Columnist Maureen Dowd says the Arabic word Baath stands for resurrection. But Baath is not a word that translates well into English. A better synonym would be the Italian word Risorgimento.
Actually, the party had its origin in the little town of Asadabad in western Iran. Here, in 1839, was born Sayyid Jamal ad-Din, a Muslim mystic sometimes known as al-Afghani (Arabic for the Afghan--J.T.) and "the Sage of the East."
Jamal ad-Din was raised as a Shiite Muslim and, in 1845, his family enrolled him in a madrassa (Islamic school) in the holy city of Najaf in what is now Iraq. Here Jamal was initiated into "the mysteries" by "followers of Sheik Ahmad Asai (1753-1826). He also may have had some family connections with the Babis, followers of Siyyid Ali Mohammed al-Bab," an imam keenly interested in politics.
"After years studying Shia theology at the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, he spent several years in India, the Caucasus and Central Asia before surfacing in Afghanistan as the senior advisor to the pro-Russian ruler."
Jamal ad-Din's travels and movements in occult circles brought him into repeated contact with Elena Petrovna von Hahn Blavatsky during the 1850s and 1860s. He and Madame Blavatsky met for the last time in Paris in 1884.
Through these occult circles, Jamal became friendly with the directors of the Illuminati regional headquarters at Djoum (pronounced Joom) in southern Lebanon, Sheik Medjuel el-Mezrab and Lydia Pashkov. Between 1870 and 1875, the Illuminati apparently began a project to replicate the Italian Carbonari in all the countries of the Middle East. Jamal began "sowing the dragon's teeth" first in Istanbul and then in Cairo, where he became an advisor to the Grand Mufti.
(Editor's Comment: And what does this have to do with the USA today? Well, a nephew of a latter-day Grand Mufti of Cairo is none other than Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second in command of Al-Qaida.)
In Istanbul, Jamal and Omar Pasha organized a Masonic lodge, the Golden Square (from the compass-and-square symbol of Freemasonry--J.T.) which made deep inroads into the officer corps of the Ottoman Turkish army. But if the Golden Square was popular in Turkey, it caught on like wildfire in Iraq, particularly in "the Sunni triangle," the region around Tikrit.
During World War I, the Allies invaded Iraq, won a battle at Ctesiphon but got bogged down at Kut al-Amarna, where their army was surrounded by the Turks and the Arabs. After their surrender, over 100,000 Allied soldiers went to a P.O.W. camp in western Turkey, and the Golden Square was riding high in Baghdad.
Their success proved short-lived, however. The Ottoman Empire collapsed in October 1918, and the new League of Nations gave Iraq to UK as a "mandate." Feeling that they had been cheated of their independence, tribes like the al-Bufahadi and the al-Bunasiri revolted and began a guerrilla war that lasted until 1925.
During the 1920s, a new Golden Square grandmaster arrived in Baghdad. His name was Satia al-Husri and he began organizing new lodges. A former captain in the Ottoman Turkish army, Rashid Ali al-Qaylani, already a Golden Square member, abandoned his law practice to lead "the national revolution."
On October 3, 1932, the new kingdom of Iraq attained its independence and joined the League of Nations. King Faisal had barely seated himself on the throne when the Golden Square struck.
General Bakr Sidqi, like Rashid Ali, was a former Ottoman Turkish officer and longtime Golden Square member. In August 1933, he launched a pogrom against the Assyrian Christians, massacring thousands, over the protests of King Faisal.
On September 3, 1933, Faisal died and was succeeded by his son Ghazi, who, unknown to the old man, was a "member of the secret brotherhood," the Golden Square. Ghazi ruled uneasily for three years, and then, on October 29, 1936, Bakr Sidqi decided to stop being polite and "overthrew the government in the Arab world's first military coup."
But Bakr Sidqi was too friendly with the Ahali Socialist Party, so on August 11, 1937, he was assassinated by his "lodge brothers" of the Golden Square. "Six more (military) coups followed in quick succession," paving the way for the rise of Rashid Ali in 1940.
During October 1932, the Golden Square received help from an unexpected source--the German mystics of the Thule Society. The new German ambassador to Baghdad, Fritz Grobe, was a long-time Thule member.
