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End of Monarchy, Kurdish War & Ba'athist Coup

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Republic of Iraq

1958 July

A military coup d'état occurs in Baghdad. The monarchy is overthrown. The Republic of Iraq is established. Brigadier 'Abd al-Karim Qasim becomes prime minister, minister of defense and commander in chief.

Agrarian Reform Law

1958 September

Mustafa Barzani

1959 October

Mustafa Barazni asserts control of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

Baghdad Pact Withdrawal

1959 December

Iraq withdraws from Baghdad Pact.

Kuwait Independence

1961 June

Kuwait gains independence. Iraqi Prime Minister Qasim demands its integration into Iraq. Great Britain sends troops to Kuwait, replaced by Arab League force in August.

Kurdish Revolution Begins


Kurdish Demand

1961 July

Fighting erupts in Kurdistan between Barzani's forces the Iraqi army.

Law 80 Reclamation

1961 December

Law 80 reclaims unexploited areas of IPC's concession.

MIlitary Coup d'État

1963 February

Military coup d'état led by Ba'this and Arab nationalist officers. Iraqi Prime Minister Qasim and his colleagues killed.

Halabja Attacked by Iraq


Halabja is attacked for the first time by the Iraqi army.

Jet fighters came and bomber-aircraft; peshmerga came to our house in the middle of the night and told us, "You should run away from here." We fled to the Iranian border, to a very small village called Hanagermala. We stayed there for three months: my mother, my sister, my brothers and I. When we came back to Halabja we found everything our house had been completely destroyed by the army. Completely. Thornhill, p 157

Ba'th Disorder


Splits and confusion in the Ba'th.

Ba'thists Ejected

1963 November

President 'Abd al-Salam 'Arif and military allies eject Ba'thists from power.

Kurd-Iraq Negotiations

04 1964

Roads begin to re-open and the economic blockade against Kurdistan by Baghdad is disassembled.


1964 July

Nationalization of all banks, insurance companies and large industrial firms. Further land reform.

More Kurd Uprising

1964 October

Kurdish autonomy talks break down and fighting resumes.

Kurdistan War

1965 April

Full-scale war erupts in Kurdistan.

Prime Minister al-Bazzaz

1965 September

'Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz appointed as prime minister.

President 'Arif Dies

1966 April

Iraqi President 'Abd al-Salam 'Arif dies in helicopter crash.

President 'Arif Succeeds

1966 April

'Abd al-Rahman 'Arif, brother of former President al-Salam 'Arif, becomes president.

Kurd Autonomy Program

1966 July

Barzani accepts al-Bazzaz's twelve-point program on Kurdish autonomy.

al-Bazzaz Dismissed

1966 August

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Bazzaz is dismissed by President 'Arif.

War with Israel

1967 June

Iraq goes to war with Israel. Israel sends token force to Jordan.

Military Coup d'État


Arab nationalist and Ba'this army officers stage a coup d'état. President 'Arif is sent into exile.

President al-Bakr

Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr becomes president.


Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.


Insurgent Chief Said to Have Been Slain – Rival Iraqi Broadcasts Conflict


DAMASCUS, United Arab Republic, March 9 – Premier Abdul Karim Kassim's Iraqi Government asserted tonight that the army revolt against his regime had been crushed.

Earlier today Iraqi Air Force planes bombed insurgent army units at their headquarters in the northern provincial city of Mosul. But rebel radio broadcasts declared the insurgents under Col. Abdel Wahab Shawaf were still determined to overthrow General Kassim.

(In Washington, United States officials expressed fear that the uprising might serve as a pretext for far-reaching Soviet penetration of Iraq.)

The Premier's press spokesman and close personal associate, Maj. Salim Fakhri, said by telephone from Baghdad that "the revolt is over."

Rebel's Death Reported

Major Fakhri said Colonel Shawaf was killed this morning by his own officers and soldiers and that army units supporting General Kassim were in full control of Mosul, center of the revolt that broke out yesterday. (The Baghdad radio reported Monday night the capture of Colonel Shawaf, Reuters said.)

Nevertheless, radio broadcasts monitored here continued to carry rebel statements that Colonel Shawaf was still leading his forces and would march tomorrow toward the capital at Baghdad, about 225 miles south of Mosul.

At 6 P. M. the rebel radio said a battle was going on within Mosul. It is said a small force loyal to Premier Kassim had been destroyed.

But the Premier's radio station quoted his new army commander in the Mosul area as having said Colonel Shawaf's forces had been smashed.

Rebel Broadcasts Halt

Later radio monitors in Damascus reported they were no longer able to pick up signals from the rebel radio station, which calls itself Radio Mosul. Last night the signal was heard clearly here until about 3 A. M.

Earlier the Mosul radio said army units in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Erbil, near Mosul, in the heart of Iraq's rich oil fields, had joined the revolt and all civilians in northern Iraq were supporting it.

