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14 July 1958: Coup in Iraq sparks jitters in Middle East. A group of Iraqi army officers have staged a coup in Iraq and overthrown the monarchy. Baghdad Radio announced the Army has liberated the Iraqi people from domination by a corrupt group put in power by “imperialism”. From now on Iraq would be a republic that would “maintain ties with other Arab countries”. It said some 12,000 Iraqi troops based in neighbouring Jordan have been ordered to return. Major-General Abdul Karim el Qasim is Iraq’s new prime minister, defence minister and commander-in-chief. Baghdad Radio also announced that Crown Prince Abdul Illah and Nuri es Said, prime minister of the Iraq-Jordan Federation, had been assassinated. It said the body of the Crown Prince, the powerful uncle of 23-year-old King Faisal, was hanging outside the Defence Ministry for all to see. Reports from the US Embassy in Baghdad say the British Embassy has been ransacked and set on fire. The ambassador, Sir Michael Wright, and his wife were held at the embassy until late this afternoon when they were released. They are now in a Baghdad hotel. Unconfirmed reports suggest King Faisal himself has also been killed. His cousin, King Hussein of Jordan, has declared himself head of the Arab Federation – the five-month alliance between Iraq and Jordan – in the “absence” of King Faisal. In a broadcast to his subjects, King Hussein condemned the coup as the work of outsiders. While Iraqis are celebrating on the streets of Baghdad, the news is a cause for concern for western powers worried about their oil interests and instability in the region. The insurrection was probably inspired by a similar uprising staged in Egypt by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser six years ago. In February this year he formed a political union between Egypt and Syria known as the United Arab Republic (UAR). Radio stations in the UAR are naturally delighted by news of the Iraq coup. But leaders of Jordan and Lebanon fear it might inspire Arab nationalist rebellions in their own states and have appealed to Britain and the United States to send troops to their countries. The US President Dwight D Eisenhower is said to be “extremely disturbed” by the Iraqi revolt and has called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council. Officials in Washington fear the Iraqi coup will mean the end of the Baghdad Pact whose members include Turkey, Persia and Pakistan. It was intended to stem the influence of the Soviet Union in the region. There are fears the Iraq coup will have a domino effect and that the pro-Western oil regimes of Kuwait, Bahrain and the Trucial States may fall to Arab nationalists. (Source: BBC)

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