Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Abdul Karim Qassim
He was born in Baghdad and graduated the Baghdad Military College. By 1955 he was a high-ranking military officer and by 1957 he was the paramount figure in an army faction opposed to the monarchy. On 14 July 1958, Qassim led a coup which deposed the Iraqi monarchy. This resulted in the executions of several members of the royal family and their close associates, including the reviled Nuri as-Said). He assumed the post of Prime Minister.
A neutralist as well as a nationalist, there was much debate during his tenure over whether Iraq should join the United Arab Republic, led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Having dissolved the Arab Union with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Qassim refused entry into the federation, although his government recognized the republic and considered joining it later. A major concern of the pan-Arabists was the repression of the Iraqi branch of the Baath Party.
An assassination attempt in 1959 by dedicated pan-Arabists (including Saddam Hussein) led to a harsh crackdown on domestic opposition and the development of a personality cult. Qassim was a strong opponent of American military intervention in the Middle East, and repeatedly called for the removal of foreign troops.
Rebellions in Mosul and Iraqi Kurdistan, allegedly assisted by Nasser and the UAR, also complicated political matters. A second assassination attempt, motivated by alleged Communist influence and state control over the petroleum sector, was carried out by the American CIA in 1963. On 9 February 1963, Qassim was executed after another coup.
In July 2004, Qassim's body was discovered by a news team associated with Radio Dijla in Baghdad.
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