Major Fakhri maintained these broadcasts were coming from a clandestine station and not the Mosul station itself. He said that in Baghdad "everything is all right – it's all over now."

From reports available here it appeared that the strategy of revolt had been to broadcast claims of victory in Mosul in hopes of getting support in the streets of Baghdad. The confidence emanating from Baghdad indicated this had not been successful.

Amid conflicting radio reports and confusion it was not determined how much damage had been done in the aerial bombardment of Mosul. But the station purporting to be Radio Mosul went off the air about three hours this morning.

Denying Baghdad radio reports that first Colonel Shawaf had fled toward the near-by Syrian border and later that he had been killed, the rebel station quoted him as having said the bombardment only increased his determination to fight "to the last drop of blood."

Yesterday the Mosul radio announced the revolt had begun when it broadcast Colonel Shawaf's declaration that are officers had decided to overthrow the Government. Colonel Shawaf, commander of the Fifth Army Brigade, said he had the support of Brigadier Nadhim Kamel Tabakchali, commander of the Second Army Division.

Urging other senior Army officers to join the revolt, Colonel Shawaf charged Premier Kassim was letting Iraq drift toward communism, was permitting the press and radio to "wage an aggressive war" agains the United Arab Republic and was setting up a "plebeian dictatorship."

The revolt in northern Iraq came less than a month after a Cabinet shake-up in which all Arab nationalist and moderate members resigned. The new Cabinet represented a coalition between Socialists and at least one pro-Communist and army officers.

The list of those who resigned included a senior army officer. Brigadier Naji Talib, who also had complained about the rift between Iraq and the United Arab Republic. Brigadier Talib testified in behalf of Col. Abdel Salam Arif when Colonel Arif was tried and found guilty of an attempt to assassinate Premier Kassim. Colonel Arif was co-leader with General Kassim of the July 15 revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Insurgents Report Clash

CAIRO, March 9 – The first clash between Government troops and rebellious Army units in Iraq was reported today from rebel headquarters in Mosul.

The insurgent radio said a "small force" sent against them by Premier Kassim had been "completely" annihilated.

Earlier the Baghdad radio, still in the hands of the Government, had announced that Iraqi Air Force planes had bombed and destroyed the rebel headquarters of Colonel Shawaf and that he had been killed.

The rebel radio confirmed the bombing, but denied that Colonel Shawaf had been killed. Communiqués continued to be broadcast in his name.

The rebel radio reported one important development that, if true, would indicate the situation was more serious for the Kassim regime than the Baghdad radio has acknowledged. This was that army units at the town of Ramadi, thirty miles west of Baghdad, had joined the revolt. That would put the rebels athwart the main road from Baghdad to the jet air base at Habbaniya, thirty miles on westward, where most of the air force is based.

The rebel radio did not indicate the exact size of the Government force it said it had annihilated nor its composition.

Colonel Shawaf's first communiqué yesterday afternoon announcing the rising had said Brigadier Tabakchali and the Second Division joined him and his Fifth Brigade in the revolt.

The rebel radio said today that Premier Kassim was arming the street mobs of Baghdad, but dispatches from Baghdad told of no such act. All dispatches from Baghdad, however, are heavily censored.

Baghdad Crowds Jubilant

BAGHDAD, Iraq. March 9 (AP) – Crowds danced, clapped and sang in the streets of Baghdad today after the Government announced that the insurrection in northern Iraq had been suppressed. The demonstrations went on into the night.

The Government, from all appearances, has no fear of the rebellion's spreading this far. There are only a few army units here and they do not give the appearance of being on special alert. A curfew that has been in effect since the revolution of last July was lifted to permit observance of the Moslem month of Ramadan, during which there is fasting from dawn to sunset daily. Ramadan begins tomorrow.

Regular traffic flows in and out of the airport.

Demonstrations surged all over the city in support of Premier Kassim. Street throngs clapped and sang as they marched behind huge pictures of General Kassim. Some of the marchers were children. Some young men carried infants on their shoulders.

There was no indication of animosity to foreigners. However, the American elementary school in the Untied States Embassy compound was closed for today and tomorrow. A little more than 1,000 Americans live in Iraq, most of them in and around Baghdad.

Statement Issued at U.N.

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., March 8 – The Iraqi mission to the United Nations issued a statement tonight declaring that a revolt by some brigades of the Iraqi Army against the Government of Premier Kassim had been crushed.

Ismat T. Kittmani, Iraq's acting chief delegate, said this was based on information he received from Baghdad at 5 P.M., New York time.

The statement added that news being broadcast about the revolt was coming from "a station outside Iraq, claiming falsely that it originates in Mosul for the sake of creating confusion abroad."

NY Times, 1959 Mar 10


Shawaf and Tabakchali Are of Prominent Families – Both in Early 40's

CAIRO, March 9 – The two young officers who led to Iraqi Army rebellion against the Government and their commander in chief are well known in Iraq, if not outside the country. [Confusing sentence.]

