Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973
In his address to the people on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Revolution, Comrade Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, Regional Secretary General of the party and President of the republic said: «Your great revolution of July 17th 1968 under the leadership of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party now completes with great confidence and high resolution, its fifth year. It is entering its sixth year with greater confidence and firmer resolution. On this historic day it is worth our while to review critically and objectively the progress of the last five years, to re-evaluate our achievements with a revolutionary and integrity and draw the proper conclusions from triumphs and failures which we must bear in mind in our march to progress».
The first part of our report has defined the past phase of the Revolution's march in the spirit of the Comrade Regional Secretary's General historical speech of July 16th 1973. Great historical significance is attached to the revolution of the facts hitherto unpublicized. But of greater significance still is the learning of lessons revelant to our future.
We must be in possession of a clear revolutionary sight and more positive experience for our future course.
While the past phase has been full of difficult tasks and hazards, the next phase covering the five years between this conference and the next regional one, will certainly be full of difficult and sensitive missions as well as hazards and risks. There are three reasons for this:
A) The cause of the Revolution is composed of many interrelated links each of which will be wider and more difficult than the previous one. The fields of struggle will be wider and more hazardous.
B) The nature of Arab Ba'th Socialist Party and its comprehensive national missions bring it face to face with more responsibilities and risks, as it acquires more power and experience. Success in the past phase does not diminish or facilitate our tasks in the coming phase. On the contrary they will increase.
C) The imperialist and reactionary enemies who may have in the past underestimated the Party and its impact will now recognise the importance of our Party, the Revolution and the organized masses. Their methods and means in the past will not remain unchanged. The quality and size of their counter measures have already altered which means that we will face more risks over the next five years.
We must repeat what we have already said in this report, that after five and a half years in power and acquaintance with the problems of revolutionary transformation, we must know exactly where we stand and define exactly our mission and tasks during the next five years. Lack of experience will be no longer a justification for us or for the Arab masses' view of our Revolution.
We can now safely say that the next five year phase will require the following central needs;
1 - Consolidation of the unity, of the Party regionally and nationally and the increase of its effectiveness in the Arab arena and in leading the Arab masses.
2 - Raising the intellectual, practical and organizational standard of the party leadership, members and all its organizations, and expanding leadership responsibility in the Party.
3 - Development and expansion of ideological activity in all fields as a central activity in the Party and a main precondition for party work and promotion. Great care must be taken to safeguard ideological unity in Party ranks.
4 - Strengthening of the progressive national front and developing its activities in all fields together with the strengthening of frontal relations between the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party and the other parties of the front. This is in addition to adherence to the peaceful and democratic solution of the Kurdish question, including the comprehensive application of the March Declaration and the realization of self-rule in the time announced so that Kurdish masses will act within the framework of a democracy and a united homeland. The Northern district must be developed economically, socially and culturally swiftly and in an exceptional manner. The gains and rights of the national fraternal minorities must be preserved and developed in the direction of national unity and democratic and progressive development.
5 - Reliance on serious planning and programming in all fields of action in the Party, government and popular organization is essential.
6 - Care must be taken to achieve balance and coordination in the economic, social and cultural transformation to avoid time lags and gaps. Additional efforts must be expanded to coordinate development and then move in the direction of the strategic aims of the Revolution.
7 - The economic, social and cultural transformation must be deepened and further accelerated to build the material and moral bases necessary for the transition to a socialist society.
8 - Meticulous balance must be achieved between the preservation of the revolutionary base in Iraq, carrying out the revolutionary tasks regionally and the national tasks. In this respect, errors must not be repeated and the appropriate lessons must be learnt.
9 - The realistic revolutionary method which produced so much should be preserved while developing it more creatively and by accelerating the pace of transformation.
10 - Re-establishment of balance between centralism and democracy in the Party, government and popular organizations, according to a gradual and safe procedure.
11 - We must bear in mind that some of the emergency measures which might be allowed to drop can be reactivated instantly under certain circumstances. New innovative measures can take place to suit the circumstances of the new phase. Care must be taken not to generalize the new measures and not to allow them to be employed for longer than necessary.
