The fall of autocratic regimes in the Arab Middle East and North Africa, which had more to do with skyrocketing unemployment and inflation than in a desire to “democratize,” gave the circling vultures of Western “pro-democracy” think tanks and foundations the opportunity to put stakes in the hearts of governing pan-Arab socialist political parties long seen as a threat to the goals of “uber-capitalist” globalization.
The Ba’ath socialist party of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was the first victim of a desire by the global forces of extreme capitalism to remake the Middle East’s financial, demographic, political, and social construct.
Because the invasion and occupation of Iraq was such an unmitigated disaster, the neoconservative and neoliberal forces of corporatism decided that other traditional Arab socialist regimes would fall as a result of “soft power.” Soft power involves the use of foreign-funded domestic pressure groups, financed and organized by Western non-governmental organization (NGO) interests, to foment insurrections and “popular revolutions” by using street demonstrations, propagandized media—including social media—and false flag human rights violations intended to generate worldwide sympathy for the manufactured revolutions.
After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq the first action of L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer, the de facto U.S. viceroy of occupied Iraq and close associate of Henry Kissinger, was to abolish the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. In fact, Bremer’s first order, Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 1, totally banned the Ba’ath Party and all of its affiliated structures. Bremer ensured that pan-Arab socialism was dead in Iraq. Bremer’s propaganda against Ba’athism was supported by his press spokesman, Dan Senor, a longtime supporter of Israel and a former investment portfolio manager for the Carlyle Group.
The Ba’ath Party of Iraq was the principal mechanism through which the Iraqi bureaucracy, which ensured payments of salaries to government workers, operated. Without the Ba’ath Party public sector infrastructure, Iraqis in all walks of life saw an end to their paychecks. Popular discontent and rebellion against the Western occupiers ensued. An army of U.S. contractors arrived in Iraq to ensure the “de-Ba’athification” of the country, with right-wing Republicans at the forefront of trying to create a capitalist and privatized wonderland in Iraq that would not even sell to the public in the most conservative U.S. state.
Naomi Klein summed up the West’s desire to turn Iraq into a neoconservative capitalist theme park in her September 2004 article in Harper’s Magazine. Titled “Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia,” Klein wrote, “A country of 25 million would not be rebuilt as it was before the war; it would erased, disappeared . . . Every policy that liberates multinational corporations to pursue their quest for profit would be put into place: a shrunken state, a flexible workforce, open borders. Minimal taxes, no tariffs, no ownership restrictions . . . Two months after the war began, USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) began drafting a work order, to be handed to a private company, to oversee Iraq’s “transition to a sustainable market-driven economic system.” The company that received the contract was Bearing Point, the follow-on firm of the accountancy firm KPMG. KPMG and USAID are also linked closely to U.S. intelligence operations.
In her article, Klein detailed the planned future for Iraq: distribution rights for Proctor & Gamble products was seen as a potential gold mine in Iraq, a single 7-Eleven was forecast to “knock out” thirty Iraqi stores, and “Wal-Mart could take over the country.” Plans were in place for McDonald’s to open in downtown Baghdad and HSBC branches to open all over the country.
Ba’ath Socialist Iraq, which guaranteed a social safety net and public services, including water, electricity, education, and health care to every Iraqi citizen, was dead. The capitalist utopia in Iraq never materialized. Iraq became a country split into Sh’ia, Sunni, and Kurdish zones, wracked by religious strife and almost daily terrorist attacks. The standard of living enjoyed by Iraqis before the Western invasion and occupation plummeted. Only Western military, security, and oil companies benefitted from the deposing of the Ba’ath Party. But for the greedy global “alchemists” huddled over their conference room tables in Washington, New York, and London, Iraq was merely the first of the old pan-Arab socialist countries to fall. Others would follow but without the full-scale military invasion and occupation strategy that had failed so miserably in Iraq. A new strategy would be needed, along with a new administration in Washington to implement it.
