Major Papers


nationalism, religion, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, Faith Campaign


Arab nationalism was the core of the Ba’ath party’s ideology when it was formed in Iraq in 1968. The party subscribed to a secular nationalist ideology that aimed to unify the Arab nations across the Middle East. When Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in 1979, he embraced and supported the Ba’athist nationalist, socialist, and secular ideology. However, from the early days of his presidency, Hussein used religion to justify his external war of aggression against Iran, and gradually, religion became an instrument of political and military mobilization. In other words, while formally subscribing primarily to pan-Arab secular nationalism, the regime also used religion to justify its rule, boost the legitimacy of the Ba'ath party and to foster Saddam Hussein’s support base. This paper aim to examine the origins of the religious re-orientation of the Ba’ath party, as well as the factors that influenced the Ba’ath regime and its stability in Iraq. This paper finds that even though Saddam Hussein was notorious in his use of both nationalist and religious rhetoric, he progressively shifted to relying primarily on religion to maintain power, particularly after being defeated in the first Gulf War in 1991.

Primary Advisor

Elena Maltseva

Program Reader

Roy Amore

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year


Available for download on Friday, September 06, 2024