Banned Iraqi Baath Party Holds First Public Meeting in Damascus

As Many as 500 Attendees Discuss Reuniting Splintered Party

by Jason Ditz, April 29, 2010

Banned after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the Ba’ath Party has survived in two forms. The more high profile face of Iraqi Ba’athists is the group of Sunni insurgents that continue to launch attacks inside Iraq, but another group, composed of political leaders who fled to Syria, met today in Damascus.

One of the leaders of the Iraqi Ba’athists in Syria, former Mosul Governor Mohammed Yunes al-Ahmad, announced today at the meeting that the Syria wing is currently in negotiations to reunify the party.

Some 500 Ba’athists were said to have attended the meeting, where speakers condemned the continued US occupation and called for unity to end the foreign military presence in Iraq.

The meeting may do further harm to Syria’s relations with the current Iraq government, as the Shi’ite Iraqi government has repeatedly accused the Syrian government of supporting the Ba’athists. Syria, which houses an enormous number of Sunni refugees from Iraq, insists that it has no way to keep tabs on every single Iraqi refugee, and has denied giving any particular aid to those who are members of the former Iraqi government.

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