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Iraq 1963 cia coup { November 22 2002 }

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In 1963, Qassem was overthrown - with the help of the CIA's electronic command center in Kuwait - by a coalition of army officers and Ba'athists. Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party would later consolidate their hold on power in a bloody 1968 coup.,1299,DRMN_38_1561173,00.html

Speakout: America's shameful Mideast history
By Wadi Muhaisen, Special to the News
November 22, 2002

With Saddam Hussein reluctantly accepting the latest United Nations Security Council resolution requiring inspections to root out any remaining weapons of mass destruction in that country, hope is surging around the world that we might be able to avoid a deadly and costly invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In the process, however, resentment of the United States has also surged due the administration's perceived double standard toward Arab and Muslim countries. On the one hand, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is threatened with "regime change," while North Korea's Stalinist dictator - one-third of the president's self-described axis of evil - is the target of "diplomacy." Unlike Iraq, we know for certain that North Korea has weapons of mass destruction - including a nuclear weapons program - and the capability to deliver them. But there is one thing Iraq has that North Korea does not: oil.

We have a long and shameful history of meddling in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern countries and this latest chapter will only add to the resentment directed toward the United States. Unfortunately, few of us are even aware of our government's history in the Middle East, but it is a history worth reviewing.

In 1953, the democratically elected and wildly popular Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup ostensibly because of his plans to nationalize that country's petroleum resources which were in the hands of British and U.S. oil interests.

The U.S.-sponsored coup brought the reviled monarch, Shah Reza Pahlavi, to absolute power. In 1976, Amnesty International declared that the Shah's CIA-trained and equipped security force, SAVAK, had the worst human rights record on the planet. In 1979, the Shah's U.S.-backed, 26-year dictatorship ended when pent-up frustration and civil unrest exploded onto the streets of Tehran. This spontaneous popular uprising was later commandeered by anti-American cleric Ayatollah Khomeini.

In 1958, Gen. Abdel Karim Qassem of Iraq led a revolution toppling the British-installed monarchy and ushered in land, health-care and education reforms. He also spoke of wresting control of the country's oil reserves from Western corporations.

In 1959, Qassem survived an assassination attempt by Ba'ath Party activists; notable among them was a man by the name of Saddam Hussein.

Living in exile after the attempt on Qassem's life, Saddam was a frequent guest at the American Embassy in Cairo as the U.S. grew increasingly concerned over Qassem's oil industry nationalization plans and overtures to the Soviet Union.

In 1963, Qassem was overthrown - with the help of the CIA's electronic command center in Kuwait - by a coalition of army officers and Ba'athists. Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party would later consolidate their hold on power in a bloody 1968 coup.

In 1980, Saddam Hussein launched an eight-year war against Khomeini's Iran with weaponry and intelligence from the United States and others. Under contracts approved by the U.S. Commerce Department, American companies provided Saddam with materials necessary to produce chemical and biological weapons which he used on Iranian soldiers. The U.S. also funneled weapons and intelligence to Iran, via Israel, through a scheme now known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Nearly 1 million Iraqis and Iranians died in that senseless war.

Unprovoked, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 with President Ronald Reagan's tacit blessing and U.S. funding. The Lebanese capital, Beirut, was laid waste under a savage, two-month Israeli military siege. Using American-made cluster and phosphorous bombs in civilian areas, nearly 20,000 Lebanese civilians and Palestinian refugees were killed as a result of Israel's invasion.

The war was capped off with the massacre of 1,200 Palestinian women, children and seniors, in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps, by Israel's fascist allies in Lebanon (the Phalange Party, modeled after Francisco Franco's Spanish fascists). Israeli troops provided cover, blocked camp exits and shot flares over the camps at night so the Phalangists could "work" around the clock.

With U.S. funding and political support, Israel militarily occupied south Lebanon for 22 years and financed and equipped one of the world's most notorious torture prisons, Khiam.

From installing and propping up monarchies to arming brutal dictators and military conquerors, the people of the Middle East have suffered greatly as a result of our meddling in the region. This being just a small sampling of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, we might begin to understand why people in the region think President Bush's focus on Saddam Hussein has less to with securing peace and more to do with securing oil.

Denver native Wadi Muhaisen is an expert in international and comparative law and professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Denver.

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