Col. Abdel Wahab Shawaf, commander of the Fifth Brigade at Mosul, who fanned the long-smoldering fire of rebellion Sunday, and Brig. Nadhim Kamel Tabakchali, commander of the Second Division and his immediate superior, both come from prominent Iraqi families. Colonel Shawaf has declared that the brigadier joined him in the revolt.

Both are in their early forties, are Western in education and outlook, have only one wife each, although both are Moslems and entitled to four, and are popular, or were, among their fellow officers.

Colonel Shawaf was one of the leaders of the free officers' group that planned and led the revolt of July 14, which overthrew King Faisal, the royal family and Premier Nuri as-Said, who had ruled Iraq for many years in and out of office.

Shawaf Guarded Embassies

On that hot July morning Colonel Shawaf was assigned to protect the many embassies in Baghdad. He did it so well that not one in any of the embassies was molested.

Colonel Shawaf comes of a wealthy, religious, land-owning family in the south. A brother, Dr. Mohammed Shawaf, is Minister of Health in the Kassim Cabinet, which the colonel seeks to overthrow.

Their father is Sheik Abdel Malek Shawaf, former Mufti (religious leader) of Basra and still a leading figure of the Sunni sect of Moslems. The Sunnis are outnumbered in Iraq by Shias, but always have been leaders in politics, government and the professions.

Brigadier Tabakchali was not a member of the free officers' group. He was in Baghdad, however, July 14 on a visit to his family and quickly joined the revolution.

He and Colonel Shawaf were classmates of Col. Abdel Salam Arif, co-leader with General Kassim of the revolution but now under sentence of death for allegedly attempting to kill his commander when his aims of merging the new republic with the United Arab Republic were frustrated. Their personal loyalties evidently were with Col. Arif, not General Kassim.

Brigadier Tabakchali was promoted to his present rank the day after the revolution and sent north by General Kassim to Kirkuk to take command from Brig. Abdul Wahab Shakir, who held his men in barracks July 14 and failed to pledge his loyalty immediately to the revolutionary junta.

[Photo of Colonel Shawaf]
Abdel Wahab Shawaf, rebel leader in Iraq. Government said he was slain by his men but rebel broadcast reported that he is alive and ready to march on Baghdad.

Brigadier's Command Calm

Brigadier Tabakchali, more than six feet tall, and handsome, gives the impression of being a born commander. He speaks only a little English, but is fluent in French in addition to his native Arabic.

His command, which covered all of northern Iraq, was the quietest of all last July. He was the most cooperative with the Iraq Petroleum Company, which never lost a minute's pumping time, and had his troops quickly break up two or three attempted demonstrations.

During the early days of the revolution he was constantly on the move through his area by small plane and jeep, from Mosul and Kirkuk to the Kurdish stronghold in the eastern mountains, Sulaimaniya.

A Kurdish chieftain volunteered praise of the brigadier as a fine soldier and true nationalist with whom the Kurds would cooperate.

Because of his long friendship with Colonel Shawaf, he apparently felt no hesitancy, despite his higher rank, in joining him in rebellion and letting Colonel Shawaf act as spokesman for the movement, according to reports reaching here.

NY Times, 1959 Mar 10; photo of Col. Abdel Wahab Shawaf

Russian Kurds Sail for Iraq Via Suez Canal

By the Associated Press

Egyptian authorities in Port Said reported a Soviet ship with 855 fully armed men of Kurdish origin sailed through the Suez Canal Monday night, bound for turbulent Iraq.

Such a landing would raise a new and significant Communist threat in the sensitive oil-producing areas of the Middle East.


The report passed through the censorship of Egypt, now engaged in a violent propaganda war with Iraq. If it is true, it could foretoken a new cold war explosion over the Middle East.

Observers in Port Said described the armed men aboard the Soviet ship Gruzia (Georgia) as Soviets [sic] subjects of Kurdish origin. There are many Kurds in the southernmost regions of the Soviet Union.


The same sources said they believed the Kurds were being shipped to Basra, Iraq's main Persian Gulf port, under a pretext of being repatriated to their country of origin. They would be given Iraqi nationality immediately upon their arrival, possibly for use as soldiers in the armed forces of Leftist Premier Abdel Karim Kassem, the sources said.

They are trained in guerrilla fighting, the Middle East News Agency said. That Egyptian agency, without giving a source, added that other ships are expected to carry additional Communist groups to Iraq via the Suez Canal.

Port and police officials of Port Said were reported to have difficulty going aboard the Gruzia's to make a routine check. Observers said the crew and armed passengers forbade anyone else to approach.

Port Said sources declared the Gruzia's cargo includes arms. They said other Russian ships loaded with arms had passed through the canal last week and headed for Iraq, while their papers gave their destinations as ports of Yemen and Red China.

