IRAQ 1963: THE SHORT RULE OF THE BA‛TH
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In the circumstances of a military dictatorship, there was no alternative for a civilian group other than to persuade a faction of young officers opposed to ‛Abdalkarīm Qāsim’s rule to raise an open military rebellion, even at the risk of provoking civil war. The group that was ready to influence officers likely to take action was, of course, the Ba‛th Party. Its members had the reputation of not being afraid to face danger in their struggle against military dictatorship ever since their unsuccessful attempt on ‛Abdalkarīm Qāsim’s life in 1959. When they finally succeeded in carrying out one of these plots, of which the margin of success was not very great, on 8 February 1963, the army turned to them to govern the country. Once in power, they had a golden opportunity of realizing the goals of their party. Political developments in the period between February and November 1963 were extremely confused, and consisted largely of different groups manoeuvring for power against a background of indiscriminate murder and terror. However, by June, ‛Alī Ïāli‡ as-Sacdī had lost the Ministry of Interior, his faction had quarrelled with both Jamāl ‛Abdannāœir and the Iraqi Nāœirists, and fighting had broken out again in Kurdistan. He now faced increasing hostility both from other Ba‛thists in the army and from his Ba‛thist colleagues in Damascus, who were also becoming increasingly critical of some of his methods. On 18 November 1963 ‛Abdassalām ‛Ārif, with the support of the armed forces, moved to exercise personal control over the country.
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