A coalition of Iraqi opposition groups backed by Syria announced yesterday that they have formed a new front aimed at overthrowing President Saddam Hussein's Baathist government in Baghdad.
The grouping, the National Pan-Arab Democratic Front in Iraq, comprises the major opponents of Saddam Hussein's rule from the Communist Party, Kurdish secessionist rebels and pro-Syrian wings of the Arab Baath Socialist Party. Its announcement in Damascus, the Syrian capital, marked another chapter in the long struggle between Saddam Hussein and Syria's President Hafez Assad.
Observers said the new front reflected this perennial quarrel between Syria and Iraq over Baathist ideological purity more than a broad-based and potentially serious effort to generate popular rebellion against Saddam Hussein within Iraq. This was underlined by the front's declaration that it also wants to "consolidate its links with the Iranian revolution," the latest subject of dispute between Baghdad and Damascus.
Assad has supported Iraq in its war against Iraq, and Baghdad has charged that he is forwarding arms to the Iranian war effort. The Syrian position in favor of Tehran grows in part from belief that Iran can become a strategic advantage against Israel. But it also is a demonstration of the Arab proverb, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
The front's announcement was published in yesterday's official Syrian press, and several Syrian officials were present when its charter was read aloud for correspondents in Damascus, Reuter news agency reported. The charter's goals highlighted the various aims of the political groups forming the front: better relations with the Soviet Union, self-rule for Kurds in northern Iraq, more democratic government and increases support for the Palestinian struggle to establish an independent state.
Members of the front are:
Dissident Iraqi Baathists; dissident Communists; the Arab Socialist Movement; The Kurdistan National Union of Jalal Talabani, a Syrian-backed secessionist; the People's Liberation Army Organization; the Unified Kurdistan Socialist Party and the Democratic Independent Movement.