أخر تحديث : الثلاثاء 3 أبريل 2018 - 12:39 مساءً





By Dr Kamal M. M. ASTAL



1.1.      The importance of the study.

1.2.      Objectives of the study.

1.3       The statement of the problem of the study

1.4.      The scope of the study.

1.5.      Hypotheses of he study.

  1. Poetical power and the military and security services.

(Theoretical Background)

2.1.      Civil military relations: Old nations and new.

2.1.1.   The aristocratic model of political military elite.

2.1.2.   The democratic model of civilian-military elite

2.1.3.   The totalitarian model of civil-military elite

  1. The civil military relations in the Third World.

2.2.1.   Authoritarian-personal control.

2.2.2    Authoritarian-mass party control.

2.2.3.   Democratic competitive.

2.2.4.   Civil-military coalition.

2.2.5. Military oligarchy.

  1. Political power and military and security services: Three Case studies:

3.1.1    Egypt: The military and security dimension of power.

3.1.2    The Revolutionary measures to keep power ( The Authoritarian Regime)

3.1.3.   Military and monopoly of power.

3.1.4    Nasser’s regime: One party organization replacing the multiparty system.  (The role of the Military and security Personnel)

3.1.5.                                                                               The Military Rule and Absence of Democracy.

3.1.6.                                                                               Military as a source of Nasser’s regime elite.

3.1.7.                                                                               Advantages of the officers in Nasser’s Egypt.

3.1.8.                                                                               Military and the bureaucracy.

3.1.9.                                                                               Sadat’s Egypt and military and security.

3.1.10.                                                                               Conclusion

3.2.                                                Saudi Arabia: The clannish Regime and the military and security services.

3.2.1                The emergence of the Saudi Arabia.

3.2.2                                                                                           The government’s institutions in Saudi Arabia.                                                                                                Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family.                                                                                                The Ulama ( Religious Leaders)                                                                                                The Military and National guard.

3.2.3                                                                                           The royal family and its allies.

3.2.4                                                                                           Military and the established order.

3.2.5                                                                                           The Saudi Regime’s fear of the military.

3.2.6                                                                                           The Saudi measures to avoid potential threat of the military.

3.2.7                                                                                           The challenges that impose the strengthening of the Saudi military forces.

3.2.8                                                                                           The political power and the military and National Guard: ( The military role in supporting the Saudi Regime)                        Some attempted coups                        The support of the military to the Saudi regime .                        The new-Ikhwan movement.                        Quelling the Shiites in the Eastern Province.

3.2.9                                                                                           Conclusion: the succession, the Legitimacy, and Military.

3.3.                                                                            Iraq: Political power and military.

3.3.1                                                                            Military as a source of political power: revolution of 14 July 1958.

3.3.2                                                                            The Qasim regime 1958-1963: Military as a pool of the political elite.                                                                            The power struggle and military: The showdown between Qasim and Arif.                                                                            The power and military during Qasim’s regime 1958-1963

3.3.3                                                                            The Arifs’ Regimes 1936-1968: the Ba’thist coup.

(The political power and military and security services during Arif’s regime 1963-1966)

(Popular participation versus military dictatorship)

3.3.4                                                                            The al-Bakr/Saddam Husain Regime, 1968-until now: The political power and military.

3.3.5                                                                            Conclusion

  1. General Conclusion.
  2. References
  3. Bibliography.

  1. Introduction:

In this paper I intend to discuss the issue of political power in the Arab World and to examine the view that it rests on a regime’s control of the military and Security services. I will concentrate on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as case studies.

The analysis also deals with the problem of Democracy and sources of the regimes’ legitimacy in the Arab World.

There has been a great deal of confusion about the nature of the regimes in the Arab World, the various descriptions of these regimes range from a military dictatorship to a “democratic” multi party regime, from a bourgeois reformist to a revolutionary mass-movement regime, and from a nationalist and pro communist (Case of Yemen in the past) to a Islamic regime.

In all cases, it will be appeared that the military and security services play a decisive role in supporting the political power.

1.1.      Importance of the study:

Undoubtedly, it is important to analyze the political power in the Arab World, and to show whether it rests on popular support or on the military and security services.

It is important to focus not only on the role of the leader, but also it is necessary to include the individuals or the groups and organizations who facilitate the leader’s rise to power.  It would be important also to analyze the role of the military and security services in politics in the Third World in general, and in the Arab World in particular in the light of absence of democracy and popular participation.

1.2.                                                Objectives of the study:

First of all, I intend to discuss the relationship between the political power and security services in the Arab World. To analyze the source of support to political power and the increasing role of the military in political life at the same time the diminishing of popular participation in politics. To examine the source of “political elite’s ” in the Arab World, especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.  To show the military’s role as a pool from which the majority of the leaders in the Arab World come

1.3.                                                Statement of the problem of the study:

The source of legitimacy of the political power in the Arab World is a very complicated issue.  The problem of the regimes is in their dependence on the support of the coercive elements in society (Viz. Military and security services).  The frequent and , sometimes, violent changes of the governments and heads of the states reflect the nature of these regimes.

Does the power in the Arab World in general, and in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq rest on military and security service or these regimes rest on other sources of support? This question form the statement of the problem of the study.

