|Part of the Cold War|
The corpse of Abd al-Karim Qasim.
Iraqi Armed Forces loyalists
Iraqi Communist Party
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party|
Iraqi Armed Forces coup plotters
|Commanders and leaders|
Abd al-Karim Qasim |
Prime Minister of Iraq
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
|Casualties and losses|
|Total: 1,000 killed|
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The Ramadan Revolution, also referred to as the 8 February Revolution and the February 1963 coup d'état in Iraq, was a military coup by the Ba'ath Party's Iraqi-wing which overthrew the Prime Minister of Iraq, Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1963. Qasim's former deputy Abdul Salam Arif (who was not a Ba'athist) was given the largely ceremonial title of President, while prominent Ba'athist general Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr was named Prime Minister. The most powerful leader of the new government was the secretary general of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party, Ali Salih al-Sa'di, who controlled the National Guard militia and organized a massacre of hundreds—if not thousands—of suspected communists and other dissidents following the coup.
Some time after the Homeland Officers' Organization, or "Al-Ahrar" ("The Free") succeeded in toppling the monarchy and transforming the Iraqi government into a republic in 1958, signs of differences between political parties and forces and the Homeland Officers' Organization began when Pan-Arab nationalist forces led by Abdul Salam Arif and the Ba'ath Party called for immediate unification with the United Arab Republic (UAR). In an attempt to create a state of political equilibrium, the Iraqi Communist Party, which opposed unity, tried to discount cooperation with the UAR in economics, culture, and science rather than political and military agreements.
Gradually Abd al-Karim Qasim's relations with some of his fellow members of Al-Ahrar worsened, and his relationship with the unionist and nationalist currents, which had played an active role in supporting the 1958 movement, became strained. As for conflicting currents in the Iraqi Communist Party, they were aspiring for a coalition with General Qasim, and had long been extending their relationship with him, since Qasim thought that some of his allies in the Communist party were coming close to leapfrogging the proposition, especially after the increasing influence of the Communist party in the use of the slogan, proclaimed by many Communists and government supporters during marches: "Long live leader Abd al-Karim and the Communist Party in governing great demand!" This made him from that time begin to minimize the Communist movement, which was poised to overthrow the government. He ordered the party to be disarmed and most of the party leaders to be arrested. However, the party retained Air Commander Celalettin Alaoqati and Lt. Col. Fadhil Abbas Mahdawi, Qasim's cousin.
An overlapping set of both internal and regional factors created conditions conducive to the overthrow of Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim and his staff. Some believe that it can be attributed to the blundering individualism of Qasim and the errors committed in the execution of leaders and locals as well as acts of violence which arose from the Communist militias allied with Qasim. Also to blame may be an increasingly forceful disagreement with Field Marshal Abdul Salam Aref, who was under house arrest. All of this as well as statements Qasim made reiterating his support for Syrian General Abdel-Karim and Colonel Alnhlaoi Mowaffaq Asasa, with a view to executing a coup to divide Syria, which was alone with Egypt as part of the United Arab Republic. This was because of the game of international politics and its role in the promotion of or endorsement of Qasim's political opposition.
Qasim's removal took place on 8 February 1963, the fourteenth day of Ramadan and therefore called the 14 Ramadan Coup. The coup had been in its planning stages since 1962, and several attempts had been planned, only to be abandoned for fear of discovery. The coup had been initially planned for January 18, but was moved to 25 January, then 8 February after Qasim gained knowledge of the proposed attempt and arrested some of the plotters.
The coup began in the early morning of 8 February 1963, when the communist air force chief, Jalal al-Awqati was assassinated and tank units occupied the Abu Ghraib radio station. A bitter two-day struggle unfolded with heavy fighting between the Ba’athist conspirators and pro-Qasim forces. Qasim took refuge in the Ministry of Defence, where fighting became particularly heavy. Communist sympathisers took to the streets to resist the coup adding to the high casualties.
On 9 February Qasim eventually offered his surrender in return for safe passage out of the country. His request was refused, and on the afternoon of the 9th, Qasim was executed on the orders of the newly formed National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC). Qasim was given a mock trial over Baghdad radio and then killed. His dead body was displayed on television by leaders of the coup soon after his death.
The Ba'ath Socialist government was overthrown on 10 November 1963 by right-wing elements of the military, following internal struggle within the party.
