By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
- 1914 - 1920, Britain invades Mesopotamia
- 1920 - 1932, British Mandate of Mesopotamia
- 1958 - 1968: End of Monarchy, Kurdish War & Ba'athist Coup
- 1968 - 1990, العراق Iraq Becomes Totalitarian
- 1991 - 2003: Desert Storm, Rapparin and Genocide
- 2003 - Present: US Occupation, Salafi Terrorism and Democracy
- Iraqis in America
- العراقي Iraqi forces
- العراقي Iraqi peoples
The alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates was known in Europe as Mesopotamia. Since at least the eighth century, Arab geographers referred to this land as al-'Iraq, a term meaning the shore of a great river along its length, and the grazing land surrounding it.
League of Nations ends Mandate and grants independence to Iraq.
|King Ghazi Succeeds|
Opening of the Kirkuk-Mediterranean Pipeline.
Military Coup d'État
Military coup d'état, backed by General Bakr Sidqi. Hikmat Sulaiman forms a government.
Bakr Sidqi assassinated. Hikmat Sulaiman is overthrown by the army.
King Ghazi Dies
King Ghazi killed in a car accident.
King Faisal II Succeeds
King Ghazi is succeeded by his infant son Faisal II, under regency of Prince 'Abd al-Ilah.
MIlitary Coup d'État
The Government of National Defence is formed by Rashid 'Ali al-Kailani following a military coup d'état. The regent Prince 'Abd al-Ilah flees Baghdad.
British troops march on Baghdad. Rashid 'Ali al-Kailani flees as his government collapses.
The regent Prince 'Abd al-Ilah returns to Baghdad.
A new Anglo-Iraqi treaty is signed at Portsmouth. Mass protests in Baghdad, known as al-Wathba (the leap) lead to abandonment of the treaty.
Iraq sends an expeditionary force to Palestine.
Iraqi army withdraws from Palestine.
League of Iraqi Women
League of Iraqi Women founded with branches throughout the country. It was not part of the CP but many of its active members were CP members,
Iraq Petroleum Company
Iraq agrees with Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) on a 50-50 share of profits.
Demonstrations erupt in Baghdad, known as al-Intifada (the uprising).
King Faisal II Enthroned
King Faisal II is enthroned, ending the regency.
Riots known as the Suez Crisis occur in Baghdad, Mosul and Najaf.
United Arab Republic
Egypt and Syria form the United Arab Republic. Jordan and Iraq form the Arab Union.
Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.
Allies Are Blamed for Assyrians' Fate
60,000 Refugees Living Iraq Are Seen as Betrayed by Friends and Leaders Alike
To the Editor of The New York Times:
In The New York Times of March 22, 1933, is a note from London regarding 60,000 Assyrian refugees living in Iraq since 1918, to whom Persia now promises "sanctuary" within its borders.
We should not conceal the fact that most of those Assyrian refugees in Iraq are Persian citizens who, in 1918, were forced to leave their country and flee for their lives. They have a legal right to return to their homeland at anytime. Under the rule of Ahmad Shah Kajar in 1914 and 1918 Persia neglected to protect the integrity of its borders against the invasions of the Russian and Turkish Armies who made the western provinces of Persia their battlefield and turned them into a pile of ruins. At that time Assyrian towns and villages were raided and burned, property plundered, men massacred and women enslaved. Although the Assyrians always were peaceful and loyal citizens, occupying themselves as artisans and farmers, Persia refused to give them protection against Kurdish and Turkish atrocities, and in many instance in Urmia and Salman Persians joined the Kurds and Turks in those unjustified and indescribable massacres.
Between Two Fires.
At the beginning of the World War the Assyrians found themselves between two fires, Ottoman Turkey on one side and the Allies on the other. The Allies had a high regard for the Assyrian fighting capacity and tried to utilize it for their own benefit. There were many promises of a "great Assyrian empire," and this false propaganda was diseminatd by self-appointed Assyrian "leaders." Meanwhile the Assyrians were attacked by Turks and Kurds without any apparent reason. These circumstances forced the Assyrians to arm for self-protection and they joined the Allies in the World War. They won many major victories. They constituted one of the main obstacles in the path of the Turkish movement toward India. They lost more than 50 per cent of their number, the highest loss any nation sustained. For all that, what reward did they receive? Poverty, humiliation, massacres, migration, starvation, &c.
The note referred to states: "These Assyrians, having failed to establish their rights before the League of Nations, found their position untenable in Iraq after that country left the British mandate, but they hope to prosper in tobacco growing in Persia."
Tobacco for Independence.
Is it not a wonderful idea to grow tobacco on the ruins of a promised independence? Apparently the Assyrians' "generous friends" think that prosperity on the tobacco plantations would mean more for the slaves than prosperity through the independence.
Since 1918 a part of the Assyrian men under the leadership of the Mar-Shimoon (Assyrian Patriarch) have carried British rifles and protected British concessions in Iraq. The other part was engaged in building roads and regulating transport. They endured any kind of humiliation with the hope for a bright future. Now their services are no longer required in Iraq because the latter, as a member of the League of Nations, must appreciate its international obligations. Now Assyrians are needed in tobacco plantations in Persia, which probably belong to some foreign concessionaires.
Consequently, it was not the Assyrians who failed to establish their rights before the League of Nations but the Allies who failed to carry out their "generous" promises. In the name of a visionary Assyrian independence they armed and sent to death this historic nation. They got the lion's share through the victory of the war, but for their partners are predicting "prosperity" on tobacco plantations! The responsibility for this rests on the League of Nations, which failed to protect the rights of national minorities who are not backed by their own armed forces.
From the very beginning of the World War the Assyrian nation was betrayed by its self-appointed leaders, exploited by the Allies and massacred by Kurds, Ottoman Turks under Persian Kajar rule.
Roughly estimated, the property loss of Assyrians during and after the war amounts to about $35,000,000. We Assyrians are entitled to demand from the Allies this damage. As to Assyrian independence, we will wait until it will grow on tobacco ruins.
Paul G. Edgar.
New York, March 29, 1933.
IRAQ ARMY BATTLES ASSYRIAN INVADERS
Reports Them Repulsed, but They Are Said to Be in the Mountains Near Zakho.
BAGDAD, Iraq, Aug. 6. – Open warfare has started between the Iraq army and a force of several hundred Arabs who recently crossed into Syria from Iraq Territory.
Today about three hundred Assyrians recrossed the Tigris River, according to an official announcement, on the pretext that they were going to surrender themselves and their arms.
"Having crossed, they attacked the advance guard of the Iraq army," the official communiqué asserts. "After an engagement lasting several hours the Assyrians were repulsed, leaving behind a number of dead. The advance guard of the Iraq army is still continuing the pursuit."
Unofficially it is understood these Assyrians are still in Iraq and have made their way into the mountains around Zakho, whence it will be difficult to dislodge them as they know every inch of the territory. The Iraq army is believed to have suffered casualties and the British chargé d'affaires here is doing his best to prevent any extension of the hostilities.
BRITAIN IS ANXIOUS OVER IRAQ FIGHTING
Cabinet Said to Expect Sharp Criticism at Geneva if More Assyrians Are Killed.
500 ARE REPORTED SLAIN
London Times Asserts Soldiers and Police Have Killed 200 Not Involved in Rebellion.
LONDON, Aug. 15. – The rebellion of part of the Assyrian minority in Iraq, according to The London Times, has had a tragic sequel, about 200 persons being killed who had no connection with the revolt.
King Feisal has fallen ill and Sir Francis Humphrys, British Ambassador to Iraq, is hurrying to Bagdad from Norway, where he had been spending his vacation.
