2002 October 11 Friday
Amir Taheri on Saddam's attempt to reshape Iraq

Taheri, an Iranian writer based in Paris, is as always full of insights. Saddam's treatment of the Kurds is part of a larger pattern in which he has been trying to Arabize the entire Iraqi population to make it more capable of supporting his ambition to rule the entire Arab world:

Saddam, however, does not tolerate hyphenated identities. Under him no one can be Kurdish-Iraqi or Izadi-Iraqi. You have to be Arab, period. His problem was how to “Arabize” Iraq. In 1970, Saddam opened the Ottoman archives in which Iraqis were classified as either “Ottoman” or “Persian” subjects. He prepared a policy of mass expulsion against the “Persians” regardless of the fact that many prominent Iraqis, including Rashid Ali-Gilani, the father of Iraqi nationalism, and Al-Jawaheri, the greatest Arabic poet of the 20th century, had been classified as “Persian subjects” during the Ottoman rule.

The mass expulsion of the “Persians” was implemented from 1972. By 1980 nearly a million had been driven out. Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of those expelled had been born and raised in Iraq, regarded themselves as Iraqis, and spoke Arabic as mother tongue. To replace them, Saddam decided to “import” a million “authentic Arabs”, especially from Egypt. Very soon, however, he decided that the imported Egyptians, far from being ideal Arabs, were “lazy layabouts” who cared little about his dreams of empire and conquest.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 11 12:29 PM  Axis Of Evil

Suman Palit said at October 11, 2002 3:09 PM:

Almost like a "Persian" genocide. This is news to me. I guess the early political career of Saddam is a little hazy to most of us. The Bush administration would do well to bring more of this information to the American public's immediate attention

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