1.4.                                                The scope of the study:

This study deals with the issue of political power and whether it rests on military and security services or on other sources of support?  The historical scope of this study covers the period after the Second World War until the 1980.  It concentrate on three case studies:  Nasser’s and Sadat’s Egypt, Qasim’s Iraq and after and Saudi Arabia monarchy regime.  I will try to show the role of the military and security services in politics in these countries.

1.5                                                Hypotheses of the study:

In general, this study focuses on the background characteristics of those who reached the highest positions in the Arab regimes, especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The following hypotheses will be treated through the analysis:

1.5.1.                                                The political power in the Arab World in general, and in the case studies in particular, rests mainly on military and security services.

1.5.2.                                                Although, there are many political institutions (especially in the case of Egypt), the popular participation is absent.

1.5.3.                                                Services rather than popular consensus and support.

  1.          Political power and the Military and security services: ( Theoretical Background)


“Covenants without swords are but words”.  Thus did Hobbes sum up, typically, one of the more elementary and depressing truths of political science.[i]

“The world is a garden, the fence of which is the dynasty.  The dynasty is an authority through which life is given proper behaviour.  Proper behaviour is a policy directed by the ruler.   The ruler is an institution supported by soldiers.  The soldiers are helpers maintained by money.  Money is sustenance brought together by the subjects.[ii]                        “ATTRIBUTED TO ARISTOTLE”

“In South America… The republics depend on military force.  Their whole history is a continued revolution … only force and the forms which         are called Constitutions are in this case only a resort of necessity, and are of no protection against mistrust[iii]



Long before Mao Tse Tung stated his famous thesis that ”political powers grows out of the barrel of a gun”, a Prussian Emperor had his Guards armed with rifles upon which was engraved the warning: “The final word of the Emperor”.  The connection between violence and power had been learnt by the rulers and rebels over many centuries.[iv]

2.1       Civil-Military Relations:  Old Nations and New;

Experience in civil-military relations in different Western nation- states has hardly been uniform.  But where mass democracy has emerged, the intervention of the military establishment in domestic politics has become limited, and its influence is felt mainly in the conduct of foreign affairs and defence policies.  Similarly, in the past, in one-party Communist regimes, the military had been neutralized in its internal political power, although, as in mass democratic states, it remained an important agent in influencing foreign affairs[v]

As a basis for comparing industrialized states with new nations, it is possible to identify three models of political – military or civilian-military relations:

2.1.1.                The aristocratic model of political-military elite:

            This pattern prevailed Western European powers before industrialism began to have its full impact.  There is a comprehensive hierarchy in the aristocratic model, which delineates both the source of authority and the prestige of any member of the military elite.  The low specialization of the military profession makes it possible for the political elite to supply the bulk of necessary leadership for the military establishment.  The classic pattern is exemplified by the aristocratic family which supplies one son to politics and one to the military.  Birth, family connections, and common ideology insure that the military embody the ideology of dominant groups in society.  Political control is civilian control, because there is an identity of interest between aristocratic and military groups[vi]

2.1.2.   The democratic model of civilian-military elite:

Under the democratic model, civilian and military elite’s are sharply differentiated.  Civilian-political elite exercise control over the military through a formal set of rules, which specify the functions of the military and the conditions under which the military may exercise its power.  In particular, these rules exclude the military from involvement in domestic partisan politics. Military personnel are professionals in the employ of the state, and their careers are distinct from civilian careers.  In fact, being a professional soldier is incompatible with holding any other significant social or political role. Military leaders obey the government because they accept the basic national and political goals of a democracy, and because their duty and their profession to fight.  Professional ethics, as well as democratic parliamentary institutions, guarantee civilian political supremacy.[vii]

            The democratic model has been achieved in western industrialized countries.

2.1.3    The totalitarian model of civil-military elite:

the totalitarian model, as it developed, originally, in Germany, in Russia, a, to lesser a degree, in Italy, rests on political control of the military by a centralized and authoritarian one-party political system.  In part, the military supports the political elite because the totalitarian party places extensive resources at its control.  Political control is enforced by the secret police, by infiltration of party members into the military system of officer selection.[viii]

2.2       The civil-military relations in the Third World:

Neither the democratic nor the totalitarian model adequately serves to describe civil- military relations in the typical new nation the Third World.  These models are not applicable because the military has wider involvement in domestic economic, social, and political change. Fundamently, this derives from the weakness of civilian political institutions.  It is the result of the sheer quantity of resources that the military establishment, in comparison with other bureaucratic institutions and professional groups, has been able to accumulate.

In General, the political power, in the Third World rests on power and security services.  This is a widespread phenomenon.  More than of twenty states of Latin America have been subjected to waves of militarism for a century and a half. Though it is possible to discern signs that this influence on politics is diminishing, in the last years.  The military revolution in South and Central America had become a joke because of its frequency and of its consequent temporary nature. In Africa and many counties in Asia, the military plays an important role in domestic affairs.  The armed forces of the Third World countries are emerging as social and political institutions of prime importance[ix]

Many of the Third World countries face the problem of all states:  to establish their legitimacy.  Seymour M.  Lipset defined legitimacy as the “Capacity of a political system to engender and maintain the belief that existing political institutions are the most appropriate or proper ones for the society”[x]

In the Third World, we can distinguish between two theories of the military intervention in political affairs:

The first: the permanent revolution theory:  this is a contribution of the Trotsky school of Marxism.  During the period from 1960 to 1972 alone, there had been over 200 military coup detats in the regions of the Third World.  The political power rests mainly on the support of the military.