The London Times says that after an armed band of 500 rebels, who had recrossed the Tigris Aug. 4 and broken through Iraq's cordon, had been dispersed by troops, the Iraq Government announced that military operations were virtually over and that rebels who had not surrendered were being tracked by the police.
"News received in London does not correspond with this version of the events," says The Times. "There is reason to believe 500 Assyrians have been killed, including those who fell actually fighting to the number of 90 and also includes 200 persons who seem to have had no connection whatever with the rebellion. A number of villages have been burned in the Dohuk district and elsewhere north of Mosul and the condition of Assyrian women and children, of whom 1,500 are at Dohuk, is described as 'pitiable.'
"There is reason to believe the excesses were committed less by Iraq troops than by irregular police raised by the commander of the Iraq forces in the northern district and operating under an officer of notoriously anti-Assyrian feelings.
"The news of the events, which has been communicated to Prime Minister MacDonald, caused deep concern in British official circles. It is fully realized that misbehavior by Iraq irregularly and indiscriminate severity of the local military authorities are likely to provoke sharp criticism at Geneva, where there has been a marked tendency to regard the British belief in the capacity of the Arab Government to control its officers as dangerously optimistic."
Britain To Take Up Massacres in Iraq; Ruler Plans Flight
MacDonald Hurries to London as Slaughter of 300 More Assyrians Is Reported
Feisal Books Plane Seat
British Seek to Persuade Hi to Remain and Punish the Perpetrators of Excesses
By Ferdinand Kuhn Jr.
LONDON, Aug. 16. – Prime Minister MacDonald is hurrying to London from Scotland tonight to deal personally with the ugly situation resulting from the massacres of hundreds of Assyrians in Northern Iraq. He intends to spend most of tomorrow at the Foreign Office fulfilling his promise of a few weeks ago that "in cases of emergency" he would become Acting Foreign Secretary during Sir John Simon's absence.
It was learned today that King Feisal had booked a seat in an Imperial Airways airliner leaving Bagdad Friday and would "continue his cure" in Switzerland.
News was also received that 300 more Assyrians had been slaughtered following the rebellion of part of the Assyrian minority. The London Times declared yesterday that there was reason to believe 500 had already been slain, 200 of whom had no connection with the revolt.
According to The London Times, a British official who visited the villages around Simel, forty miles north of Mosul, reported to London that he had found them fun of panic-stricken woman and children and had counted 315 Assyrian dead apparently killed by the so-called irregular police.
Assyrian Rebels Blamed.
"Further news reaching London," says The London Times, "leaves scarcely any doubt that the Assyrian rebels who crossed into Syrian territory in July were entirely to blame for the collisions of Aug. 4 and 5.
"A group of 500 men recorded the Tigris into Iraq on UAg. 4 and gave out that they would surrender their arms. The small Iraqi detachment which they met does not seem to have attempted to disarm them by force. The Assyrians, however, attacked and destroyed it. They then broke through the force sent to intercept them.
"These two encounters caused much bitterness, which was increased by the usual Oriental rumors that the Assyrians had militated the dead.
"The first of the reprisals reported to the British Embassy inBagdad was the work of Bekir Sidqui Beg, the Iraqi commander in the north, whose Kurdish irregulars brought in a dozen Assyrian prisoners. These he ordered shot out of hand without trial or inquiry as to whether they were rebels. He afterward excused this order on the ground of his indignation at the alleged mutilation of the dead.
"G. D. Ogilvie, the British Chargé d'Affaires in Bagdad, made earnest representations to King Feisal, whom he urged to prevent any repetition of these severities. Feisal pledged his honor that an inquiry would be held into the executions. Since this pledge was given no news has been received of the opening of any inquiry."
The reports of the additional killings and the news that King Feisal was planning to fly from his kingdom Friday have disturbed the British Government profoundly.
Britain is no longer directly involved, of course, since Iraq has ceased to be a mandated territory and has become an independent member of the League of Nations. But morally the situation is highly embarrassing for London, for it was the British Government that sponsored Iraq's independence and assured the other members of the League hat he was ready to manage her own affairs.
It is humiliating now for the British to see their Arab allies in the East butchering a friendly Christian minority that threw first-class fighting men against the Turks during the World War.
The British are fully aware, too, that the excesses against the Assyrians tend to justify the suspicions of the French and others who contended that the Iraqis were not ready for nationhood.
King Feisal's weakness is largely blamed here for the present crisis, although it is admitted that his troops in the north had great provocation. Only a few weeks ago Feisal was the guest of King George and was greeted here with all the pomp and pageantry the British could display. Such a fuss had not been made over any monarch since Amanullah, the ill-fated King of Afghanistan, was here five years ago.
The British now think they are not having much luck with their protégés and wonder whether Feisal will lose his throne as Amanullah did.
It is felt here that Feisal could have stopped the slaughtering of the Assyrians if he had had the courage to overrule the pro-Turk element in his Cabinet. Even now the British believe the King could restore Iraq's good name by punishing the officers concerned, especially Bakir Sidqui Beg, the pro-Turk army commander in the north.
Certainly unless the Iraq Government does something to expiate the massacre Britain will not lift a finger to defend it when the inevitable reckoning comes at Geneva next month.
The British are doing their utmost at the moment to convince Feisal through diplomatic channels that it would be highly inadvisable for him to leave the country now. His task, as the British see it, is to do the courageous thing and punish the perpetrators of the massacre. And the British know from what Colonel Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) told them during the World War that Feisal can be a man of tremendous courage.
KING FEISUL AWAITS OUR AMBASSADOR
Trip to Europe Postponed
Retuer's Bagdad correspondent telegraphed yesterday: "The Iraq Government announce [sic] officially that they consider that the Assyrian trouble is at an end."
A later telegram says: "Following urgent representations by the British Chargé d'Affaires, King Feisul, who had booked his passage for Switzerland tomorrow with Imperial Airways, has postponed his departure for a week."
Reuter learns that while the Assyrian followers of Mar Shimun are considered to have been responsible in the first place for the outbreak of trouble, strong representations have been made by the British authorities to King Feisul that an investigation should be held into the conduct of the Iraqi troops and Kurdish irregulars under Bakir Sidki Beg, commanding the northern administration of the Arab kingdom. It is alleged that he ordered the shooting in cold blood of fourteen unarmed Assyrians, and that there are other similar incidents.
In one village alone 315 dead Assyrians were found lying in heaps not he ground within two miles of an Iraqi camp. It is understood that the excesses have been carried out mainly by the Kurdish irregulars, who have an age-old feud with the Assyrians and that they were enlisted recently especially to deal with the Assyrian rising.
It is learned that King Feisul has given an undertaking to the British that an inquiry will be held.
Jaafar Pasha el Askari, the Iraq Minister in London, informed Reuter that he considered the reports that there has been some hundreds of Assyrians killed were much exaggerated. He had received a telegram from the Iraq Government asking him to make a protest with regard to these alleged exaggerations. He said that according to the latest telegrams he had received from Bagdad there has been no fighting since August 11 and that the trouble was regarded as at an end.
The Minister stated with regard to the Assyrian families which had taken refuge at Dohuk that a relief committee had been formed with Colonel Stafford, the officer commanding the Northern district around Mosul, in charge, and sufficient funds had ben allowed by the Government for relief purposes. Measures were also being taken enable families in Dohuk to return to their villages. He estimated that 1,300 armed Assyrians, followers of Mar Shimun, belonging to the Upper Tiari and Tukhum sects, had been concerned in the recent troubles. There were in all about 20,000 Assyrians in Iraq, anode these 8,000 were armed.
He said that he understood that the Turkish Government were hostile to any return of the Assyrians to their former districts in Turkey. According to reports in the Iraq press, the Turkish Government had sent military force to the frontier with orders to shoot any Assyrians who attempted to cross and enter the country.
