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. (March 2019)
Abd ar-Razzaq Said al-Naif (Arabic: عبد الرزاق النايف) was an Iraqi military officer and general and was briefly Prime Minister of Iraq during 1968 until he was deposed.
General Al-naif graduated from the Iraqi Military Academy in 1954. He served as second lieutenant in the 9th infantry brigade until 1956. He graduated from the Iraqi Military Staff College in 1960 and promoted to Staff Captain. He then became instructor in the Iraqi Military Staff College in the same Year. In 1963, he attended Sandhurst Military Intelligence Academy in Britain. In 1964, President Arif appointed then Staff Major Al-naif as Deputy Director of Military Intelligence.
After the death of President Abdul Salam Arif in helicopter crash in 1964, Al-Naif was appointed Senior Advisor to the younger President Arif, and then National Security Advisor, but remained Deputy Director of Military Intelligence. From 1964 until 1968, Al-Naif played a major role in negotiating peace with the Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Al Barazani, who had close and trusting relationship with Al-naif. There are reports that during the Kurdish revolt in Northern Iraq in the 1960s Al-Naif convinced the Iraqi leadership to negotiate with the Kurdish revolt leadership rather than resort to military confrontation with them. He held regular secret meetings with Mulla Barazani and was instrumental in bringing the Kurdish civil war to a peaceful end.
In 1968, Al-Naif became the youngest Prime Minister of Iraq, at the age of 34. He appointed the first and last inclusive cabinet in Iraq. His cabinet, which he called coalition cabinet was the largest cabinet in Iraqi history. It included representatives from all ethnic and religious members of the Iraqi population, with several Ministers appointed without portfolios. For the first time in Iraqi history, the Vice Prime Minister and Vice President were both Kurds. But soon after that he was deposed by a Ba’ath Party coup d'état, and exiled to Morocco as Ambassador to Rabat.
People closest to General Al-Naif speak of him as being an independent politician, with revolutionary ideas. As his political life was during the Cold War, he did not hesitate to express his opposition to communism and Soviet Union expansion and was inspired by the American system of freedom and democracy. He had read the biography of John F Kennedy in Arabic several times and was inspired by Kennedy's courage and revolutionary ideas of human rights and equality. He was focused on Iraqi domestic issues and did not get involved in regional Arab issues outside of Iraq. He remained independent throughout his political career but when he formed his cabinet in 1968, he included members of every Iraqi political party.
After the Ba'ath deposition, Al-Naif was then exiled to Switzerland, where he served as Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. It is reported that while he served as Ambassador of Iraq to Switzerland, he secretly headed opposition movement to the Ba’ath government in Iraq, then lead by Saddam Hussein.
Al-Naif secretly returned to Northern Iraq in 1969 and was welcomed back and protected by the Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa Al Barazani and also by the Iraqi troops that were sent to fight the Kurds, because he was a well respected officer of the Iraqi Military.
He remained in Northern Iraq until 1972, when he left Iraq and moved to Britain with his family. As he arrived in Britain, the Iraqi Government of Saddam Hussein sentenced Al-Naif to death in absentia. It is unknown why he decided to leave Northern Iraq, but he maintained close relationships with the Kurdish leaders and Iraqi opposition to the Ba’ath Party. There are reports that he became concerned that his anti Ba’ath coalition movement was infiltrated by Saddam Hussein's secret Mukhabarat apparatus and he was informed of attempts to assassinate him in Northern Iraq by them.
Al-Naif enjoyed good relationship with Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi , Jordan's King Hussein and Saudi Arabia King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, who supported his opposition to Saddam Hussein's Ba’ath Party Government in Iraq.
1972 assassination attempt
In 1972, the Ba’ath Government in Iraq sent assassins disguised as Iraqi diplomats to kill Al-Naif in London, but that attempt was foiled by Al-Naif's wife Lamia, who stood in the line of fire and shielded him. She recovered from her injuries after surgery at London's Middlesex Hospital.
Al-Naif then moved to Jordan, where he enjoyed close friendship with Jordan's King Hussein.
Al-Naif was assassinated while visiting Britain on July 9, 1978, by orders of Saddam Hussein because of his opposition to the Iraqi Ba’ath Government. He was critically injured as he left the Intercontinental Hotel in London's Park Lane and died the following day.
His body was transported to Jordan where he was buried at the orders of Jordan's King Hussein. As the evidence showed Iraqi Government involvement in Al-Naif's assassination, Britain cut off diplomatic relations with Iraq and ordered all Iraqi diplomats out of Britain. This was immediately reciprocated by Iraq. Two men were arrested in Britain, and accused of the killing. The assailant Salem Hassan, a Palestinian belonging to the Abu Nidal terrorist group, who was charged and sentenced to life in prison, and Sadoun Shakir, who was the Head of Saddam Hussein's Mukhabarat organization who entered Britain under a false name using an Iraqi Diplomatic passport. Shakir was exchanged for two British hostages arrested in Iraq after Al-Naif's assassination.
King Hussein of Jordan hosted Al-Naif's family in Jordan after Al-Naif's assassination and personally attended to their security and well-being.
His killer, Salem Ahmed Hassan, was quickly captured. Hassan was later convicted of the shooting at the Old Bailey and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1979.