Sunday, March 05, 2006

Iraq in WWII, the background

Iraq had been a Turkish province until after WWI. Interestingly, Iraq was the first of the former Turkish province to become independent. Britain had a treaty from 1930 that required Iraq to come to Britain's aid in the event of a war. The only British left in Iraq after 1937 was the RAF training facility at Habbaniya. In September 1939, the King of Iraq was four years old, with his uncle governing as Regent. The uncle, Amir Abdul Illah, was pro-British. The Germans were expelled and diplomatic ties were severed. Italy was a different matter, and "the Italian Legation at Baghdad became the centre of Arab Nationalist and anti-British agitation." On 1 July 1940, the British decided that one brigade of the Indian division tasked with oil field protection in the Middle East should be sent to Basra, in southern Iraq. The British Viceroy in India and the commanders in the Middle East were opposed, as they thought that tensions would be exacerbated. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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