The Baltimore Sun


Former Iraqi leader

Former Iraqi President Abdel-Rahman Aref, overthrown more than 35 years ago in a coup that brought Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to power, died early yesterday at King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, Jordan, an Iraqi diplomat in Jordan said. Tahseen Alwan Ina, Iraqi charge d'affaires in Amman, had no details on Mr. Aref's health or the circumstances of his death.

Mr. Aref had settled in Jordan after leaving Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Hussein in 2003.

He rose to power in 1963, five years after the bloody overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy when his elder brother, then Iraq's President Abdel-Salam Aref, appointed him as army chief of staff.

Three years later, the brother died in a plane crash and Iraqi army officers, said to have been supported by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser, chose Mr. Aref to become Iraq's third president.

Mr. Aref was president until 1968, when he was toppled in a bloodless coup by the Baath Party, led at the time by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. But Saddam Hussein was believed to have held behind-the-scenes power in the coup.

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