The Ramadan coup, also referred to as the February 1963 coup in Iraq, was a military coup by the Ba'ath Party's Iraqi-wing which overthrew the Prime Minister of Iraq, Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1963. It took place between 8 and 10 February 1963. Qasim's former deputy, Abdul Salam Arif, who was not a Ba'athist, was given the largely ceremonial title of President, while prominent Ba'athist general Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr was named Prime Minister. The most powerful leader of the new government was the secretary general of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party, Ali Salih al-Sa'di, who controlled the National Guard militia and organized a massacre of hundreds—if not thousands—of suspected communists and other dissidents following the coup.
Some time after the Homeland Officers' Organization, or "Al-Ahrar" ("The Free") succeeded in toppling the monarchy and transforming the Iraqi government into a republic in 1958, signs of differences between political parties and forces and the Homeland Officers' Organization began when Pan-Arab nationalist forces led by Abdul Salam Arif and the Ba'ath Party called for immediate unification with the United Arab Republic (UAR). In an attempt to create a state of political equilibrium, the Iraqi Communist Party, which opposed unity, tried to discount cooperation with the UAR in economics, culture, and science rather than political and military agreements.
Gradually, Abd al-Karim Qasim's relations with some of his fellow members of Al-Ahrar worsened, and his relationship with the unionist and nationalist currents, which had played an active role in supporting the 1958 movement, became strained. As for conflicting currents in the Iraqi Communist Party, they were aspiring for a coalition with General Qasim and had long been extending their relationship with him.
Qasim thought that some of his allies in the Communist party were coming close to leapfrogging the proposition, especially after the increasing influence of the Communist party in the use of the slogan, proclaimed by many Communists and government supporters during marches: "Long live leader Abd al-Karim and the Communist Party in governing great demand!" Qasim began to minimize the Communist movement, which was poised to overthrow the government. He ordered the party to be disarmed and most of the party leaders to be arrested. However, the party retained Air Commander Celalettin Alaoqati and Lt. Col. Fadhil Abbas Mahdawi, Qasim's cousin.
An overlapping set of both internal and regional factors created conditions conducive to the overthrow of Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim and his staff. Some historians have argued that the overthrow can be attributed to the blundering individualism of Qasim and the errors committed in the execution of leaders and locals as well as acts of violence which arose from the Communist militias allied with Qasim.
Also to blame may be an increasingly forceful disagreement with Field Marshal Abdul Salam Aref, who was under house arrest. Qasim also made statements reiterating his support for Syrian General Abdel-Karim and Colonel Alnhlaoi Mowaffaq Asasa, with a view to executing a coup to divide Syria, which was alone with Egypt as part of the United Arab Republic.
Qasim's removal took place on 8 February 1963, the fourteenth day of Ramadan. The coup was therefore called the 14 Ramadan Coup. The coup had been in its planning stages since 1962, and several attempts had been planned, only to be abandoned for fear of discovery.
The coup had been initially planned for January 18, but was moved to 25 January, then 8 February after Qasim gained knowledge of the proposed attempt and arrested some of the plotters.
The coup began in the early morning of 8 February 1963, when the communist air force chief, Jalal al-Awqati, was assassinated and tank units occupied the Abu Ghraib radio station. A bitter two-day struggle unfolded with heavy fighting between the Ba’athist conspirators and pro-Qasim forces. Qasim took refuge in the Ministry of Defence, where fighting became particularly heavy. Communist sympathisers took to the streets to resist the coup, adding to the high casualties.
On 9 February, Qasim eventually offered his surrender in return for safe passage out of the country. His request was refused, and on the afternoon of the 9th, Qasim was executed on the orders of the newly formed National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC).
Qasim was given a mock trial over Baghdad radio and then killed. His dead body was displayed on television by leaders of the coup soon after his death.
PUKmedia Follow Up