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The Arab World and Western IntelligenceAnalysing the Middle East, 1956-1981$
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Dina Rezk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698912

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698912.001.0001

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Revolution in Iraq

Revolution in Iraq

(p.79) 3 Revolution in Iraq
The Arab World and Western Intelligence

Dina Rezk

Edinburgh University Press

In July 1958, an unknown nationalist, General Abdul Karim Qasim, came to the helm of power in Iraq. Chapter 3 reveals how analysts reacted to the brutal murder of his predecessor Nuri al Said, as Britain’s most important ally in the Middle East seemed to contract the Nasser ‘virus’ spreading through the region. Qasim quickly demonstrated that he was no Nasserist stooge however. Whilst British policymakers hoped in vain that the new Iraqi leader could be cultivated as a counterweight to Nasser, the intelligence community rapidly realised that Qasim had neither the charisma nor the popularity to compete with his Egyptian counterpart in the Arab Cold War. Qasim reliance on Iraqi Communists to counteract the influence of local Nasserites led to widespread fears that Iraq was on the brink of acquiring Soviet satellite status. This chapter brings to light for the first time the JIC’s nuanced analysis of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), suggesting to policy-makers that in fact the Soviet Union was acting as a restraining influence on the Iraqi communists. Qasim came to be increasingly depicted as ‘paranoid’ and ‘irrational’, whilst assessments of Nasser took on a new and more complimentary light as a ‘moderate’ potential ally in the quest to prevent Communist penetration of the Middle East.

Keywords:   Qasim, Iraq, Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), Communism, nationalism

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