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Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr: Wikis

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Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr


In office
July 17, 1968 – July 16, 1979
Prime Minister Abd ar-Razzaq an-Naif
Himself
Preceded by Abdul Rahman Arif
Succeeded by Saddam Hussein

48th & 56th Prime Minister of Iraq
2nd & 10th Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq
In office
February 8, 1963 – November 18, 1963
July 31, 1968 – July 16, 1979
President Muhammad Najib ar-Ruba'i
Himself
Preceded by Abd al-Karim Qasim
Abd ar-Razzaq an-Naif
Succeeded by Tahir Yahya
Saddam Hussein

Born July 1, 1914 (1914-07)
Tikrit, Ottoman Empire
Died October 4, 1982 (1982-10-05) (aged 68)
Baghdad, Iraq
Political party Baath Party

General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (Arabic أحمد حسن البكر 'Aḥmad Ḥasan al-Bakr) (July 1, 1914 – October 4, 1982), was President of Iraq from 1968 to 1979.

Contents

Military career

Al-Bakr entered the Iraqi Military Academy in 1938 after spending six years as a primary-school teacher. During his early military career, he took part in the Rashid Ali revolt in 1941, was arrested, imprisoned, and compulsorily retired from the army, but was reinstated in 1957.

As a brigadier general, he was one of the "free officers," a group that overthrew the monarchy in 1958. He was again forced to retire from the Army in 1959 under allegations that he led a rebellion in Mosul by officers who favoured closer ties with the United Arab Republic.

A leading member of the Ba'ath Party he orchestrated the 1963 coup that overthrew Iraq's military leader Abdul Karim Kasim. He became Prime Minister and Vice President but left the government in November 1963 - after ten months - when Field Marshal Abdul Salam Arif staged a countercoup. He remained Vice President until he was removed in January 1964.

Al-Bakr retained control of the regional command of the Ba'th Party and in 1968. With Abdul-Razzaq Al-Naif and Abdul-Rahman Al-Dawood, High ranking military officers in Army and Presidential Guard, he orchestrated an internal "bloodless" coup within the government of President Abdul Rahman Arif on the 17th of July 1968. Arif was exiled and al-Bakr installed as president.

Initially, it was not made public that Baath party participated in the successful "revolution". Probably because the Iraqi public had bad memories of extreme violence by (Al-Haras Al-Qawmi), the militias of the Baath party in 1963.

With Insistence from Saddam Hussein and the help of other Baathists, he then acted the leading role of a second coup to get rid of the Nasserist officers (Al-Naif and Al-Dawood) who were then exiled on 30th of July 1968. Saddam Hussein was one of two armed men standing behind Al-Bakr when he appeared on television to announce the second "revolution" on the evening of 30 July 1968.

Soon after that, the media started gradually introducing the knowledge that the Baath Party was the actual lead in the country.

Insight into the actual man

After he became president, his house during the 1960s, just south of Al-Kadhimiyah, became the Baath party Museum in the 1970s. The museum showed, among other things, some of his and Saddam's possessions. It showed his Volkswagen Beetle and Saddam's Mercedes. It was widely circulated that he had a cow in his garden to supply the household with "fresh milk"

Contrary to Saddam Hussein, Al-Bakr was said to be quite fond of "medical doctors" and used to visit Baghdad University Medical School (Medical College) every few months for a tea and a chat with his close friend Tahseen Ma'alla who was the Medical school dean.

In 1970, He passed a law to make it possible for sons and daughters of Ministers and University Deans to be exempt from any entry rules to any college they chose. This is thought to be in anticipation of his son Mohammed graduation from secondary school, who was then admitted in 1972 to Baghdad university Medical College despite his lack of the normally high marks required for acceptance.

Saddam Hussein then repealed this law when he became president. Probably because he was confident that his sons will not require this law and indeed, his son Uday "achieved" 99.8% in debatable circumstances.

Al-Bakr was quite strict with his family, who were raised to reasonably respect other people. His son Mohammed was expelled in 1973 from a Physiology lecture by Professor Sadiq Al-Hilali because he was "not paying enough attention and chewing gum during lecture". Nothing adverse happened to Al-Hilali as a consequence and probably Mohammed never dared tell his father.

His son Mohammed never graduated from Medical school. He died in 1974 as a result of a head-on collision with a lorry on an intercity main road north of Baghdad. The lorry driver was soon released without charge after it became clear that Mohammed was dangerously overtaking at excessive speed in the Mercedes he was driving.

