The political system in 1968 was centered around President Abdul Rahman Mohammad Arif and his associates in the Cabinet. Many of these men rose to prominence as civil servants or as army officers. As a group, members of the military officer corps have strongly influenced politics since the 1930's and especially since July 1958 when the Hashimite monarchy was overthrown in a coup led by Brigadier Abdul Karim Qasim and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif (see ch. 3. Historical Setting).
When allowed to operate, political parties had only limited followings and little cohesive structure; in 1968 there were none, since they had been banned in November 1963. The participation in political life of members of the civil service, tribal sheiks, landlords, business leaders. religious leaders, students, members of the professions, organized labor and peasants was limited, confined mostly to the educated few in the cities and larger towns. The intensity of political awareness varied according to specific issues. To encourage more popular interest in politics, the government in February 1967 issued a new electoral law, and in May 1968 it also promised to convene a national assembly no later than May 1970. The country has had no national elections since September 1954, and the people have come to accept changes in political leadership by coups and countercoups as more or less an institutionalized and legitimate process.
To achieve the objectives of Arab socialism and internal solidarity, the government has sought to minimize social and political conflicts and progressively to enlarge the role of the state in initiating and carrying out modernization programs. It has attempted to unite various political groups under the Arab Socialist Union, an officially sponsored organization intended as a channel of two-way communication between the government and the people. In mid-1968 the government leaders were optimistic about the potentialities of this organization.
The leaders were counting on the Union, patterned after that of the United Arab Republic (UAR), to popularize their stated goal
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Publication information: Book title: Area Handbook for Iraq. Contributors: Harvey H. Smith - Author, William Giloane - Author, Nancy W. Al-Any - Author, Irving Kaplan - Author, Donald W. Bernier - Author, Rinn-Sup Shinn - Author, Frederica M. Bunge - Author, Suzanne Teleki - Author, Richard F. Nyrop - Author, Newton B. Parker - Author, Beryl L. Benderly - Author. Publisher: US Government Printing Office. Place of publication: Washington, DC. Publication year: 1971. Page number: 189.
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