IRAQ DEPORTS ASSYRIAN PATRIARCH
Britain Offers Asylum in Cyprus
TAKEN TO PALESTINE BY R.A.F. 'PLANE
BAGDAD, AUGUST 18. The recent outbreak by a band of Assyrians has led to the deportation from Bagdad of their leader, the Mar Shimum, or hereditary Patriarch, who became leader of his people at the age of twelve. The Iraqi Government believes that he was responsible for the outbreak, and at an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers issued a deportation order against him.
A request was then made to the British Government to provide facilities for the removal of the Patriarch from Iraq to a place of safety. The British Chargé d'Affaires intimated that his Government was prepared to offer the Patriarch, together with his father and brother, an asylum in Cyprus.
All three, with two attendants, left Bagdad this morning in an R.A.F. plane from Palestine. They landed at Ramleh, about fifteen miles south of Jaffa, this afternoon, and will proceed to Cyprus.
The Mar Shimum, who was educated in England, was a supporter of the Allies during the Great War and thus earned the intense dislike of the Turks.
THE ASSYRIAN DEAD
A veil of secrecy has been drawn over operations against the Assyrians in Northern Iraq, where 315 bodies were found at the village of Simel and 300 others at different places in the vicinity of Dohuk following Kurdish raids on Assyrian villages. (It is alleged that from 500 to 700 Assyrians were massacred by Kurdish irregulars enlisted to deal with the Assyrian rising.) It is understood that the official contention is that these casualties should not be regarded as a massacre, but having been incurred in a pitched battle. The suggestion is also made that there were some Kurdish bodies among the slain. No children were killed, and it is understood that there were no cases of women having been violated.
Urgent representations were made to King Feisul to delay his departure for Switzerland, and he has agreed, notwithstanding his ill-health, to remain in Bagdad until the arrival of Sir Francis Humphrys, the British Ambassador to Iraq.
AMBASSADOR'S HURRIED RETURN
Sir Francis, who is leaving London tomorrow, is due to arrive in Bagdad on Wednesday. He will catch an Imperial Airways plane at Brindisi on Monday. He will be accompanied by General Robinson, Inspector General of the Iraq Army, and Captain Holt, Oriental secretary to the British Embassy. All three have had to interrupt their leave to return to Iraq. – Press Association Foreign Special.
KING FEISUL'S TELEGRAM
King Feisul has sent a telegram to the Iraq Legation in London in which he says:
Although everything is normal now in Iraq, and in spite of my broken health, I shall await the arrival of Sir Francis Humphrys in Bagdad, but there is no reason for further anxiety. Inform the British Government of the contents of my telegram.
QUESTION OF A LEAGUE INQUIRY
The Iraq Minister in London told Reuter yesterday the he expected that an inquiry into the Assyrian trouble would be held, and that he hoped the League of Nations would take the matter up. In his view there were two important points to be considered – the action of the Assyrian Patriarch, and the action of the French authorities in handing back arms to the Assyrians who crossed the frontier after they had disarmed them.
The Minister added that he had received information from Bagdad that three Iraqi officers and 25 Iraqi troops had been killed and 45 wounded when the armed Assyrians forced their way back over the frontier from Syria on August 5. He declared that the Assyrians had pretended that they would deliver up their arms, but instead they treacherously turned and killed the officers and men. No women or children had bee killed, he said, and the casualties were armed men only.
(Iraq alleges that the Assyrian Patriarch has fomented resistance by the Assyrian minority to settlement schemes and incited his compatriots to cross over the frontier into Syria. Over 1,000 armed Assyrians followed this course, and it was the return of armed bands into Iraq and their attack and their conflict with Iraq frontier guards, which have produced the present crisis.) [This last paragraph seemed to have had lines mixed up and duplicated, but has been edited for clarity here.]
Assyrians' Leader Deported By Iraq
Patriarch, Who Refused Pledge of Loyalty to Feisal, Also Loses His Citizenship
BAGDAD, Aug. 18. – The Nestorian Patriarch Mar Shimun, Ethnarch of the Assyrians, who has been under detention for some time for having declined to sign a declaration of loyalty to King Faisal and agree not to thwart the scheme of the League of Nations for the settlement of the Assyrians, was deported by order of the government today and deprived of Iraqi nationality.
The British air officer commanding in Iraq was present at the Hinaidi airdrome when Mar Shimun left in a British machine for Jerusalem en route to Cyprus.
G.S. Ogilvie Forbes, the British Chargé d'Affaires, has been making urgent representations to the Iraqi Government to insure that adequate safeguards shall be provided against a renewal of the Kurdish attacks upon the Assyrian villages.
The deportations of the Nestorian patriarch caused no surprise here, as it was known that such action was being considered by the government, but it is thought that the cancellation his Iraqi nationality may raise a constitutional question.
IRAQ DENIES MASSACRE.
Plans Big Reception for Troops Quelling Assyrian Trouble.
BAGDAD, Aug. 22. – The Iraqi Government is leaving no stone unturned to combat allegations in the foreign press that there has been a massacre of Assyrians. The government admits nothing, and preparations are being made to give an enthusiastic reception to the "gallant and victorious Iraqi troops who acted as honor and duty demanded."
The Iraqi press professes indignation at the aspersions cast abroad on the behavior of the army and denies the right of the British Ambassador, who is due to arrive here tomorrow by air, to "interfere" in a mater which it claims is entirely an Iraqi concern.
The British Royal Air Force is taking no part in the present activities, beyond transporting to Bagdad by air the wives and children of Assyrian levies engaged in guarding British airdromes.
Assyrians A Worry to Iraq Authorities
They Have, It Is Held, Been Exploited By Foreign Interests to Their Own Detriment
To the Editor of The New York Times:
Having left Bagdad a little over a month ago when Assyrian matters were beginning to look disquieting, may I be permitted to supply some of the facts which would give your readers enough of a background to enable them to read between the lines of the news?
Up to the great war the home of the Assyrians was in Turkey and Persia. When the war came those living in Turkey fell out with both the Turks and the Kurds and had to migrate to Persia. After much hardship they were lured into Iraq by the British. Here their men, who are good fighters, were soon recruited into the "Assyrian Levies." They were used to put down uprisings, defend the frontiers, guard the British air bases and in general to maintain British prestige in Iraq. This, of course, contributed to their unpopularity among Iraqis.
During the peace conference at Versailles the Assyrians, numbering hardly more than twenty-five or thirty thousand people, entertained the ambition of founding an independent State. The dream was, of course, impossible of realization, but has lingered in the mind many an Assyrian leader and has tended to create an unwillingness to be assimilated into the Iraqi body politic and, together with their foreign language, has prevented them settling down to become useful and peaceful citizens. This, naturally, has made the Iraqis suspicious of them.
When, before the entrance of Iraq into the League of Nations, and in spite of all attempts of the Iraq Government to come to an agreement with their Patriarch, Assyrians sent petitions to the League of Nations protesting against the withdrawal of the British mandate as endangering their situation, their action was deeply resented by the Iraqis.
Vacant Land Scarce.
The settlement of the Assyrians has proved to be a difficult problem. The Iraq Government tried its best in cooperation with the British Authorities and some charitable institutions to find suitable and vacant lands in the mountains where these Assyrian mountaineers could settle. Many thousands were settled between 1927 and 1932. A settlement scheme was agreed upon last year with the authorities of the League of Nations. But the Assyrians, headed by their Patriarch, Mar Shamun, balked at the scheme. Trouble started less than two months ago when I was still in Bagdad.
