ISIS joins forces with Saddam loyalists in bid to take Baghdad

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For 10 years, members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist party — including many of the dead dictator’s top generals — have hidden in the shadows of Iraq, persecuted by government in Baghdad and plotting, praying and preparing for the chance to reclaim their country.

Now they are back, paired in a bloodthirsty alliance with the brutal jihadis of the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria/Levant. These vicious Islamic radicals fighting alongside top officials from Hussein’s dictatorship, are working to seize control of the battle-scarred nation. For now, their objectives converge.

“[We are] unified by the same goal, which is getting rid of this sectarian government, ending this corrupt army and negotiating to form a Sunni Region,” a senior Baathist leader told

After the invasion of Iraq, thousands of Baathist’s lost their jobs: teachers, doctors, professors, soldiers. Banished from holding any public-sector positions, many found themselves unable to support and feed their families, and their anger grew. This purge is considered one of the major blunders of the invasion, and although it was partly overturned in 2008, the damage had been done.

For a decade, tensions in the Sunni regions simmered under these conditions, as Maliki’s Shia government sought retribution for decades of Saddam’s brutal rule. Many who once were part of the regime found it hard to put food on the table, their anger building as their communities suffered. That the Maliki government continues to shell rebel held cities today, despite the fact many within are innocent civilians, further isolates Sunni communities and pushes them into the sphere of Sunni rebels.

Ultimately it was the failure of Maliki’s government to reach out to these elements that created the ISIS alliance in Iraq.

Hussein’s image has again become popular in the north and west, and soldiers call out “Father, father,” while they watch video tributes to him. His image is found in many a home from Fallujah to Mosul. The Kurdish judge who sentenced Hussein to death in 2006, Raouf Abdul Rahman, was reportedly captured and executed on Sunday, although his death cannot yet be confirmed.

And this remains a family cause. Raghad Hussein, who now lives in Jordan, gave an interview a few days ago.

“I am happy to see all these victories,” she said. “Someday, I will return to Iraq and visit my father’s grave. Maybe it won’t happen very soon, but it will certainly happen.”

In the meantime she has been indicted by Interpol, for “inciting terrorism in Iraq.”

With the U.S. already considering the strange prospect of working with Iran to curb the ISIS advance, it is possible that down the road, America’s allies could be the very Baathists and Sunni fighters it once ousted from power.

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