Iraq under King Gāzī Internal Political Development, 1933–1939
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Through the whole interwar period the Iraqi monarch, centred in Baghdad, had in effect a social meaning diametrically opposed to that of the tribal shaykhs, who were then still virtual rulers of much of the countryside. The shaykhs represented the principle of the fragmented or multiple community (many tribes), the monarch the ideal of an integral community (one Iraqi people, one Arab nation).1 While the shaykh was the defender of the divisive tribal tradition, the monarch was the exponent of the unifying national law. In the view of the presence of large non-Arab minorities in the country, there was some inherent contradiction between the ideal of one Iraqi people and that of one Arab nation. By the mid-1930s, several officers of the Iraqi army had become actively interested in politics and found that the army’s reputation for suppressing the Assyrian rebellion was a political asset. The most influential officers were true nationalists, that is, pan-Arabist, who inspired many of the junior officers. They looked to the examples of neighbouring Turkey and Iran, where military dictatorships were flourishing. Under the leadership of General Bakr Ṣidqī the army took over the government in the fall of 1936, and opened a period of army’s meddling into politics. Although under the reign of young and inexperienced King Ġāzī (1933–1939) Iraq fell prey to tribal rebellions and military coups, there was nevertheless no essential deviation from the prior trend of royal policy. Except during the short Ḥikmat Sulaymān government, the pan-Arab character of the state became more pronounced.
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