On this day: Iraqi army overthrows the monarchy

July 14 1958: Power shift in the Arab world


The events of that day in July changed the face of the Middle East, as the Hashemite monarchy was overthrown after 26 years of rule.

The coup, led by Major-General Abdul Karim el Qasim and a group of army officers, was greeted in Baghdad by many as liberation from the forces of imperialism. But as Iraq lost its Western-backed leadership and became a republic,

The regime was not to last – it was ousted, as dramatically as it arrived, five years later when the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party staged a coup.

Jewish life in Iraq – which dated back 2,500 years - had already collapsed in the 1940s, with the murders of hundreds of Jews during the Farhud pogrom on 1941.

Before the declaration of the state of Israel there were an estimated 150,000 Jews still in Iraq – more than 124,000 Jews left the country in the following four years.

There were still some 8,000 Jews in Iraq at the time of the revolution, but with the arrival of the Ba'athists, persecution increased and the community fled.

What the JC said: Because of the breakdown of communications with Baghdad no information has become available about the position of the small Jewish community in Iraq since the coup d'état. The community [is] concentrated mainly in Baghdad, centre of the insurrection.

See more from the JC archives here.

Last updated: 8:36am, July 14 2011