Iraqis celebrate anniversary of 1958 revolution

BAGHDAD — The National Theater in central Baghdad was packed with an enthusiastic audience waving the Iraqi flag and red banners, July 12. The event, organized by the Iraqi Communist Party, was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the July 14, 1958, revolution that overthrew Iraq’s reactionary monarchy and ushered in tremendous social and political transformations, changing Iraq’s class and social landscape.

The program included poetry and a theatrical and musical production, presented by Basra-based Al-Nas Group, in cooperation with the Cinema and Theater Department and the National Group of Popular Arts in Basra.

In a speech to the crowd, Mohammed Jassim al-Labban, a leader of the Iraqi CP, hailed the achievements of the 1958 revolution, including broad civil freedoms, withdrawal from the Cold War-era Baghdad Pact, a 1958 land reform law, the progressive Personal Status Law of 1959 which provided civil and women’s rights unprecedented in the region, and Law No. 80 (1961) which seized back control over 99.5 percent of the concessions previously held by oil multinationals.

He also pointed to lessons of the July 14 revolution, with special emphasis on the need to uphold national unity, both political and social, and to discard all forms of sectarianism. ‘Political democracy, which was ignored or underestimated after the 1958 revolution, is also indispensable,” al-Labban said. “There should be no reliance on foreign powers, whether nearby or far away, because Iraq’s problems can only be solved by Iraqis themselves.” Intensified hostility to the 1958 revolution by anti-people forces culminated with the bloody fascist coup of Feb. 8, 1963 and the rise to power of Saddam Hussein.

The 50th anniversary of the July 14 revolution was celebrated throughout Iraq and among Iraqi communities abroad. It has been declared a national holiday in Iraq.