The history of modern Iraq is one that is made up of many components, from the British occupation, to its monarch the non Iraqi Faisal, and his desire for a pan-Arab state. This document will present different events and subjects which will allow the reader to comprehend the history of Iraq from 1920- 1958, and what events occurred in the time period. Before we can begin to learn the modern history of Iraq we must briefly learn of the events that led to the creation of the state, formerly known as Mesopotamia.
The occupation of Britain in Mesopotamia happened less by design than by accident. Modern Iraq was an invention of British military and administrative convenience in the wake of World War I. During WWI the British wanted to defeat the Ottoman Empire at any costs, and late in 1914 when it was clear that Turkey, traditionally Britain’s ally, would enter the war on the side of the Central Powers and was mobilizing in the Gulf, Britain occupied Basra and al-Faw to “protect its strategic interests, communications, and oil fields at the head of the Gulf.”
In desperation to defeat the Ottomans, the government’s Arab bureau in Cairo issued letters and proclamations that promised independence to Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, under British protection in exchange for help in defeating the Ottoman Empire. British officials in India, who ran foreign policy east of the Suez Canal, feared the impact of Britain’s involvement in Islamic affairs.
When WWI ended the British were faced with a number of dilemmas. First, the Arab Revolt had contributed to the demise of the Ottoman Empire, and though Britain was in occupation outside Turkey, so were the Arab allies who fought alongside British officer T.E Lawrence. Through the efforts of Lawrence, the Arabs were able to unite, and unify for the cause of Arab independence. Secondly, the French also wanted a part of the remains of the Ottoman Empire, Syria and Lebanon specifically. The British and the French already had their own post war agenda, which had been drawn out during the war, a few years before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Britain, with the French in mind, had been very happy to convince the Arabs into supporting the allies in the war, while simultaneously making sure they made no firm commitment to Arab independence. Arabs had received the suggestion of emancipation but with no true substance. There had been no treaties signed, and no binding agreements.
The British would have no choice but to begin to face the consequences of their actions. The British had to contend with the Arab Civil War between the Hashemite dynasty, custodians of holy shrines in Mecca and Medina, and the House of ibn Saud. Britain created a solution to compensate the Hashemite’s, when the House of ibn Saud forcefully took over Arabia, created Saudi Arabia, and destroyed many of Mecca’s shrines. “London compensated the Hashemite’s by giving Prince Abdullah the country now known as the Hashemite Kingdom of...