PREMATURE ATTEMPT AT LIBERAL DEMOCRACY IN IRAQI POLITICS (1930 – 1937)
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During the early 1930s a liberal left-wing group named “al-Ahālī” came to being. First, their members made their views public in January 1932. They proposed sweeping social reforms, but hoped to perform their plans by parliamentary methods, without having to resort to violent means. They did not call for a class struggle, and recognized the value of the institutions of the family and religion and supported patriotism (al-waṭanīya) against nationalism (al-qawmīya). The leading members of this association established the Baghdad Club, a cultural centre where the members treated different themes and drew into debate people from widely varying background. There were differences of opinion between them as to whether or not a political party should be established. Originally they saw their main task as general cultural work to combat illiteracy. However, the group became more radical in 1934 – 1935 and it was joined by some communists. It also established contacts with some of the older politicians who favoured reforms, such as Ḥikmat Sulaymān, who had been much impressed by the work of Kemal Atatürk in Turkey. By October 1936, full agreement had been reached between those, who prepared the military coup. With the overthrow of the government, the first short-lived coalition supported by the liberal and left-centre forces in Iraq was installed.
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