The main problem regarding settlement is whether the Assyrians are to be settled all together in groups adjoining one another or in separate groups on whatever lands are available. The first alternative which the Assyrians desire is out of the question, as no land can be found in the northern mountains large enough to hold thousands of people. Such a method would necessitate the eviction of thousands of Kurdish tribesmen from homes which they have occupied for ages, and would create future problems of a very troublesome nature.
Foreign Intrigue Seen.
Recently a band of disaffected Assyrians which had gone to Syria returned fully armed into Iraqi territory, met a small police force and exterminated it without provocation. This indicates that the Assyrian affair had not been going on without foreign intrigue. France, to whose administration in Syria the recent emancipation of Iraq and its admission into the League of Nations is a serious challenge, does not seem to like seeing affairs in Iraq moving smoothly.
In the meantime, for the British to see their protégés, the Assyrians, summarily punished for their acts by the Iraq Government seems to be a bitter pill to swallow. This, together with the possibility of pressing upon the Iraq Government certain points outstanding in last month's negotiations in London by capitalizing the Assyrian incident, sufficiently explains the new emanating from London about alleged excesses committed by the Iraqis. These excesses the Iraqi Prime Minister has emphatically denied.
Iraq Deals Firmly.
The young Iraq Government has the record of having reduced to exemplary security in the last twelve years a country of more than half of which is inhabited by tribes and which was the exasperation of the Turkish Government before the war. Even the traditional tribal raids have been banned and the country enjoys a security which it has not enjoyed for many centuries. To expect the Iraq Government to allow the Assyrian outrage to go unpunished is quite unreasonable.
What does not seem to be realized by Western public opinion is that the Assyrians are not a usual, peaceful minority. They count among them six to eight thousand strong and well-disciplined men fully armed with the most up-to-date British rifles. To this young, struggling, Iraqi nation, whose small army is none too strong, this compact mass of foreign and warlike men constitutes a real danger. What seems strange to the Iraqi is that this so-called minority, fully armed, should be encouraged by some foreign powers and be supported by the foreign press even when it commits avowedly reckless acts.
It is really unfortunate that during their fifteen years of stay in Iraq the Assyrians have permitted themselves to be used as the instruments of foreign exploitation. It is to be hoped that with the removal of the irreconcilable Mar Shamun from Iraq the Assyrians will be more willing to settle down. They are hard-working and industrious, and once relieved of the foreign, exploiting hand, there is no reason why they should not make useful and peaceful citizens.
New York, Aug. 22, 1933.
Turkish Soldiers Slay 50 Assyrians
Border Guards Clash With Groups Trying to Flee From Iraq.
REFUGEE CAMP IS SET UP
Baghdad Reports Assyrians Are Being Cared For At Mosul – Atrocities Denied.
ISTANBUL, Turkey, Aug. 28. – The newspaper Milliyet, Istanbul edition of the semi-official Hakimiyeti MIlliyet, published in Angora, announced today that two attempts were made by Assyrians recently to enter Turkey.
About 200 made the first attempt near the road from Zakho, Iraq, and Turkish frontier guards used machine guns to repel them. The Assyrians withdrew, leaving thirty dead.
On Aug. 11, about 100 Assyrians having crossed the frontier and refused to surrender their arms to frontier guards who barred their way, a seance skirmish took place, and twenty Assyrians were killed.
Assyrians Carried Savings
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 28. – Assyrian refugees are now being taken to Mosul, where they are being fed and clothed at a concentration camp. In explanation of the long Assyrian death roll in the recent Iraqi rebellion, it is significantly reported that nearly every Assyrian rebel carried his life's savings, accounting on average to £50.
Iraqi spokesmen deny that their army committed any atrocities. They affirm hat there were no outrages against women, and they maintain that the treatment meted out to the insurgents was not outside the usual treatment by an armed force against rebels.
The only mutilations reported thus far, they say, were perpetrated by Assyrians, who allegedly burned the bodies of two Iraqi officers and mutilated the arms of several soldiers.
Sympathizers with the Iraqi action assert that if the Assyrian rebellion had been successful the whole of Northern Iraq would be in chaos now, as a Kurdish rising might have followed any success of the Assyrians at arms. It is understood the Ministry of Defense has granted one year's advancement of seniority to all officers who took part in operations against the Assyrians.
These officers include Bekir Sidky Beg, commanding officer. It is rumored that further promotion awaits him. His present rank is equivalent to that of Colonel. He probably will be promoted to Brigadier, which rank carries the courtesy title of Pasha.
Jews in Bagdad Alarmed
LONDON, Tuesday, Aug. 29. – The Daily Mail publishes a dispatch from Bagdad saying that Iraq Jews are alarmed over their safety and that "when the Iraqi army returned over the week-end not one Christian or Jew was seen on the streets." "Many Jews have been sending money out of the country," the correspondent says he was informed.
Assyrians' Trouble Laid To Foreigners
Their Difficulties with Iranians Not Of Their Own Seeking, It Is Declared
To the Editor of The New York Times:
Matta Akrawi, who wrote to The New York Times about the present situation in Mesopotamia, seems himself to be not thoroughly acquainted with he fundamental causes of the Assyrian problem.
The Arabs and the Assyrians are two ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia and are related to each other racially and culturally. They never bred any feelings of hostility toward each other and respected one another's rights and customs. The present hostility of the Arabs to the Assyrians is cultivated by outsiders. No doubt Assyrians as well as Arabs and Kurds are victims of poor leadership.
The present hostilities are mainly the result of deliberate aggravation by a third party of religious fanaticism and tribal prejudices for the purpose of weakening these nations and making of them suitable objects of exploitation. For instance, in 1874 Sultan Abdul Hamid are the Kurds to secure his own throne; meanwhile, they were directed against Assyrians and Armenians. In 1905 the Persian Government secretly organized the Kurds and the Assyrians and warned them against each other. During the World War Assyrians were lured into the ranks of the Allies by a vision of a new and great Assyria, although this vision was never given any documentary proof.
The Allies used the Assyrians for their own purposes. They never, however, showed any sincerity in the fulfillment of their promises to a people whom Mr. Wigram, an outstanding English authority on the Orient, called "our smallest Ally."
On Jan. 31, 1914, during a furious battle on a dark night, the Russian forces deserted their "smallest Ally" in the trenches and fled from Urmia. At that time thousands of Assyrians were killed; about ten thousand escaped with the Russians, and the bulk of the nation was saved from slaughter by the intervention of the American Consul, Mr. Shade, and Dr. Packard, both of whom are now greatly honored by the Assyrians.
In 1915 Assyrian mountaineers were driven from their homes and found shelter in Persia. In 1915 the Russian troops withdrew entirely from the Turkish front to turn their attention to their own revolution and left the Assyrians to hold the lines alone. It was then that Great Britain sent her messenger, Captain Pennnington, with the suggestion that the Assyrians migrate to South Persia for "safety." Accordingly, on July 18, 1918, the Assyrians left Urmia for Hamadan, traveling over primitive roads and high mountains, under cross-fire of the enemy; thousands died from bullets, thirst, starvation and exhaustion.
After reaching Hamadan they were immediately transferred to Baqu-Bah (Mesopotamia). Britains' main purpose here was to organize the Assyrians in a strong unit to protect the territory taken over by Britain from the Turks. Assyrians were used to quell all rioting of dissatisfied tribes in this occupied territory. Naturally the Arabs regarded the Assyrians as their "enemies." They failed to realize that the Assyrians were as helpless as they were in the grip of a strong hand.
Until 1921 the Arabs did not have their own regular army and the safety and security of the country was dependent upon the Assyrian forces. In the Summer of 1921 Feisal was proclaimed King of Iraq. This proclamation aroused great opposition among the tribes that refused to recognize him. When, in 1921, the Sheik Rakib of Bataza fought the Arabs, who were apparently suffering defeat, the Assyrian battalions were sent to save the situation. Again in 1923, when Sheikh Salim of Barzani suddenly attacked and defeated the Iraq army, once more the Assyrian battalions came to the rescue of the Iraqis. In 1924-25, when Sheik Mahmud of Sulaymonia fought and defeated the Iranian and British armies, again the Assyrians hurriedly saved the country for order and peace.
