The ruling elite of the old regime in Iraq had been too much preoccupied with the problem of achieving independence from foreign control to pay attention to social reforms. After formal independence, the rulers argued that reforms required the capital and technical know-how which Iraq lacked. The new generation soon discovered that even when the capital became available, social conditions were not likely to improve in a way that would enable them to play their role in public affairs. Such devices as strikes and street demonstrations were quickly suppressed by the means at the disposal of those who controlled the state. Nothing short of a violent uprising in which the army participated would bring about a change in rulers, and this was accomplished by the Revolution of 1958. The military coup that finally overthrew the monarchy and inaugurated a new era in Iraqi history succeeded more because of luck and audacity than as a result of a long planning or extensive organization. The coup was unquestionably a reflection of deep-seated discontent among officers and among civilian politicians with the regime's foreign policy and its slowness to reform.
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