His eldest son, Haytham Al-Bakr, never stopped working as a lawyer from his office in Karrada (South Baghdad), even during his father's presidency or after he died.

His daughters were schooled in the famously good and strict Christian Convent girls school of Rahibat Al-Taqdomah. They were known to be very well behaved, mingling very well with all other girls and not showing any of the superiority and arrogance that became the usual behaviour of Khayr-Allah Tolfah's (his brother in law) daughter, who joind the school later on. It is reported that Khayr-Allah Tolfah's daughter disagreed with a Kurd girl's opinion in a "Religion" lesson then secret service, sent by her father Tolfah the next morning, arrested the young girl who was then reportedly released after a few days but never joined the school again.

President of the Republic (July 1968 – July 1979)

Al-Bakr became the leading face of the Ba'ath party and Iraqi pan-Arabism and was praised as "leader of the revolution."

He quickly nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company and compensated all foreign oil companies operating within its borders while introducing wide-ranging social and economic reforms.

The country enjoyed a massive increase in oil revenues starting in late 1973 when international petroleum prices began a steep rise. His economic policy began with a cautious continuation of the former regime's five-year plan but turned toward industrial expansion as oil revenues increased.

His government initially supported closer ties with Nasser, and under his rule Iraq almost joined the United Arab Republic. The flag of Iraq was modified in preparation for this goal. However, the relationship with Nasser deteriorated and the Iraqi media led a campaign to counteract and reverse the wide Iraqi street support of Nasser with some regular comedy based Radio shows famously known as "G'ood's program". The program was suddenly terminated when Nasser died.

Bakr's regime also strengthened Iraq's ties with the Soviet Union: On April 9, 1972, Iraq and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship. The two countries agreed to cooperate in political, economic, and military affairs. The Soviet Union also agreed to supply Iraq with arms.

His government also aided Syria with troops and weapons during the Tishreen War of October 1973. Calling for military action against Israel, he denounced the cease-fire that ended the 1973 conflict and opposed the interim agreements negotiated by Egypt and Syria. Iraq was able to hurt the Western economy when it participated in the oil boycott against Israel's supporters.

Under Bakr conflicts intensified between the government and the Kurds. In early 1974 heavy fighting erupted in northern Iraq between government forces and Kurdish nationalists, who rejected as inadequate a new Kurdish autonomy law based on a 1970 agreement. The Kurds, led by Mustafa al-Barzani, received arms and support from Iran.

After Iraq agreed in early 1975 to make major concessions to Iran in settling their border disputes, Iran halted aid to the Kurds, and the revolt was dealt a severe blow.

In July 1978 a decree was passed which made all non-Ba'thist political activity illegal and membership of any other political party punishable by death for all those who were members or former members of the Armed Forces.

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Resignation and death

Al-Bakr appointed Saddam Hussein, his Tikriti cousin, as his Vice President. In 1976, Saddam (who had never served in the armed forces) took the title of general in the Ba'th party's Popular Army and rapidly became the strongman of the government. As the weak, elderly al-Bakr became unable to execute his duties, Saddam took on an increasingly prominent role as the face of the government both internally and externally, eventually becoming de-facto leader of Iraq some years before he formally became president.

On July 16, 1979, the 65-year-old Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr stepped down, ostensibly on health grounds, and Saddam Hussein assumed the presidency in a move that was widely regarded as a formality. It is commonly believed, based on accounts of witnesses, that Saddam forced the president to step down under threat of being removed by force. Shortly thereafter, Saddam executed several top members of the Ba'ath party under claim of espionage.

Al-Bakr died in 1982 of unreported causes.

Political offices
Preceded by
Abdul Karim Qassim
Prime Minister of Iraq
February 1963 – November 1963
Succeeded by
Tahir Yahya
Preceded by
--
Vice President of Iraq
February 1963 – January 1964
Succeeded by
--
Preceded by
Abd ar-Razzaq an-Naif
Prime Minister of Iraq
July 17, 1968 – July 16, 1979
Succeeded by
Saddam Hussein
Preceded by
Abd ar-Rahman Arif
President of Iraq
July 17, 1968 – July 16, 1979
Preceded by
None - Position created
Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council
July 17, 1968 – July 16, 1979

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