The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party was a political party founded in Syria in the mid-1940s; it quickly found its way into Iraq. The ideology of the party was a combination of Arab nationalism, pan-Arabism, Arab socialism, and anti-imperialism. The party members called themselves the “resurrection” and looked to unify the Arab world into a single state.
The struggle for political supremacy between the different parties in Iraq lasted for roughly 10 years. In 1966, the Military Committee of Syria and Iraq initiated a coup d’ état, which ousted the National Command in both countries. This resulted in the Iraqi Regional Branch (IRB) and the Syrian National Branch of Ba’ath being in charge of their respective countries.
The IRB leader, Rakabi, was a Shia Muslim who attempted to recruit his Shiite friends as supporters to firmly secure his position of power. Yet, Shia recruitment proved to be difficult as most Shiites saw the pan-Arab ideology as a Sunni project. So, Rakabi quickly found himself outnumbered by the Sunnis, and control of the IRB swiftly switched sects.
As the IRB tried to maneuver its way into the United Arab Republic, a Middle East initiative, it became politically divided. The separation in views quickly led to part of the IRB splitting off and forming a new political group. The leader of that group was Saddam Hussein.