Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Further plans for Iraq
After General Wavell had been given responsibility for northern Iraq, against his wishes, he still persisted in recommending a negotiated settlement with Rashid Ali. Raschid Ali had already revealed his Axis ties, so Wavell's proposal made no sense. The Chiefs of Staff believed that the arrival of British forces in Basra had forced Rashid Ali's hand prematurely. In their opinion, strong action could solve the problem. Since the seige of Habbaniyah had been lifted, due to the action on the night of 5-6 May 1941, that greatly simplified the task. On 8 May, General Wavell took command in southern Iraq, as well as the north. Lt-General E. P. Quinan, the new commander on the ground, was told to establish a sold base in the Basra-Shaibah area and to prepare for reinforcements. The Indian government had actually wanted more vigorous action, and had ordered General Quinan accordingly. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.