The second: the legitimacy thesis: Different states and powers ensure their legitimacy by different mean; in a parliamentary system legitimacy is inferred from the government’s majority resting on the electoral mandate won in a freely contested election.  In the ex-socialist countries,  the legitimacy of the ruling party is tied to the theory of  a vanguard party representing the historic interests of the proletariat and the revered model values of socialism. In some of totalitarian states the alleged genius of the leader is the legitimizing force.[xi]

Janowitz argues that for the purposes of analyzing the military in the political development of the new nations, five types of civil-military relations can be identified:

2.2.1 . authoritarian-personal control:

The first is an authoritarian regime, which may be based on a personal autocracy.  (Ethiopia’s Sylassi for example).  This type is likely to be found in nations just beginning the process of modernization.

2.2.2                Authoritarian-mass party control:

In a few countries, in the Third World, the military is no more than a mark of sovereignty and is exclude from domestic politics by the power of civilian authoritarian political power.  (for example in Ghana, Mali, and Guinea after their independence).  Such authoritarian power may be rooted in a one-party state, under a strong leadership, without parliamentary institutions.

2.2.3.               Democratic competitive:

In these states, both the civilian police and paramilitary institutions operate as counterweights to the military, which is small and not yet fully expanded.  The military has a limited role because it is organizationally undeveloped, or, as in the case of the officer corps took a long time after their independence.  On the other hand  in a few nations, e.g. in Nigeria, Malaya, and India, the military is limited because of the strengthen of competitive democratic institutions.  In a number of states there are semicompetitive systems, as in Morroco and Tunisia, civilian supremacy operate to limit the role of the military in part because colonial traditions implanted a strong sense of self-restraint on the military.  In these states, there are competing civilian institutions and power groups which dominates domestic politics but permits a measure of political competition.

2.2.4                Civil-military coalition:

When the military expand its political activity and becomes a political bloc, the civilian leadership remains in power only because of the military’s passive assent of active assistance. Here the military serves as an active political bloc in its support of civilian parties and other bureaucratic power groups.  (for example :  Turkey, Pakistan and Burma)  The military may be forced to establish a caretaker government.

2.2.5.               Military oligarchy:

The political initiative passes to the military, when actual takeover occurs and the military becomes the ruling group, civilian political activity is transformed, constricted, and repressed.[xii]

The military may play an important role in the Third World more than supporting the political power, such as helping in modernization, assimilation and national integration and other functions.[xiii]

Political change in the Third World is a violent process.  The military has played an active role in supporting the political power[xiv]

The rationalizations that the military regime-tipplers adduced to justify their actions were standard.  Their reasoning rested on two premises:

Firstly:  that the former regime and the guardians of the national welfare had betrayed their trust.


Secondly:  that the army serves the nation or the state but not the government or the regime of the day.

Hurewitz argues that “In throwing the office-holding rascals out, the soldiers claimed that they were performing the highest duty to the nation.  They were cleansing the country of corruption, tyranny, and selfish interest.  In tearing up constitutions, deposing or even slaying monarchs, arresting cabinet members, dissolving legislatures, suppressing political parties, and introducing martial law, the military officers insisted that they were simply putting an end to sham parliamentary democracies whose manipulators had kept themselves in office through fraudulent elections and infringement of the laws[xv]

In every instance, the soldiers stated that they had intervened in politics reluctantly and for the sole purpose of setting public affairs in order.  They promised to refashion the political system, insulate it against any recurrence of the former evils, and make it responsive to the poplar will.  They harbored no political ambitions, they said, and sought only to restore honesty honor and freedom to the land and efficiency to public administration and to reassert the rights of the people.  Once this mission was accomplished, the military rulers pledged to hand the reigns of power to elected representatives and to retire from politics.[xvi]

  1. Political power and the military and security services:  three Case Studies

In this part of the study I intend to show the role of military and security services in the political life of three of Arab Countries:  Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

3.1.                                                Egypt:  The military and scurity dimension of power:

Since the 1952 revolution, Egypt has been ruled by the military.  The collapse of the monarchy opened the doors before the Free Officers.  The rulers who have succeeded each other were officers in the Egyptian army:  Naguib,  Nassir, Sadat and Mubarak.

