Ch4-EndingOldRegime2010

Ch4-EndingOldRegime2010 - 4 Ending the Old Regime,...

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4 Ending the Old Regime, 1941-1958 Introduction The years between 1941 and 1958 are critical for understanding the Coup of 1958 that would put an end to the Hashemite Monarchy. This period begins with a coup by Rashid Ali al-Kaylani on 10 April 1941, one that temporarily deposed the regent Abd al-Ilah. This abrupt change of a pro-British government--along with Rashid Ali’s pro-German leanings--led the British to assert explicitly their neo-colonial role. During the Thirty Days War that followed, the British re-occupied Iraq. It was a military occupation regarded as untenable by many anti- British Iraqis. The resulting tensions surrounding it gave rise to the anti-Semitic Farhud on 2 June 1941, an Iraqi Krystalnacht of sorts. Great Britain, however, did not remove its troops, and Iraq remained an occupied country during World War II. The postwar era did not bring a respite for the Iraq people. British troops ended the direct occupation of Iraq in 1946, but their country remained influential. The monarchy tried--unsuccessfully--to gain more freedom of action from the British via the Portsmouth Treaty of 1948. This treaty was highly unpopular, and its signing led to al-Wathba (the leap), a popular uprising in Baghdad. The Iraqi Communist Party headed
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the demonstrations, and the rising popularity of this party led the Hashemite government to arrest its leaders in 1949. The increase in political violence, however, was not a one- way street in which the state alone victimized Iraqi society. This postwar period also saw the rise of anti-Semitism. To placate the masses, the government tried to adopt legislation that reflected anti-minority sentiments by the majority Muslim population. In particular, the government promulgated Law No. 1, which allowed Iraqi Jews to leave the country and renounce their citizenship. Bomb attacks on Jewish targets followed the passage of this law, leading scores of Iraqi Jews to immigrate to Israel and other countries, such as India or England. In retrospect, several trends become evident to historians analyzing the history of Iraq between 1941 and 1958. First, this period is notable for a rise in social divisions between the peoples of this state. Wartime inflation and commercial disruptions had increased the numbers of “have-nots” in the country, thereby accounting, at least in part, for the popularity of the Communist Party. Iraq, however, was also divided along sectarian lines. Jews became a target for national ire, while Shiis often lived separately from Sunnis. Politically, these social conditions had two counterparts. In this period, the historian gleans the extent to which there was political opposition to the Hashemite regime. No Hashemite 203
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monarch had the charisma of Faysal I, and the kings in this short-lived dynasty came to be seen by Iraqis as the handmaidens of Great Britain. Second, this period is witness to the failure of state institutions. Increasingly, political opposition was expressed not through formal channels, but through informal
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Ch4-EndingOldRegime2010 - 4 Ending the Old Regime,...

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