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Abdul Salam Arif
Arabic: ¢abd 'as-salām ¢ārif

Abdul Salam Arif

Abdul Salam Arif.

(1920-1966) Iraqi military leader and politician, president 1963-1966.
Arif was a pan-Arabist, and in favour of union with Egypt and Syria. He was in charge of a large-scale expansion of the public sector, which aimed at ensuring his power and control over the country by means other than the military. Arif is one of the 20th century Iraqi leaders who has been closest to finding a lasting solution for the coexistence with the Kurdish-dominated regions in the north. He was close to signing an accord when he died.

1920: Born into a middle-class family in Baghdad.
1930's: Enrols in a local military academy, and becomes officer.
1948: Participates in the Iraqi army in the First Palestinian War. This becomes important for his political orientation, as the poor performance of the Iraqi troops makes him turn against the pro-Western regime of King Faisal 2 and his regent Abdullah bni Ali.
1958 July 14: Is central in organizing the Free Officers in the coup that overthrew the monarchy. It came as a protest against the plans to send Iraqi soldiers to Lebanon and Jordan to quell the riots against the leaders in the countries. Arif was in charge of seizing Baghdad.
— Arif emerges as one of the main leaders in the new republican regime, second only to Abdul Karim Qasim.
September: Arif is stripped of all positions, following a clash with Wasim over Iraqi independence issues: Arif wanted to lead Iraq into a union with Egypt and Syria (United Arab Republic). He is soon imprisond, accused for conspiring to kill Qasim and sentenced to death. The penalty is however commuted.
1961: Is released from prison by the order of Qasim.
1963 February: Participates in the alliance with Ba'th officers, which ends Qasim's regime. Arif becomes president, but is second to other Ba'th officials, especially prime minister Ahmad Hassan Bakr.
November: Has other leaders removed from their positions, and assumes real power in his position of president.
1966 April: Dies in an helicopter crash.

By Tore Kjeilen