The report on the Kurds follows accounts in the press of the United Arab Republic (Egypt and Syria) that Iraq's Premier Kassem had formed Foreign Legion units to enroll non-Iraqis for a fight against pan-Arab Nationalist followers of the U.A.R.'s leader, President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Such a force could be used as the nucleus of a Communist controlled army for an autonomous Kurdistan inside Iraq. The Kurds, a non-Arab people who make up a sixth of Iraq's population of six million, aneled by a Communist-trained mullah (priest) named Shiek [sic] Mustafa Barzani. He led an abortive 1946 attempt to set up an autonomous Kurdistan for the Kurdish people inhabiting Northern Iraq, Western Iran and Eastern Turkey. Barzani returned only last summer, after the Iraqi Revolution, from 13 years of exile in Moscow.


The Kurds of Iraq idolize Barzani, and he is now considered a powerful figure in Bagdad where the Communists have been gaining much authority through their support of the Kassem government.

The 1030-ton Soviet ship came from the Ukrainian port of Odessa, Port Said authorities said. The long trip took it through the Black Sea and the Turkish Straits to the mediterranean and the Suez Canal. It is bound for Basra by way of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.


That would be the only feasible way to infiltrate armed Soviet legionnaires. Air and land routes are blocked by the West's Northern Defense Tier which links Turkey and Iran (and Pakistan and Britain) in the Bagdad Pact.

The Port Said authorities said the ship's papers showed she was headed for the Far East eventually.

Premier Kassem, caught by a number of pressures in Iraq, has had to placate the Kurds, who have been thirsting for independence. A week ago he hinted that he looked favorably upon autonomy for the Kurd minority in Northern Iraq. A combination of Moscow and Iraqi Communist pressure may have inspired the hint.


Moscow long has looked with favor upon the idea of an autonomous Kurdistan.

Such a state might serve as a secure buffer between the Eastern peoples in the southern part of the Soviet Union and the influences of their Middle East brethren, although Moscow never had any intention of permitting the Kurds in the Soviet Union to be part of such an arrangement.

[Map of a sea route from Odessa then across the Black Sea, through the strait of Istanbul, through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, down around Arabia, and up the Persian Gulf to Basra.]

Oldest Aristocracy

Geographically, Kurdistan is a wild, mountain region of Western Asia reaching from northeastern Iraq across Iran and Turkey into the Soviet Union.

Politically, it is a dream, cherished for centuries by some 2,000,000 rugged and sometimes fierce tribesmen whose origins, lost in history, go back to at least 2000 B.C. Recorded in Persian epic poems, some of their great tribal names — the Bokhtis, the Mukris, the Hadabanis, the Mihranis and others — have been called "the oldest aristocracy in the world."

From the dawn of history, the Kurdish tribes have scarcely submitted to any empire or conqueror for long and at the end of the First World War they sought independence from Turkey. It was refused but Kurdish independence was proclaimed, at Sulaimainiya, in Iraq, in the early 1920s by Shiek [sic] Mahmoud Barzinji. He died, at the age of 78, in his "capital" in 1956.

Resembling Iranians in race and language, the Kurds are a semi-nomadic people. Many of the wealthiest leaders are wanderers, living in tents and breeding cattle, horses, goats and sheep. Kurdish mountaineers commonly wear bandoliers and carry rifles, pistols and daggers. They constitute Iraq's largest minority.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1959 Apr 07

Kurdish Rebel Chief Says Force Is Only Way to Win Autonomy

This is the second of four articles by a correspondent of The New York Times who spent several weeks in the area of Iraq controlled by the forces of the Kurdish rebels.

By Dana Adams Schmidt

KURDS' HEADQUARTERS, Somewhere in Northern Iraq, Aug. 25 -- Gen. Mullah Mustafa al-Barzani is a fighter, the leader of a fighting people. He is the heart and brains behind the rebellion of the Kurds seeking autonomy in Iraq.

The feelings his name inspires are sure to be strong — love and devotion in some, fear in others.

Mullah Mustafa believes in strength.

"There is much talk of justice in the world," he reflects. "But justice is for the strong, for it is the strong who rule."

Therefore, he means to be strong and to make his Kurds strong enough to impose their will on the Government of Iraq and to make the world, including the United States, take note. He thinks he has nearly reached that point.

That is why he sent representatives to Beirut in May to get in touch with the world's press, a mission that resulted in this correspondent's trek of more than a month to the Kurdish headquarters here.

Between studying reports, issuing orders and interviewing commanders, Mullah Mustafa conversed at length over luncheons spread on the ground, under the stars on the mountainside or in the light of an oil lamp in the garden of a mosque in a newly captured village.

He spoke in Kurdish, which was translated most of the time by a French-speaking interpreter, Apo Jomart, who had accompanied the American on the trip into Kurdistan. As he spoke, Mullah Mustafa whittled long slivers of wood into monumental toothpicks.

