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Re:[casi] Memorable quotes: 'the white hope'

Thanks Elga for an interesting article.

I have a few comments:

>From 1958, when the army overthrew the Monarchy and
established a Republic, and until 1963, Iraq had no
President. Abdul-Karim Qassim was Prime Minister and
sole ruler.

I don't think it is fair to state that "the powers in
Washington .. were the patron saints of the Ba'ath
Party." The 1963 coup that overthrew Qassim and
brought the Ba'thists and Arab Nationalists is a very
complicated issue that needs understanding of Iraq's
affairs to comprehend.

For an attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, from
1963 to 1965, James Akins seems to have little
The Ba'th Party was established in April 1947 in Syria
as The Arab Ba'th Party by Michel Aflaq and others.
Later, the party merged with The Arab Socialist Party
of Akram al-Hourani, to become The Arab Ba'th
Socialist Party.

It is true that Qasim himself wasn't communist, nor
was his government. But it was also true that his
closest advisors and assistants were communists: for
example, the commander of the Air Force, Jalal
al-Awqati, was a member of the Central Committee of
the Communist Party. The army was fully communist
controlled, purged of all nationalist elements. The
"Peoples' Court" established to try members of the old
regime and anti-revolutionary elements was headed by
Qassim's cousin, Fadhil al-Mahdawi, and practically
controlled by two communists: Majid Amin (the
Prosecutor) and Hussein al-Douri (member of the
The media was controlled by Qassim's supporters and

Iraqis of that generation (myself included) would look
at the situation from a different point: Since WWII,
Iraq has been a field of competition between Britain
and the US, not the East and West. This may be
surprising, but many Iraqis believe that the
Pro-British Monarchy was overthrown by a nationalist
coup infiltrated by pro-US elements. Those were
represented by Abdul-Salam Arif and a group of
officers later executed by Qassim for plotting against
And so, until 1958, political figures in the
establishment in Iraq were mostly Britain's men.. 1958
changed things a bit, with the emergence of communists
in high places in the regime. But happenings since
1991 makes many Iraqis believe that even within the
Leftist parties, allegiances are the same: Pro-Britain
or pro-US.. Some communists have shifted completely
into support for US presence and intervention..

And so, it would also seem incorrect to state that the
1963 coup was arranged by the CIA. There is no doubt
that the US supported its men within the leadership of
the coup, but it was not arranged by the CIA. The coup
leadership included true nationalists and Britain's
men too. Within 9 months, America's men took control
and overthrew the Ba'thists.. Abdul-Salam Arif, who
was brought in February 1963 from jail to become
President took control with the aid of Nasserites
within the army, and even some Ba'thist officers. In
1966, Arif was killed in a helicopter crash which many
believe was arranged by the British.. His brother
succeeded him as President.
The CIA used the 1963 coup to get rid of communists,
just like it used the coup attempt in Sudan in the
1970s(?) for the same reason..

Either Akins is ignorant or he is covering up. The US
must have known Qassim's intentions and inclinations.

Qassim was certainly NOT an Arab nationalist, being
himself of Kurdish descent. What happened then was
that Abdul-Salam Arif, the second man in the coup,
tried to assassinate Qassim and take control. He
failed and was arrested, tried and sentenced to death,
then commuted to life. He was the CIA man in the coup,
and perhaps Akins was hinting at this: that the US was
waiting to see what emerges out of the situation after
Qassim was removed.. The US failed.

Qassim was very well known within the army, being one
of the most senior at that time, with an honorable
record of fighting against Zionists in Palestine. It
therefore sounds amazing when Akins says that nobody
knew very much about Qassim.

Qassim was certainly an Iraqi nationalist, who used
the communists and Arab nationalists against each
other, tried to benefit from their differences to
strengthen his hold, but failed to grasp the power of
external forces. He talked often of an Iraqi identity,
and opposed any calls for unity with Egypt. In fact,
he hated Nasser of Egypt, and from 1959 until 1963,
both countries devoted a lot of time and money to
Radio programs directed at criticizing each other..

The new regime had no alternative but to turn to the
Soviet Union for weapons. It could not have turned to
the US which was seen by Qassim's close advisors as
the symbol of imperialism. Iraq formally withdrew from
the Baghdad Pact and signed economic and technical aid
agreement with the Soviet Union in 1959. In quick
succession Iraq withdrew from the sterling bloc,
ordered British air force units out of the Habbaniya
base, and cancelled the Point Four Agreement with the
United States. Internal power plays led Qassim to give
prominent, if temporary, cabinet roles to “Communist

Qassim did not nationalize oil in 1958. After the
coup, he assured the United States and Britain that
the new regime would not nationalize the oil fields.
Negotiations with the IPC, around the cost accounting
practices of the company in calculating the profits to
be shred with the government, continued until they
were finally cut off in October 1961. In December
1961, Qassim promulgated Law 80 which deprived the IPC
of over 99.5 per cent of its concessional areas in
Iraq, leaving only producing oilfields. Some would say
that that was another reason for the overthrow of
In 1972 Law 69 nationalised the remaining interests..

The Monarchy was Pro-British, not within the US sphere
of influence. That is what some see as another reasons
why the Monarchy was toppled: to give the US a
stronger presence in Iraq at the expense of the

The communists did indeed have a lot of influence in
the country, but Qassim did not allow the Soviet Union
to have the influence it wanted. Akins' statement is
wrong, aimed at justifying support for the 1963 coup.
Because they failed to control Iraq after 1958, the
Americans had to cook up an excuse for supporting
another coup.. And so "Soviet influence" is a good,
especially seen in hind sight.

Akins says "the Ba'ath Party betrayed its own
principles". For someone who doesn't know much about
the history of the Ba'th, that sounds funny. I don't
believe Akins knows what he is talking about.
What Akins didn't say was that the US wanted Iraq to
submit fully to the US. When that didn't happen, Iraq
was found by the US in "material breach" of its
principles... I didn't know that one of the principles
of the Ba'th was to hand over Iraq to the US or to
accept Zionist occupation of Arab land...

Some remarks that I hope would be an addition to the
excellent article. I am glad Iraq's political history
interests some members of this list.


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