King Faisal II

King Faisal II

Faisal, the son of Faisal I of Iraq was born in Baghdad in 1935. His father was killed in a car accident in 1939. As he was only four years old his uncle, Emir Abd al-llah, became regent.

Educated at Harrow School in England, Faisal took power in 1953. The British continued to give its support to the government of Nuri es-Said. The Baghdad Pact, an agreement on collective security between the two countries, was signed in 1955.

Faisal's rule was destabilized by the events of the Suez Crisis. On 26th July 1956 Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt, announced he intended to nationalize the Suez Canal. The shareowners, the majority of whom were from Britain and France, were promised compensation. Nasser argued that the revenues from the Suez Canal would help to finance the Aswan Dam.

Anthony Eden, the British prime minister, feared that Nasser intended to form an Arab Alliance that would cut off oil supplies to Europe. On 21st October Guy Mollet, Anthony Eden and David Ben-Gurion met in secret to discuss the problem. During these talks it was agreed to make a joint attack on Egypt.

On 29th October 1956, the Israeli Army, led by General Moshe Dayan, invaded Egypt. Two days later British and French bombed Egyptian airfields. British and French troops landed at Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal on 5th November. By this time the Israelis had captured the Sinai peninsula.

Although Iraq was a close ally of Britain, King Faisal, under pressure from his own population, was forced to give his support to Egypt in the war. However, he upset Arab nationalists in 1958 when he opposed the plan to establish the United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria.

In July 1958 King Faisal and his entire household were assassinated during a military coup. Nuri es-Said attempted to escape from Baghdad disguised as a woman but he was captured and executed on 14th July, 1958.