Invade! Occupy! Defeat! Repeat!
|British troops entering Baghdad - 1917||British soldiers listen to a sermon from the Chaplin before the war - Kuwait 2003|
History, it is said, repeats: first as tragedy, then as farce. As events unfold in Fallujah and the Iraqi occupation continues its awful course, parallels emerge with another failed occupation of the country some 100 years earlier.
Almost everything-from the invasion, the imposition of provisional government, the violent insurrection, to the aerial bombardment of towns-represents a tragic rerun of the British occupation of Iraq in the early 20th century.
Like the US invasion, the British invasion began, in 1917, with the promise of "liberation". In his "Proclamation to the People of Baghdad", General Stanley Maude promised the Iraqi people that after 26 generations had "suffered under strange tyrants", the armies of the British Empire "do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators."
It was, of course, a lie. The intent was not to "liberate" the Arabs from Turkish Ottoman rule, but to occupy oil-rich Mesopotamia; a fact made clear when, on April 28th, 1920, the League of Nations awarded Britain a mandate over Iraq, thus legitimizing the occupation.
The British appointed Sir Percy Cox and his assistant, Gertrude Bell as the colonial administers of Iraq. Demonstrating the same self-delusion that characterizes contemporary discussion on Iraq, Bell wrote that soon the "uncivilized tribes" of Iraq would come to love and adore the British Empire and its ways. The Iraqi people, Bell wrote, "want us to control their affairs and they want Sir Percy as high commissioner".
The blinding hubris was shattered when, in July 1920, the Iraqi people revolted. The resistance was, like today, largely religiously-inspired. In a letter dated August 21, 1921, Bell complained of a "a tall black bearded alim (cleric) with a sinister expression. We tried to arrest him early in August but failed. He escaped from Baghdad and moved about the country like a flame of war, rousing the tribes." His name was Sayyid Muhammad al-Sadr and it is his descendent Muqtadar al-Sadr who likewise vexes the occupiers.
Faced with a growing problem of anti-colonial violence in what it is today called the Sunni Triangle, the British called for Lt. Col. Gerald Leachman, a specialist in putting down native uprisings in the far flung corners of the Empire. His methods were effective but brutal, having said, "the only way to deal with the tribes is wholesale slaughter."
It was, however, Leachman who got slaughtered; shot dead by a Sunni cleric named Sheikh Dhari. The killing of Leachman made Dhari a folk hero and sparked an uprising that would leave 10,000 Iraqis and 1,000 British soldiers dead in its wake. Today, Sheikh Harith al-Dhari, the descendent of Leachman's killer, heads the Association of Islamic Scholars-the organization widely regarded as the 'public face' of the Sunni insurgency and the leader of Iraq's Sunni community.
Winston Churchill, Minister of the Colonies, ordered the use of poison-gas and fierce aerial bombardment to stop the uprising. Thousands of men, women and children were killed, whilst Churchill charged his critics as men who "don't think clearly" and that he had no issue "using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes". Arthur "Bomber" Harris, the British air-force hero, oversaw the bombing campaign, gloating in his diary, "the Arab and the Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within 45 minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of the inhabitants killed or injured by four or five machines." One of those villages is today a town called Fallujah.
In similar fashion to the installation of Iyyad Allawi in Iraq and Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, Britain installed the hitherto unknown "Prince" Faisal as King. In 1930, Faisal signed a "treaty" that provided a pretence of independence but ensured that Britain retained control with an ongoing military presence and continued management of Iraqi oil production.
The Iraqi people rebelled against the British-backed Faisal dynasty in 1930, 1941, 1948, and 1956. In 1958, a military coup finally overthrew the King and his Prime Minister.
After sacking the British embassy, the people gathered at the statue of General Stanley Maude, their "liberator", that dominated the grounds. Finally free of British occupation, they toppled the statue and smashed it into pieces.
Although the flag emblazoned on the bombs has changed, today's occupation tracks the British experience with eerie accuracy-right down to the places and family-names that define the insurgency. As the uprising spreads and gains support, the United States and her allies will learn the same lesson of history that the British Empire learned: a people cannot be occupied indefinitely. As for the rest of us, we can learn that the only thing that is ever learnt from history is that nothing is ever learnt from history.
Amir Butler is executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC). He can be contacted at [email protected]
Why then were the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC) involved in oil exploration in Iraq in 1912? Why, in 1920, did the British convene the British-French San Remo Conference to discuss specifically how to handle Mesopotamian oil? Why were the TPC negotiating with the British for access to Iraqi oil as soon as British mandate was declared in 1920?
Clearly, they KNEW that Iraq was oil-rich before the first drillable supply was found in Kirkuk which is why they were fighting, haggling, and investing truckloads of money into searching for drillable supply! If it didn't exist, what were the British negotiating over and what were they dividing up between them, the French and the Iraqi interests?
Facts contradict everything you have to say on the matter.
CYCLE goes this way :>>>
Creation of a PUPPET > use him > Propoganda > invent allegations > UN-resolutions > Military and econonomic sanctions > UN Inspections > make country weak,defenseless > Attack > Invade > suck oil > destoy people and cities > bids and contracts > build > debts and poverty for many years to come >
Creation of another PUPPET... cycle goes on....
Britain got involved during WWI to secure Arab support in defeating the Axis Germany & Turkey with the help of Sherif Hussein of Hegaz & his three sons Ali, Abd Allah & Fiesel. In return for their support they were promised part of the war spoils. Abd Allah got the Kingdom of Jordon & Fiesel got Iraq. King Abd Allah the grand father of king Hussein of Jordon was the one who negotiated with the Jews during the 1948 war, his grand son king Hussein not to be out done by his grand father leaked to the Israelis the 1973 plan he got to know from Egypt & Syria! The Hashemite claims to be direct descendents of the Prophet Mohamed what an irony!
As far as the British choice for whom rules makes sense in pragmatic terms, who want rulers that doesn't take his side.
It was in 1961 when Yemeni revolted against Imam Ahmed their ruler and Saudi Arabia supported the ruling clan against the will of the people, as recent as few months ago Lebanon changed its constitution to accommodate a president acceptable to the Syrians & did I hear an objection from Amir?
By the way the name Amir in the Middle East means prince & also an adjective indicating good character including honesty, Amir sorry you no amir!
View points are subjective in nature but falsifying historical dates is beyond understanding.
"Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts." Q 22:46
"Many were the Ways of Life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth." Q 3:137
Thank you for writing this article, it points out the human failing of not learning and remaining in ignorance when the truth is there plain for us to see.
Thanks for enlightening us.