1932-1939 1945-1958

Iraq 1939-1945

Administration . Faysal II. was king from 1939 to 1958. In 1939 Faysal was 4 years old. Until 1953, Abdul Ilah functioned as regent. Political parties were banned since 1937.
Rashid Ali al Khaylani, PM from March 1940 to January 1941, collided with regent Abdul Ilah over foreign policy; the regent advocated a pro-British policy, al Khaylani a pro-German policy. Al Khaylani under pressure resigned on January 31st.
Al Khaylani had support in the cabinet; fearing an assassination plot, the regent fled the country and al Khaylani, in a coup with support of the army, reassumed the post of PM on April 3rd. Following the brief Anglo-Iraqi War he was ousted on May 29th 1941, and the regent reassumed his political functions. Pro-British PM Nuri as Said succeeded. A June 1943 assassination attempt on PM Nuri as Said failed (NIYB 1943 p.290).

Foreign Policy . Relations with the former colonial power, the United Kingdom, were determined by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930. British troops remained stationed in Iraq.
Rashid Ali al Khaylani, PM from the coup on April 3rd to his overthrow on May 29th, was an opponent of the Anglo-Iraqi treaty of 1930, an admirer of Mufti of Jerusalem al Husseini. While being regarded sympathetic to the cause of Germany, al Khaylani expressed that Iraq would abide by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930. British forces landed in Basra on April 17th (NIYB 1941 p.292), thus starting the Anglo-Iraqi War (April 18th to May 30th 1941). At Iraqi request, German airplanes, starting from Syrian bases, entered into Iraqi airspace from May 18th onward. The al Khaylani administration appealed to Iran and Saudi Arabia, in vain; the proclamation of Jihad by al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, was of little consequence (NIYB 1941 p.292). On May 27th al Khaylani, the German and Italian ambassadors and the Grand Mufti fled Iraq. The war resulted in restoring the regent to power; Iraq resumed a pro-British foreign policy.
In 1941, Iraq and the USSR established diplomatic relations. Supplies destined for the USSR would be transported by rail from Basra through Iran.
Iraq declared war on Germany, Italy and Japan on January 16th 1943, and qualified for Lend-Lease (NIYB 1942 p.333). PM Nuri as Said, in an eight point ptrogram, promoted the concept of an independent Greater Syria, comprising of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Trans-Jordan. Iraq and (Greater) Syria were to jointly form a League of Arab States, with other Arab states invited to join. Nuri as Said presented this program to a preliminary Pan Arab Conference held in Alexandria in September 1944, where his plan for a Greater Syria was "not well received" (NIYB 1944 p.304).

The Economy . In 1939, Iraq produced 3.9 million metric tons of crude petroleum, in 1941 1.5 million, in 1945 4.6 million (IHS p.362). In 1939, Iraq produced 0.45 million metric tons of wheat, in 1945 0.4 million (IHS pp.192, 199). In 1940 the last stretch of railway line connecting Basra and Baghdad with Mosul was opened (NIYB 1940 p.364). A highway connecting Baghdad and Damascus was opened in 1943 (NIYB 1944 p.304).
The French surrender in June 1940 made necessary the diversion of the Kirkuk-Tripoli pipeline to Haifa in Palestine (NIYB 1940 p.364).
The NIYB 1943 reports inflation and the scarcity of consumer commodities (p.290); inflation continud to be a problem in 1944 (NIYB 1944 p.304).

Domestic Events . Following the ousture of al Khaylani, the coupists were accused of treason, and coup leaders who had not escaped, were executed in 1942. Coup leaders in exile continued to broadcast from abroad, trying to stir up a rebellion; the new Iraqi administration passed a law making it illegal to listen to anti-British propaganda, with little effect (NIYB 1942 p.333). Social History . Jan Lahmeyer estimates the population of Iraq in in 1939 as 3.69 million, in 1945 as 4.6 million.

Ethnic Minorities . On June 1st and 2nd 1941, the Anglo-Iraqi War, due to the flight of al Khaylani had just ended, but British troops had not yet takwen control, a massive anti-Jewish pogrom, the Farhud took place; it triggered a mass exodus of Iraqi Jews.
A Kurdish uprisiing in northern Iraq was reported for late 1941 (NIYB 1941 p.292); the rebellion finally was routed in 1945 (NIYB 1945 p.285).

Wars of Iraq, 1800-1999, from ACED
Global Currency History : Iraq (B. Taylor)
Articles History of Iraq, Faysal II of Iraq, Abd al Ilah, Rashid al Khailani, Anglo-Iraqi War, Farhud, Mustafa Barzani, Iraqi Coup of 1941, from Wikipedia
Iraq, from Library of Congress Country Studies
History of Oil in Iraq, from Global Policy Forum
Jewish Virtual History Tour : Iraqi Jews
History of Iraq 1939-1947, by Garrett Johnson
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 Iraq, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1944 p.365, 1945 p.372 [G]
Article : Iraq, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1943 pp.1015-1023 [G]
Article : Iraq, in : Americana Annual 1939 pp.381-382, 1940 pp.394-395, 1943 pp.388-389, 1944 pp.359-360, 1945 pp.376-378 [G]
Article : Iraq, in : New International Year Book 1939 pp.378-379, Events of 1940 pp.363-365, 1941 pp.290-293, 1942 pp.332-333, 1943 pp.289-290, 1944 pp.303-305, 1945 pp.284-285 [G]
Article : Iraq, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1939 pp.300-301, 1940 pp.311-312, 1941 pp.262-264, 1942 pp.233-234, 1943 pp.234-235, 1944 p.157 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 17th 2007, last revised on August 25th 2007

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