Nuri es-Said

Nuri es-Said

Nuri es-Said was born in Kirkup, Iraq, in 1888. He studied at the staff college in Constantinople and served with the Turkish Army during the First World War. In 1916 he changed sides and served us Chief of Staff to Faisal ibn Ali and in this position worked closely with T. E. Lawrence.

Faisal ibn Ali attended the Paris Peace Conference and on 10th March 1920 declared himself the King of Syria and Palestine. When he was deposed four months by the French the British authorities agreed that he could become King of Iraq. He took office on 23rd August 1921. The Kurds in the north of the country were unhappy with this arrangement and were involved in several uprisings against his rule.

Nuri Es-Said was given the role of establishing the Iraq Army and in 1930 became prime minister of Iraq. The British mandate for Iraq came to an end in October, 1932 and Iraq now entered the League of Nations as an independent state. However, Britain bound Iraq closely to the British Empire by a 25 year military alliance. Britain retained military bases in Iraq and exerted a strong political influence in the country. This included ensuring that the concession for oil exploration and exploitation to the Iraq Petroleum Company, a conglomerate of British, French and United States interests.

During the 1930s there were seven military coups. These all failed but Faisal I rule came to an end when he was killed in a car accident in 1939. He was now replaced by Faisal II and as he was only four years old his uncle, Emir Abd al-llah, became regent.

Nuri Es-Said was a pro-British leader and his decision to have four leading Iraqi communists executed in 1949 led to riots and demonstrations.Faisal II took over power from Emir Abd al-llah in 1953. The British continued to give its support to his government. 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 II 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.