Nasser spoke of the role of the military in his regime as “ The vanguard and the shield” of the revolution.  Baker argues that” This formulation is vague, and appropriately so, for it reflects a basic ambiguity in the relations between the Free officers movement and the larger military establishment.  The conspiratorial origins of the free Officers and the mediation through friendships of their ties to the military make it difficult to define a vanguard or a shield relationship.  Still, such conceptuality do recognize a salient reality of Egyptian political life: ruling power in Nasser’s Egypt had a pronounced military coloration.  Sadat assumption of power had not altered this fact[xvii]

3.1.10                                                Conclusion:

The military has played an important role in the Egyptian political life.  From the inception of 1952 revolution, the military has occupied key positions.  The power in Egypt depends on military support more than the popular support.  For more than 40 years Egypt’s heads of the state are military personnel.  Military is the pool from which the authority chooses figures to occupy positions in the bureaucracy.  Moreover, military is considered the shield of power in Egypt.  The military and security service have being played political role in Egypt. Nasser envisioned the military role as the “vanguard and the Shield”.  Sadat built his power with the help of the security police and officers.  Sadat named the army’s “the Shield and Sowad” of Egypt.  From Nasser to Mubarak, it is the officers who become president of Egypt and provincial governors, ministers, and so on.

At recent, Egypt’s Mubarak has used the military and security service to confront the arising influence of the Islamic movements.  Cairo has witnessed another time, the tanks, armored vehicles and the security forces in its streets and neighborhoods.  Mubarak resorts to military to support his regime.  The advent of soldier-politicians in Egypt led to the creation of a durable regime. 


3.1.                                                Saudi Arabia: The Clannish regime and the military and security



3.2.1                                                   the emergence of the Saudi state:


The recapture of Riyadh by Ibn-Saud from the house of Rashid in 1902 marked the beginning of the territorial shaping of the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Apart from Rashidi Najd, the Arabian Peninsula was divided before Ibn-Saud’s conquest of Riyadh in 1902into six regions:

                      I-              the Hejaz, extending along the western coast of Arabia on the red sea, which was ruled by the sheriff of Mecca and formed part of Ottoman domain.

                    II-             Asir, on the sea between Hejaz an Yemen, which was ruled by the Idressi dynasty and was also part of the Ottoman domain.

                   III-            Northern Arabia, ruled by the Rashid dynasty of Ha, il, which formed a tributary to the Ottoman empire.

                   IV-            Hasa, along the Gulf between Kuwait and Trucial Coast, which was a province

                    V-             Yemen, under zaidi imams of San , a , which formed a part of the Ottoman empire.

                   VI-            The Gulf and South Arabia Principalities, Sultanates, and Shaykhdoms, which included Kuwait, Bahrian, Qatar, the Trucial Coast, Muscat and Oman, Hadhramout, and Aden, and which were all under the British protection.

Ibn Saud expanded his domain gradually:  In 1914 the British government concluded a treaty with him recognizing Najd, Hasa, Qtif and Jubail and its dependencies as part of Saudi domain.  During the First World War, Ibn Saud aided the Allies’ war effort by avoiding military action against Sherif Hussein, the ruler of the Hejaz and supporter of the British.  In 1924, Sherif Hussein proclaimed himself “Caliph of the Muslims” in addition to his previous title “King of the Arabs”.  At the same time Ibn Saud called the uluma of Riyadh and the tribal leaders on june2, 1924, to a conference and decided to conquer Hejaz.  The forces of Ibn Saud(ikhwan) occupied Jeddah and the holy cities of Mecca and medina in 1926.l in the same year, Ibn Saud proclaimed himself king of Hejaz. In 1932, Ibn Saud was proclaimed king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[xviii]

3.2.2.                        The government’s institutions in Saudi Arabia:

The government of Saudi Arabia consists of several major elements.  The first is the Royal Family; the second the Ulama; the third its military institutions.  I intend to give a general idea about these elements:                                                Saudia Arabia’s Royal Family:

The history of the house of Saud, the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, goes back over two centuries.  The name of Al-Saud which means family of Saud or “House of Saud” comes from Saud Ibn Mugrin who lived in the early 18th century.

The first ruler of the House of Saud was Muhammad Ibn Saud, who Joined the forces with Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (the Founder of Wahhabism).  Muhammad Ibn Saud started first as the ruler of the town of Ad-Diriyah, in the heart of Najed; his reign lasted through 1765.

The series of the rulers extends form Saud Ibn Muhammad Ibn Mugrin to King Fahd. King Fahd is number 20 of the rulers series. [xix]                                                The Ulama (Religious Leaders):

The role of the Ulama in Saudi Arabia has a long history and great significance. The first alliance between Muhammad Ibn Saud and Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, and its continued success through the years reflect the important role played by the Ulama in Saudi Arabia.  This alliance shows that the state and religion are inseparable.  The religion is one of the sources of legitimacy of the Royal Family. [xx]                                                The Military And National Guard:

The military and the National Guard play an important role in supporting the rulers of Saudi Arabia.  The current minister of defence and aviation is the second deputy Prime Minister, Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz.

There is no compulsory draft in the Saudi army; recruiting is conducted purely on a voluntary basis.  The armed forces are a tribally recruited force.  It was originally created as the Ikhwan who were destroyed in 1930 when they rebelled against Abd- Al-Aziz.

The National Guard is an independent force presided over by Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, the deputy Prime Minister.  To counterbalance the threat of the regular armed forces, the National Guard was instituted in 1964. The National Guard, which often called the “white guard” is separated from the army.  The Saudi National Guard duties parallel those of the National Guard of the United States.  In case of emergency, it can join with the armed fores for the defence of the Kindom and the political power.[xxi]

3.2.3.               The royal family and it’s allies:

From the beginning, the power of the Saudi monarchy has depended on alliances with other forces inside the Kingdom.  The new governmental apparatus also permits the ruling family to repay these faithful supporters through co-optation.

