Qatifi Ba'athism
القطيفط البعث‎
Founder Mustafa al-Karim
Omar Hakim
Ideology Neo-Ba'athism
Social Welfare
Political position Radical left

Qatifi Ba'athism (Arabic: القطيفط البعث‎; al-ʾQaṭīf al-ba‘ath) also known as Karimism is a variant of Neo-Ba'athism conceptualised by the founder of the Arab Republic of Qatif, Mustafa al-Karim and Omar Zaki. A left wing ideology, Qatifi Socialism is often associated with Neo-Ba'athism, Marxism and populism.

Qatifi Ba'athism was first theorised by Hakim and al-Karim following the 1962 Qatifi coup, when the Qatifi branch of the Ba'ath Party came under the control of al-Karim. Spearheaded by Zaki the Qatifi Ba'ath Party changed its idealogical slant heavily incorporating elements of Marxism into Ba'athist thought. Although the movement still favoured Pan Arabism greater focus was placed on the "Ba'athist Revolution" that consists of five tenants - nationalism, social justice, socialism, freedom and secularism.

Following Arab defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War Zaki was purged from within the party, with Pan-Arabism being scrapped. Nevertheless idealogical features such as the Ba'athist Revolution and dialectical materialism remained in Qatifi Ba'athist thought, which continued to be propagated by the Qatifi Ba'athist Party. Following the death of al-Karim Qatifi Ba'athist thought became less influential, and after Abdullah Rajab takeover of power in 1989 it was all but ignored by the ruling party. Nevertheless, following the 2015 presidential elections there has been a resurgence of Qatifi Ba'athism within the Qatifi Ba'ath Party.




Core tenants

Qatifi Ba'athism specifically advocates a "Ba'athist revolution" that will be achieved through five means -

  • Nationalism and celebration of Arab culture
  • Social justice for women, the poor and the young.
  • The implementation of a socialist system governed by the Arab people.
  • The upholding of freedoms for the Arab peoples.
  • The separation of religion and state thus allowing for there to be no sectarian divisions within the Arab world.

Qatifi Ba'athism also rejects the notion of democracy, saying that due to Arabian culture the state must be governed by a vanguard party that would continue the Ba'athist Revolution. To justify this Qatifi Ba'athism states that western democracy will inevitably become corrupt and that for the people to be truly free an authoritarian state must protect the Ba'athist revolution.

The Qatifi Ba'athist view on socialism is similar to Western Marxist interpretations. Qatifi Ba'athism sees the Arab people as being the proletariat whilst the bourgeois class is colonial powers such as Britannia and France, with traditional Arab rulers (eg. the monarchs in the Persian Gulf) being seen as the "petty bourgeoisie". As such, rather then frame the class struggle in society in general Qatifi Ba'athism instead places it in a colonialist interpretation, as according to Qatifi Ba'athist thought Arab society only has class divisions when it is subjugated to imperial rule. Qatif also considers class divisions to be perpetuated when neo-colonialism is employed - an citied example by Zaki is Lebanon which has a class society due to continuing French influence. Qatifi Ba'athism states that the Ba'ath Party fundamentally represents the Arab people, and thus when power is centred into the Ba'athists hands class divisions do not arise as the Ba'athist Party and the people are one of the same class.


Qatifi Ba'athism has been criticised for being inconsistent and merely an excuse for authoritarianism. Arab scholar Khalil Zureiq stated that:

Qatifi Ba'athism is nothing more then populist nonsense that served only to elevate the political standing of Mustafa al-Karim. Unlike Islamism - an ideology that al-Karim vehemently opposed - Qatifi Ba'athism is not dogmatic, but rather flexible. It is unclear on its end goals, other then that the Ba'ath Party must stay in power at all costs.

American political analyst Gerald Walker commented that Qatifi Ba'athism's advocacy for various Marxist ideas made it more comparable to communism then traditional Ba'athism. Walker also notes that the overt nationalism and underlying racism towards non-Arabs highlighted the ideologies closeness to fascism as well. However, Walker does also point out that Qatifi Ba'athism uses Marxist jargon and ideas very liberally. The idea of the Ba'athist Party and the Arab people being one of the same class has been disputed as well, with many stating that instead the Ba'ath Party was made up of a "nomenklatura".

The Islamic Libertarian Front and the Muslim Brotherhood criticised Qatifi Socialism during the Qatifi Civil War due to it being "un-Islamic". In particular the banning of the hijab, and the abolishment of Sharia law was harshly criticised.