Wright, Claudia
December 1979
Foreign Affairs;Winter79/80, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p257
This article discusses the emergence of the rule of Iraq in the Middle East. The present Baathist regime came to power in 1968 after a military group led by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and a civilian group, dependent on the military and led by Saddam Hussein, edged non-Baathist elements out of the cabinet and into exile. But between 1968 and about 1977, Iraq's potential power was under-cut by its evident lack of economic, military and political capability. Despite initial efforts to nationalize foreign oil interests which are largely British, Dutch and French, the Baghdad government was unable to control the rate of oil production or its oil revenues which until 1972 grew very slowly as the foreign oil companies filled demand with output from Iran and Saudi Arabia. Regarding military capability, Iraq's inclination to involve itself in fighting on the eastern front with Israel was limited for years by the protracted campaign to suppress the Kurdish rebellion in the northern border areas as well as by border and territorial disputes with Iran, Kuwait and Syria. The Iraqi Communist Party is the oldest surviving political organization in the country and despite periods of clandestine existence, it has been legal in the eyes of the regime and was at one stage formally co-opted into the cabinet.


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