February 5, 2012

0116 IRAQ (Baghdad) - Republican Palace in Baghdad

The palace in the picture, Republican Palace, located in the Karada Mariam, a high-end neighborhoods of  Baghdad, in Karkh, on the west bank of the Tigris River, was built by Harold A. Claridge, major in the British Army of New Zealand origin, and architect to the Armed Forces. Claridge built it in the '50s on the orders of King Faisal II as the new official royal residence following his planned wedding with Egyptian Princess Sabiha Fazila Khanim Sultan. The palace didn't ever hosted the king, because he was assassinated before his wedding in the 1958 coup undertaken by a group of army officered led by Abd Al-Karim Qasim.

Became the first president of Iraq, Qasim changed the palace's name in Republican Palace, but neither he never resided in the palace, it’s even said that he never saw or visited the place. Only Abdul Salam Arif, the second President of Iraq, resided in it, using it as his official headquarters. After his death in a helicopter accident in 1966, his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, ruled the country from there, but only for two years. In 1968, the guards allowed access into the Republican Palace to the head of military intelligence and to the leader of the Republican Guard to overthrew Arif in a bloodless coup, and thus the Baath party came to power. The fourth President of Iraq, Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakr, also used the Republican Palace as his headquarters.

For Saddam Hussein (who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council, then Iraq's supreme executive body, in 1979), Republican Palace was the preferred place to meet visiting heads of state, and also he had an office there, but never resided in the palace, preffering to reside in the Radwaniyah Palace close to Baghdad International Airport. Friends know why. 

American forces bombed the Republican Palace during Operation Desert Shield in 1991; they also bombed it prior to their entry into Baghdad in 2003. In the following years the palace served as the headquarters of the American occupation of Iraq (a Green Zone was developed around it), as well as an office for the National Council. Of course, the americans removed the 4 massive heads of Saddam Hussein, each 3 stories high, sitting atop the building. The palace was returned to the Iraqi Presidency on January 1’st, 2009, but continues to serve as a primary base of operations for the American diplomatic mission pending the construction of the new U.S. Embassy. The picture was taken on March 29, 2006.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series dedicated to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, designed by Dhargham Al Jasim.

Republican Palace - Wikipedia
The Story of Iraq’s Republican Palace - Asharq Al-Awsat

Sender: Ahmed Al-Hilaly (direct swap)
Sent from Tikrit (Iraq), on 22.12.2011

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