While there have been persistent rumors that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) orchestrated the coup, declassified documents and the testimony of former CIA officers indicate there was no direct American involvement, although the CIA was actively seeking to find a suitable replacement for Qasim within the Iraqi military and had been notified of an earlier Ba'athist coup plot by a high-ranking informant within the Party. It is also widely believed that the CIA provided the new government with lists of communists and other leftists, who were then arrested or killed by the Ba'ath Party's militia—the National Guard. This claim originated in a September 27, 1963 Al-Ahram interview with King Hussein of Jordan, who—seeking to dispel reports that he was on the CIA's payroll—declared:
You tell me that American Intelligence was behind the 1957 events in Jordan. Permit me to tell you that I know for a certainty that what happened in Iraq on 8 February had the support of American Intelligence. Some of those who now rule in Baghdad do not know of this thing but I am aware of the truth. Numerous meetings were held between the Ba'ath party and American Intelligence, the more important in Kuwait. Do you know that ... on 8 February a secret radio beamed to Iraq was supplying the men who pulled the coup with the names and addresses of the Communists there so that they could be arrested and executed?
According to historian Hanna Batatu, however, "the Ba'athists had ample opportunity to gather such particulars in 1958-1959, when the Communists came wholly into the open, and earlier, during the Front of National Unity Years—1957-1958—when they had frequent dealings with them on all levels." In addition, "the lists in question proved to be in part out of date", which could be taken as evidence they were compiled well before 1963. Batatu's explanation is supported by declassified U.S. intelligence reports stating that "[Communist] party members [are being] rounded up on the basis of lists prepared by the now-dominant Ba'th Party" and that the Iraqi communist party had "exposed virtually all its assets" whom the Ba'ath had "carefully spotted and listed."
Although it may not have organized the coup, U.S. officials were undoubtedly pleased with the outcome, ultimately approving a $55 million arms deal with Iraq and urging America's Arab allies to oppose a Soviet-sponsored diplomatic offensive accusing Iraq of genocide against its Kurdish minority at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
Throughout 1963, the Soviet Union actively worked to undermine the Ba'athist government, supporting Kurdish rebels under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani, suspending military shipments to Iraq in May, convincing its ally Mongolia to make charges of genocide against Iraq at the UN General Assembly from July to September, and sponsoring a failed communist coup attempt on July 3.
Influence on Syria
That same year, the Syrian party’s military committee succeeded in persuading Nasserist and independent officers to make common cause with it, and successfully carried out a military coup on 8 March. A National Revolutionary Command Council took control and assigned itself legislative power; it appointed Salah al-Din al-Bitar as head of a "national front" government. The Ba'th participated in this government along with the Arab Nationalist Movement, the United Arab Front and the Socialist Unity Movement.
As historian Hanna Batatu notes, this took place without the fundamental disagreement over immediate or "considered" reunification having been resolved. The Ba'ath moved to consolidate its power within the new government, purging Nasserist officers in April. Subsequent disturbances led to the fall of the al-Bitar government, and in the aftermath of Jasim Alwan’s failed Nasserist coup in July, the Ba'th monopolized power.
- 1963 Syrian coup d'état
- 14 July Revolution
- November 1963 Iraqi coup d'état
- 17 July Revolution
- List of modern conflicts in the Middle East
- Political Science, University of Central Arkansas. Iraq (1932-present).
- Gibson, Bryan R. (2015). Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds, and the Cold War. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 59–60, 77. ISBN 978-1-137-48711-7.
- Monsour, Ahmed and Aaraf Abd Alrazaq. 2002. Interview. "Witnessing the Age." Al-Jazeera Television.
- Pachachi, D. Adnan. Recorded Program. Al-Sharqiya Satellite Channel.
- Marr, Phebe; "The Modern History of Iraq", p. 184-185
- Gibson, Bryan R. (2015). Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds, and the Cold War. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 45, 57–58. ISBN 978-1-137-48711-7.
- Batatu, Hanna (1978). The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq. Princeton University Press. pp. 985–987. ISBN 978-0863565205.
- Gibson, Bryan R. (2015). Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds, and the Cold War. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-137-48711-7.
- Gibson, Bryan R. (2015). Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds, and the Cold War. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 60–61, 72, 80. ISBN 978-1-137-48711-7.
- Gibson, Bryan R. (2015). Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds, and the Cold War. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 69–71, 76, 80. ISBN 978-1-137-48711-7.