Ch2-MandateSystem2010

Ch2-MandateSystem2010 - 2 The British Mandate, 1920-1932...

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2 The British Mandate, 1920-1932 Introduction Though the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, the postwar fate of Iraq would not be decided until spring 1920. During World War I, the British occupied the Ottoman provinces of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul. This area had historically been known as Mesopotamia, but the British, who ruled it as a single unit, began to call it Iraq. During the war and immediately thereafter, the British exercised the policy of direct rule in the nascent political entity. This meant that they neither relied on an association with local elites nor exercised authority through extant political institutions. Instead, British officers rendered direct orders and expected them to be followed by locals. Unfortunately, most of their officers knew very little about the territory over which they ruled. As Lieutenant-General Almyer Haldane points out in his memoir, most officers with whom he worked in Iraq had come from India and just assumed that they could transfer Indian Methods of colonial rule to Iraq (Haldane, 21). This would spark the ire of many of the people of Mesopotamia-cum-Iraq, for they had grown fond of the liberal institutions, like free elections, that the Young
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Ottomans imposed on Abdul Hamid II and his successor. In other words, significant tensions were brewing under the surface. And these tensions would bubble over once the British announced the San Remo Agreement, which defined a definitive postwar settlement for Iraq and other places in the Middle East. France and Great Britain fashioned this postwar settlement in April 1920 at the San Remo Conference in Italy. British and French politicians decided that they would treat the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire as separate from the lands of the Anatolian Peninsula, where Turks were the majority. Great Britain and France then split the Arab world into separate imperial spheres of influence. They created four (soon after, five) mandates, which were new political entities. France and Great Britain were to organize the administration of each of their mandated spheres of influence. Great Britain wanted to control Iraq because of its proximity to India and its potential for oil production. Besides Iraq, Great Britain was charged with administering the mandates of Palestine and later Transjordan. (France would administer Syria and Lebanon.) According to William L. Cleveland, “the mandate system was little more than nineteenth-century imperialism repackaged to give the appearance of self-determination” (Cleveland, 164). The British ultimately decided to impose a constitutional monarchy on the people of Iraq, albeit one that they could 69
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control. The British would hand-choose Faisal bin Hussein as King of Iraq. Once crowned King, the British ensured that Iraq had, at least in appearance, the structures of a constitutional monarchy. The first step in this process, one decided at the Cairo Conference, was the enunciation of a Treaty between Great Britain and Iraq, and this was signed October 1922. According
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Ch2-MandateSystem2010 - 2 The British Mandate, 1920-1932...

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