Sunday, December 7, 2008

Arabs Who Admitted CIA Involvement in the 1963 Iraqi Coup that Brough Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party to Power

The Ba'ath Party was a group of pan-Arab nationalists from many countries in 1963. Jamal Atasi was a member of the Syrian cabinet at the time and privy to Ba'ath Party discussions. Even though the Syrian branch of the party was separate from the Iraqi branch there was still much networking. Word of the Iraqi Ba'athis meetings with the CIA before the coup reached Ba’athi leaders in Damascus and arguments broke out between the Syrian Ba’ath and the Iraqi Ba’ath. Atasi related the tenor of the discussions:

When we discovered this thing we began to argue with them. They would assert that their cooperation with the CIA and the US to overthrow ‘Abd al-Karim Qasim and take over power—they would compare this to how Lenin arrived in a German train to carry out his revolution, saying they had arrived in an American train. But in reality—and even in the case of the takeover in Syria—there was a push from the West and in particular from the United States for the Ba’th to seize power and monopolize it and push away all the other elements and forces [i.e., both the communists and the Nasserists].[1]

The reference to Lenin’s train means that the Iraqis took money from the U.S. in the same way that Lenin and the communists purportedly took a train full of gold from Germany during WWI to assist them in their Bolshevik Revolution. Seven months after the coup, Jordan’s King Hussein (who took money from the CIA for 42 years) was quoted in the most prestigious newspaper in Egypt, Al-Ahram:

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’th 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 Communist there so that they could be arrested and executed?[2]

Ali Saleh al-Sa’adi was the civilian leader of the Ba'ath Party in Iraq at the time of the coup. His arrest for his part in the plot a couple of days before the coup actually precipitated the launch of it because Iraqi leader Abdel Karim Qassem was to close to catching them. A junior member of the party at the time Hanni Fkaki admitted, “We came to power on a CIA train.”[3]

These are the Arab primary source admissions of the CIA involvement in the 1963 Iraqi Coup that I have been able to find. I would be interested to hear of any more Arab or U.S. admissions that you all can find.

[1] Interview with Jamal Atasi, Damascus 22 July 1991 in Malik Mufti, Sovereign Creations: Pan-Arabism and Political Order in Syria and Iraq (Ithaca, New York, 1996), 144.
[2] Cited from an Interview with Jordan’s King Hussein printed in al-Ahram, 27 September 1963 in Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements Of Iraq: A Study of Iraq’s Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its Communists, Ba’thists, and Free Officers (Princeton, New Jersey, 1978), 985-986.
[3] Interview with Fkaiki in Sai K. Aburish, Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge (New York: 2000), 59 .


Jack Jodell said...

One wonders what our world would be like today if only the US and particularly the CIA had not disastrously meddled in the affairs of other sovereign nations! I mean, our world image and conditions today would undoubtedly have been much better had that criminal John Foster Dulles not installed the tyrannical Shah in Iran in 1953, and begun a pattern of US support for corrupt right wing juntas and dictatorships in Latin America the following year...

Bill Z. said...


Ya, I too have wondered this. Many have made the point that communism has never been given a chance to suceed without being placed on a war footing from hostility generated by the West. I actually think that some balance between capitalism and communism is actually best, but for the most part we have seen a domination of capitalism with disasterous results for the majority of the world's population.