In 1932, the League of Nations admitted Iraq as a sovereign state fully aware that British influence continued in Iraqi political, economic and military areas through a new 25-year treaty. Britain's aim was for indirect control of Iraq through advisors, military bases and access to Iraq's tax collections. In this way, it avoided the high cost of large troop deployment on foreign soil. Yet, the fiction of indirect control failed to convince Iraqis.
As boundaries became fixed for this new nation, internal power struggles flared up between the different religious factions, pitting one ethnic group against another. Further, the new borders resulted in frequent border disputes with Iraq's mainly new neighbors in addition to widespread ethnic and economic dislocation. While trying to strike a balance between nationalist and British influences, King Faisal's Hashemite monarchy struggled to mold a political community under these overwhelming pressures.
Rebellion among the ethnic groups was a constant problem, particularly from the Kurds and Assyrians. Although previously bestowing favor on one or the other, Britain now employed the brutal force of the Iraqi military to suppress dissent. These actions forebode future patterns for Iraq where dissent provoked heavy handed military repression. Into this arena came General Bakr Sidqi, an ambitious and powerful Kurdish commander, who had not only military but growing political aspirations.
In September 1933, when King Faisal died, Iraq lost the main stabilizing force in Iraqi politics. Despite the challenges to the monarchy's legitimacy, the King alone was able to unite the various political personalities in support of Iraqi nationalism. His 21-year old son, Ghazi, was western educated and knew little of Iraqi tribal society when he became monarch. During his reign, Iraqi politics degenerated into strife between urban elites and tribal sheikhs that further undermined... [continues]
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