Iraq Vacation Trips
Iraq History - 20th Century-Republic of Iraq

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The reinstated Hashemite monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown by a coup d'etat of the Iraqi Army, known as the 14 July Revolution. The coup brought Brigadier General Abdul Karim Qassim to power. He withdrew from the Baghdad Pact and established friendly relations with the Soviet Union, but his government lasted only until the February 1963 coup, when it was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. Salam Arif died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency.

In 1968, Rahman Arif was overthrown by the Arab Socialist Baath Party. Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakir became the first Baath President of Iraq but then the movement gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein al Tikriti, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council, then Iraq's supreme executive body, in July 1979.
Saddam Hussein al Tikriti, former president of Iraq 1979–2003

In 1979, Saddam Hussein took power as Iraqi President after knocking down his close friend and the leader of his party and killing and arresting his leadership rivals.Shortly after taking power, the political situation in Iraq's neighbor Iran changed drastically after the success of the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which resulted in a Shi'ite Muslim theocratic state being established. This was seen as a dangerous change in the eyes of the Iraqi government, as Iraq too had a Shi'ite majority and was ruled by Hussein's government which, apart from having numerous Sunnis occupying leading positions, had a pan-Arab but non-religious ideology.

This left the country's Shiite population split between the members and supporters of the Ba'ath Party, and those who sympathized with the Iranian position. In 1980, Hussein claimed that Iranian forces were trying to topple his government and declared war on Iran. Saddam Hussein supported the Iranian Islamic socialist organization called the People's Mujahedin of Iran which opposed the Iranian government. During the Iran–Iraq War Iraqi forces attacked Iranian soldiers and civilians with chemical weapons.

Hussein's regime was notorious for its human rights abuses; a well-known example is the Al-Anfal campaign as well as attacks on Kurd civilians inside Iraq, such as the Halabja massacre, as punishment for elements of Kurdish support of Iran. The war ended in stalemate in 1988, largely due to American and Western support for Iraq. This was part of the US policy of "dual containment" of Iraq and Iran. Between half a million and 1.5 million people from both sides died in the 1980–88 war.

In 1977, the Iraqi government ordered the construction of Osirak at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, 18 km south-east of Baghdad. It was a 40 MW light-water nuclear materials testing reactor. In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed the facility, in order to prevent the country from using the reactor for creation of nuclear weapons.


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