He explained that Mullah was his real first name and not a religious title, as it often is in the Moslem world.

"I was named Mullah after a maternal uncle," he said. "In any case, I care nothing about titles of any kind, including general."

He tried to explain the Kurdish position by telling about his family, its origins and his education and struggles. He recounted the tragedy of the short-lived Kurdish Mehabad Republic in Iran after World War II and his subsequent exile in the Soviet Union. He told his favorite stories and expounded his philosophy and his aims.

The Barzani family has provided the tribal leaders of Barzan, an area near the northern border of Iraq, for 1,200 years, during which time they have fought with their Kurdish neighbors, with Turks, with Iranians and with Arabs.

Such rebellious activity has been costly to the family. A grandfather, the father and a brother of Mullah Mustafa were executed. Mustafa's first prison experience came when he was nine months old and he was jailed with his mother by the Ottoman regime.

Brothers Disagree On Task of Tribe

As he grew up, Mullah Mustafa observed his family's vicissitudes from he position of youngest son. His brother Ahmed, thirteen years his senior, was sheik of the Barzani.

Sheik Ahmed believed that his greatest duty was to spare his war-torn tribe from further suffering and to solve its problems by negotiation and compromise.

Mustafa, meanwhile, went hunting for bear and wild boar. He herded sheep with his father's shepherds. He went to the village school and studied Islamic theology. He made companions of every social stratum and came to conclusions quite different from those of his brother.

The Barzani and the Kurds, he decided, must fight or be destroyed.

Apparently Sheik Ahmed was swayed to this view because in 1931 he led the tribe in a revolt against Iraq. With the help of the British, the revolt was put down.

The entire Barzani family was exiled from the area of Barzan by the Iraqi Government. The Barzanis lived in many places but mostly at Sulaimaniya, which was the stronghold of covert Kurdish nationalism.

Mullah Mustafa defied the exile decree in 1943 and returned to Barzan. Tribesmen rallied to him and after he had fought off the Iraqi Army units in the area, he brought his family home.

His forces grew and soon became so bothersome that the Iraqi Government went after them in force. Mullah Mustafa then led his followers across the border into Iran. There, in 1945, he supported the formation of a Kurdish republic at Mehabad.

"Both Americans and Russians occupied parts of Iran at the time," he recalled. He said "we thought we saw our chance" in the area between them. He became the commander of the new republic's army with the title of general.

Britain and the Soviet Union occupied much of Iran in August, 1941. The United States later had supply units in Iran but did not take part in the formal occupation.

After World War II, the Soviet Government was slow in fulfilling its treaty commitment to withdraw its forces within six months after the end of the hostilities until pressed to do so by the Untied States and the United Nations.

General Relates Story of Republic

Mullah Mustafa gave this version what happened tot he republic:

"We wanted to be independent. But the Russians wanted us to become Soviet satellites. When we resisted, they called us American agents and withdrew support.

"The Iranian Army attacked us and, during a truce at the end of 1946, I went to Teheran for forty days. I called on the American Ambassador and asked for American held. The Americans refused. They gave me to understand they considered the Mehabad Republic an instrument of the Russians.

"I asked the Americans to give me and my men refuge in the United States. They declined."

Soon thereafter the Mehabad Republic fell apart. Its president, Kadi Mohammed [Qazi Mohamed], who had advised surrender to the Iranians, was hanged by Iran. Mulla Mustafa's brother Ahmed returned to iraq, where he was arrested and held in jail for the next twelve years.

Mullah Mustafa gathered 496 Barzani tribesmen and began an incredible fifty-three day campaign. With Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish armies after him, he fought his way back into Iraq, then across the border into Turkey, through treacherous mountains into Iran ad finally into the Soviet Union.

"I had no special predilection for going to Russia," he said. "It was the only country that would take us."

In the Soviet Union, he and most of his men were sent to Baku, then to Tashkent. After at first treating the Kurds suspiciously, Soviet authorities arranged for some to study agriculture and others to learn trades. Mullah Mustafa went tot he Moscow Institute of Languages, where he studied Russian, history and economics.

He denied emphatically that he had studied military science in the Soviet Union.

Asked whether he and his men had been persuaded to become Communists, he replied:

"We are Moslems, and good Moslems cannot be Communists."

He conceded that Soviet authorities hoped to benefit when the Kurds returned to Iraq in 1958 after Gen. Abdul Karim Kassim took over there. But Mullah Mustafa implied that he had outsmarted the Russians.

Eighty of Mullah Mustafa's men married in the Soviet Union, twenty to Christian Russian girls, some of whom turned Moslem, and most of the rest to Moslem Turkoman women.

Some of these women were probably Communists and some of the Kurdish exiles must also have succumbed to Communist political indoctrination.

If so, they do not appear to be in Mullah Mustafa's entourage now. Since his return to iraq the Kurdish leader has appeared increasingly antagonistic toward the Communists.

