Prime Minister General Kassem took the salute, amid overwhelming adulation, of Baghdad's biggest military parade with British, Russian and American-built armour and planes, July 14 on the first anniversary of the Iraqi Republican Revolution.
Prime Minister General Kassem took the salute, amid overwhelming adulation, of Baghdad's biggest military parade with British, Russian and American-built armour and planes, July 14 on the first anniversary of the Iraqi Republican Revolution. Next day, the General led the nation in a tribute to a mass civilian parade. So great was the ovation, that the saluting dais came near to induration by exultant spectators.
Never before had Iraqi's witnessed such a massive show of military might in their homeland. For two hours the torrid air shook with their cheers and the roar of tanks, heavy artillery and self-propelled guns.
Twelve months ago to the day, mobs had run riot in the first wild hours of the revolution that swept away the Hashemite Monarchy of King Facial and the Nuri-es Said Administration. Now it was martial music-mostly British- and military precision.
British-built jet aircraft streaked in salute almost at rooftop level. The dense crowd clapped and shouted devotion to the General and the Republic.
Among foreign observers form 50 countries were a Russian and Chinese Communist Deputy Prime Minister, delegations from most of the Soviet bloc countries, the Ambassadors of Britain and the U.S. and representatives of India and other uncommitted countries. The U.A.R sent no envoy.
The military parade itself indicated Iraq's professed policy of uncommittedness and of seeking good relations with East and West: equitably paraded were the Russian-built armoured troop carriers, British Centurion tanks, American recoilless guns, Russian T34 and T35 tanks, British anti-tank guns, American lorries and overhead the Hawker Hunters, MIGs and Venoms.
After the armour came units of the three Services, the Military Academy and truckloads of the Popular Resistance Forces - now under Army control - with the women's contingents carrying 303 British rifles.
In all, it was the General's day. The long Iraqi Communist Party's bid for power apparently had sunk in the seas of the people's worship of the Prime Minister. The Cabinet reshuffle on the eve of the parade had involved no formal Communist representation. Fears misfired too that Communist-inspired demonstrators would use the anniversary to provoke 'popular' disturbances.
Thus with his position and authority consolidated, General Kassem look the opportunity for a surprise speech in the evening: he publicly stated party political life - hitherto adjourned at his request - would be revived within six months, and free parliamentary elections held within twelve - a timetable which if it succeeded, would make General Kassem one of the most successful revolutionary leaders of modern times.
Next day July 15, the same exultant crowds jammed the city for the General's review of a mammoth civilian parade with floats, balloons, banners, bands. Marching in review for two hours were delegations of every Government department, men's and youth organisations, trade unions, doctors, lawyers and writers' associations and Colonel Mabdawi, the President of the "People's Court", leading a court delegation to loud applause.
With the pageant over, the General, engulfed in the hot embrace of the people's admiration, launched into another important political speech to reassure the nations of Iraq's post-revolutionary pledge to honour all obligations on oil, agreements and treaties.