The al-Sheikh, descendants of the founder of Wahhabism, is one of the most well known of such allies.  Their influence has been commented by their permanent presence in the Council of Ministers.

Other traditional tribal allies include the Sudayris, a tribe from which Saudi Princes often choose a wife, and the Thunayyan,  who brought to the family administrative experience gained in the service of the Ottoman Empire.

Loyal but less prominent tribes are accommodated through financial transfers and the National Guard, where the sons of the chiefs naturally serve as officers, and their clients as soldiers.[xxii]

The Royal Family also depends on the military and the National Guard in supporting the regime. The interaction among the Royal Family, the clergy, the tribes and the military and security services plays an important role in the cohesion of the political power in Saudi Arabia.

3.2.4                Military and the established order

            The Saudi military has been an important factor of support for the royal family.  In contrast to the majority of Arab armies, however, the Saudi military establishment has not traditionally played any significant role in politics.

            One detects in the royal family itself a reluctance to undertake major development of the armed forces.  The monarchy, anxious to defend his wealth, seems to fear the potentiality high political price of a strong army.  Too many dynasties and civilian regimes in the immediate vicinity of the kingdom have already paid it.  Even aborted coups prove to be expensive.  One attempt in 1969k, originating in the Air force, triggered renewed doubts about its officer’s loyalty.[xxiii]

            The royal family wants a weak army. A strong army will endanger the ruling regime. Following the brief Saudi-Yemeni confrontation in 1934, when Ibn-Saud annexed Najran, the Saudi army was reduced to a minimum.[xxiv]

            The desire of Al Saud to modernize the military and control its activities is greatly influenced by two considerations:

   I-              The royal family is aware that military establishments in the Arab World have acted as a destabilizing force.

To protect its vast oil resources, the country must organize and train an effective, modern military establishment.  The need for a modern military establishment was realized first during the 1962-1970 Yemen War which demonstrated the impotency of the Saudi military in confronting the Egyptian sponsored Republican army.  The 1967 Arab-Israeli war impressed upon Al Saud that Saudi participation in any subsequent Arab-Israeli confrontation would by necessary for both domestic and Arab considerations.  In addition, the British withdrawal from the Gulf area created a power vacuum that the Saudis realizes was urgently in need of filling.[xxv]

3.2.8.               The political power and the military and national guard:

(The military’s role in supporting the Saudi regime)

            in this part of the analysis I intend to show that the Saudi regime, likes other regimes in the Arab World, depends on the support of the military in facing opposition and attempts of coups:          Some of the attempted coups:

            although the Saudi military is generally supportive of Al Saud, a number of attempted coups :                                                                Some of the attempted coups:

Although the Saudi military is generally supportive of Al Saud, a number of attempted coups have taken place:

            In 1945, Abd Allah al-Mandeli, an air force pilot, attempted to bomb Ibn Saud’s encampment at Mount Arafat.  He missed the target and was arrested and executed.

            Following the July 14,1958, Iraqi revolution, a number of air force pilots were also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to assassinate king Saud.

            In 1962, six officers were jailed communicating with the liberal prince’s faction in Cairo.

            In 1969, an attempted coup was uncovered, and 100 military personnel were arrested.[xxvi]

            In 1977, a number of army officers were court-martialed for their role in an attempted coup.                                                                                                The support of the military to the Saudi regime:

Here I will give some examples to show how the political power in Saudi Arabia regime rests on the support of the military and the security services in facing the challenges to the ruling family.                                                                                                The Neo-Ikhwan Movement:

On November 20, 1979, the Grand Mosque of Mecca was seized by a group of fundamentalists who denounced the Saudi regime and proclaimed the appearance of a Mahdi (Redeemer). The attack on the Great Mosque was led by Jahaiman al-Utaiby, a former member of the National Guard and a student of theology at Mecca Islamic University. The proclaimed Mahdi, Mohammad Ibn Abd Allah al-qahtani, was a former theology student of Shaykh Abd al –aziz Al-Baz, hed of the Higher Council of Ifta’ and Research.

The exact number of the insurgents remains unknown.  It is estimated, however, to be around four hundred to thousand. From the sixty-three who were publicly excited, it is possible to ascertain that the majority were Saudi Najdis in their early and mid-thirties.  Among the non-Saudis, there were ten Egyptians, six South Yemenis, one North Yemeni.  Three Kuwaitis, one Sudanese and one Iraqi.[xxvii]

The insurgents were equipped wth machine guns, automatic weapons, and walkie-talkies.  The news of the incident reached the Saudi authorities who were caught by surprise.  At the time of the incident, Crown Prince Fahd was in Tunis for an Arab Summit meeting, and Prince Abd Allah, the head of the National Guard was on an official Visit in Morroco.  King Khaled placed responsibility on Sultan and Nayef, the Minister of defense and Interior, to take care of the incident.[xxviii]                                                                                                Quelling the Shiites in the Eastern Province:

The disturbances of the Shiites in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia was another proof that the political power depends on the support of the military. The Shiite population of Saudi Arabia is About 250,000-300,000 people.  They are particularly important because they are concentrated in the Eastern Province near the oil fields.  They have an inferior status and are often treated as second-class citizens.  They have no local government representation.  Their only share in the  economy is their 50 per cent employment out of 22,000 Saudis who are employed by ARAMCO. Even in the armed forces, they are never promoted to the officers corps.

