Ted Grant

Coup in Iraq

Source: Militant, no. 40 (August 1968)
Transcription: Francesco 2009
Proofread: Fred 2009
Markup: Manuel 2009

The turmoil and upheaval in the Middle East is indicated by the new coup in Iraq. The revolution of 1958 overthrew the puppet Monarchy, a tool of British imperialism. Since then Iraq has had military-police dictatorships hovering between the threat of revolution and counter-revolution. The landlords have continued to exploit the peasants despite the often repeated promises of land reform which have not been carried out. Oil, and Iraq is rich in oil, has dominated the politics of the country, as it is one of the main questions for the area. The corrupt landlord-capitalist regime, has been unable to solve any of the problems facing the peoples of Iraq. The Kurdish people have failed to gain their autonomy and national rights despite the pledges of the rulers in Baghdad.

The craven capitulation of the Communist Party after the July 1958 revolution led to the victory of counterrevolution by means of a seizure of power by the generals. The right wing Baath Socialist Party leaders helped in this process, crushing and banning the Communist Party, with the brunt of the terror being borne by the unfortunate rank and file. The Baath socialists in their turn were ousted by the very man, General Aref, whom they had raised to power.

The accumulation of the misery of the people, the stagnation and corruption of the rule of the generals, the ferment provoked by the defeat of the Arab armies in the Israeli war had its effect. The revolution in Syria, carried through by left wing Baathists with the support of the Syrian workers and peasants, has also had its repercussions, even if delayed.

According to the reports it is the right wing of the Baath Socialist Party, or rather their supporters among the young army officers, who have organised this new seizure of power to “restore” the situation as it existed in 1963. In 1963 the Baath organised the coup which ousted and murdered General Kassem only to prepare the seizure of power by their “nominee” President Aref. After his death his brother succeeded to power with the generals, a right-wing military clique. Now they have been overthrown.

It will be impossible to put the clock back to 1963. The rule of the Baath lasted only 9 months, till President Aref organised his own grab for power. Now the new president is Ahmed Hassan Bakr, who was the Baath Prime Minister during their 9 months’ rule in 1963. However, the right wing Baathist will not be able to maintain power for a long period. No more than in 1963 do they have a solution to the problems facing Iraq today. Either they will move to the left, be replaced by a more left wing government akin to that of Syria or they will prepare the way for a new right wing take-over.

Meanwhile they will try and divert the attention of the Iraqi people from their problems by using the Israeli question, the problem of the regime in Jordan and possibly, as the imperialists would wish, aiding conspiracies against the left wing Baathist government in Syria. It is just as likely that the Syrian Bonapartist workers’ state can have an effect on the Baghdad regime. This in turn will have repercussions in Jordan, Egypt and the semi-feudal sheikhdoms in Saudi Arabia. The British imperialist dominated Kuwait regime has been the first Arab country to recognise the new government.

However, the calculations of the Imperialists may be falsified by events. The instability of the Middle East during the last decade means that the fall of one government provokes repercussions among the others. Iraqi landlordism and capitalism have not been stabilised. The workers and peasants have still the possibility of putting their imprint on events, as eventually they must.