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. It took place between 8 and 10 February 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.
|Part of the Cold War|
The corpse of Abd al-Karim Qasim.
Iraqi Armed Forces
Iraqi Communist Party
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party|
Iraqi Armed Forces
|Commanders and leaders|
Abd al-Karim Qasim |
Jalal Jaafar al-'Aqati
Abdul Salam Arif|
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Ali Salih as-Sa’di
Arif Abd ar-Razzaq
Abdul Ghani al-Rawi
|Casualties and losses|
|1,500–5,000 alleged civilian supporters of Qasim and/or the Iraqi Communist Party killed during a three day "house-to-house search"|
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. 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!" Qasim began 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 historians have argued that the overthrow 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. Qasim also made statements 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.
Qasim's removal took place on 8 February 1963, the fourteenth day of Ramadan. The coup was 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.
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 U.S. had been notified of two aborted Ba'athist coup plots in July and December 1962 and its post-coup actions suggested that "at best it condoned and at worst it contributed to the violence that followed." Despite evidence that the CIA had been closely tracking the Ba'ath Party's coup planning since "at least 1961," a CIA official working with Archie Roosevelt, Jr. to instigate a military coup against Qasim, and who later became the head of the CIA's operations in Iraq and Syria, has "denied any involvement in the Ba'ath Party's actions," stating instead that the CIA's efforts against Qasim were still in the planning stages at the time.
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. 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 27 September 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? ... Yet I am the one accused of being an agent of America and imperialism!
According to 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 Bureau of Intelligence and Research 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'athists had "carefully spotted and listed." On the other hand, Nathan J. Citino notes that two officials in the U.S. embassy in Baghdad—William Lakeland and James E. Akins—"used coverage of the July 1962 Moscow Conference for Disarmament and Peace in Iraq's leftist press to compile lists of Iraqi communists and their supporters ... Those listed included merchants, students, members of professional societies, and journalists, although university professors constituted the largest single group." Furthermore, "Weldon C. Mathews has meticulously established that National Guard leaders who participated in human rights abuses had been trained in the United States as part of a police program run by the International Cooperation Administration and Agency for International Development."
Throughout 1963, the Soviet Union actively worked to undermine the Ba'athist government, supporting Kurdish rebels under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani with propaganda and a "small monthly stipend for 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.
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'ath participated in this government along with the Arab Nationalist Movement, the United Arab Front and the Socialist Unity Movement.
As 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'ath monopolized power.
The Ba'athist government collapsed in November 1963 over the question of unification with Syria and the extremist and uncontrollable behavior of al-Sa'di's National Guard. President Arif, with the overwhelming support of the Iraqi military, purged Ba'athists from the government and ordered the National Guard to stand down; although al-Bakr had conspired with Arif to remove al-Sa'di, on 5 January 1964, Arif removed al-Bakr from his new position as Vice President, fearful of allowing the Ba'ath Party to retain a foothold inside his government. After the November coup, mounting evidence of Ba'athist atrocities emerged, which Lakeland predicted "will have a more or less permanent effect on the political developments in the country—particularly on the prospects of a Ba'athi revival." Batatu recounts:
In the cellars of al-Nihayyah Palace, which the [National Guard's] Bureau [of Special Investigation] used as its headquarters, were found all sorts of loathsome instruments of torture, including electric wires with pincers, pointed iron stakes on which prisoners were made to sit, and a machine which still bore traces of chopped-off fingers. Small heaps of blooded clothing were scattered about, and there were pools on the floor and stains over the walls.
The 14 July Revolution, also known as the 1958 Iraqi coup d'état, took place on 14 July 1958 in Iraq, and resulted in the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy that had been established by King Faisal I in 1921 under the auspices of the British. King Faisal II, Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said were killed during the uprising.
