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History, Military Coups

Abdul Salam Arif, international petroleum prices, Baath Party, Iraqi troops, Kassem

On February 8, 1963, Kassem was overthrown by a group of officers, most of them members of the Baath Party; he was assassinated the following day. Abdul Salam Arif became president, and relations with the Western world improved. In April 1966 Arif was killed in a helicopter crash and was succeeded by his brother, General Abdul Rahman Arif.

During the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War (1967), Iraqi troops and planes were sent to the Jordan-Israeli border. Iraq subsequently declared war on Israel and closed its oil pipeline supplying the Western nations, which it accused of siding with Israel. At the same time diplomatic relations with the United States were severed. In July 1968 Baath Party officers overthrew General Arifís government. Major General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, a former prime minister, was appointed head the newly established Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the countryís supreme executive, legislative, and judicial body.

In the following years Iraq maintained general hostility toward the West and friendship with the USSR. The positions of individual Arab countries with regard to Israel caused some friction between Iraq and its neighbors. In 1971 Iraq closed its border with Jordan and called for its expulsion from the Arab League because of Jordanís efforts to crush the Palestinian guerrilla movement operating inside its borders.

From 1972 to 1975 Iraq fully nationalized the foreign oil companies operating in Iraq. The country enjoyed a massive increase in oil revenues starting in late 1973 when international petroleum prices began a steep rise. The discovery of major oil deposits in the vicinity of Baghdad was announced publicly in 1975.

Iraq aided Syria with troops and materiel during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Calling for continued military action against Israel, Iraq denounced the ceasefire that ended the 1973 conflict and opposed the interim agreements negotiated by Egypt and Syria with Israel in 1974 and 1975.

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