When Baghdad Fell
troops entered Baghdad amid loud celebrations. Thousands of prisoners
were taken. Solemn words were spoken:
of Baghdad, remember for 26 generations you have suffered under
strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house
against another in order that they might profit by your dissensions.
This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there
can be neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment.
Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors
or enemies, but as liberators."
proclamation was issued by British General Stanley Maude, on the
11th of March, 1917.
from striking a decisive propaganda blow for the Allies, the fall
of Baghdad effectively brought to an end Turkish activity in the
region. The defeat of the Turks in World War I meant the end of
the Ottoman Empire. It did not mean the end of imperialism. The
winners divided the loot among them, with the new League of Nations
giving Britain a mandate to run Iraq, as well as Trans-Jordan, Palestine
and Egypt. Arab nationalists, who had hoped for independence in
Mesopotamia (Iraq) and elsewhere, were bitterly disappointed.
all was not well for the British after the fall of Baghdad. Captain
Arnold Wilson, the civil commissioner in newly captured Baghdad,
believed that the creation of the new state was a recipe for disaster.
He warned that the deep differences between the three main communities Sunni, Shia and Kurds ensured it could only be "the antithesis
of democratic government."
nationalists wanted independence and tribesmen were resentful that
the British were more effective than the Turks in collecting taxes.
A rebellion against British rule broke out in July 1920. By the
time British rule was restored in 1921, some 2,000 British soldiers
and 8,000 natives had been killed or wounded.
ruled brutally. Arthur "Bomber" Harris (who was to lead the bomber
offensive against Germany in World War II) did not try to hide the
fact that he had aimed at civilian targets. Harris admitted in 1924
that he had taught Iraqis "that within 45 minutes a full-sized village
can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed
or wounded." Winston Churchill, as British colonial secretary, agreed
that aerial explosives were indeed a good idea. But wouldn't aerial
gassing be even better? As he put it, "I do not understand this
squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using
poison gas against uncivilized tribes." Others were equally blood-thirsty.
TE Lawrence Lawrence of Arabia wrote to the London
Observer: "It is odd that we do not use poison gas on these
1921 Britain installed the Prince Faisal as King of Mesopotamia.
Britain controlled the country's army, foreign policy and finances.
King Faisal and his descendents never succeeded in establishing
their nationalist credentials in Iraqi eyes. Arab nationalists wanted
true independence, but the British were not inclined to leave. This
was especially true after 1927, when new oil fields were discovered.
The oil rights were given to the Iraqi Petroleum Company, which
happened to be a British dominated company. By that time, the proclamation
of General Stanley Maude was just a distant memory. The liberators
acted as if they owned the place. In fact, they did own it.
Batiste (send him mail)
lives in Sweden. His
website is ONE
IS A CROWD.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com