Hitchens in 1976, as a cautious admirer of Baath Party tyranny:
The Kurds now have a very attenuated version of autonomy, and former members of the Barzani armed forces are being moved to the South. At least, however, Iraq constitutionally recognises that she is a partly Kurdish state, which is more than Iran or Turkey do. Further tests for the regime lie ahead. The quarrel with Syria, which involves differences over Ba’athist ideology as well as a dispute over Syrian damming of the Euphrates river, has now extended to the Lebanon, where Syrian troops have attacked newspapers and buildings controlled by Iraqi-sympathising Palestinians. Relations with Iran are still far from cordial. In response to requests for criticism in the party press, some demands were raised for a constituent assembly, and other complaints voiced about the tightness of the regime. All these remain to be acted on, and as the situation grows more complicated Saddam Hussain will rise more clearly to the top. Make a note of the name. Iraq has been strengthened internally by the construction of a ‘strategic pipeline’ which connects the Gulf to the northern fields for the first time. She has been strengthened externally by her support for revolutionary causes and by the resources she can deploy. It may not be electrification plus Soviet power, but the combination of oil and ‘Arab socialism’ is hardly less powerful.