Iraq 1917-1921

Status and Administration . In 1917 the British occupied Baghdad and were in control of much of what was to become Iraq; by the end of 1918 the Ottoman Empire was defeated. In the Paris Peace negotiations, the British were aware of the likelihood of large oil deposits in the area, and achieved an alteration of the borders suggested by the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, in such a way that the Mosul Region was included in the British sphere of influence. The San Remo Conference of 1920 awarded the Ottoman vilayets of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul as a League of Nations mandate to the British.
The Iraqi Intifada of summer 1920 led the British to the conclusion that Iraq was not fit for direct rule.

Foreign Policy . The Treaty of Sevres 1920 was a peace treaty dictated to the Ottoman Empire, which was defunct as her remaining territory was taken over by the Turkish Republic, which opposed the implementation of the Treaty of Sevres.
Actually, the borders to Turkey, Syria and Nejd were ill-defined. Britain maintained a large occupation force in the country, just in case.

The Economy . Since the beginning of British occupation in 1917, the Egyptian Pound and Indian Rupee were used as currency in Iraq. Oil production was not to begin until 1927.

Social History . Jan Lahmeyer estimates the population of Iraq in in 1917 as 2.75 million, in 1921 as 2.93 million. The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire since 1915 had resulted in the influx of a significant number of Assyrian Christians.

Ethnic, Religious Minorities . As a state, the nascent polity of Iraq included Arab Sunni Muslims, Arab Shia Muslims, Kurdish Sunni Muslims, Kurdish Yazidi, Turkomans, Assyrian Christians, Chaldaean Christians, Jews.
The Kurdish north, according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, was to be split in a south within the British sphere of influence and a north in the French sphere of influence. Here, 1919-1923, centered on Sulaymaniah, a Kurdish State existed, clearly opposed to the idea of the new Kingdom.
In the Arab-speaking core of Iraq, the Shia formed the clear population majority. The Shia clergy opposed the British manoeuvres in Iraq. In May 1920 the funeral of a famous Shia clericlead to a series of demonstrations, which united Shia and Sunni in the demand for British withdrawal and Arab independence. By July the British had lost control of the major urban centers; the demonstrations had turned into the Iraqi Intifada, or Great Iraqi Revolution; British control was restored by October..

Global Currency History : Iraq (B. Taylor)
Articles History of Iraq, Faysal I of Iraq, Sykes-Picot Agreement, Iraqi Kurdistan, Mustafa Barzani, from Wikipedia
Iraq, from Library of Congress Country Studies
Jewish Virtual History Tour : Iraqi Jews
History of Iraq 1916-1921, by Garrett Johnson
The Roots of Iraqi Secularism, by Zeyad
Great Iraqi Revolution 1920, from ACED
Ikhwan Raids 1921-1922, from ACED
Iraq's Revolt in 1920, by A.G. Noorani
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Iraq, by Ben Cahoon; Rulers : Iraq, by B. Schemmel
Historical Statistical data : Iraq, from Population Statistics (J. Lahmeyer)
REFERENCE IHS : International Historical Statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, edited by B.R. Mitchell, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan 4th ed. 2003
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol.21, pp.972-996 Article Iraq. KMLA Lib. Call Sign R 032 B862h v.21
Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq, Cambridge : UP 2000 [G]
Courtney Hunt, The History of Iraq, Westport CT : Greenwood 2005, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 956.7 H939h
Article : Mesopotamia, in : New International Year Book 1918 pp.391-392, 1920 pp.422-423, 1921 p.441 [G]
E.J. Thompson, The Leicestershires beyond Baghdad (1919), posted by Gutenberg Library Online
Robert Palmer, Letters from Mesopotamia (1916), posted by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 18th 2007, last revised on October 28th 2007

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