As a result of the overthrow of the Iraqi Hashemite dynasty, the coup d'état established the Iraqi Republic. The coup ended the Hashemite Arab Federation between Iraq and Jordan that had been established just 6 months earlier. Abd al-Karim Qasim took power as Prime Minister until 1963, when he was overthrown and killed in the Ramadan Revolution.17 July Revolution
The 17 July Revolution was a bloodless coup in Iraq in 1968, led by General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, which brought the Iraqi Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power. Both Saddam Hussein, later President of Iraq, and Salah Omar al-Ali, later a Ba'athist dissident, were major participants in the coup. The Ba'ath Party ruled from the 17 July Revolution until 2003, when it was removed from power by an invasion led by U.S. and British forces. (The 17 July Revolution is not to be confused with the 14 July Revolution, a coup on 14 July 1958, when King Faisal II was overthrown, ending the Hashemite dynasty in Iraq and establishing the Republic of Iraq.)
While the exact circumstances leading up to the coup are shrouded in mystery, it appears that the non-Ba'athists Abd ar-Razzaq an-Naif and Ibrahim Al-Daoud—who were, respectively, in charge of President Abdul Rahman Arif's military intelligence and personal security—initiated the plot, and that Ba'athist conspirators including al-Bakr, Hardan al-Tikriti, and Salih Mahdi Ammash were only asked to participate in order to establish a broader coalition of support for a new government. Many of the plotters were reportedly "fond of President 'Arif"; however, the coup was motivated by rumors that Arif's Nasserist (and former Ba'athist) Prime Minister, Tahir Yahya, who was increasingly dominating Arif's "weak" government due to the political climate engendered by the costly Arab defeat in the Six-Day War, planned to formally usurp all power for himself. After his ouster, Arif was sent on a plane to the United Kingdom, and even Yahya was not executed, because "the new group ... didn't want world opinion to say theirs was just another Iraqi blood bath." However, on 30 July al-Bakr arranged for the exile of both an-Naif and Al-Daoud, and assumed the position of Prime Minister from an-Naif, solidifying the Ba'ath's control over Iraq for the next thirty-five years—as al-Bakr's deputy, Saddam Hussein, "succeeded in consolidating a formidable political regime ... where so many others had failed," including co-opting Yahya's intention to nationalize the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) with the help of the Soviet Union.Akram al-Homsi
Akram al-Homsi is the Regional Secretary of the Jordanian Regional Command of the Jordanian branch of the Ba'ath Party.Al-Ba'ath
Al-Ba'ath (Arabic: البعث "The Resurrection") is an Arabic language newspaper published by the Ba'ath Party in Syria and other Arab countries including Lebanon and Palestine.Al-Thawra (newspaper)
Al-Thawra, also referred to as Ath-Thawra, (Arabic: الثورة The Revolution) is an Arabic language newspaper published by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party of Syria. Another newspaper with the same name was published by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party of Iraq but was disbanded during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the UK and the USA armies.Arab Ba'ath Movement
The Arab Ba'ath Movement (Arabic: حركة البعث العربي Harakat Al-Ba'ath Al-Arabi), also literally translated as Arab Resurrection Movement or Arab Renaissance Movement, was the Ba'athist political movement and predecessor of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. The party was first named Arab Ihya Movement (Harakat al-Ihya al-'Arabi) literally translated as Arab Revitalization Movement, until 1943 when it adopted the name "Ba'ath". It was founded in 1940 by Michel Aflaq. Its founders, Aflaq and Bitar were both associated with nationalism and socialism.Arab Ba'ath Progressive Party
The Arab Ba'ath Progressive Party (Arabic: حزب البعث العربي التقدمي Hizb Al-Ba'ath Al-'Arabi Al-Taqadumi) is a political party in Jordan. It is the Jordanian regional branch of the Syrian-led Ba'ath Party. It was legally registered for the first time in 1993. The party is small, and has, according to a WikiLeaks document, "minuscule number of adherents". Despite it small size, the branch is able to get a decent footprint in Jordanian media through its leader, Fuad Dabbour. Dabbour's fiery statements on foreign policy are frequently quoted by the press. The party is less known than its pro-Iraqi counterpart, the Jordanian Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. It is the party branch of the Syrian-dominated Ba'ath Party in Jordan. Fuad Dabbour is the branch's Regional Secretary. It is believed that the party has fewer than 200 members.Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Organization of Sudan
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Organization of Sudan (Arabic: حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي - تنظيم في السودان Hizb Al-Ba'ath Al-'Arabī Al-Ishtirākī - Tanẓīm fi Al-Sūdān) is the regional branch of the Damascus-based Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party in Sudan.