Approximately 60,000 Shiites live in the oasis town of Qtif, which is about 40 miles form the main Saudi refinery and the export terminal of Ras Tanura.  When Qatif and its surrounding area came under the control of Abd-al-Aziz at the beginning of the Twentieth century, many attempts were made to convert the population to Wahhabism.  In 1930, the Shiites revolted and favored the policy of annexation to Bahrain, a protectorate of the British.  The refused to accept the proposal and the revolt was crushed.[xxix]

In 1938, when the oil was discovered in Qatif, ARAMCO began to employ the Shiites at a salary of 7 cents per day.  Given the poverty, they accepted but later on, the resentment was manifested.  The Shiites participated in al the strikes, demonstrations, and other political demonstrations that have taken place in the Kingdom.  The most significant were in 1969 strikes when the Saudi armed forces were called in.  The Shiites are very receptive to Khomeini and his attacks on the Saudi regime.

When American jets landed in Dharan for maneuvers, the Shiites organizes the biggest demonstration on November 11,1979, shouting slogans against the royal family and the Americans.  The Saudi government responded by force and imposed a curfew on all the towns in the Qatif area, sealing of f the area by tanks and armored trucks. A bloody showdown between the armed forces and the Shiites continued until November 30, 1979, in which hundreds of people were injured, thousands arrested and 24 killed.[xxx]

In general, the Saudi regime, likes other regime officers cannot be traced with any precision before 1956, although a number of discontented officers had been meeting secretly since 1952. [xxxi]  The movement attracted increasing numbers of adherents after the accession of Iraq to the Baghdad Pact in 1955, and even so after he tripartite invasion of Egypt in 1956.

In December 1956, a Supreme Committee of the Free Officers was formed k, consisting of ten officers, all of whom were army or air force officers of the rank of major and above. At this stage the Supreme Committee did not include Abd all-Karim Qasim and Abd Al-Salam Arif both whom were stationed in Jordan.  However, Qasim and Arif were members of another group of Free Officers.  Altogether the Free Officers numbered about 200, less than five per cent of the entire membership of the officer’s corps.[xxxii]

The army under the leadership of the Free Officers managed to control of the whole Baghdad in the evening of 13 July, Nuri al-Said managed to escape capture until the following day, but the king, the Crown Prince and several members of the royal family were shot in the palace courtyard.  Early in the morning of 14 July the citizens of Iraq awoke to the strains of martial music on the radio. At 6.30 a.m. Arif read the first proclamation of the new regime, to the effect that the army had liberated “the beloved homeland from the corrupt crew that imperialism installed”.[xxxiii]

3.3.2.                                                The Qasim Regime 1958-1963:  military as a pool of the political elite:

In July 14, 1958, the first cabinet was formed.  The Free Officers occupied the most important posts:  Qasim, Arif and Naji Talib took the portfolios of Prime Minister and Defence, Interior, and Social Affairs.  The cabinet also included prominent political personalities and representatives of a number of political parties.[xxxiv]

The first cabinet chosen by Qasim was a coalition cabinet:  the Free Officers were represented by three members as I mentioned above.  Three Kurds were in control of the Ministries of communications, Health, and Justice.  Two members of the National Democratic Party headed the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture, while two nationalists headed the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education.  The Communist Party was represented by one Minster, and similarly the Istiqlal Party.[xxxv]                                                                        The power struggle and military:  The Showdown between Qasim and Arif:

while the July revolution was specially intended to overthrow the Ancien Regime, in common with the population at large, he Free Officers and those members of the armed were a highly heterogeneous and disparate group, united only by their desire to overthrow the Ancien regime.  Thus there were considerable differences of opinion among them over the policies that the new government should pursue.[xxxvi]

Sluglett argues that the fact most of the Free Officers were approximately the same age and rank, and that none of them had emerged as undisputed leader by the time the coup actually took place, meant that there was no pressing reason for any of them to defer to any particular individual or individuals among colleagues, although Qasim and Arif emerged relatively quickly as the main contenders for power.

Arif’s enthusiasm for joining UAR was regarded by Qasim as threatening his own position as well as being downright imprudent.  Furthermore, Arif’s own ambitions were constantly encouraged by suggestions from a variety of sources that he was the rising star of the Iraqi revolution, and that he might soon be in a position to kick Qasim upstairs in the way that Nasser had done to Naguib.[xxxvii]

On 10 September 19Arif was dismissed as Deputy Commander –in-Chief of the armed forces.  He was eventually relieved of his political functions on 30 September, and appointed ambassader in bon on 12October.  At first he refused to take up the post, but was eventually persuaded to accept it after an incident in which he threatened Qasim with revolver in the Ministry of Defence.  He returned secretly to Baghdad in November, was immediately arrested, and tried in camera , and sentenced to death, but reprieved in February. [xxxviii]

Qasim also confronted the communists and the communists and the Ba’thists.  The Ba’thists tried to assassinate Qasim on 7 October 1959.  the assassins, included the twenty-three-year-old Saddam Husein.  The Ba’thists planned to seize the power by close coordination with sympathetic officers.                                                                        The Power and Military during Qsim’s Regime 1958-1963:

During Qasim’s rule, the political power rested mainly on the military and security services. This may be clear in the light of these observations.

