This chapter situates the 1958 Iraqi Free Officers' Revolution within a broader regional historical context. It describes the origins of both the Hashemite monarchy and the Iraq Petroleum Company in the World War I era. It focuses on the heterogeneous origins of the IPC consortium and the business rivalries among its constituent firms. It also discusses the development of Iraqi nationalism and the evolution of US foreign policy toward the general phenomenon of nationalism in the Third World. It explores the impact of the Egyptian Free Officers' Revolution and 1956 Suez War on Iraqi politics, and argues that the Eisenhower Doctrine was an improved solution to the perceived danger that Nasserist pan-Arabism posed to Western oil interests in the region.
This chapter situates the US response to the 1958 Free Officers' Revolution within the context of American intelligence and national security policy. It analyzes CIA origins to understand how the CIA perceived events in Iraq, and focuses on the evolution and expansion of CIA authority to include not just the collection and analysis of secret information but also the "operationalization" of intelligence in the form of covert psychological and paramilitary action. It then analyzes the dynamics of the Iraqi Free Officers' Revolution within the traditional geopolitical rivalry between Iraq and Egypt that has become known as the "Arab Cold War." It explores the issue of wahda—political union with Egypt as a key controversy in the politics of the Iraqi revolution, and argues that the CIA saw Iraq as more threatening than Egypt and therefore sought to use its capacity for covert action to "help Nasser take over in Iraq."
This chapter situates the US response to the 1958 Free Officers' Revolution within the context of American foreign oil policy. It analyzes Qasim's effort to forge international cooperation with other oil-exporting countries as part of a coordinated strategy to nationalize the IPC. It argues that Qasim remains a largely unacknowledged leader of the global movement for national resource sovereignty, and that Qasim's initiative in helping to organize OPEC—the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries—exposed contradictions and vulnerabilities in the logic of American foreign oil policy. Although Qasim would not live to see it, those contradictions and vulnerabilities would ultimately prove decisive in Iraq's successful effort to nationalize the IPC. Special attention is paid to the role of Iraqi oil experts in advising Qasim, and to the economic competition between the major international oil companies and their independent rivals.
This chapter analyzes the US response to Iraq's December 1961 promulgation of Law 80, which nationalized 99.5 percent of the IPC concessionary areas. It argues that American policymakers were deeply divided in their opinions regarding the appropriate response. State Department Arabists were relatively sympathetic to the oil law as a necessary measure to begin modernizing the Iraqi economy. Cold War geo-strategists, on the other hand, interpreted the oil law as evidence that Iraq was once again succumbing to Communist subversion. Emphasizing Cold War themes, national security hardliners, led by Robert Komer, argued in favor of covert intervention to bring about regime change. It further contends that the Kennedy administration ultimately found the Cold War arguments for intervention compelling out of adherence to deeply rooted ideas about the relationship among race, private property, and the progress of human civilization.
This chapter analyzes US foreign policy toward the Ba'thist regime that emerged from the February 1963 coup which overthrew Qasim. It situates new archival finds within the historiography of the coup to explore the moral universe of the American embassy in Baghdad as the embassy executed the Kennedy administration's policy of embracing the Ba'th as Cold War client and ally. The question of moral culpability was particularly vexing because the Kennedy administration embraced the Ba'th either despite or because of the party's well-known record of carrying out human rights atrocities against suspected Communists. Under the watchful eye of the American embassy, the Ba'th carried out an anti-Communist campaign that took on increasingly sectarian and genocidal dimensions. This tactic would later be replicated elsewhere and given the name the "Jakarta Method."
This chapter analyzes the Nasserist regime after a November 1963 coup that overthrew the Ba'th. The new regime supported by Egypt commissioned the services of the leading oil experts from across the region. These oil experts devised a coherent long-term strategy for bringing about the nationalization of the IPC. This strategy centered on building transnational coalitions. Toward this end Iraq's oil experts worked actively in OPEC and pushed that organization in an increasingly radical direction. They also formed partnerships with American oil companies that were in competition with the international majors that made up the IPC parent companies. The Nasserist effort to break up the IPC monopoly on Iraqi oil production was assisted by a major shift in French foreign policy, whereby France sought a larger role in the region and in Europe by forming a close partnership with Iraq.
This chapter analyzes the impact of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War on efforts to nationalize the IPC. It situates the war within the context of the US State Department's continuing efforts to promote political stability in Iraq and to mediate the conflict between successive Iraqi governments and the IPC. It demonstrates how the outbreak and outcome of that war undermined the State Department's promotion of regional stability. It also engages a recent Weberian sociological analysis of the religious expressions of various sectors of the oil industry to analyze how the symbolism of Jerusalem factored into the political/ economic competition between domestic American and international oil companies. Domestic oil and gas interests successfully exploited millenarian rhetoric to discredit the major multinationals as beholden to the Arab states. Because the majors supported the Arabs against Israel, the Johnson administration was unwilling to support the majors against the nationalist demands of Iraq.
This chapter analyzes the emergence of a stable, "coup-proof" regime led by the Ba'th in the wake of a July 1968 coup that overthrew Prime Minister Tahir Yahya. It explores a series of conspiracies that transpired in the wake of that coup, and argues that Hasan al-Bakr, drawing on the organizational and leadership skills of Saddam Hussein, mastered the politics of intrigue to outmaneuver and defeat rival power groupings in Iraq. The ironic outcome of this development is that after helping to overthrow Yayha, al-Bakr co-opted his predecessor's oil agenda and forged deeper relations with the Soviet Union to implement that agenda. A key indicator of the rapidly changing political situation was that in the immediate aftermath of the coup Haseeb was jailed, but by the end of 1970 he had resumed informally advising the government.
The chapter presents the denouement of the story. It analyzes the final steps carried out by the Ba'th to complete the IPC nationalization. These steps included establishing a stable, internally coherent leadership group within the party, and forging alliances with other groups in society—most notably the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Iraqi Communist Party. It argues that the Ba'th's willingness to embrace the cause of oil sovereignty as its own was the key to forging this broad national coalition. It then recounts the tremendous benefits that accrued to Iraqi society as a result of the IPC nationalization, and the US effort undermine that social progress. It concludes by suggesting an alternative set of principles upon which US-Iraqi relations could be based.