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Monday, July 16, 2007

Blast From The Past

I remember this...do you? The democrats have forgotten.

From the AP archive:
July 16, 1979

Iraqi President Resigns, Replaced by Saddam Hussein

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigned Monday and was replaced by Saddam Hussein, vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council under Bakr, the Iraqi News Agency reported.

Hussein reshuffled the Cabinet, and the news agency said he assured Syria there were no plans to change the political-military alliance the two nations have pledged to form to confront Israel.

Bakr, known to be suffering from a heart ailment, had made few public appearances in recent years, during which Hussein exercised many of the day-to-day functions of a government chief.

INA said Bakr, 67, had expressed a desire to step down as president, citing health reasons.

The Revolutionary Command Council, of which Bakr was chairman, accepted the resignation, the agency said, and Hussein was sworn in during the same RCC session.

Bakr announced his resignation late Monday in a nationwide address marking the 12th anniversary of the coup that brought his ruling Baath Party back to power in Iraq after a five-year respite.

The outgoing president was one of the officers who overthrew the Iraqi Hashemite monarchy in July 1958. He held no official position until 1963 when he was appointed premier. Later in 1963 a coup ousted the Baath Party from power, and he engineered the July 17, 1968, coup that brought it back.

Hussein, 42, was regarded as the real power in the last few years, often credited with thwarting attempts to topple Bakr during his illness.

He holds the military rank of lieutenant general, has studied law and has written several books with political themes.

The RCC appointed Interior Minister Izzat Ibrahim as vice chairman to fill the post vacated by Hussein.

Four ministers were dismissed and several new posts were created, the official news agency reported.

Syria and Iraq are ruled by rival wings of the Baath party but Egypt's signing of a peace treaty with Israel prompted Iraq and Syria to drop their decade-old, often bloody feuds to mount a united front against Israel.

Attempts since their reconciliation last November to unify the two countries fell short, but last month Bakr and and Syrian President Hafez Assad agreed to form a joint political command to coordinate political, military and economic policies.