With this spirit and self confidence we must enter upon the new phase, which must embody our ambitions and aspirations as Ba'thists and fighters for unity, freedom and socialism.
1) The Party's Leadership of the Revolution and its Political Power, and Confrontation of Imperialist and Reactionary Plots.
The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party was able during the past phase to consolidate revolutionary authority and its leadership as well as widen the national base of government. It was able to foil all plots, imperialist or reactionary. But we must not be tempted to rest on our laurels, in thinking that all is over and we face no more threats.
Conditions in the area are deteriorating in such a way that our Revolution poses a great danger to the receding interests of the imperialists. Iraq is becoming a revolutionary island surrounded by a sea of imperialist and reactionary influence. The new phase will witness an intensification of the battle against the Party, the Revolution and the gains of the people. The enemy will use new weapons against us and will put onto the battlefield reserves hitherto unused. They have, in fact, started.
We must not of course lose sight of the possibility of changes in favour of the Arab liberation movement. For the area we live in is full of forces, variables and unpredictables. But we must be prepared for the worst as we were in the battle for nationalization, which we won.
This realistic and revolutionary estimate is the key to victory. The leadership must consider the new circumstances and prepare the ways and means to respond. We know full well that all forces of connivance and conspiracy cannot overcome our people, Revolution and Party, as long as we know how to use our united national resources, where to hit, when to advance and when to retreat, in a disciplined fashion in order to attack again.
We must remember that:
First: Preservation of the Revolution is the number one priority and is the duty of the Party, the progressive front and all fighters for freedom, unity and progress together with all honourable men in the Arab Nation. The Revolutionary base which has been established in this part of the Arab World must be preserved at all costs.
Second: That the resolute, brave and intelligent method used by the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party and the leadership of the Revolution in facing the conspiracies and conspirators of all shades and identities is necessary and must be maintained.
Third: The coming phase must witness swifter and more decisive measures to purge the government machinary of all conspiratorial and suspect elements. The task must be achieved quickly and surgically.
Fourth: The effective leadership of the Party for the state and society is a top priority and must never be neglected. It is not only necessary for the Party, but also for the nation.
In this respect, two points must be stressed:
A - The leadership of the Party cannot be measured by size, number or form, but by the real success of the Party in mobilizing the masses and setting the state in the direction of the basic principles of the Revolution, and by the real persuasion of the masses that the Party is needed to lead the people and the country.
B - There will never be any retreat from the March Declaration on the Kurdish Question. The Declaration, with all of its articles and documents as expressed by the leaders of the Party and national front, is a definite ideological and practical commitment to our Kurdish and Arab people in Iraq and the Arab Nation. Regardless of the stance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, no violation of the Declaration will be allowed. The Declaration, however, does not constitute a commitment towards the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. The range of cooperation with the Kurdistan Party will be commensurate with its readiness to apply the Declaration in creating an autonomy within the framework of national unity and cooperation with Arab Ba'th Socialist Party and the National Front. No effort should be spared to bring closer the points of view and effect greater cooperation and within the framework of the National Front to put the March Declaration and self-rule in Kurdistan into effect.
C - The peaceful democratic solution of the Kurdish Question adopted by the Party and the National Front is the correct solution theoretically, practically and politically and it must be a permanent commitment. This does not mean that we should not resist suspect attempts encouraged by the imperialist and reactionary circles in the Kurdish area to break the national unity and encourage the permanence of abnormality to institute separation. The Party, Revolution and forces of the Front must be vigilant against such plans where by the imperialists try to exploit abnormal conditions, coining slogans, and formulate a reactionary alliance under the guise of caring for the national rights of the Kurds. For the real motivation of the imperialists is to hit at the Revolution and the revolutionary democratic and progressive gains of the whole Iraqi people.
The past phase was one of preparation for the establishment of the Progressive Front. On July 17th 1973, after five years of the Revolution, the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party was able to reach agreement with the Iraqi Communist Party on common terms for a national pact for action and the rules of the Front. A higher committee from both parties and a secretariat were formed.
During the next five years, we are expected to achieve two tasks on the Front:
A - We must complete the building of the Front by adding the other parties defined by the pact. They are the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the nationalists and the independents. We must also establish the Front's institutions as defined by the pact.