During the 1980s, the party was called Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Organization of Sudan (differentiating it from the pro-Iraqi Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Region of Sudan). The party contested the 1986 election as part of the Sudanese Progressive National Front.The party held its third regional congress in Khartoum on February 5–6, 2009. The congress elected Al-Tijani Mustafa Yassin as regional secretary, an 11-member Regional Command and a 23-member Central Committee. The congress stated that the party sought cooperation with the National Congress Party for the sake of forming a national front. The party staunchly opposed independence of South Sudan.Ba'ath Party
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party (Arabic: حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي Ḥizb Al-Ba‘ath Al-‘Arabī Al-Ishtirākī [ˈħɪzb alˈbaʕaθ alˈʕarabiː alˈʔɪʃtɪraːkiː]) was a political party founded in Syria by Michel Aflaq, Salah al-Din al-Bitar, and associates of Zaki al-Arsuzi. The party espoused Ba'athism (from Arabic: البعث Al-Ba'ath or Ba'ath meaning "renaissance" or "resurrection"), which is an ideology mixing Arab nationalist, pan-Arabism, Arab socialist, and anti-imperialist interests. Ba'athism calls for unification of the Arab world into a single state. Its motto, "Unity, Liberty, Socialism", refers to Arab unity, and freedom from non-Arab control and interference.
The party was founded by the merger of the Arab Ba'ath Movement, led by Aflaq and al-Bitar, and the Arab Ba'ath, led by al-Arsuzi, on 7 April 1947 as the Arab Ba'ath Party. The party quickly established branches in other Arab countries, although it would only hold power in Iraq and Syria. The Arab Ba'ath Party merged with the Arab Socialist Movement, led by Akram al-Hawrani, in 1952 to form the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. The newly formed party was a relative success, and became the second-largest party in the Syrian parliament in the 1954 election. This, coupled with the increasing strength of the Syrian Communist Party, led to the establishment of the United Arab Republic (UAR), a union of Egypt and Syria. The union would prove unsuccessful, and a Syrian coup in 1961 dissolved it.
Following the break-up of the UAR, the Ba'ath Party was reconstituted. However, during the UAR, military activists had established the Military Committee to take control of the Ba'ath Party from civilian hands. In the meantime, in Iraq, the local Ba'ath Party branch had taken power by orchestrating and leading the Ramadan Revolution, only to lose power a couple of months later. The Military Committee, with Aflaq's consent, took power in Syria in the 8th of March Revolution of 1963.
A power struggle quickly developed between the civilian faction led by Aflaq, al-Bitar, and Munif al-Razzaz and the Military Committee led by Salah Jadid and Hafez al-Assad. As relations between the two factions deteriorated, the Military Committee initiated the 1966 Syrian coup d'état, which ousted the National Command led by al-Razzaz, Aflaq, and their supporters. The 1966 coup split the Ba'ath Party between the Iraqi-dominated Ba'ath movement and the Syrian-dominated Ba'ath movement.Corrective Movement (Syria)
The Corrective Movement (Arabic: الحركة التصحيحية al-Ḥaraka at-Taṣ'ḥīḥiya), also referred to as the Corrective Revolution or Glorious Corrective Movement, was a political movement in Syria, initiated by a coup d'état, led by General Hafez al-Assad on 13 November 1970. Al-Assad's program of reform, considered revolutionary in Syria, aimed to sustain and improve the "nationalist socialist line" of the state and the Ba'ath party. Al-Assad would rule Syria until his death in 2000, after which he was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad.Democratic Socialist Arab Ba'ath Party
The Arab Democratic Socialist Ba'ath Party (Arabic: حزب البعث الديمقراطي العربي الاشتراكي Hizb Al-Ba'ath Al-Dimuqratiy Al-'Arabi al-Ishtiraki; French: Parti Baath arabe socialiste démocratique) is a neo-Ba'athist political party founded in 1970 and led by Brahim Makhous, a former Syrian foreign minister. It is a remnant of Salah Jadid's left-wing faction of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Syria Region. The party is based in Paris, France and joined the National Democratic Rally coalition in 1981.Iraqi Republic (1958–68)