He led a campaign against the pro-Communist element in Iraq's Democratic party of Kurdistan, of which he is president. He brought about the expulsion of the party's pro-Communist first secretary, Hamza Abdullah, and had him declared a traitor.

There is still a pro-Communist faction int he party's central committee, but Mullah Mustafa has almost ignored that body recently.

Asked what the party's role was in the rebellion, he raised his voice to attract the attention of all present and declared:

"As far as I am concerned, there is no party. There is only the Kurdish people. If we win it will be the Kurdish people who will win."

Kassim Friendly To Kurds at First

For a few years after his return from the Soviet Union, Mullah Mustafa lived comfortably in a large Baghdad villa formerly occupied by Nuri as-Said, the Premier who was killed with King Faisal in the revolution led by General Kassim.

Mullah Mustafa said he was convinced from the start of the new Iraqi regime that Premier Kassim's promises to the Kurds of equality would remain unfulfilled.

"Three days after my return, I went to see Kassim," he said. "Upon my return home, my nephew asked my impression and I told him, 'He is worse than Nuri as-Said.'"

Particularly galling was Premier Kassim's insistence on calling himself Iraq's "sole leader." Mullah Mustafa recalled one experience:

"One day I told Kassim I had been looking at the moon with my binoculars and had seen his portrait in it. He took it all quite seriously."

Tension arose in July, 1961, when Premier Kassim refused to receive a petition of grievances from a Kurdish delegation. Mullah Mustafa withdrew to Barzan.

He said he felt the time was not ripe for revolt. But younger party leaders at Sulaimaniya and in the Derbendi Khan area forced his hand. Against Mullah Mustafa's advice they began a revolt and were quickly suppressed.

The Government then went on to bomb the village of Barzan, apparently on the assumption that the Barzani must be involved in any trouble in Kurdistan.

Sheik Ahmed hurried to Baghdad to renew his pledges of loyalty to Premier Kassim and to proclaim the neutrality the Barzani tribal area.

However, Mullah Mustafa once again disagreed with his brother and decided to fight back.

"In any case, no one would have believed in my neutrality," he said. "So I said, 'Those who would follow me, let them come.'"

His call attracted 7,000 to 8,000 Barzanis, the toughest of the Kurdish tribesmen, to follow him into the western sector of the Iraqi mountains.

Their earliest fighting was with other Kurdish tribes, which had been aroused against them by the Baghdad Government. They either defeated or won over all the tribes.

One of those tribes was the Zebari tribe, to which Mullah Mustafa's wife belongs. She is the mother of five of his six sons. His oldest son, Lochman, who is in prison in Baghdad, is the child of the general's first wife, now dead.

After a successful campaign during the fall and winter, Mullah Mustafa shifted to the eastern sector near the Iranian border, where he now directs the rebellion.

While the goal of the rebellion is autonomy for the Kurdish people, Mullah Mustafa said that he was also fighting to overthrow Premier Kassim. Until he accomplishes that, he said, Kurdish autonomy will remain unattainable.

A settlement between Mullah Mustafa and Premier Kassim is now inconceivable, not because the Premier would not like to make a deal but because the Kurdish leader, now supremely confident, would not hear of it.

The rebel leader predicted that the reverses his forces have been inflicting on the Iraqi Army would eventually weaken the army so much that Premier Kassim would fall.

A big question is just how the Kurds, whose main strength is in the mountains, can bring their strength to bear in Baghdad. Even the most enthusiastic Kurds do not expect to descend into the plains to take Baghdad.

However, Mullah Mustafa spent three years in Baghdad and he knows the possibilities of Iraqi politics. There are a considerable number of Kurds, probably some tens of thousands, in Baghdad.

One danger he mentioned was that the Communists, who are strong in Baghdad, might with Soviet support seize control of the Government if Premier Kassim fell.

He made this an argument for strengthening the Kurds with American aid.

Rebellion Shows Mark on General

The rebel leader moves his headquarters daily. He never sleeps in the same place twice. This is part of the elaborate precautions taken for his safety.

The appearance of the general has changed considerably since and interview in December, 1959. In contrast with his look of self-confidence then, he now seemed grave, as though weighed down by a sense of responsibility for the uprising he leads.

Although a heavy-set man, he was no quite lean. The lines around his mouth were sharp and hard, until his face lighted up with a smile, as it often did. Then he seemed younger than his fifty-nine years.

Smoking home-rolled cigarettes, he often made his points by telling stories.

One was about a ruler who fell ill and was told by his physician that to recover he must eat the heart of a child. A child was found and its parents agreed to give it up.

When the child was brought before the ruler it began to laugh.

"Why do you laugh?" inquired the ruler.

"Because," replied the child, "it is so much better to die than to live in a kingdom in which parents are willing to give up their children and the authorities condone their murder for the sake of the health of the ruler."

The child of the story represents the Kurds, the general said.