After Barack Obama became president and lulled the Arabs of the Middle East into a fairy tale that suggested that Obama was a different kind of American president, one more interested in reaching out a hand of friendship rather than a clenched fist, the Obama team of “democracy engineers” set out to implement policies that would eliminate the Middle East’s remaining pan-Arab socialist regimes.
Now, history is repeating itself in Syria where another faction of the Ba’ath Party has been in power for decades. Syria is the birthplace of Ba’athist socialism. The chief founder of Ba’athism was Michel Aflaq, the Syrian who founded the ideology that combined elements of communism with strictly Arab principals of “Ba’ath” or “rebirth” with pan-Arab socialism under the motto of “Unity, Liberty, and Socialism.” Eventually, the Syrian and Iraqi factions of the Ba’ath Party broke with one another and the two Ba’ath-governed nations became bitter enemies. Today, in rejecting any negotiated settlement with the Bashar al-Assad regime, the West is copying some of the same elements of “de-Ba’athification” carried out by the Kissinger/Carlyle Group cabal that took over Iraq temporarily from Saddam Hussein.
The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt and its replacement by a hybrid Salafist/Muslim Brotherhood reactionary parliament governed by a military junta also saw the eclipse of what remained of the pan-Arab socialist influence of Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Mubarak, who succeeded Anwar Sadat, was a political heir of Nasser and his brand of socialism. The new regime in Egypt has made it clear that the secular socialist policies of Nasser, Sadat, and, to a much lesser extent, Mubarak, have come to an end, with Salafist Islamist Sharia law replacing secular governance and equal rights for minority religions throughout the country.
One of Nasser’s political disciples was Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi transformed Libya from a feudal backwater kingdom into a Socialist People’s Jamahiriyah, a country where all Libyans, regardless of race and skin color, were guaranteed a safety net of social services, not least of which was the benefit of popular revenue sharing from Libya’s royalties paid by Western oil firms. The new Salafist-linked regime imposed by the West in Tripoli has carried out revenge murders of Qaddafi supporters, totally dismantled any vestige of the Socialist Jamahiriyah, committed human rights abuses, including the killing of black African guest workers and black Libyans considered “kafirs” (unwashed disbelievers) by Libyan Salafist Berbers of a more European, rather than African, origin. Even the cemeteries of British and Commonwealth troops who died in World War II have been smashed and desecrated by the Western-imposed Salafists in Libya.
Tunisia’s Socialist Destourian Party, founded by Tunisian nationalist leader and later president Habib Bourguiba in the 1930s, saw its legacy in Tunisia obliterated with the ouster in 2011 of the corrupt oligarch and Bourguiba successor, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the first victim of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
The Palestinian socialism advocated by Yasir Arafat, George Habash, and Nayef Hawatmeh has been replaced by a kleptocracy shared by corrupt officials of Fatah and Hamas who are often more interested in enriching themselves than in breaking free from the Israeli yoke of occupation. Lebanon’s Arab socialist standard-bearer, Kamal Jumblatt, was assassinated in 1977. Although it was the West that benefitted by the murder of the Arab socialist leader, Syria’s Ba’ath Party was blamed, as it would be later for various assassinations of Lebanese political figures. However, over the years, Israel and Western intelligence agencies have been discovered to have colluded in the assassinations of a number of Lebanese officials.
The West has always sought to stamp out Arab socialism, beginning with the 1965 “disappearance” in Paris of Morocco’s Mehdi Ben Barka, called the North African “Che Guevara,” allegedly at the hands of the French intelligence service. The 1994 civil war between North Yemen and socialist-Nasserite South Yemen resulted in the defeat of South Yemen and its total absorption into a Western-supported Yemen led by Ali Abdullah Saleh, an anti-socialist reactionary. Only in Algeria does some semblance of the Arab socialist doctrine of the former president, Ahmed Ben Bella, continue to exist to some degree under the administration of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. But with more and more weapons being intercepted at the Algerian border with Libya, it is a matter of time before the anti-socialist juggernaut sweeps across the Sahara for Algiers.
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).