The Iraqi Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العراقية al-Jumhūrīyah al-'Irāqīyah) was a state forged in 1958 under the rule of President Muhammad Najib ar-Ruba'i and Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim. ar-Ruba'i and Qasim first came to power through the 14 July Revolution in which the Kingdom of Iraq's Hashemite monarchy was overthrown. As a result, the Kingdom and the Arab Federation were dissolved and the Iraqi republic established. The era ended with the Ba'athist rise to power in 1968.November 1963 Iraqi coup d'état
The November 1963 Iraqi coup d'état took place between November 13 and November 18, 1963 when, following internal party divisions, pro-Nasserist Iraqi officers led a military coup within the Ba'ath Party. Although the coup itself was bloodless, 250 people were killed in related actions.On the Way of Resurrection
On the Way of Resurrection (Arabic: فِي سَبِيلِ البعث, Fi Sabil al Baath) is a political literature book written by Michel Aflaq, one of the founders of Ba'athism. It is a five-volume work that is one of the founding documents of Ba'athism that described the ideology.People's Vanguard Party (South Yemen)
The People's Vanguard Party was a Ba'athist political party in South Yemen. It was aligned with the Syrian-based Ba'ath Party. Abdallah Badhib was the general secretary of the party. Badhib was appointed Minister of Education in December 1969. The party was one of two non-National Front parties tolerated during the early 1970s. In October 1975 it joined the NF-dominated United Political Organization (which evolved into the Yemeni Socialist Party in 1978). The merger was ratified by the third PVP congress held in August 1975.Sudanese Ba'ath Party
Sudanese Ba'ath Party (Arabic: حزب البعث السوداني, Hizb Al-Ba'ath Al-Sudani) is a political party in Sudan. The party is led by Mohamed Ali Jadin.The party emerged from a split within the pro-Iraqi Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Country of Sudan in 2002. Another Sudanese faction, led by Kamal Bolad remained in the pan-Arab party.Syrian Committee to Help Iraq
The Syrian Committee to Help Iraq was a political movement created in 1941 to support Iraq against the British during the Anglo–Iraqi War of 1941. It sent weapons and volunteers to fight alongside Iraqi forces against the British. It was organized and led by Arab Ihya Movement (later known as the Arab Ba'ath Movement) leader Michel Aflaq. Zaki al-Arsuzi opposed the organisation.The Battle for One Destiny
The Battle for One Destiny (Ma'rakat al-Masir al-Wahid) is a political theory literature book of 1958 that composes a combined volume of the writings and chiefly editorial articles of Ba'athist leader Michel Aflaq. The book argues that Western imperialism and Zionism are the greatest impediments to pan-Arab unity.Wahib al-Ghanim
Wahib al-Ghanim (1919-2003) was a Syrian physician who co-founded the Ba'ath Party. According to Patrick Seale, he, along with Zaki al-Arsuzi, "wanted a stronger dose of socialism than the Damascus leaders" of the Ba'ath Party.From April 5–7, 1947, Ghanim, along with 247 others, took part in the founding conference of the Ba'ath Party, where he was elected to the executive committee, which also included Michel Aflaq, Salah al-Din Bitar, and Jalal al-Sayyid. In the same year, Ghanim created a Ba'athist cell in Latakia. Hafez al-Assad, the future president of Syria and the father of the current president, was one of the first to join.During the parliamentary elections of 1947 and 1949, Ghanim unsuccessfully tried to become the deputy for Latakia. He was an opponent of Adib Shishakli, for which he faced persecution. In 1955 - after Shishakhli was deposed of - he joined the cabinet of Sabri al-Asali as health minister. Although Ghanim originally supported the 1958 union with Egypt, by 1961 he had changed his position and supported the coup that ended it.
This list includes post-WWI conflicts (after 1918) of at least 100 fatalities each
Prolonged conflicts are listed in the decade when initiated; ongoing conflicts are marked italic and conflict with +100,000 killed with bold.