Tomorrow: The Kurdish fighting man, a guerrilla by nature and upbringing.

NY Times, 1962 Sep 11

The Iraqi Army apparently hopes to cut in two the territory held by Kurdish rebels by driving through Akra, Zibar and Barzan to the Turkish border, an informed Iraqi source said today.

The view was supported by an announcement in Baghdad that Iraqi troops had "cleared" the Dinarta district in the Akra mountain range. The Iraqi Army was said to have won full control of the Shamandar [sic] valley and give surrounding villages.

Other Baghdad communiques in the last few days indicated that the main Iraqi effort was developing against the western part of the Kurdish-held territory. According to communiques, Government forces have occupied the Makhlouf [where?] mountains 60 miles north of Mosul and 10 villages in the Sohuk [what?] district.

The Iraqi source believed that once the army had cut the Kurdish-held area in two and had gained control of the western sector an offensive would develop against the center of the Kurds' strength in northeastern Iraq.

The Iraqi Army, as reported by this source, believes that the late Premier, Abdul Karim Kassim, never allowed the army to use its full strength against the Kurds because he did not want to displease the Soviet Union, which wanted to preserve the Kurdish national movement for future exploitation.

Other Iraqi military sources have also maintained that General Kassim, who was overthrown and slain last February, had merely used the Kurdish campaign to keep politically inclined officers away from Baghdad and had never allowed any one officer to concentrate the army in full strength for fear it might be used against his regime.

These officers now hope to vindicate the Iraqi Army by defeating the Kurds.

A Kurdish commando raid on the Jambur oilfield south of Kirkuk, reported yesterday, was of little importance to the flow of Iraqi oil. [Rebels damaged two wells in the Jambur oilfield.] Two damaged wells were quickly put back into operation. Their output could have been quickly replaced by other wells, oil company experts said.

NY Times, 1963 Jun 20

[Regarding a move by the Iraqi Army to go from Rawanduz to Choman to sever the mountains where Kurds were fighting.]

Gen. Mullah Mustafa al-Barzani, leader of the Kurdish insurgents in Iraq, is moving westward to head off a determined Iraqi Army effort to cut the Kurdish area in half by driving to the Iranian border.

According to reliable firsthand information from the Kurdish side, General al-Barzani, commanding tribal forces, successfully stood off drives in western Kurdistan. But partisans of the Kurdish Democratic party on the southern and eastern fronts have suffered a succession of reverses.

Most important, they have lost control of Gali Ali Beg Pass, which controls access to Ruwandiz and the northeastern part of the country.

Guerrillas under General al-Barzani's command, the informant said, halted an Iraqi drive aimed at his home village, Barzan, and in so doing smashed an Iraqi battalion near Dohuk. In radio messages to other Kurdish units 10 days ago, General al-Barzani asked for 300 mules to carry off arms and other seized supplies.

Thus reinforced, General al-Barzani headed east through hill country called Baradost to help partisans halt the Iraqi Army advance beyond Ruwandiz toward the Iranian border at Khane. His men were reported fighting east of Rezanok 10 days ago.

The Kurdish forces have been demanding an autonomous state within Iraq. The fighting broke out when the Government refused this demand. On Feb. 8, a cease-fire was declared, and the Government agreed to hold talks with Kurdish leaders.

The Government had agreed to pull its troops out of Kurdish areas but refused to do this. One June 10, the Government renewed military action in the Kurdish areas, saying that it was retaliating for Kurdish attacks on army troops. Kurdish sources denied the charges that the Kurds had renewed the fighting and pledged only to defend their areas.

Informants said the Kurdish insurgents had received no material help from the Soviet Union even though the Soviet radio is vigorously supporting their cause. General al-Barzani is still asking for help from the West.

There are no units of Kurdish or Arabic Communists fighting on the insurgents' side, the informants said, and the Arab Communists who fled to the mountains from the south have been isolated and supplied with food. They have not been asked to bear arms for the Kurds, the sources said.

According to the informants, several small units of the Iraqi Army commanded by Arab anti-Baathists have defected to the Kurdish side. They also have not been asked to bear arms.

General al-Barzani, the informants said, has radio equipment that could probably be heard as far as Beirut. But he lacks skilled operators and technicians.

The purpose of the Iraqi Army drive from Ruwandiz toward Khane, just over the border in Iran, appears to be to separate General al-Barzani, with his predominantly tribal forces in the west, from the forces dominated by the Kurdish Democratic party, operating in the south and along the Iranian border.

Technically, all Kurdish forces are under the command of General al-Barzani, who is also president of the Kurdish Democratic party, but in practice party partisans are directed by Ibrahim Ahmed, secretary general of the party. They have subordinated tribal leaders to the military structure, in which many Kurdish officers who defected from the Iraqi Army have found places.

General al-Barzani, who has under his direct orders the greater part of forces numbering 20,000 to 25,000 men and who last year and this year carried out the majority of successful operations, is contemptuous of the Kurdish Democratic party and its military efforts.

