Monday, March 2, 2009

Iraq's Post-1950 History Revisited: Part 11

(See parts 1-10 below)

Most people in the United States would like to see the nearly 150,000 U.S. troops and 200,000 private contractors who are still occupying Iraqi soil (in support of special U.S. corporate interests) to finally be withdrawn from Iraq by Easter 2009. But the Democratic Obama regime is still not willing to immediately bring U.S. troops and private contractors in Iraq back home; and the Obama regime apparently plans to leave between 30,000 and 50,000 U.S. occupation troops stationed in Iraq as "military advisors" until January 1, 2012.

Yet if the Obama Administration officials responsible for authorizing the use of U.S. armed forces in Iraq--like U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton--had known more about Iraq's post-1950 history, perhaps U.S. troops and private contractors would not still be spending another Easter in Iraq in 2009?

As Haymarket Books' A People's History of Iraq: The Iraqi Communist Party, Workers' Movements, and the Left 1924-2004 notes, in 1959 "the Ba'thists and the nationalists" had "set up clandestine anti-communist squads employed in assassinating members" of the Iraq Communist Party "and other radical groups." So between 1960 and early 1963, Iraqi leftist activists were also, increasingly, the apparent victims of Iraqi right-wing violence. Between early 1960 and October 23, 1961, for example, 286 Iraqi leftists were apparently assassinated and 1,572 were apparently wounded by right-wing Iraqi gunmen. By early February 1963, 400 people in Mosul, alone, had been killed by right-wing Iraqi extremists.

The self-determination demands of Iraq's Kurdish population had also apparently not been satisfactorily met by Qasim's regime by the summer of 1961. So a war broke out then between Kurdish nationalists and the Qasim government. In December 1961, Qasim decided to also release Iraq's political prisoners, including some Iraq Communist Party members. But after Iraqi communist activists organized large demos which called for peace with the Kurds in May 1962, Qasim again ordered the arrest of many Iraq Communist Party members.

Qasim apparently feared the potential internal political threat to his dictatorial position from Iraqi communist activists more than he feared the real threat to his position (and life) from the apparently CIA-backed Ba'th Party activists, who were quietly gaining more support within the Iraqi military. On November 25, 1961, for example, the pro-Ba'thist former Deputy Prime Minister (who had been jailed in November 1958 for allegedly trying to assassinate Qasim at an October 1958 meeting), Col. Abdel Salem Aref, "was brought from prison to Qasim, who embraced and entertained him, escorted him home and reinstated him in the army, although not in active service," according to the book Iraq Under Qassem: A Political History, 1958-1963.

After being pardoned by Qasim and released from prison, however, Aref soon joined the "National Council of Revolutionary Command" committee of Ba'th leaders and active or retired anti-Qasim military officers who carried out the CIA-supported 1963 coup in Iraq. Another member of this committee was an Iraqi colonel named Saleh Mahdi Ammash, who was apparently recruited by the CIA when he served at the Iraqi embassy in Washington, D.C., according to the book A Brutal Friendship: the West and the Arab Elite by Said Aburish. (end of part 11)