B - We must preserve the Front with care and make it a success and lead it correctly in all fields. It shall be a central task for the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party to consolidate the front and strengthen its practices and traditions by creative leadership. All Party fighters, particularly those entrusted with Front work must bear their responsibilities. The Front line of work occupies a central position in the national struggle against imperialism, Zionism and the reactionaries in the whole Arab Homeland. The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party is historically responsible for making this line succeed through setting the right example in Iraq and through revolutionary activity throughout the Homeland.
The main task that is awaiting us in the field of democratic transformation is the fulfilment of the prerequisities and institutions of «popular democracy». This will be guided by the following pointers:
1 - To form the National Assembly in its transitional stage.
2 - To formulate the theoretical, political and legislative prerequisites of the people's councils and provide them with experienced cadres for leadership. They must be given all the care and attention needed as a new institution of the revolutionary society and a bulwark of the popular democracy experiment.
3 - The role of Party and official press and popular organizations must be further expanded. Criticism, dialogues and discussions on fundamental issues and issues of public interest must be encouraged. Every means must be used to expand the base of participation by the masses by discussing their problems and finding the proper solution for them.
4 - Within the next phase with the maturing of the popular democracy's experiment, it must be completed by a standing constitution for the country. General elections for the National Assembly must be held as well as for the people's councils. The next phase requires intensive intellectual activity to find the formulae and solutions for the issue of the prerequisites of popular democracy. This will not be easy especially in a country like ours where a tradition of democracy does not exist. We shall face many difficult problems to which we shall be expected to provide the proper interpretation and solutions. We must not however be afraid of failure because this is the only way to find the right answers and discover errors. We must deal with failures in a realistic, revolutionary way which may produce emergency formulae which at the same time do not lose sight of the strategic horizon and aim, which is the building of a popular democracy. In the course of building the popular democracy, we must maintain a delicate balance. No rash steps must be taken before the formulation of the objective prerequisities.
On the other hand, we must not exaggerate difficulties and errors which would cause us to hesitate in our progress towards building the components of popular democracy.
It must be emphasized that the crisis of democracy is one of the most dangerous crises of the Arab revolutionary movement and the Arab conditions as a whole. To realize success in an experiment in popular democracy will make our experiment an inspiration and a shining example for the Arab revolutionary movement.
In this report, we mentioned earlier that the tasks faced by the July 17th Revolution in socialist trasformation were thereefold : (1) Reformation in agriculture, industry, commerce and services to wipe out the prevailing chaos. (2) Initiation of large scale and comprehensive development. (3) Initiation of measures and changes directly related to the task of socialist transformation.
These three aspects that marked the past phase will also mark the coming one over the next five years, when we shall enter upon the task of socialist application in fields sufficiently mature. Many significant reforms in agriculture, industry, commerce and services have been achieved over the past five years. But these changes still suffer from lack of coordination and insufficient planning. Reform in these fields in the next five years will be marked by "socialist necessity".
It will not be possible to take more socialist steps if the problems created by reform have not been solved. A high standard of efficiency and technical resources in the public sector is required in order to go forward in depth.
The question of development was and will be for a long time to come a basic and very serious task. During the next five years, development formulae will serve socialist transformation. They will be used to serve, develop and expand the socialist sector in agriculture, industry, commerce and services. Special attention will be given to the improvement of living standards.
In addition to these two aspects of securing the preliminary steps towards socialist transformation, we shall be expected in the latter stages of the next five years to move into socialism in, every field where the objective conditions are sufficiently mature to allow such a transition. In this respect , the following main tasks are awaiting us:
l - Expansion of the socialist sector in agriculture (state farms, collectives and cooperatives). It must be developed, so as to become the prevailing and' leading sector. Individualistic forms of agriculture must be discouraged in order to increase production, accelerate socialist transformation and raise the standard of living for the farmers.
2 - All foreign trade must come under the state, while in internal trade, the public sector must prevail. Due consideration will be given the urgent requirements of the development plan which might necessitate some exceptions.