Experience since the Iraqi Army resumed the war June 10 seems to have born out his belief that the Kurds under their traditional tribal leaders are more effective guerrilla fighters than men recruited by the political party.

Generally, the Kurds are continuing the classic tactics of resisting the army's advance, then withdrawing intact without taking losses, and waiting for opportunities to pick off exposed or isolated individuals and units. But it has not been working well except where General al-Barzani was in command in the west. Under the Baathist regime, the Iraqi Army seems to have devised new and more effective tactics for dealing with the guerrillas.

In the field, the Iraqi Army is concentrating its forces as rarely [seen] before. [sic?] Instead of bombing villages scattered across all of Iraqi Kurdistan, the air force is concentrating on the immediate area of military operations. The army is also advancing behind heavier artillery barrages than in the past.

In the judgment of persons who have observed at close quarters, the struggle in northern Iraq will develop into an endurance contest. A clear military decision in favor of either side is unlikely, since the Iraqi Army cannot defeat the Kurds in the mountains and the Kurds cannot defeat the army in the plains.

The Iraqi Army appears to be bent on breaking the Kurds' will to resist by methods of total war. In addition to the bombing and machine-gunning of some villages, hundreds of others have been burned. Crops are burned. Villagers have been deported from a zone south of the Kurdish area. The economic blockade of the north has ben imposed more rigorously than before. As a result, by next spring some Kurds may face starvation.

NY Times, 1963 Aug 02

Student Reader  |  FD7R75BS4T

Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.

Student Reader  |  5QMLM6HJT4
1962 May 27th


Tribal Aide Says Fighting With Iraqi Troops Goes On


Special to The New York Times.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 26 – A representative of Mustafa Barazini [sic], a Kurdish leader, said today that Kurdish rebels had resisted a ten-day offensive by troops of Premier Abdul Karim Kassim.

The representative, who made his way from Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan to Syria, said in a telephone interview from Damascus that, while the main ground offensive ended May 9, the Iraqi air force was continuing large-scale air attacks against the Kurdish center.

Spotty fighting was continuing and some units of Government troops were surrounded, he said.

The independent-minded Kurds, who inhabit the mountains [sic] regions of northern Iraq, have resisted for several years Iraqi efforts to assert control over the tribal region.

Mr. Barazini's representative denied a report by the Iraqi Government that the Kurdish leader was surrounded and might soon surrender.

The representative asserted that mr. Barazani's Kurdish forces controlled most of the territory from the Turkish border south to the vicinity of Mosul and eastward to a point near Lolan.

He acknowledged, however, that the Iranian border area and region around Sulaimaniya were in the hands of strong Government forces.

The representative carried an appeal to the United Nations and other international bodies and emphasized his people's defenselessness against the continuing aerial bombing and strafing. This suggested to some observers that in spite of the representative's bold statements, Mr. Barazani was in trouble.

[Map with Mosul, Erbil, Silemani, and Kirkuk underlined]

REVOLT IS DESCRIBED: Kurdish rebels said Iraqis were fighting them near Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya (underlined).

Offensive Heavy

The representative, who asked to remain unidentified, said Mr. Barazani had sent him out to tell the Kurds' story because they had no means in Iraq of making their voices heard.

Government forces, he reported, brought into Kurdistan for an offensive twenty battalions of regular troops and six mobile police battalions. Of these, fifteen regular and four police battalions went into action while the rest were kept in reserve.

These forces were to begin the offensive May 15, the representative said. But Mr. Barazani forced the Iraqi troops into action prematurely, he said, by ambushing and severely mauling a 600-man battalion April 27 at Galiespi as it was moving from Zakho to a concentration area at Sulaimaniya.

Mr. Barazani's men claimed to have killed eighty-one, injured 137 and captured 211 of the Government troops and to have put out of action twenty-eight armored cars.

The representative said Mr. Barazani, by dispersing his men over a wide area, had also frustrated the Government's tactic of driving the rebels northward into Turkey. As a result, the Government had to fight on four fronts in the regions of Sulaimaniya, Mosul, Kirkuk and Erbil, he said.

Soviet Tie Denied

The representative made these other main points:

In spite of the fact that Mr. Barazani spent most of World War II in the Soviet Union and was Minister of Defense in a short-lived Kurdish People's Republic, he now has no special ties with the Soviet Union. On the contrary, he is critical of the Russians for supplying arms to Premier Kassim.

Mr. Barazani is not at the present seeking an independent Kurdistan. He is asking only for political[,] economic, social and cultural rights for Kurds with the Iraqi republic.

Mr. Barazani's representative said that only when the Government realized that its policy of exploiting old inter-tribal rivalries had failed did it begin using Iraqi armed forces directly against Mr. Barazani.

NY Times, 1962 May 27

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2007 September 18th

Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.