(Editor's Note: A relative, Arthur Grobe-Wutischsky, was a frequent contributor to Germany's occult magazine, Ostara, and in 1915 wrote the book Der Weltkrieg 1914 in der Prophetie (Translated: The 1914 World War in Prophecy), possibly the first use of the term "world war.")
A year later, in October 1933, Grobe purchased an Iraqi daily newspaper, al-Alim al-Arabi. At first the paper had a bad case of the blahs in terms of circulation. Then it began running Arab translations of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf (German for My Struggle) and the numbers picked up a little. But when the staff began running The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the circulation numbers jumped into the millions. Everybody in Iraq was reading al-Alim al-Arabi, including unlettered shepherds like Hussein al-Majid, the future stepfather of Saddam Hussein.
This led to Iraq's "newspaper war" of the 1930s, with al-Alim al-Arabi and the Jewish-owned daily, al-Hassad, constantly sniping at each other. Meanwhile, the Golden Square was building its "national revolution" by creating ideological organizations like the Arab Cultural Society and Mutana Bin Hartha Society.
(Editor's Note: Bin Hartha was the commander of the first Muslim army in Iraq.)
One of Rashid Ali's most ardent disciples was an Iraqi officer named Khayrallah al-Tulfah. His articles and his book, Al-Madaris, al-Yahudiyya wa al-Iraniyya fi al-Iraq (To give the Arabic a free translation: Against Iran and the Jews--J.T.), became the "voice of the national revolution."
But the Golden Square's top organizer was Yunis es- Sabawi, who founded a mass movement for young Iraqis, Al- Futuwwa, which he modeled after Germany's Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). By 1939, Al-Futuwwa had grown to 63,000 members, complete with uniforms, battalions, daily lectures and military training, all fanatically loyal to Rashid Ali.
On April 1, 1941, the Golden Square struck. Four colonels staged a coup in Baghdad and proclaimed Rashid Ali the new prime minister. He organized a "government of national defense" and opened negotiations for a military alliance with Hitler's Third Reich.
Partly because of the riots in Palestine, there had already been anti-Jewish violence in Iraq. In September 1936, three Jews were murdered on a Baghdad street. In October 1937, an Iraqi nationalist firebombed a Baghdad synagogue on Yom Kippur. But Rashid Ali's ascension led to new unrest. "Anti-Jewish demonstrations took place in Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Irbil and Amara, often ending in violence."
Unwilling to lose Iraq--and its oil--Winston S. Churchill ordered the British Army to oust Rashid Ali. British troops landed and took Basra on May 16, 1941. In marked contrast to the invasion of 1915, the British moved swiftly up the Tigris and took Baghdad on May 30, 1941. Rashid Ali and his aides fled to Iran.
Staying behind were Khayrallah al-Tulfah, who was promptly arrested, and Yunis es-Sabawi, who had not been idle during Rashid Ali's brief reign. Sabawi had selected the best fighters in Al-Futuwwa and organized them into a new guerrilla army, al-Ketaib a-Shabab (Arabic for Youth Battalions--J.T.) for attacks on "enemies of Iraq."
On June 1, 1941, the Jewish festival of Shavuot, "a group of Jews in festive attire" approached the Al-Har Bridge "to welcome Abdul Illah, the pro-British regent, on his way to the capital." They were attacked by a mob of Iraqi soldiers and civilians.
"Leading the mobs were the Ketaib a-Shabab cadres, which had been trained by es- Sabawi."
The Allied occupation authorities cracked down hard. Ketaib a-Shabab members were arrested and exiled to Iran. The Golden Square went underground once more.
But not for long. Sporadic attacks on Jews continued throughout World War II. On December 17, 1942, al-Ketaib a-Shabab activists slit the throats of eight Jews in Sandur, in northern Iraq.
On July 24, 1943, ten Iraqis met at a hotel in Damascus, the capital of Syria, to found a new order, Al- Baath (The Risorgimento--J.T.) Nearly four years later, in April 1947, the first meeting of the Baath Party was held at Fallujah in Iraq.
The Golden Square had risen again.