Iraq and the War of Sanctions: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

The High Command of the Iraqi Armed Forces

In theory, Iraq has a conventional high command structure. The three military services report to the Ministry of Defense, which reports to the president as the commander-in-chief. The Revolutionary Command of the Ba’ath provides political direction, while the National Defense Council coordinates military activity within the government. In practice, there are a number of highly political bodies that play a major role in virtually every aspect of the command chain. The most important of these bodies is the Ba’ath Party Military Bureau, whose offices are located opposite the Presidential Palace in Baghdad. The Ba’ath Party Military Bureau plays a major role in strategy, making senior appointments, key operational decisions, procurement and resource decisions, and setting policy for each of the services. 1

Saddam Hussein is the Secretary General of the Ba’ath Party Military Bureau, and his son Qusay is a steadily more important member. The Ba’ath Party Military Bureau is packed with Saddam’s closest supporters. Sameer Abdul-Aziz Al-Najim is the Deputy Secretary General, Brigadier Raheem Abed Allu is the Administrative Manager, and the members include senior figures from the Special Security Service (Amn Al-Khass), General Intelligence (Mukhabarat), and Military Intelligence (Estikhabarat). It also includes top officers from each service. Lt. General Mani Abd al Rashid al Takrit, the Director General of the Mukhabarat, serves on the Ba’ath Party Military Bureau. So does Staff Flight General Tahir Saleh Ali al-Tikrit, Saddam’s councilor on Ba’ath Party affairs. 2

The rest of Iraq’s command structure is also designed to serve the authoritarian needs of one man. Saddam Hussein, the ‘‘president’’ of the Iraq Republic, is the Supreme Armed Forces Commander. He has direct personal authority over the Presidential Guard and the president’s Special Security Committee, which are charged with protecting the president and the regime. He controls the

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