Baath Party, formally the Baath Arab Socialist Party. political party and movement influential among Arab communities in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq. The Baath Party was from the beginning a secular Arab nationalist party. Socialism (not Marxism) was quickly adopted as the party’s economic dogma: “Unity [Arab], Freedom [from colonialism], and Socialism” are still the watchwords. From its earliest development, the motivation behind Baathist political thought and its leading supporters was the need to produce a means of reasserting the Arab spirit in the face of foreign domination. Moral and cultural deterioration, it was felt, had so weakened the Arabs that Western supremacy spread throughout the Middle East. Arabs needed a regeneration of the common heritage of people in the region to drive off debilitating external influences.
Articulated as the principle of Arab nationalism, the Baath movement was one of several political groups that drew legitimacy from an essentially reactive ideology. Nevertheless, Baathist ideology spread slowly by educating followers to its intellectual attractions. The three major proponents of early Baathist thought, Zaki al-Arsuzi, Salah al-Din al-Bitar, and Michel Aflaq, were middle-class educators whose political thought had been influenced by Western education. During the1930 s Arsuzi, Salah, and Aflaq expounded their vision of Arab nationalism to small audiences in Syria. By the early1940 s Salah and Aflaq had taken the initiative to extend the movement’s operations in Damascus by organizing demonstrations in support of Rashid Ali al-Kailani’s government in Iraq against the British presence there. By 1945 the word baath (Arabic for “resurrection” or “renaissance”) had been applied to what was then officially a party rather than a movement. The official founding of the party may be dated from its first party congress in Damascus on April7 ,1947 , when a constitution was approved and an executive committee established. However, significant expansion beyond Syria’s borders took place only after the war of1948 , when lack of Arab unity was widely perceived as responsible for the loss of Palestine to the new state of Israel. The Iraqi branch of the Baath party was established in 1954 after the merger of the Baath with Akram al-Hurani’s Arab Socialist Party in1952 , to form the Arab Baath Socialist Party. In February 1963 the Baath Party came to power in Iraq and one month later, in March8 , it came to power in Syria after the March Revolution. Inter-party disagreements were one of the major factors that led to the Correction Movement led by Hafez al-Assad, the movement ended years of conflict within the party. A new constitution, approved in1973 , stated that the Baath Party is “leading party in the state and society”. In1972 , the Baath also became the leader of the 7 Syrian parties forming the National Progressive Front NPF. The national committee of the Baath is the effectively the decision making body in Syria. Number of members in Syria exceeds million.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Bush says, "Syria just needs to cooperate with the United States...and not harbor any Baathist's." Well, I guess he hasn't been briefed that Syria's government is a Baathist Party government. Here's a little history: