March 25, 2005

'Lies' About Saddam's Oppression of the Shia

by Muhammad al-Baghdadi
Translated by Muhammad Abu Nasr

We have heard a lot about how the Shi'ah were supposedly oppressed in the time when the Arab Socialist Baath Party ruled Iraq. We've heard about how they were supposedly not treated equally with other Iraqis.

In fact, however, these are nothing but lies fabricated as part of a psychological warfare propaganda campaign aimed at Iraqi citizens - a campaign waged by the US military and its experts in psychological warfare in order to pave the way for their occupation of Iraq.

We don't plan to delve into the details or goals of that sinister campaign here. Instead we hope to briefly respond to some of the claims they make.

I'll begin with myself. I come from a Shi'i background, which is to say that my father is a scion of a Shi'i family. Yet I worked as a government employee in the Iraqi state, close to the policy makers, and in fact I participated in the making of policy in the areas of the economy and administration of the state. But no one ever asked me what sect I belong to or what my religion is. Furthermore, I have never heard of anyone asking such questions or of any discrimination among the people in whose proximity I worked and who had responsibilities and functions both above and below me. I might point out that some of my coworkers took on ministerial level posts and high-ranking military commands, but never once did I hear any questions raised about anyone's religious affiliation. When we used to discuss the evaluation of an official as a candidate for a high-ranking post in the Iraqi government, it didn't occur to anyone to ask about what religion he belonged to or what sect he was a member of, as is claimed by the nonsensical ideas being spread in accordance with the occupation's psychological warfare plans.

Such lies on the part of the invaders and their stooges, whereby they try to hoodwink people in order to split up the unity of Iraq, have prompted me today to set out the facts about the nature of the cadres of the Iraqi state and their backgrounds in order to refute those mendacious claims. My aim is not in any way to deepen sectarian differences or bring them into higher relief, nor am I just trying to defend a political regime, as those who are trying to distort reality might have people believe. My only purpose is to set forth the facts and bring out the truth. To that end, I must set out the following facts, and they are just a few of many, many more that could be cited.

a.. In the time of the rule of the Baath Party, Staff General Sa'di Tu'mah al-Jabburi, a Shi'i was appointed minister of defense of Iraq.

a.. The first Shi'i to be appointed chief of staff of the Iraqi Army - Lieutenant General 'Abd al-Wahid Shannan Al Ribat - was named to that post in the time of the rule of the Baath.

a.. The person who held the post of Iraqi Foreign Minister the longest was Shi'i and that took place in the time the Baath ruled the country. Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi had that honor. Then the post was held throughout the 1990s by Muhammad Sa'id as-Sahhaf, and he was also Shi'i.

a.. The person who was in charge of Iraqi oil production the longest in the period of Baath Party rule was Shi'i - Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi - who was Minister of Petroleum some of that time and supervised the Ministry of Petroleum through his chairmanship of the Economic Committee of the Council of Ministers.

a.. The first time in the history of Iraq that Shi'i individuals held the post of Minister of Petroleum in succession was during the rule of the Baath. They were: Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi, Qasim Ahmad Taqi, 'Isam al-Chelebi (the cousin of Ahmad Chelebi). Thus, in fact Shi'ah occupied the post of Minister of Petroleum more than any other group in the history of Iraq and of the Baath. Working in responsible posts in the Ministry of Petroleum were Fadil al-Chelebi (a nephew of Ahmad Chelebi); Dr. 'Abd al-Amir al-Anbari, a Shi'i; Ramzi Salman, a Shi'i who was the Chairman of the Petroleum Marketing Board Sumo - the body responsible for Iraqi oil exports.

a.. The longest period during which Shi'ah held the post of Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq was in the period of Baath rule, the individual governors being Dr. 'Abd al-Hasan Zalzalah and Tariq at-Takmah Ji. This had never happened in any earlier era in the country.

a.. It was under the Baath that for the first time in the history of the Iraqi state, a Shi'i person held the post of Director of Public Security in Iraq. That individual was Nazim Kazzar. His assistant in that post was 'Ali Rida Bawah, who was a Shi'i of Kurdish background.

a.. The top official responsible for investigating crimes by members of the Da'wah Party, which functioned as an agency of Iran and set off bombs inside Iraq during the 1980s and 1990s, the man who put an end to the sabotage wrecked by that party was himself Shi'i - Security Colonel 'Ali al-Khaqani, a native of the Shi'i holy city of an-Najaf. This is something that no one, including Husayn ash-Shahrastani, can deny.

a.. The Presidenccy of the Revolutionary Court specially formed to deal with the cases of plots was held by two Shi'ah, namely Hadi 'Ali Watut and Muslim al-Jabburi.

a.. It was under the Baath that two Shi'ah served as Prime Minister of Iraq. They were Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi and Muhammad Hamzah az-Zubaydi.

a.. The man who held the post of Speaker of the National Assembly the longest was Shi'i - Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi.

a.. More than 60 percent of the general directors of state companies in the military industries were Shi'ah. More than 70 percent of the advanced engineering and technical cadres in the military industries were Shi'ah.

a.. Most of the specialists and scientists in the Atomic Energy Organization were Shi'i, among them Diya' Ja'far, Husayn Isma'il al-Bahadili, and Husayn ash-Shahrastani.

a.. The Deputy Chairman of the Military Industrial Board for Technical Affairs, Dr. Nizar al-Qusayr, the most important person on the Board because it was he who was in charge of all production development projects, was also Shi'i.

a.. More than 60 percent of the general directors in the Iraqi state sector and their technical and scientific cadres who held high official posts and positions in that sector were Shi'i.

a.. The person who held the position of general director in the Iraqi state sector the longest since the foundation of the state sector and until the US invasion was Shi'i - namely Midhat al-Hashimi, the General Director of the Public Company for Automobiles.

a.. All the general directors for the educational departments in the provinces in Iraq's central and southern area were Shi'i throughout the entire period of Baath Party rule.

a.. More than 60 percent of Baath Party members were Shi'i. The middle-ranking cadres in the Baath Party were more than 70 percent Shi'i. They were the foundation of the Party's organizational and formational structure, and it was they who undertook organizational and mass work in the Party.

a.. During the time of the Iran-Iraq War the Commander of Iraqi Artillery was Staff Major General Hamid al-Ward, a Shi'i. The Commander of the Armored Forces was Staff Major General Sabih 'Umran at-Tarafah, a Shi'i. The General Secretary of the Ministry of Defense - that is, the number-two man in the ministry after the Minister of Defense himself - was Staff Major General Sa'd al-Maliki, a Shi'i. Then later there was Staff Major General Jiyad al-Imarah, a Shi'i. The Commander of the 3rd Division, Lieutenant General Sa'di Tu'mah al-Jabburi was a Shi'i. The Director of Administration of Political Guidance was 'Abd al-Jabbar Muhsin al-Lami, a Shi'i. The Commander of the Border Troops was Staff Lieutenant General 'Ali Muhammad Shallal, a Shi'i. This is to say nothing of the large number of brigade generals, sectional commanders, army officers, and military advisers who were Shi'i.

a.. Ten men served as Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations during the period of Baath Party Rule. Of them, four were Shi'i, namely:

1.. Talib Shabib,

2.. Dr. 'Abd al-Amir al-Anbari - who held the post the longest and occupied the position twice.

3.. Muhammad Sadiq al-Mashat,

4.. Sa'id al-Musawi.

The post of Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN was held by one Kurd during the Baath Period - 'Ismat Kattani - and by one Shi'i of Kurdish origin - 'Abd al-Karim ash-Shaykhli.

The Sunnis who held the post of Permanent Representative in the UN were:

1.. Dr. 'Adnan al-Pachachi,

2.. Salah 'Umar al-'Ali,

3.. Nizar Hamdun,

4.. Muhammad ad-Duri.

a.. The two Representatives of Iraq to UNESCO were both Shi'i:

1.. 'Aziz al-Hajj, a Shi'i of Kurdish origin, and

2.. Dr. 'Abd al-Amir al-Anbari, a Shi'i.

a.. The last editor-in-chief of the Baath Party's official newspaper, ath-Thawrah, was Sami Mahdi, who is a Shi'i of Iranian descent.

a.. The Information Adviser to President Saddam Hussein was 'Abd al-Jabbar Muhsin, a Shi'i.

a.. The main adviser to President Saddam Hussein for Baath Party affairs was Muhsin Radi Salman, a Shi'i.

a.. President Saddam Hussein's aide throughout the 1970s, 1980s and until the beginning of the 1990s was Sabah Mirzah Mahmud, a Shi'i of Kurdish background. In addition the President's Secretary for Press Affairs was Sabah Salman, also a Shi'i.

a.. Dozens of Iraq's ambassadors were Shi'ah, a few - by no means all - examples being 'Aqdah al-Bayyati, Widad 'Ajjam, Muhammad al-'Amili, 'Adnan Malik, Sa'id al-Musawi, 'Abd al-Husayn al-Jamali, Rahim al-Katal, Sahib as-Samawi, Hassan as-Saffar, Bassam Kabbah, Sa'd Qasim Hammudi, Salah Nuri as-Samarmad, 'Ali Muhammad al-Mashshat, and many more.

a.. The criteria for nomination of a person to the post of general director or to a special position (such as the head of an institution, or a board, or an assistant minister, or an ambassador, or a minister) in the Iraqi state were competence, and specialization in the first place, loyalty to Iraq in the second place, good morals and lifestyle was third, and then came working in accordance with the ideals of the 17 July Revolution - the untarnished ideals of serving Iraq, its progress and advancement.

a.. All the singers and songwriters who sang of the Baath Party and of love for the leader in the period of Baath Party rule were Shi'ah.

a.. All the popular poets who wrote long poems in honor of the Baath Party and the President in the period of Baath Party rule were Shi'ah.

One of the most tragicomic features of the present time is the fact that those Baath Party members who turned against the Baath and threw themselves into the arms of the American CIA and collaborated with them in their aggression against Iraq and their occupation of the country were Shi'ah, and it is they who today weep and wail about the "oppression" of the Shi'ah in the time of the Baath in which they held positions. But those people are not true children of Iraq, whether they be Shi'i or anything else. They are nothing but scum, a gang of hired stooges who promote the plans of the occupation for their petty aims.

Among them, for example, are:

Iyyad 'Allawi, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Section,

Tahir al-Baka', a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Section,

Rasim al-'Awwadi, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Branch,

Hazim ash-Sha'lan, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Base,

Dawud al-Basri, a Shi'i who writes in the newspapers was a high-ranking official in the Iraqi Embassy in Kuwait,

Zuhayr Kazim 'Abbud, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Division,

Mundhir al-Fadl, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Division,

Brigadier General Sa'd al-'Ubaydi, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Section,

Falih Hassun ad-Darraji, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Section,

Hashim al-'Aqqabi, a Shi'i who was an active member of the Saddam Branch organizations,

Hasan al-'Alawi, a Shi'i who was a member of a Baath Party Division.

Amir al-Hilw, a journalist and general director in the Ministry of Information was a member of a Baath Party Division (the al-Muthanna Division, the area of Zayunah in Baghdad).

'Abd al-Karim al-Muhammadawi, a Staff Sergeant who deserted from the Iraqi military, a Shi'i who was a high-ranking aide in the organizations of the ar-Rafidayn military Section in the Baath Party Military Branch in Dhi Qar Province.

'Abd al-Wahid al-Hasawnah, a Shi'i member of a Baath Party Section, but also a leading member of the "Accord Movment" led by the criminal Iyyad 'Allawi

Before I conclude this little piece, I feel I must mention a few things that might perhaps be unknown to some people:

First, Dr. 'Adnan 'Aziz Jabiru who was a general director in the state. He is a Christian who was nominated to ministerial posts on several occasions, but emphatically rejected them because he preferred to stay in his position where he served the citizens. He was the boldest person I have ever known in my life in his frank confrontations with all officials and members of the leadership. He wasn't a Baath Party member and he was no more than one meter tall.

