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Ba'th Party Coup in Iraq


On the morning of July 17, 1968, the Iraqi government was over thrown in a bloodless coup led by the Ba'th military group in Iraq.  The president of Iraq at the time was president Arif, he was stripped of his power and ordered to leave the country after the Ba'th party took control.

The Ba'th party or Arab Socialist party was founded in Syria in the early 1940's by militants of the Ihya al Arabi (Arab revival) movement. The Ba'th party took it as its rallying cry the reunification and liberation of a single Arab nation with an eternal mission to end western colonization in the Arab world.

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The first order of the new regime was to set up the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), which had supreme authority in the country. The RCC elected al-Bakr president of the republic and Saddam Hussein vice president. The Ba'th party's sixth national Pan-Arab congress, meeting in Damascus in October 1963, enacted a constitution for the state. The RCC recommended the immediate adoption of a socialist agrarian reform. The party made it a top priority to end the class struggle within the nation.

As Al- Bakr's health deteriorated, he began to depend on Saddam to carry out the business of the government. A power struggle soon arose between the Ba'th party and Nayif-Da-ud group. The two parties disagreed over socialism and foreign policy issues, and both of the parties had power in the regime. On July 30, 1968 Saddam Hussein invited an-Nayif, the leader of the Nayif-Da-ud group, to lunch at the presidential palace.  After the meal Saddam Hussein informed an-Nayif that he was under arrest. Saddam Hussein agreed to let an-Nayif live if he left the country, which he did. By kicking an-Nayif out of Iraq, the Ba'th party took full control in Iraq and turned the country into a dictatorship. This incident did not cause any disturbances in Iraq and gave the Ba'th party full control of Iraq. Most all of the government cabinet posts were given to Ba'th party members. Those who were not loyal to the Ba'th party were removed from the government.

Iraq was under the control of the Ba'th party and President al-Bakr, until al-Bakr resigned and Saddam Hussein succeeded him to become president of Iraq in 1973. Saddam lead the Ba'th party until he was ousted by coalition troops (mainly the United States and Britain) in 2003. A new Iraqi government is being set up and the country is now recovering from the reign of terror Saddam Hussein had put on the Iraqi people for years.



1. Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World First volume 1995

2. United States State Department Timeline of Saddam Hussein

HTTP:// Visited 9/4/03

3. Unknown Author, Military Coup of 1968


4. University of Kansas History Department, History Index- Modern Iraq


Researched and Written
Eric Koob
History 2260: The Modern World
12 September 2003

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