The reported riot of a detachment of 500 exploited and dissatisfied Assyrians was an excuse for Arabs to massacre hundreds of helpless and defenseless men, women and children who were living peacefully and productively on their farms. Although Rashid Ali Beg, Iraq's Prime Minister, disclaimed all responsibility and shifted the onus to the Kurds, Bagdad gave a warm reception to the victorious Iraq army.
Several Interests Blamed.
The responsibility for these massacres rests not only upon the Iraq Government but also upon Great Britain, who removed her madnate, from Iraq's not settling the Assyrian question. [Sentence structure is confusing.] The third responsible organ for these unfortunate events is the League of Nations, which, during the past fifteen years, never took the Assyrian question seriously enough to achieve a solution for this grave problem. Meanwhile, it accepted Iraq into the circle of its family. Until now the League has not taken any necessary steps against its member to a halt to these outrages.
I do agree with Mr. Akrawi that the Assyrians are mismanaged by their leaders and exploited by foreign interests to their detriment. Another instance of this fact is found in the action of the French Government, whose High Commissioner in Syria, General Goro, sent a commission to Tiflis, then in the hands of the Mesheviki, to lure Assyrians into new conflict by promulgating the sloan, "Syria for Assyrians." A small portion of Assyrians succumbed to this propaganda and went to Syria, where they were immediately armed and put against the Arabs.
The Assyrians are a peaceful and industrious people, but have been subject to exploitation and mismanagement because, lacking the security of a homeland of their ow, they also lacked stability and unity of purpose. Naturally they have no grievance against any of their neighbors.
Paul G. Edger.
New York, Aug. 30, 1933.
Irak Looms Again as Center of Trouble With Death of King Feisal, Massacre of Assyrians
One of the last statements attributed to King Feisal, whom Lawrence of Arabia made to stand before the world as the shrewd and resolute leader who "would bring the Arab revolt to glory," was in denial of reports that his forces in Irak, joined by Kurdish tribesmen, have been massacring the Assyrians. "It is disgraceful to talk about such a thing," said Feisal and within a few days he was dead.
The King of Irak, though but 48, was old in war and its councils. There was a time, according to the story, when the Arab chiefs came from far to sit at his feet and, before they departed, swore to "wait when he waited, march when he marched, to yield obedience to no Turk, to deal kindly with all who spoke Arabic, and to put independence above life, family and goods."
Then there came freedom and Feisal, the leader in war, was without a cause. The man who Lawrence said would "die of too much action" became the administrator and probably an uneasy one. All that had been hoped for with Independence did not appear: disillusionment came to the camp. Within less than a year after the termination of the British mandate over Irak, Feisal is dead and a new king, only 21 years old, has the task of keeping together factions which his father held in loyalty.
The new king faces the charges of the world, particularly of England and France, that his men are mistreating the Christian Assyrians of whom it is said no more than forty thousand are left. The trouble is said to have started when the Assyrians protested because the Irak Government had not kept its word and placed them in compact homogeneous communities. They crossed, a thousand strong, into French Syria and voiced their complaints. The French press says that Britain and the League of Nations have definite responsibilities and must take steps to prevent new butchery. Much of the subject is made in Paris because, right now, there is talk of giving freedom to Syria, France's mandate, and it is being argued that such action would only court troubles of the kind which have come to Irak. London papers regret that in giving up the mandate no provision was made for the care of the Assyrians and suggest that the League is not blameless.
So there is talk, and what is going on back in the neighborhood of Baghdad and Dohuk remains somewhat obscure. With Feisal gone, Irak once more may swarm with trouble.
To Appeal For Assyrians
Deported Patriarch Leaves Cyprus to Present Case to League
NICOSIA, Cyprus, Sept. 23. – Mar Shimun, the young Patriarch of the Assyrians, left for Geneva yesterday to present the case of his people before the League of Nations. The British authorities granted him permission to leave his exile for the purpose.
The Patriarch was deported to Cyprus following the recent massacres of Assyrians by Iraqi troops. The Iraq government alleged hat he was responsible for a political rebellion that had to be quelled by the army.
20,000 Assyrians Find Havens.
GENEVA, Sept. 28 (AP). – Twenty thousand Assyrians, unhappy under Iraqi rule, will probably migrate to British Guiana and to Nigeria in French West Africa. The Council of the League of Nations was informed today that Great Britain and France had offered hospitality in those colonies. Resolutions of thanks were adopted.
ASYLUM FOR THE ASSYRIANS
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The New York Times published recently a dispatch from Geneva referring to the Assyrian migration to new "havens" in which it was stated that Great Britain and France offered their hospitality to 20,000 Assyrians to whom life in Iraq had become intolerable. Great Britain and France are particularly responsible for the plight of the Assyrians today.
In 1914, when the World War was in full swing, both sides tried to utilize any single unit of human power. In order to bring the Assyrians into the Allies' camp, promises were made to them about "restoration" of the lost Assyrian glory. Thus the Assyrians joined the Allies.
They played a prominent role in the Orient. They lost about 50 percent of their number, together with all possessions, accumulated through the centuries. They were made the enemies of their own kinsmen, Arabs, Kurds and Turks. All these worthless sacrifices were made for the sake of that promised "haven," Mesopotamia, the ancient fatherland of the Assyrians. After the war was over the Allies forgot their small friends.
Climate Is Unsuitable.
Now when no need remains for the Assyrians in the Orient, Great Britain and France are trying to utilize the remaining forces of this nation in their colonies. They are offering them another new haven, this time in British Guiana and French West Africa in the torrid zone, where the Assyrians, not being accustomed to these conditions, soon would perish.
The migration of 20,000 Assyrians to British Guiana and French West Africa would still further break this nation into small disorganized groups. Meanwhile, Assyrians as an intruding minority will suffer the usual fate of minorities. No doubt in both colonies they would be granted equal rights with natives, which happen to be hard labor, long hours and meager wages. Thus would an historic nation be invited, under guise of hospitality, to its own suicide.
But still there is hope, and a strong one. The entrance of Soviet Russia into the League of Nations opens a new chapter in Assyrian history.
In U. S. S. R. the question of national minorities is solved. More than one-third of the Assyrians are living in Soviet Russia. Their status is one of absolute social and political equality with all other nationalities.
Live in Peace in Russia.
In U. S. S. R. the Assyrians have built their own towns, opened schools, organized theatres, clubs, kindergartens, creches, &c., and have periodicals in their own tongue. They live in full peace and harmony with their neighbors and themselves. Their cultural achievements are far beyond expectations. In Iraq they are being betrayed by their selfish leaders and are forgotten by their friends. They are living under the constant shadow of death. The bloody events of August, 1933, are still fresh in our minds.
The League of Nations with Soviet Russia as a member has all facilities to execute justice in their behalf. The Assyrians are a persistent and industrious people, but while in the Orient they are made a tool for political and economical exploitation. There they belong to somebody else but not to themselves.
The Assyrians need a place where they can live in peace and tranquility. Weighing all facts, we can judge that Soviet Russia is the only country where they will survive and prosper. It is for the League to use its good offices and take up this important matter with Soviet representatives in order to settle Assyrians in U. S. S. R. in one community. We are sure this will present a final and practical solution to the problem of a new and suitable haven for this ancient nation.
PAUL G. EDGAR
New York, Oct. 31, 1934.
Favor Refuge for Assyrians.
