Skip to main content
Select Source:

Ba'ath party

Ba'ath party (bä´äth), Arab political party, in Syria and in Iraq. Its main ideological objectives are secularism, socialism, and pan-Arab unionism. Founded in Damascus in 1941 and reformed, with the name Ba'ath, in the early 1950s, it rapidly achieved political power in Syria.

In 1958—with one of its founders, Salah al-Din Bitar, as foreign minister—it led Syria into the ill-fated United Arab Republic (UAR) with Egypt. The Ba'athists, like most other Syrians, quickly came to resent Egyptian domination, and the Ba'athist members of the union government resigned in Dec., 1959. Syria withdrew from the UAR in 1961.

In 1963 a military coup restored the Ba'ath to power in Syria, and it embarked on a course of large-scale nationalization. From 1963 the Ba'ath was the only legal Syrian political party, but factionalism and intraparty splintering led to a succession of governments and new constitutions. In 1966 a military junta representing the more radical elements in the party displaced the more moderate wing in power, purging from the party its original founders, Michel Aflaq and Bitar.

Subsequently the main line of division was drawn between the so-called progressive faction, led by Nureddin Atassi, which gave priority to the firm establishment of a one-party state and to neo-Marxist economic reform, and the so-called nationalist group, led by Gen. Hafez al-Assad. Assad's following was less doctrinaire about socialism, favoring a militant posture on the Arab union and hostility toward Israel. Despite constant maneuvering and government changes, the two factions remained in an uneasy coalition of power until 1970, when, in another coup, Assad succeeded in ousting Atassi as prime minister. Assad, one of the longest-ruling leaders of the contemporary Middle East, and the Ba'athist party remained at Syria's political helm until 2000, when he was succeeded by Bashar al-Assad, his son.

In Iraq the Ba'athists first came to power in the coup of Feb., 1963, when Abd al-Salem Arif became president. Interference from the Syrian Ba'athists and disputes between the moderates and extremists, culminating in an attempted coup by the latter in Nov., 1963, served to discredit the extremists. However, the moderates continued to play a major role in the succeeding governments. In July, 1968, a bloodless coup brought to power the Ba'athist general Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr. Wranglings within the party continued, and the government periodically purged its dissident members. Saddam Hussein, who succeeded al-Bakr in 1979, remained the titular leader of the Iraqi party until his execution in 2006. After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the party was outlawed and tens of thousands of higher ranking members of the party were barred from government jobs, an action that helped fuel the Sunni Arab insurgency.

From their inceptions the Ba'athist regimes of Syria and Iraq were often been diametrically opposed. Under Hafez al-Assad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, both nations moved away from Ba'athist principles, although the ruling parties retained the Ba'ath name.

See M. Khadduri, Socialist Iraq (1978); D. Roberts, The Ba'ath & the Creation of Modern Syria (1987); R. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba'thist Syria (1989); J. Sassoon, Saddam Hussain's Ba'ath Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (2011). See also bibliography under Iraq and Syria.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ba'ath party." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ba'ath party." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/baath-party

"Ba'ath party." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/baath-party

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Baath Party

Ba'ath Party Arab political party, founded in 1943. Its major objectives are socialism and Arab unity. It is strongest in Iraq and Syria, and militaristic elements of the Ba'ath Party seized power in those countries in 1968 and 1970 respectively. See also Assad; Hussein

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Baath Party." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Baath Party." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/baath-party

"Baath Party." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/baath-party

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.