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This may be old news to some, in which case I aploogise for repeating it. Others may find the information useful.
The Baath first came to power in 1963, in a coup organised by the CIA They overthrew the regime run by Abd al-Karim Qassim, a nationalist army officer.
The coup, and the reasons why the CIA supported it, are described by journalists Andrew and Patrick Cockburn as follows:
In early 1963, Saddam had more important things to worry about
than his outstanding bill at the Andiana Cafe. On February 8, a mil-
itary coup in Baghdad, in which the Baath Party played a leading
role, overthrew Qassim. Support for the conspirators was limited. In
the first hours of fighting, they had only nine tanks under their con-
trol. The Baath Party had just 850 active members. But Qassim
ignored warnings about the impending coup. What tipped the bal-
ance against him was the involvement of the United States. He had
taken Iraq out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact. In 1961, he threat-
ened to occupy Kuwait and nationalized part of the Iraq Petroleum
Company (IPC), the foreign oil consortium that exploited Iraq's oil.
In retrospect, it was the ClAs favorite coup. "We really had the ts
crossed on what was happening," James Critchfield, then head of the
CIA in the Middle East, told us. "We regarded it as a great victory."
Iraqi participants later confirmed American involvement. "We came to
power on a CIA train," admitted Ali Saleh Sa'adi, the Baath Party sec-
retary general who was about to institute an unprecedented reign of
terror. CIA assistance reportedly included coordination of the coup
plotters from the agency's station inside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad
as well as a clandestine radio station in Kuwait and solicitation of
advice from around the Middle East on who on the left should be
eliminated once the coup was successful. To the end, Qassim retained
his popularity in the streets of Baghdad. After his execution, his sup-
porters refused to believe he was dead until the coup leaders showed
pictures of his bullet-riddled body on TV and in the newspapers.
The above comes from "Out of the Ashes, The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein", by Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, published by Verso, 2000.
Best wishes, Tim