GEORGETOWN, British Guiana, Dec. 22 (Canadian Press). The League of Nations Commission examining the Rupununi district as a possible settlement for 30,000 Assyrians from Iraq were favorably impressed and would recommend the area, dispatches from the interior intimated today. The members of the commission are expected to return to Georgetown early in January.
Rebellious Yezidis Are Subdued in Iraq
Punitive Force Ends Resistance of Devil-Worshippers to Nationalistic Decrees
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 25. – The army has just completed successful operations against a section of Yezidis, or devil-worshippers, in the Jebel-Sinjar area, eighty miles west of Mosul.
After the Assyrians, the Yezidis are the next minority to suffer from the ultra-nationalist and centralizing policy of the Iraqi government. They are a strange, aloof people who worship the devil as the creative agent of a supreme god and seek to propitiate him as the author of evil. They avoid mentioning his name and represent him as a peacock.
Although at first suspicious and distant, these people eventually became on good terms with the British authorities under the mandatory regime. The Iraqi Government declared martial law following the refusal of these Yezidis to register their names with the army under the National Defense Law, which came into operation a few months go. A punitive column, including airplanes, quickly subdued the dissidents, whose casualties were heavy. Their leader, Daud Aldaud, was wounded but escaped to Syria with his songs. Iraq is now demanding their extradition.
Their operations finished, the troops are remaining in the disturbed area during he trial of the insurgents by court-martial. Many have already been sentenced to imprisonment and one to death.
COUNCIL OF LEAGUE WILL MEET JUNE 26
GENEVA, June 13. – Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary, definitely announced to the League of Nations that the Council would meet June 26, instead of June 16, and there would be four points on the Agenda. These are the Ethiopian question, the Locarno problem, the slavery committee's report and the settlement of Assyrians in Iraq.
UPRISING BY ARMY IS FEARED IN IRAQ
Assassination of the Defense Minister Causes Consternation in the Country
PARLIAMENT IS DISSOLVED
Companion of Lawrence in War Against the Turks and Germans Is Killed.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 31. – Although there has been no actual revolution in Iraq as yet, the situation is extremely critical. The assassination of General Jafar Pasha al-Askari, Defense Minister in the fallen Cabinet of Yassin Pasha al-Hashimi, has aroused great consternation and may lead to far more serious consequences.
While driving in his car about fifteen miles north of Baghdad the Defense Minister was held up by six army officers, who fired thirty bullets into him. Yassin Pasha and Rashid Ali Bey Gailani, former Minister of the Interior, both fled to Syria.
General Bakir Sidky Pasha, the newly self-appointed dictator, who was responsible for Thuesday's coup d'etat, is a notorious figure in the country. He was almost entirely responsible for the massacre of thousands of Assyrians in 1933 and also for the killing of hundreds of Yezidis (devil worshipers), as well as many other tribes of Iraq. While fearless, he is at the same time ruthless. He originally was a Turkish staff officer, who, after the Assyrian massacre, received the title of Pasha and was appointed major general by the late King Feisal despite the British Ambassador's protests.
This coup d'etat was purely a political manoeuvre having the full approval of King Ghazi and prepared by one of his closest advisers.
Well-informed political circles expect a serious uprising within the army ranks, since it now transpires that General Bakir Sidky Pasha had not informed the majority of the army officers of his intention of overthrowing he government and establishing a dictatorship. It seems that most of the army offices were devoted to the fallen Premier, who is a former general.
General Election Planned
BAGHDAD, Oct. 31. – Preliminary to a general election, King Ghazi dissolved the Iraq Parliament today shortly after the new government of Hkimat Bey Suleiman had exiled three members of the deposed cabinet of former Premier Yassin Pasha al-Hashimi.
"The government desires the public interest to be the chief concern of all and to achieve this aim all personal interests must be eliminated," an official communiqué said.
"Constitutional principles demand full cooperation between the Executive and the Legislature, such cooperation being particularly essential at the present time to enable the Cabinet to carry out contemplated reforms."
Aide of Lawrence Killed
CAIRO, Egypt, Oct. 31 (AP). – The death of Ja'Far Pasha, former companion of Corporal T. E. Shaw, Lawrence of Arabia, during the Iraqi military coup was reported here today.
Ja'Far was twice Iraq minister to London and fought on both sides in the World War, first assisting Germany and Turkey. He leaned from a German submarine on the North Libyan Coast and led tribesmen against the allied troops in two successful battles.
Later he was captured and imprisoned in Cairo where he tried to escape from jail by sliding down knotted blankets. The opulent general's weight snapped the blanket rope and he fell into a moat and injured his ankle.
Officials agreed to his parole after the general agreed to pay for the blankets.
Infuriated by newspaper reports that the Turks had abused Arab Nationalists, Ja'Far joined the Allies and assisted Lawrence in the campaign against the Turks.
At the end of the war he was honored by a military parade in which British soldiers, his former jailers, marched past in review.
Two Iraq Natives Slay Missionary, Washington Told
WASHINGTON, June 13. – (INS) – The state department has been informed of the slaying of the Rev. Roger Craig Cumberland, American Presbyterian missionary, at Dohuk, Iraq, by two natives.
Cumberland, according to a brief dispatch, was shot twice by the natives yesterday, dying in the hospital at Mosul.
The wounded missionary was flown to Mosul in an effort to save his life in an airplane of the Iraq royal air force. He was born at LaVerne, Calif., and his legal residence was Los Angeles. He had lived in the near east for many years.
California Missionary Is Slain in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 15. – (AP) – Authorities hunted today the Kurdish slayer of Roger Craig Cumberland, young American missionary, who was shot Sunday in his home at Dohuk, Northern Iraq.
Cumberland, whose home was LaVerne, Calif., represented the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, with headquarters in New York.
Slayer of Missionary Hunted
BAGDAD, Irak, June 16. (AP). – Authorities are hunting the Kurdish slayer of Roger Craig Cumberland, young American missionary who was shot Sunday in his home at Dohuk, northern Iraq. Cumberland had been in Iraq ten years. He died in a hospital at Mosul.
France to Limit Immigrants
PARIS, Jan. 14. – Presiding today in the Foreign Office at the first meeting of the Committee to Aid Refugees, Foreign Minister Georges Bonet said that while France was disposed to continue to aid Stateless fugitives the country had 3,400,000 immigrants, of whom 200,000 were recent political refugees, and could not be expected to go on to the detriment of French workers who were already suffering from the country's generous immigration policy.
The meeting was attended by Cardinal Verdier and by Red Cross, medical and charity officials.
"The French Government," said M. Bonnet, "greeted President Roosevelt's noble initiative last year with an ardent desire to help. Nevertheless, you must remember the repeated waves of immigrants that events from soon after the World War tor event tiles rolled up on our shores. Russians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Turks, Assyrians, Georgians, Italians, Spaniards, Rhineland Germans, 'non-Aryan' Germans and Austrians – we have extended hospitality to them all.
"France, with 40,000,000 inhabitants within the homeland borders, today had 3,200,000 foreigners as well as a low estimate of 200,000 refugees. No other country has done as much. We have taken care of 75,000 Russians, 65,000 Armenians, 5,000 Saar Germans and several thousand Austrian Catholics. During recent months more than 100,000 'non-Aryan' Germans crossed the frontiers into our country and we have had to find lodging, food and work for al and our effort continues unabated.
When British forces decided to attack and take Syria before the Germans could gain a foothold there, war came again to Bible Land. And the names of the cities in the daily report of the progress of fighting are the familiar names of the Old Testament – Sidon and Tyre and Canaan and Lebanon.
It was in this part of the world that the civilizations of the ancient flourished. The battles being fought today roar over the ruins of buildings St. Paul may have visited. War planes circle over abandoned caravan routes along which the spices and fine fabrics of the east were once brought to Europe.
Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.
Persia Promises Sanctuary To the 60,000 Iraq Assyrians
LONDON, March 21. – Persia has consented to give refuge to the Iraq Assyrians, it is reported here, where the concession is regarded as a friendly gesture following the Anglo-Persian oil dispute.
These Assyrians were Britain's allies in the World War, in which their numbers were reduced from 150,000 to 60,000. They constitute the oldest church in Christendom.
Having failed to establish their rights before the League of Nations, they found their position untenable in Iraq after that country left the British mandate, but they hope to prosper in tobacco growing in Persia, where no distinction is drawn between creeds.
Assyrians Name Delegation
Joseph J. Darna, president of the Assyrian National Federation of America, and Samuel Asian, vice president, were appointed yesterday as delegates to accompany Patriarch Mar Shiman XXIII of the Church of the East and the Assyrians, to San Francisco. They will inform delegates of the United Nations of the plight of the Assyrians in the Near East, it was announced after an emergency meeting of the executive council of the organization.
"BEAUTY OF THY HOUSE"
Like American Catholics, Archbishop Nissan believes a neat church helps the people to hear Mass better. So he asked us to beg funds to repair and paint a tiny chapel at DOHUK, Iraq. The parishioners gave all they could. Will you add $20?
KURDS EYE SOVIET FOR INDEPENDENCE
Minority in Iraq Charges Baghdad With Economic and Cultural Neglect
By ROBERT C. DOTY
SULAIMANIYA, Iraq, June 20 – Kurdish nationalism, which has boiled over in violent rebellion four times in the last thirty-five years, has made an ominous swing to the left since World War II.
The leaders of the Kurdish minority – more than 1,000,000 strong, one-fifth of Iraq's population – do not bother to dissemble their dislike of the Baghdad Government and of Britain and the United States which, they believe, dominate it.
In these circumstances, with the Soviet border only 150 miles away across a strip of Kurd-inhabited Iran, there is a tendency among Kurdish leaders to look toward the Communist world as a source of pressure for redress of their real and imagined grievances.
It was under Soviet sponsorship that the one experiment in Kurdish independence, the Kurdish People's Republic, was set up in December, 1945, at Mehabad, Iran. The Kurds recall also that it was Western arms and diplomatic pressure that forced abandonment of this experiment the following year.
Sentiment Is Opportunistic
Conversations with Kurdish spokesmen, and with foreign observers familiar with the problem, in the course of a five-day trip through the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq point tot he following conclusions:
¶ Leftist sentiment among the Kurds is opportunistic and political rather than ideological. In most cases it could be expressed as "the enemy (the Soviet Union) of my enemy (the Western-oriented Arab Government of Iraq) is my friend."
¶ This sentiment cuts across class lines, from landlord to tenant farmer, an indication of its political rather than economic motivation, but is strongest among young intellectuals, lawyers and teachers, and weakest among the apolitical, work-burdened peasantry.
¶ Active agitation for Kurdish autonomy or independence is not currently apparent. A majority of articulate Kurds, however, still give allegiance to the idea of Kurdish separatism. In time of war or other general upheaval, the Kurds probably could be counted on to make a new bid to set up an independent Kurdistan, comprising sections of Turkey, Iraq and Iran from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.
¶ Free elections in the Kurdish liwas (provinces) of Kirkuk, Erbil, Mosul and Sulaimaniya would produce a heavy majority of deputies favoring either neutralism or a more active policy of friendship with Moscow.
No Active Separatism
Although there is no active organization seeking to separate the Kurds from Iraq, discussion in tea-houses and clubs centers on a two-stage objective. On a short-term basis, Iraqi Kurds discuss establishment of a system in which the Kurds would have semi-autonomous status in a federal system linked with the Arab south under the Iraqi crown.
At the same time, they keep in the back of their minds the ultimate objective of a greater Kurdistan, in which the Kurds of Iraq would be linked with the Kurds of Turkey, Iran, Soviet Armenia and Syria.
"What would be the reaction of Iraqi Kurds to an offer by the U. S. S. R. to help them to establish such a state within the Soviet system?" was a question put to Massoud Mohammed Djelli, the young lawyer elected to the Baghdad parliament.
"That's very difficult to answer," was the reply. "We wouldn't refuse the aid of any government for the establishment of a free Kurdistan."
Separatist sentiment among the Kurds of Iraq arises from the fact that they have little but religion in common with the Arab majority.
By race, by language and by culture, they assert, they are distinct from the peoples with whom they were linked politically in the arbitrary division of the Ottoman Empire by Britain and France after World War I.
The Kurds are an Armenoid people with proto-Nordic strains, round-headed, often fair-skinned and with light or reddish hair. The Arabs, on the other hand, are dark, long-headed Mediterranean types. Kurdish is a language related to the Indo-Aryan family having not the remotest likeness to Semitic Arab spoken by the majority of Iraqis.
Finally, the Kurds are mountaineer with the special talent for independence and resistance to authority that is associated with that term. The habit of revolt is ingrained.
Dissatisfaction today centers on the contention that the Baghdad Government has done little or nothing to combat poverty, illiteracy and sickness in the Kurdish areas of northern and eastern Iraq. It is further charged that the central government discourages Kurdish efforts to maintain a distinctive Kurdish culture.
Documenting the first charge, the citizens of Koi Sanjaq, tobacco-growing center fifty miles north of Kirkuk, point to their unsuccessful efforts to obtain an all-weather road. Even in summer it is a spine-jarring, axle-wracking four-hour expedition involving several fords and one river crossing by hand-operated ferry to reach the town.
In winter, when snow and rain swell streams and entire roads, it is a three to four-day trip from Koi Sanjaq to Kirkuk.
Cultural neglect, according to Mr. Djelli, the young leftist lawyer who represents Koi Sanjaq in Parliament, is indicated by the failure of the central government to provide material for study of Kurdish in schools after the first few grades.
He complained that there was only one newspaper in the country published in Kurdish, that here in Sulaimaniya.
"To have a Kurdish press you've gotta have Kurdish readers," he observed.
DREAM OF KURDS IS FADING IN IRAQ
Tribesmen and Brothers in Near-by Lands Called Too Weak to Build Own Nation
By KENNETT LOVE
Sulaimaniya, Iraq, March 6 – This sprawling town dominating a plain encircled by high mountains has been the capital for more than 200 years of an unborn country called Kurdistan.
Kurdistan is still perhaps the cherished dream of perhaps 2,000,000 tribesmen inhabiting the wild mountains reaching from northeastern Iraq across Iran and Turkey into the Soviet Union. But it is no longer the nightmare it was to the central Government of Iraq up to less than a decade ago.
The 600,000 Kurds living in Iraq have generally agreed that they are better off than their brothers across the frontiers and that in any case Kurds are neither well organized nor strong enough to establish a state for the time being.
The two Kurds in the present Cabinet are Mohammed Said Qazzaz, Minister of the Interior, and Ahmed Mukhtar Baban, Deputy Premier and descendant of the Arab dynasty that built Sulaimaniya. In their Zagros Mountain strongholds, the Kurds defied Turkish and Persian authorities for two centuries until the Turks destroyed their power in the early nineteenth century.
Premier Nuri as-Said is part Kurdish, but as an Arab nationalist he denies it.
The last of the great Kurdish nationalist leaders, Sheikh Mahmoud Barzinji, died here late last year at the age of 78.
In 1919 and again in 1922, Sheikh Mahmoud asserted the independence of Kurdistan with Sulaiminya as its capital. The second time he also proclaimed himself king and defied British mandatory authority for two years before being driven into Iran.