3 - Strengthening of the prominence of the public sector in industry. We must work to move away from state capitalism in this sector to a socialist democracy. The private sector in industry will have to be further coordinated so that it can play its role in the development plan.
4 - Public services will have to be directed in accordance with the requirements of development and socialist transformation.
The question of economic competition in the area must be taken into consideration in all matters relating to socialist transformation. Iraq is surrounded by a rich capitalistic and imperialist sphere of influence. American imperialism will try to make these states appear better examples of development.
They will try to exploit to the utmost any error in our socialist transformation to weaken confidence in our system. The standard of living and provision of consumer goods will play a leading role in the battle between the two competitive systems.
Together with our insistence on socialism, its development and the in-depth socialist education of the masses to unmask the deceptions of the counter propaganda, it will be necessary to take the above matters into consideration by calculating carefully every step towards socialism. Flexibility will be required in facing emergency, situations and difficult circumstances. But care must be taken that in the end everything will lead to the socialist method.
In the context of the three steps to socialism and the four tasks ahead which are mentioned above, it would be advisable to consider the following pointers:
l - The essential aim of socialism is to wipe out exploitation, realize social justice and secure welfare in all fields within the framework of available resources and national interests. Increased production is basic to the realization of social welfare. It is therefore necessary that socialist transformation should be directly connected with the increase in production and the achievement of a welfare state.
2 - A great leap is now required in the standard of living by increasing salaries and wages This is justified by the big increase in our national income under the Revolution of July 17th and particularly our triumph in the battle for nationalization. Taxes must be reduced and some of them cancelled; costs of basic services such as electricity and water must be reduced. Education must be completely free, better health services and more housing must be provided. Such measures must be taken with attention at the same time to fixing the prices of goods at acceptables levels for the majority.
3 - Complete and accurate coordination between agriculture and industry on the one hand and commerce on the other is very important. For in the light of this, many things will be decided such as external and internal commerce on a socialist basis so that the needs of the masses will be secured in a regular manner. Successful coordination will eliminate propaganda against socialism. It will also solve the basic question of industry which is the provision of raw materials. With coordination, the bulk of raw materials can be supplied locally while the rest can be imported regularly and in accordance with a correct long-range and stable plan.
A comprehensive reappraisal is needed of all economic institutions which have any relation with planning or execution, in order to establish a central authority of short, medium and long term planning and coordination with socialism as the final objective.
4 - The principles of the Revolution aim at the complete transformation of society in the context of playing a pioneering role on the national level in the struggle to achieve Arab unity, freedom and socialism in addition to our large income from oil resulting from our triumph in the battle for nationalization, urges us to achieve growth in an explosive way, to secure rapid development in all fields throughout Iraq. This requires a change in formulae and in old traditional and inefficient ways. Many laws must be reviewed. Arab and international expertise must be enlisted so that we can complete the development programmes in a much shorter time.
The next five years must constitute the great leap in economic and social fields. We must be able to move into an advanced position in which a strong and progressive national economy will be firmly established. In all this, we must be able to give a good example as opposed to the distorted example of the sick capitalistic regimes in the area. Their ways lead them to inevitable failure as has been proved time and again in the Third World.
5 - The nature of the battle over the next five years requires wide and intensive educational and informational activity among the masses. The need will arise more than ever before for the socialist information and socialist culture to confront imperialist and reactionary propaganda and to win the support of the people for the socialist way.
The two main tasks that faced the Revolution concerning the armed forces still occupy priority above all else:
1 - Consolidation of the Party's leader-ship of the army, spreading the Party's national and socialist principles and precepts which enable the army to perform its duty immune from deviation and to identify with the popular movement under the leadership of the Party and the active participation of the army in revolutionary construction and carrying out national duties.
The armed forces are required to maintain most of the emergency measures which secure the Party's supervision. Some regulation may be dropped or improved, but the necessity remains, during the coming phase, for developing and improving the emergency regulations that keep the army under the Party's complete control.
2 - Reorganization of the army on modern lines, development of its training and mobilization methods and its fighting capabilities, expanding its formations and supplying it with the best possible way to safeguard the unity of the country and deter any imperialist Zionist aggression.