According to the Iraqi provisional constitution which was proclaimed after twelve days of overthrowing of the monarchy, a Council of Sovereignty was established to exercise presidential authority, and a cabinet was formed to exercise presidential authority and a cabinet was formed to exercise both executive and legislative powers.  The Free Officers occupied commanding positions in the Council of Sovereignty.

The composition of the Council seemed to have been determined by Qasim. In fact, Qasim imposed his views in the political management of the country and to use the Council as a rubber stamp to increase the legitimacy of his decisions.

Although, the various factions and ethnic groups were represented in the five cabinets which were formed during this period, one should not be misled by the numerical presence of representatives of certain parties and communities in cabinets in general, because the real power actually lies in the hands of the occupants of the strategic posts, namely the military.

A power struggle emerged in the very early stages of the revolution.  In this struggle, Qasim began to promote officers loyal to himself to key positions and to demote the partisans of Arif to subordinate positions. In September 1958, Qasim relived Arif of all his posts.

The military was a source of the political elite.  Qasim’s regimes seized power by military means and continue to rule by the support of the military and used the military to defend the regime. The military aborted the attempted coup of Rashid Ali on 9-10th of December 1959 and the second attempted coup of Abd al-Wahhab al-Sawwaf on March 8, 1960.

From the frequent shifts and power struggle during Qasim’s rule, it may be deduced that Qasim’s identity was neither nationalist nor communist; neither was he a democrat or a socialist.  His pragmatic behaviour could only and survival.  He can be described as “Qasimite”.  His personal interest took clear precedence over political ideology.[xxxix]                                                                                                Qasim opted to recognise and strengthen the army.  It appeared that any move against Qasim based on the  state of the parties a lone could be crushed immediately by military force.  To guarantee its loyalty, Qasim had not only expanded, equipped.  And improved its material well being , but he made sure that no senior officer would appear as a potential rival. It was stated that during the Qasim regime, 2000 in Qasim’s regime the dimensions of the military, secret police, and personal security arrangements were very clear.[xl]

3.3.3.                                                Conclusion:

In reviewing the various Iraqi regimes since 1958, it is observed that through the Qasim regime (1958-1963) there were total numbers of five cabinets.

In the period of Arif’s’ regime (1963-1968), there were eleven cabinets.

And in first stage of al- Bakr/Sadam regime (1968-1975), there were six cabinets.  The military established these regime through coups, and continued to form a source of political elite and a source of legitimacy.  The civilian representation in power is misleading, because the actual power vests in the hands of military.[xli]

  1.  General Conclusion;

First of all, I agree with the view that political power in the Arab World, in general, and the three cases which have been studied, in particular, rests on the military and security services.

In Egypt, the military junta had forced the king Farouq to abdicate on 26 July 1952.  In the first days of the Revolution, the new regime set up a Regency Council to serve, in theory, as the custodian for the infant King Ahmed Fuad 11. Under this umbrella of legitimacy the new military rulers abolished the monarchical constitution, to suspend parliamentary life of three years, and in the following month, to liquidate all political parties except the Muslim Brethren (Which survived until the end of 1954.  Prime Minister Naguib issued in February 1953 an interim constitution that vested supreme authority under his leadership in the Revolutionary Command Council.  Since 1952 Revolution, political power has rested on the military and security services.  Naguib, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak are all Egyptian officers.  Mamdouh Saleem, The Egyptian Prime Minister in 1975 was a security service officer.  Sadat resorted to military, in 1980, to face the opposition, in what Mohammad Haikel Described as the “Autumn of Fury”.  Mabark also has used the military to face the Islamic movements in Egypt.  In December 1980. More that fifteen thousands of the Egyptian army put Ambaba neighborhood, in Cairo under curfew and arrested thousands of the Islamic movements, members.

In general, the political power in Egypt has been created by the military and exercised by the military and rested on the military and continued to be actually in the hands of military and security services.

In Saudi Arabia, the military are deliberately wakened to protect the regime.  The political power rests on the military from negative point of view, namely, the Audi regime sees the military as a potential threat of the regime, so , the authorities resorted to weaken the army on the one hand, and to create the National Guard, as a counterbalance, on the other.  The Saudi regime depends also on the foreign armies and forces which have bases in the country.

Finally, the military junta in Iraq destroyed the monarchy outright, and therefore a Sovereignty Council was established.  The Iraqi political power has rested on the military and security services since 1958 revolution.  From Qasim to Saddam, the military has had the upper hand in the Iraq regime.  The civilian, representation, even if it outnumbered the officers, is misleading.  The real power vested in the military and security services.

