Saddam Hussein, the Baathist Leader
By: Ibrahim Ebeid,
I had the honor to meet and to talk to Saddam Hussein several times, before and after he assumed the Presidency. I found in him several qualities that shaped him to be a leader. He was very humble, very intelligent and above all he made you feel close to him and that he was part of the people, not above the people. Every time I met him I felt at ease, as I was in presence of a friend.
I recall a meeting with him in a large hall in Baghdad; he was talking to Baathists from various parts of the World. He refused to be called Mr. President, he asked us to call him Comrade Saddam or Abu Udai, everyone was very pleased and open, and the discussion went on in a democratic way, every comrade raised his / her concerns directly and frankly. His answers were very straight, even he told one of the Comrades, “If you do not like or agree with us, or with the Leadership, in the next conference, do not vote for us and we will abide.
In one of his meetings in the Presidential Palace with Baath Party Organizations from Europe, Canada, and the US he stood up in the middle of the hall and asked the Comrades to gather around him and not to sit on chairs and couches because we were not guests, he wanted the atmosphere to be friendlier and warm. It was a hot day in July and the student organizations were helping building a modern village for Egyptian farmers in lands given to them by the Iraqi Government, Saddam asked the comrades to extend their stay in Iraq and to participate in building the village. It was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I will never forget the day when he accepted the task to be the President and the leader of Iraq when he appeared on Television saying “I will not call on my comrades in the Command and in the Party, or on my brothers, the people, to do anything I would not do myself, or forbid them anything I would not forbid myself. Our duty is to strive for justice and to struggle against oppression. We will not accept that any comrade in our Party, or any member of the people, be humiliated.
We will overcome tyranny in all its forms; we will safeguard justice when called on to do so. Power is not wielded for self-satisfaction; it is a burden we carry in order to translate principles into reality in the service of the people, safeguarding the nation and eradicating injustice.
Comrade Abu Haitham (Ahmad Hassan al Bakr) has given up his official responsibilities in the Party and the State, but he remains in our hearts the father and the leader whose long struggle we admire and look up to, and who has rendered the greatest service to his Party and his nation. I, and my comrades in the Command, wish him good health and well-being so that he may remain long by our side, our father and our comrade. Comrade Ahmad Hassan Bakr has struggled throughout his life in order to ensure freedom, justice and dignity for our people and did not hesitate to sacrifice all for its sake; the people will always look up to him, in appreciation of his service to the nation.”
He was a true leader, a humble and honorable one. He was a courageous man, a Revolutionary Leader who believed in the integrity and love to his people and his country. “Long Live Iraq and Long live Palestine Arab and free, from the river to the sea” were his last words when he marched proudly to the gallows.
The struggle will continue. Iraq and Palestine will be free and Saddam Hussein will be with us forever.