive warrior swims to freedom in the icy water of the Tigris river, knife between tightly clenched teeth. The story contains all the essentials of the making of a national hero: patriotism, courage, manliness, iron discipline. His original task was secondary: to provide covering fire for his partners as they were shooting Qassem.
He forgot all his instructions and immediately opened fire. Nor was the need to flee his home country for an unknown period of time a welcome development for the young man, who had never before been outside Iraq, and had cherished no such plans for the immediate future. Apart from marking an important milestone in his political career, the abortive attempt had a sobering impact on Saddam, teaching him the merits of self-control, patience and caution. Michel Aflaq, a founding father of the Party and its chief ideologue, reportedly took a personal interest in the young political exile and promoted him to the highest rank of Party membership, full member.
Later on, Hussein would use the elderly spiritual figure to strengthen his own ideological credentials and legitimize his regime. In February , after a pleasant stay of three months in Damascus, Saddam left for Cairo, still the undisputed center of pan-Arabism, since the United Arab Republic was still in existence; indeed it was to be sustained until September when Damascus unilaterally seceded from the merger.
The Egyptian capital abounded with political activists and exiles of all sorts, and Saddam quickly integrated into this vibrant community.
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Within a short while Saddam became a member of its Regional Command. Yet, his foremost preoccupation in the Egyptian capital had less to do with revolutionary activity than with the advancement of his formal education. In , at the age of 24, he finally graduated from high school in Cairo, and a year later he enrolled for law studies at the University of Cairo. Unlike the West, where universities were seething centers of intellectual activity, university life in Egypt in the early s was intellectually dull.
Lecturers as well as students were often imprisoned for their opinions and forced to avoid taking provocative political stands. Demonstrations by students were forbidden except on rare occasions. Academic standards were exceptionally low, particularly in the liberal arts which offered a rather undemanding route to a degree.
Students were often admitted on the basis of meager grades, were required to memorize rather than interpret material, and could obtain a degree after committing perhaps a dozen books to memory. Nine years after abandoning his studies in Egypt, having enrolled in law studies at the University of Baghdad, he appeared at the university with a pistol in his belt and accompanied by four bodyguards to receive his certificate.
Four years later, in , he would arrange to have an M. The two had known each other from their early childhood. They were engaged while Saddam was still in Cairo and got married shortly after his return to Iraq in early Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory n. Efraim Karsh ; Inari Rautsi. Publisher: Brassey's: Putnam Aeronautical , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.
View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Physical description; viii, p. Product Description : Whatever the outcome for Saddam Hussein of his foray into Kuwait, the world will continue to wonder just who he is, or was, and exactly how he ruled. Buy New Learn more about this copy. About AbeBooks. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought.
It is not just that it is a solid, detailed, and comprehensive piece of work Not only do the full documentation and precise style reflect a long investment in research and writing, but the authors have produced a subtle interpretation of Saddam, which casts him as a man forged by his society even as he sought to reforge it.
Without abandoning academic analysis the authors have succeeded in producing a work that can be read with pleasure by the interested 'layman' A timely and lucid assault on the distorted image we have formed in the West, of Iraq and its leader.