Iraq Government and Politics

1958 Nationalist coup

Iraq Country Flag

Reference: Iraq Flag Meaning

In 1958, the monarchy and the Comrade government – which represented the bourgeoisie dependent on imperialism – were overthrown by nationalist officers with General Karim Qassem at the head. The upheaval culminated with the execution of the royal family. The new rulers broke with Western military cooperation and joined the alliance-free movement. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of IZ and its meanings of Iraq.

The new regime made an effort in 1959 to enter into a union with Syria, but there were strong forces opposing that union. On the one hand, the Communist Party – one of the strongest in the Middle East during this period. On the other, the democratic nationalist forces who wanted a European model parliamentary rule. In July 59, Qassem dissolved all political parties and declared that the Kuwait emirate belonged to Iraq. However, the Arab League – which was then dominated by Egypt – authorized the deployment of British troops, thus preventing the incorporation of the oil-rich emirate.

According to, Qassem’s cooperation with the Soviet and China led to speculation that Iraq could become a “new Cuba “. But in the summer of 60, the political course was abruptly turned towards the West. Still, experiments with plan economics were conducted, the power of big landowners was limited through land reform and the oil company’s Iraq Petroleum Company’s profits were reduced. In 1963, Qassem was overthrown by a coup carried out by panarabic sectors within the army. Throughout the 1960s, the country had numerous unstable governments until a military coup on July 17, 1968, Baath brought the party to power.


The party was founded in 1940. Baath is the Arabic word for “resurrection”. It saw the Arab world as a “politically and economically inseparable size” where no single country alone “can create the necessary conditions for a life independent of the others”. Baath states that ” socialism is a necessity arising from the justification of Arab nationalism”. The party is organized at (Arab) “national” level and with “regional” leadership in each country. Its social base was (and is) the petty bourgeoisie in the cities, but it has also captured the militant rural population, as well as large sections of the industrial working class through its clearly anti-imperialist policies. These layers again pressed Baath to the left.

The Baath regime pursued a policy that was broadly in line with that of the nationalist leaders in Egypt and Syria: nationalization of the main sectors of the economy, higher land reforms, industrial development plans, measures aimed at the interests of the former colonial powers and against the local landlord and large capitalist class. However, the socialization process took place faster than in both Egypt and Syria. This was mainly because the country had never had any significant citizenship.

1973-75 The oil is nationalized

Yet, the mainstay of the country’s economy – oil production – was subject to Western imperialism control right up to the 1970s. The Baath government prepared the nationalization of this sector by securing delivery agreements to the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Among other things, entered into a comprehensive cooperation agreement between Iraq and the Soviet Union in 1972. The country also built a national oil company and played the Western companies against each other. In June 1973, the Baath government nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company and in October the most of the Basrah Petroleum Company. Thus, over 85% of the country’s oil production was in the hands of the state. In 1975, further acquisitions followed, giving the country full control of the oil industry. This ensured Iraq a high degree of economic and political freedom of action. Baghdad defended the use of the oil as a Ā«political weapon in the fight against imperialism and ZionismĀ». At the same time, oil prices had to be defended and OPEC strengthened to make it a tool for the third world to ensure proper payment for natural resources. Land reform was continued and the increased oil revenues were to be used for an ambitious industrialization program.

As part of the cooperation agreement with the Soviet Union in 72, the Communist Party was again allowed, after being subjected to severe persecution for 13 years, and communists were admitted into the government. The party had been established in 1934, was Moscow-oriented, and remained strong in the trade union movement. It gently supported the Baath Party’s “non-capitalist path to socialism.”

By 1970, the government of Baghdad had given Kurdish official status as language, and Kurdistan gained a degree of internal autonomy. But the traditional sheikhs feared land reform and backed by the Shah of Iran, they resorted to weapons against the Baghdad regime. In March 75, Iran and Iraq signed a border agreement that at one time robbed the Kurds of their main external support. The rebellion was then quickly crushed. The Baghdad government introduced Kurdish education in the local schools, increased government investment in the region and appointed Kurds to high posts in public administration.

Iraq Head of Government

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