The important role played by our army in the October War of 1973 was a big surprise to many. This imposes on us a big responsibility to keep our armed forces up to standard, in view of the enemies' new knowledge of our strength. We must make an exceptional effort to keep our army up to the standard of any confrontation and confident of victory.
As for the rest of the armed forces, the security forces; the police and the frontier guards, the next five years will require similar measures to tighten the control of the Party over them. Special emphasis must be put on modernizing the police force to make it a machine at the service of the people in all districts of Iraq.
The importance of the dialectical relationship between social and cultural transformation on the one hand and socialist democratic transformations cannot be overstressed. Both should go hand in hand.
To the past phase, the social and cultural transformation lagged behind the democratic and socialist transformation in size and velocity. More revolutionary effort is needed to put both on a par. There have been some difficulties in the past, but the next five years will definitely provide better circumstances to meet the Party's ambitious.
We must benefit from the experience of the past five years. The path will not be clear of obstacles, even crises. This field directly affects the minds and habits of the people. It is also the field of confrontation with the forces of backwardness and regression. We must, however, go forward and achieve our aims in this field on the basis of making provision for all hinderances.
A new extensive effort must be made to build the modern revolutionary state. The Revolution cannot go forward and strengthen its ties with the masses, while the government machinary is still out of date and incapable of understanding the significance of the revolutionary transformation or responding to it. The state administration must be lifted from bureaucracy and negligence, and infused with qualified personnel.
In building the state administration, we must pay attention to the human element as well as the means. The leading elements in the administration must be selected from those who are loyal to the Revolution and capable of putting its programmes into application efficiently. We must get rid of the old standards in selecting the state officials. Some of the state's systems which are out of date must be liquidated completely. An administration is needed that is in line with the spirit and requirements of modern times.
The sick phenomena in this field which appeared during the past phase must be liquidated completely.
Bureaucracy, lack of enthusiasm and lack of initiative were prevalent. This must be ended and a new really vanguard sector must replace it.
The new phase must witness the real birth of the revolutionary information media. The time has come for the Revolution to possess an inspiring information media not only for Iraq but also for the Arab Nation.
In addition to the necessity of a good informational and cultural system in itself, the coming phase will witness a confrontation with imperialism and reaction in which the informational media will have to play a leading role in deterring the oncoming offensive. As we have to face the enemies in all other fields, so we have to face them also in the field of information.
We shall have to pay great attention to the cadre of the information system and build it on a sound basis. The democratic and inventive spirit will have to be diffused. Personnel will have to be appraised objectively and given the chance to advance according to ability. Bureaucracy and horizontal expansion in this sector are meaningless. The phase requires the attraction of a maximum number of writers, artists, intellectuals and information men loyal to the Revolution. Arab experts and qualified personnel must be attracted to assist in this field.
The next five years must focus comprehensively on the building of an education system in harmony with the principles and aims of the Revolution. A system that rears generations infused with the ideals of national and socialist democracy and capable of realizing the ambitions of the Party. Time will not be on the side of the Revolution if we maintain the pace in education of the last five years.
New educational programmes must be introduced starting from programmes for the kindergaten up the university level: programmes based on the principles of the Party and the Revolution and their regional and national objectives. This will require a purge of our existing programmes of all bourgeois, liberal and reactionary trends. The new generation must be immunized against all trends of thought that are not in harmony with the ambitions of our Arab nation and its basic alms: unity, freedom and socialism.
The new phase requires a reappraisal of the whole education system with the idea of rebuilding it on lines compatible with the objectives of the Revolution. What is needed in particular is a special stress on science and technology in education, in order to provide the Revolution with personnel required in the various fields of development.
The universities will become centres for the new generation to carry out research and planning, and contribute effectively to the revolutionary transformation, instead of being just mere centres bestowing certificates of graduation.
The natural thing to do after the rise of the Revolution, in expressing the interests of the working classes, was to overhaul the existing laws and change, modify and annul whatever was required in the interests of socialism This task was not performed during the past phase. The major changes that took place in this respect were on the initiative of the leadership of the Party and the Revolution.