Sheikh Mahmoud's last major revolt was in 1930, and he proved loyal to the Government during Rashid Ali el Gailani's pro-Nazi coup in World War II.
At his funeral his coffin was pierced by shots fired in a fracas over the Government's refusal to release one of his sons from prison for the obsequies.
The son, Sheikh Latif, had been implicated with Kurdish nationalist brigands who raided and looted villages on the pretext of tax collecting and killed Government policemen until two or three years ago. He was sentenced last year to a four-year prison term in Basra.
The most recent Kurdish bid for statehood began in Barzan, 110 miles northwest of here, and led after two years of sporadic violence to a proclamation in December, 1945, of a Kurdish people's republic at Mehabad in the then Soviet-occupied northern Iran. It was supported by Mullah Mustafa and his army of 2,000 Barzanis from Iraq.
The puppet republic maintained a precarious existence for a little more than a year. Mullah Mustafa Barzani fled to the Soviet Union, from which he directs propaganda to Kurds promising to return to create Kurdistan.
Puppet Leader Assailed
But his desertion of Mehabad leaders discredited him here. A grizzled notable in a teahouse at Bazyan, military gateway to the Kurdish mountains, declared:
"We do not regard Mullah Mustafa or Khalid Bagdash of Syria as true Kurds. Communists have no feeling for their own nationality."
"Baleh, baleh" (Yes, yes), said an audience fo younger men, fierce and rakish looking in great turbans aquiver with black silk tassels. They were tight-fitting jackets and baggy trousers of dark striped cloth and brilliant sashes.
On the hard mud floor of the dark and smoky room, a cat and some chickens foraged among the benches. A police fortress was visible through the open doorway upon a rain-drenched knoll.
The old man talked of Kurdish history and legend, asserting that Iranian was a younger offshoot of the Kurdish tongue, which is Indo-European and not a Semitic language.
The old man recounted centuries of decisive battles at the famed Derbend e Barzan. Outside the pass in foothills and plains stretching toward the Kirkuk oil fields, Kurdish villages are fortified by loopholed mud walls. In mountain valleys inside the pass, they are not.
The semi-nomadic Pishdar tribe inhabiting about 200 villages north of the snow-capped Pira Magrun Mountain are the only Iraqi Kurds today living isolated from Iraqi authorities.
Kurdish mountaineers commonly wear bandoliers and carry rifles or pistols and daggers stuck in their sashes to protect their flocks against snow leopards, bears and wolves or rare bandits. Iraqi authorities do not object to these arms, but Iranians require that migrating herdsmen leave their weapons on this side of the border.
Kurds are Iraq's largest minority. They predominate in four northern lewas or governorates. Suleimaiya is the capital of one of those areas. The only concession nowadays to Kurdish nationality is a special law permitting the use of Kurdish instead of Arabic in primary schools.
The establishment of peace and order throughout Sulaimaniya Lewa is attributed largely to the benevolent but firm administration of Maj. Gen. Omar Aly, who was appointed Mutasarrif, or governor, in 1954. A pistol in hand, he often led punitive expeditions against brigands.
Today he is concentrating on the extension of roads, tracks, health, welfare, education and native industry to remote areas. These services have been greatly expanded, but there are still only eleven doctors for the whole lewa, about one for each 30,000 persons.
IRAQ NOW SOLVING KURDISH PROBLEM
Minority Danger from Folk on Soviet Border Seems Ended in New Projects
By HOMER BIGART
SULAIMANIYA, Iraq, May 23 – Iraq seems to have solved the Kurdish question. Until recently the most troublesome of of minorities, Iraq's 1,000,000 Kurds now docilely accept the rule of Baghdad.
The persistent dream of a Kurdish nation of nearly 5,000,000 carved from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Soviet Armenia is nearly extinct among southern Kurds who live in Iraq.
This historic capital of southern Kurdistan, scene of bloody recurrent risings against Baghdad's authority between the World Wars, no longer looks to the Soviet Union for guidance. Five years ago Sulaimaniya was a center of Communist propaganda and intrigue. Then perhaps 50 per cent of the population of the Liwa (province) was considered pro-Communist.
Now, according to Turkish authorities, fewer than 10 per cent fo the Liwa's 250,000 Kurds have Communist leanings. The Baku radio, chief fountain of Soviet propaganda for Kurdistan, no longer spouts daily broadcasts in Kurdish. The programs have become sporadic and scarcely audible. Baku's signal is weak and may be subject to jamming by Baghdad.
Similarly, the flow of Communist literature has almost dried up. Few copies of the Arabic Communist newspaper Itihad al Shab (Union of the People), published clandestinely in Baghdad (although some officials say they think it comes from Syria), are scattered furtively about, but with no apparent impact.
Reasons for the decline of Communist strength are not hard to find. Sulaimaniya is booming. Rows of raw new concrete houses appear on the northern end of the city. The population is now about 55,000, doubled since 1950.
There is no unemployment. Two of the most spectacular projects of Iraq's national development program are in Kurdistan, the great dams at Dokan on the Little Zab River and at Darbandi Khan on the Diyala.
In their verdant pastoral landscape, the uplands of Kurdistan present scenes of surpassing beauty. Eastward from the Kirkuk oil fields the Kurdish Highlands rise in a series of parallel limestone ridges each loftier than the last, enclosing deep valleys watered by springs and rivulets. Finally along the Iranian frontier is the main range of the Zagros mountains with many peaks above 10,000 feet and covered by snow.
This area has bred a hardy mountain folk, fiercely independent and contemptuous of the Arabs. The Kurds are a people with an ancient history speaking an Indo-European language similar to Iranian.
Inhabiting an area stretching from Kermanshah in Iran across the northeast corners of Iraq and Syria to Kars and Erzerum in Turkey, the Kurds are a homogeneous community split by the boundaries of five countries. Two million Kurds live in Turkey, 1,000,000 each in Iran and Iraq, 300,000 ni Syria and a smaller community in Soviet Armenia.
Britain and the Soviet Union have at times encouraged the Kurds to seek independence. Turkey and Iraq have had to suppress many Kurdish rebellions and, as late as 1947, Iran had to smash a Soviet-sponsored Kurdish Republic in Azerbaijan.
The restoration of security coincided with the return to power of Nuri as-Said as the strongman Premier of Iraq. Mr. as-Said saw that previous methods of dealing with this powerful minority ere painfully shortsighted. He decided to appease the Kurds by giving them a generous slice of the development program (to which Iraq applies 70 per cent of her oil revenues) and a disproportionately heavy share of top Government posts.
Today the portfolio of Minister of Interior, the second most important job in Iraq, is held by a Kurd, Saad Qazzaz. Other leading Kurds are Vice Premier Ahmed Mokhta Baban, the General Director of Police, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ali Ghailib, and the commander of the Northern Military District, Maj. Gen. Salim Zaki.
Mayor Favors Staying
The Kurds no longer feel at the mercy of an uncomprehending bureaucracy in distant Baghdad, Hassan Rifat, the Kurdish mayor of 100-per-cent Kurdish Sulaimaniya, told an American newsman:
"Most educated Kurds now feel it is better to stay with the Iraqi people. Our living standards are rising. Nobody wants trouble. The development program is binding the whole country together. There is no underground group working for separation."
Mayor Rifat, a graduate of the University of Michigan, said he was "astonished" by the Kurds' eagerness for schools and health centers.
Like the majority of Iraqi Arabs, the Kurds are Moslems of the Sunni sect, but there was little intermarriage until recently. Now marriage between Kids and Arabs is fairly common, Mayor Rifat said.
With this favorable outlook, the Kurds are showing little enthusiasm for any violent nationalistic adventures. Officials believe the Russian prospects of exploiting incipient Kurdish nationalism and using it to divide and weaken Iraq are exceedingly remote.
Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.