Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz

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Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz
Abdel-Rahman Al-Bazzaz.jpg
Acting President of Iraq
In office
April 13, 1966 – April 16, 1966
Prime Minister Himself
Preceded by Abdul Salam Arif
Succeeded by Abdul Rahman Arif
51st Prime Minister of Iraq
5th Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq
In office
September 21, 1965 – August 9, 1966
President Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Rahman Arif
Preceded by Arif Abd ar-Razzaq
Succeeded by Naji Talib
Personal details
Born 1913
Baghdad
Died 1973
London
Nationality Iraqi
Political party Iraqi Arab Socialist Union
Alma mater University of Baghdad
King's College London
Occupation Dean of Baghdad Law College
Religion Sunni Islam

Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz (1913–1973) was a politician, reformist, and writer. He was a pan-Arab nationalist and served as the Dean of Baghdad Law College and later as Prime Minister of Iraq. Al-Bazzaz main political project was the professionalization of the government on the basis of civilian expertise. That civic agenda came on the expense of the military. Al-Bazzaz was charged by the Ba'athist-dominated government of participation in activities against the government and he was tortured and imprisoned. Al-Bazzaz was finally released because of illness and moved to London for treatment where he died in 1973.[citation needed]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz was born in a Sunni Muslim family in Baghdad.[1] His brother was the plant ecologist, Fakhri A. Bazzaz.

He completed both his elementary school and high school in Baghdad. Al-Bazzaz graduated from the Baghdad Law College in 1934. Then Al-Bazzaz in 1938 completed his law studies at King's College London. In the 1930s, he became an affiliate of the Muthanna and Jawwal clubs, the academic focus of which was pan-Arabism and encouragement of Arab nationalism. The Muthanna Club was established in Baghdad 1935 and was an influential radical pan-Arab and pan-Islamic fascist society which collapsed with the Rashid Ali al-Gaylani rebellion.[2] In 1941 al-Bazzaz supported the failed rebellion against the British. After the unsuccessful attempt at revolution al-Bazzaz was incarcerated during World War II and eventually released at the end of the war.

Reformist[edit]

After the war, al-Bazzaz was released from jail and was chosen as the dean of the Baghdad Law College. In 1956 he was forced out by the government for protesting against the invasion of Egypt by France, the UK and Israel. He signed a petition that was very critical of the Iraqi government's stand during the Suez crisis under the premiership of Nuri as-Said, a staunch opponent of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Al-Bazzaz returned to the Baghdad Law College as the dean after the revolution in 1958. Al-Bazzaz’s interest in the pan-Arab movement again put him in disagreement with the new government of Abd al-Karim Qasim (1958–1963), an Iraqi nationalist aligned with communist forces.[3] In 1959 Colonel ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Shawwaf, who was the Commander of the Mosul Garrison, instigated a rebellion. After four days of fight he was killed and the uprising was crushed. Following the collapse of the Shawwaf uprising, al-Bazzaz was arrested and tortured.[4] After his release, al-Bazzaz went to Egypt, where he became the dean of the Institute of Arab Studies at the Arab League.

Al-Bazzaz was a prolific writer. He published more than twelve books about law, Iraq's history, Arab nationalism and Islam. In his writings, he saw no obvious contradiction between Arab nationalism and Islam. Arab nationalism was not based on race or solidarity of the blood. It was based on ties of language, history, spirituality, and basic interests in life. In addition to religious belief, Islam was viewed as a social system, a philosophy of life, a system of economics and of government.

Al-Bazzaz strongly promoted the rule of law and an end to military officers who had conquered Iraq's politics since the revolution in July 1958. Al-Bazzaz’s government became increasingly influenced by civilian politicians. He replaced the Revolutionary Military Council with the National Defense Council and limited its functions in regard to defense and internal security. The political system was open compared with previous regimes. As prime minister, Al-Bazzaz held numerous news conferences and appeared on radio and television. Constructive criticism was encouraged, and he promised to restore parliamentary life and hold elections as soon as possible.

Al-Bazzaz announced the First Five Year Plan which advocated prudent socialism, which attempted to balance the public and private sectors.[5] He advocated joint ventures between public and private sectors as well as between foreign and domestic investors. The theory of prudent socialism is to increase production without abandoning equal distribution.

Another policy that al-Bazzaz tried to institute was the twelve-point agreement. Its purpose was to provide constitutional recognition of the Kurdish nationality and to recognize Kurdish as an official language of Iraq. The plan was to hold a parliamentary election within the period mandated in the provisional constitution of 1964. It provided for representation of the Kurds in all branches of the government. It gave the Kurds the right to organize their own political parties and publish their own newspapers. However, al-Bazzaz was forced to resign in August 1966, and the agreement was never was signed.

Political career[edit]

Al-Bazzaz (left) with Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in Cairo, February 1966

Al-Bazzaz returned to Iraq after the military overthrew the Qasim administration in 1963. President Abd al-Salam Arif, from 1963 to 1966, appointed al-Bazzaz to several government positions.[6] He was selected as ambassador to the United Arab Republic, and later he became the ambassador to England. In 1964 - 1965, he formally became the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In September 1965, he was assigned as deputy prime minister. After sometime the prime minister tried to start a revolt and seize power. However the prime minister was unsuccessful and President Arif invited al-Bazzaz to form a new government. Al-Bazzaz was the first civilian prime minister for Iraq.

President Arif died suddenly in April 1966 in a helicopter crash, and al-Bazzaz became acting President for three days. A power struggle for the presidency occurred. In the first meeting of the Defense Council and cabinet to elect a president, Al-Bazzaz needed a two-thirds majority to win the presidency. Al-Bazzaz was unsuccessful and Abd al-Rahman Arif was elected as president.[7] He asked al-Bazzaz to form a new cabinet in April 1966. Then al-Bazzaz was pressured to resign by a variety of political groups, including the Ba'athists. The leaders of these groups were military officers who were against al-Bazzaz's goal to reduce military salaries, privileges and power.

The Ba'athists and Nasserists accused al-Bazzaz of being an adversary of Arab socialism and being against the proposed union of Egypt and Iraq. In January 1969, he was charged by the Ba'athist government of participation in activities against the government.[8] He was tortured and imprisoned for fifteen months. In 1970, he was released from jail because he became ill and he went to London for treatment. He died there in 1973.

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Historical Dictionary of Iraq
  2. ^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,892332,00.html
  3. ^ Historical Dictionary of Iraq by Edmund A. Ghareeb
  4. ^ Al-Muthanna Club
  5. ^ Britannica
  6. ^ The Modern History of Iraq by Phebe Marr
  7. ^ A History of Iraq 3rd edition by Charles Tripp
  8. ^ Republican Iraq: A Study in Iraqi Politics since the Revolution of 1958 by Majid Khadduri
Political offices
Preceded by
Abd as-Salam Arif
Temporary President of Iraq
acting; April 13, 1966 – April 16, 1966
Succeeded by
Abd ar-Rahman Arif
Preceded by
Arif Abd ar-Razzaq
Prime Minister of Iraq
1965 – 1966
Succeeded by
Naji Talib