Second, Dr. Umid Midhat Mubarak, a Kurd and an independent as far as political membership went, was a member of the National Assembly and as a physician he was a member of the social and health committee in the Assembly, whose task it was to evaluate the work and services of the Ministry of Health. In this capacity in one Assembly session, he spoke boldly and criticized the Minister for weakness in the Ministry's services. At the time, the Minister of Health was Dr. Sadiq Hamid 'Allush, a Member of the Command of the Central Committee of the Baath Party and a veteran Baathi. When that Minister was dismissed after those criticisms leveled by Dr. Umid Midhat Mubarak, a decree was issued naming Dr. Umid Midhat Mubarak counselor to the Presidency and then, later, Minister of Health. I don't know what kind of "oppression" anybody can speak of there, unless they are stooges of the occupation and participants in its plans.

Third, for the first time in the history of the Iraqi state, the Governor of the Iraqi Central Bank was one of our Christian brothers, Mr. Subhi Farankul. That was during the period of Baath Party rule. He enjoyed unprecedented respect over all others who held that post for his high professionalism and great expertise. His position at the head of the bank was repeatedly extended, despite the fact that he had passed the legal age of retirement and despite his permanent desire to retire from work. The deputy Bank Governors during that period was 'Asim Muhammad Salih, a Shi'i.

Fourth, the general directors and high officials in the Iraqi state were provided with a personal car from the state every two years, at the cost of its importation with no customs charges attached - a practice aimed at factilitating their work, that was instituted after the earlier policy of supplying government departments with their own cars was cancelled. Just like those top officials, the Shi'i religious authorities of the al-Haydariyah, al-Husayniyah, al-'Abbasiyah, and al-Kazimiyah religious centers were provided with their own cars on the same terms as were given to those high government officials. The same practice also extended to the major Shi'i religious leaders in Karbala', an-Najaf, Baghdad, and al-Basrah, and one of those to receive a car on such terms was 'Ali as-Sistani. These Shi'i religious figures also received the same financial perquisites given to those top government officials in order to allow them to spend more as needed during those difficult times of the embargo. I am a witness to the truth of this before God, and anyone else because that was my former official responsibility. I will remain a witness to the fact that orders were issued to give a Mercedes car to many of them from the Republican Palace transportation unit, and one of those who benefited from that was the late Muhammad Sadiq as-Sadr.

Fifth, I must mention one of the Iraqi military commanders, Staff Lieutenant General Yaljin 'Umar 'Adil, a Turcoman. For the first time in history a Turcoman was appointed commander of a division. He was one of the heroes of the war with Iran and commander of the 6th Division in the 1991 War. He then served as an aide to the Chief of Staff in the 1990s, despite all the wounds from which his body suffered for the sake of Iraq.

These are just a few bits of evidence to show that Iraq was a real state, and certainly not a regime based on religious sectarianism as the occupation forces and their stooges now claim in order to push their program for splitting up Iraq. I wished to set this down and to relate the story of a cousin, Colonel "A. M.", whose house was seized by the Badr Brigade gang who claim to be Shi'ah. They expelled him and his family from their home and they attacked his wife after they heard that he might be a member of the Iraqi Resistance. Even though he was of Shi'i background, he is Iraqi before all else, and this is something that the stooges and the depraved cannot comprehend.


Stephen C. Pelletiere, "Did Saddam Gas His Own People?," New York Times, January 31, 2003

Robert Fisk, "All This Talk of Civil War, and Now This Carnage. Coincidence?," Independent, March 3, 2004

Robert Fisk, "Trial of the Century," Independent, July 1, 2004

VIDEO: Barry Lando and Michel Despratx, "Web of Deceit: The Trial You'll Never See," 2004

Zaffar Abbas, "Pakistan's schisms spill into present," BBC News, October 7, 2004

AUDIO: Juan Cole, "Early Divisions at Root of Sunni-Shia Conflict," NPR News, December 3, 2006

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