1-                                  Howard, Michael, (ed.) Soldiers and governments:  nine studies in civilian military relations, Eyre and Spoties Wood, London, 1957,p.11.

2-                                  Huntington, Samuel  P. (ed.) Changing patterns of military politics, The Free Press of Glencoe Inc, New York, 1962,p.72.

3-                                  Ibid., p. 72

4-                                  Kennedy, Gavin, The military in the Third World,  Duckworth, London,1974, p.12.

5-                                  Janowitz, Morris, The military in the political development of new nations. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1964,p.2.

6-                                  I bid, p.3.

7-                                  I bid, p.3.


9-                                  I bid, p.3.


11-                                  gutteridge, William, Military institutions and power in the new states,Pall Mall press, London, 1964, p.311

12-                                  I bid, p. 167

13-                                  Kennedy, Op. Cit. P.21.

14-                                  I bid pp. 12-21

15-                                  Howard, Michael Op. Cit. Pp.19-28.


17-                                  Janwitz, Op Cit. Pp. 5-7

18-                                  Mcwilliams, Wilson C. (ed.)  garrisons and government:  Politics and the military in new states, Chandler Publishers Company, San Francisco. 1967pp.19-25.

19-                                  For more details about the role of the military in Africa and Latin and latin America see: Bienen, Henry (ed.)  The military intervenes: Casestudies in political development, Russell Sage Foundation , New York, 1986

20-                                  Hurewitz, J. C. , The Middle East Politics:  The military Dimension, Fredrick A. Praeger, publishers, Washigton, 1969. P.111.

21-                                  Baker, Egypt’s uncertain revolution., I bid. P. 158.

22-                                  Baker, I bid. P. 160

23-                                  Al-Yassini, Ayman, Religion and the state in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Westview press, London, 1985, pp. 39-41.

Also: Bligh, Alexander, from Prince to king: Royal succession in the Houseof Saud in the Twentieth century. New York University press, New York, 1984.p1.

24-                                  Safran, Ndav, Saudi Arabia: A ceaseless quest forsecurity ,  the Belknap press po Harvard University press, Massachusetts, 1985.p.11


26-                                  al –Farsy Saudi Arabia: A case study in development, KPI London, 1982, pp.73-75.


28-                                  Al-Farsy, Ibid., pp.76097.

29-                                  Berberoglu, Berch, (ed.) Power and stability in the Middle East, Zed Books LTD, London, 1989 p.74

30-                                  I bid, p. 75.

31-                                  Nehme, Michel G. Saudi Arabia:  political implications of the development plans: (PH.D dissertation), Rutegers University, The state U. of New Jersey, 1983, pp. 159-160

32-                                  Al-Yassini, Op. Cit. p. 120


34-                                  Al-Yassini, Ibid, p. 120

35-                                  Nehme , Michel Op. Cit, p p. 1189-190

36-                                  Nehme , Michel,  Ibid. p. 191

37-                                  Safran, Nadav, Op. Cit, 357. and also: Nehme , Michel Ibid,  p. 192

38-                                  For more information about the opposition groupssee:

  1. Nehme, Michel, Ebid, pp. 193-197
  2. And also: Bligh, Op. Cit , pp. 72-104
  3. And also: Sotos, John Demrtrios, Principles, Pragmatism, and As Saud: the 
  4. American University, Washington, 1982. pp. 159-175.

39-                                  Bligh, Ibid, p. 102.

40-                                  Niblock, Tim,(ed.) Social and Economic development in the Arab Gulf,  Croom Helm, London, 1980 p. 163

41-                                  Niblock, Ibid, pp. 163-167

42-                                  Safran, Nadav, Op. Cit. p.225.

43-                                  For more details about the pre-1958 Revolution, these are some references Hamdi, Walid MIS, Rashid Ali Al-Gilani and the Nationalist movement in Iraq 1939-1941,  (PH.Thesis), Daf publishers Limited, London, 1987. Raj’a H.H. El-Kat’ab, Tassis Al Jaish Al-Iraqi Watato or Dorho al siassi 1921-1941, (HP.D. thesis) Baghda University , Dar Wassit Lnashr, 1982(In Arabic)

Khan , M. A, Saleem, The Monarchic Iraq: A political Study, Aligarh Muslim University press, Aligarh, India, 1977.

Kelider Abbas , The integration of modern Iraq, croom Helm, London, 1979, (especially chapter 5: The formation of the Iraqi army 1921-1923)

Khadduri, Majid , Indepenednt Iraq:  A Study in Iraq politics since 1932, OxfordUniversity press, London , 1951

44-                                  batatu, H., The old social classes and the revolutionary movements of Iraq : A study of Iraqi sold landed and commercial classes and of its Communists, ba’thists and Free Officers, Princeton, 1978,764-767

45-                                  Farouk-Sluglett, Marion, and Sluglett, Peter, Iraq since 1958:  From Revolutionto Dictatorship, KPI, London, 1987, p. 48

46-                                  CARDRI:  Committee Against Repression and For Democratic Rights in Iraq Saddam’s Iraq. Zed Books Ltd, London, 1989.p.24           Also:  Sluglett, Ibid, p. 49.

47-                                  Ibid, p. 95.



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