The gap must be bridged during the next phase so that the laws of society will introduce a balance and will express the interests of the classes on whose behalf the Revolution took place. A point must be kept in mind. Our criticism of the bulk of our laws for their backwardness does not justify their contravention. The correct way would be through scientific studies and the proper channels of the Revolution and in a way consonant with the progress of the revolution.
The past phase did not witness enough ideological and practical effort to liberate women legal status of men and women. We must struggle to which prevent their contributing effectively to society as called for by the Party. The coming phase must of necessity promote such an effort.
We must work towards equal educational and work opportunities for women and equal legal status of men and women. We must struggle to unmask the backward and reactionary trends of thought which consider women inferior. We must put an end to practices emanating from such backward attitudes. The pace of women's liberation must be accelerated so that women would occupy their proper place in society.
While we are struggling to liberate society as a whole, including women, we must make sure not to take rash steps and irrational decisions, and thus play into the hands of the reactionaries, providing ready-made justifications for counterrevolutionary moves. At the same time, we warn against fear of reactionaries and allowing fear to block our progress in drawing up a programme for women's liberation.
Although extensive efforts were made during the past phase to eradicate illiteracy, they did not wholly fulfil their objective . The coming phase must witness a reappraisal of the means used so that we can make the transition from the phase of reducing illiteracy to the phase of its complete eradication. The past experiment has proved the inability of the classical method to wipe out illiteracy in the underdeveloped countries.
Eradication of illiteracy requires a major campaign to be led by the Party, with the participation of popular organizations, the armed forces, competent government systems and all the forces available. A time limit must be set for reaching the target while all the material resources required must be made available.
The next five years must witness the application of compulsory elementary education throughout Iraq to be followed later by compulsory education in the higher stages.
Youth organization is still in its first stages. What has been achieved so far, is not equal to the ambition of the Party or to the needs of the new phase and the grave challenges ahead.
The new phase demands that the Party launch, an intensive and persistent campaign to make the infant youth organization an effective popular movement wide enough to include the largest number of young men and women in Iraq, and able to contribute to the diffusion of socialist principles and practices. Youth must be enlisted on a broad scale to build socialism, defend-the country and carry out national tasks.
The chances missed during the past phase must be regained during the coming phase through exceptional efforts.
The comprehensive programmes of revolutionary transformation for the next phase, in all fields, require a continued struggle with a high degree of resolution to spread the patriotic and national values and the tenets of courage, sacrifice, responsibility, love of labour and the uprooting of worn-out values and practices which we have inherited from the days of domination and backwardness.
The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party, its fighters and leaders have basic responsibilities in this respect, in the example they set for others and the spirit they show in their work. The popular organizations and their leaders are similarly responsible.
Popular work is a tool in spreading the new values. The labour squads achieved significant success during the past phase in disseminating the new values.
In order to achieve their objectives, formulae for such work must take the form of planned and continuous initiatives.
Military training for the masses plays a special role in this. It must therefore be expanded to include the greatest possible number of people, organized forces and particularly young people. Training in the use of arms must be one of the main prerequisites in building the new man in the new society. It also provides the country with a reserve army in addition to the national army which may play an effective role in protecting the Revolution and the country, and in carrying nationa missions.
The next phase must be characterized by a clear programme encouraging individual and group initiative with material and moral incentives. We must prepare ourselves for the widespread of new values and practices of the coming phase.
The Eighth Regional Congress of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party places in your hands this report which contains a serious and sincere study of the experiment of the phase from the rise of the Revolution until the date of convocation of the congress. It also contain- a revolutionary programme for the next five years until the holding of the Nineth Regional Congress.
Your Party, the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party, which rose from your ranks and has fought for many years, making sacrifices and expressing your aspirations and interests, promises you to continue fighting with your help and confidence, and to remain faithful to its ideals and loyal to the people and their objectives.
Let this programme be a guide to us all during the coming phase. Let us mobilize all our forces with the utmost enthusiasm and with determination and selflessness, so that it can be applied; so that progressive and democratic transformations be achieved. Let us build a progressive society and strengthen our revolutionary base in this part of the Arab Homeland so that it can always remain a focal point and a base of support for the Arab masses and the Arab revolutionary movement everywhere, under the banners of unity, freedom and socialism.