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Coll 17/10(3) 'Internal: political situation; relations with HMG' [‎242r] (483/513)

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The record is made up of 1 file (256 folios). It was created in 29 Apr 1940-24 Oct 1941. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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FILE CQP Y^ 0 ^ '^ CKX>cu M ^
y !
Vith the Compliments
of the
nder Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs
9 A- (jjme j(,- 1940.
') *
[E 2095/2022/93]
fttoo to. ^ 0 .
Copy No.
Sir B. Newton to Viscount Halifax.—{Received June 4.)
(No. 235.)
My Lord, Bagdad, May 27, 1940.
THE Prime Minister dined with me as my only guest on the 24th May, and
after dinner discussed with me the present internal situation in Iraq.
2. He began by telling me that the public attitude towards the war had been
greatly improved by the measures which the Government had taken, and that
further measures were under consideration. There had been a meeting of the
High Defence Council, at which it had been decided that an ordinance should be
issued giving wide powers to the Minister of the Interior to deal firmly with
persons believed to be engaged in activities prejudicial to the welfare of the
Kingdom, and that if this measure proved to be inadequate martial law T should
be declared. Rashid Ali said that he had also talked with a number of tribal
leaders from different parts of the country, and had sent them home with material
with which to combat pro-Nazi talk.
3. I thanked his Excellency for the action already taken, the articles
inspired in the press, the banning of demonstrations and all public gatherings,
and for the further measures to which he was now about to give effect, but said
that, to my regret, I was not able to agree with his view that all was now well. A
beginning had been made, but it seemed to me that much remained to be done,
especially in such places as Mosul, Kirkuk and Basra.
4. Information that I had received from these places showed that anti-
British agitation was gaining rather than losing strength, and that for want of
instructions from the Government the local mutasarrifs and other senior officials
were taking no action either to check that agitation or to give an alternative lead
to public opinion. I knew that orders had been given that no demonstrations
were to be allowed, but this was not in itself enough; in order to avoid the
danger of disorders it was essential that in the provinces as well as in Bagdad
the Government should give a clear positive lead to the people to stand solidly
behind them in their policy of close collaboration with Great Britain. I also
pointed out that though it was a step in the right direction for the Government,
like all other Governments, to take special powers to deal with treachery and
treason within the country, it was almost equally important that they should
inform the people of what they were doing a4id of the purpose for which these
special powers would be used. At present the people in most parts of the country
were still without a clear lead on many vital points concerning Iraq’s position
in the war, and for want of that lead and for want of a knowledge of the measures
that the Government were taking to maintain order, public opinion was in a
dangerous state of nervous uncertainty. Much of this would be dispelled if the
Government would tell the people at once of their intention to govern firmly and
to deal severely with traitors and intriguers.
5. The Prime Minister said that he agreed with all that I had said, but
felt obliged to remind me of a point that he had often made before. No matter
what steps were taken by the Government to check malicious propaganda and to
give a wholesome lead to public opinion, no real or lasting successes could be
achieved in the development of a strong pro-British sentiment among the people
unless the problem of Palestine was satisfactorily solved. No appeal to the people
to rally to the Anglo-Iraqi Alliance would obtain a wide response unless it was
coupled with a declaration of the removal of Arab grievances in Palestine.
6 . I said that I could not altogether agree with His Excellency’s view. It
seemed to me that in Iraq the agitation about Palestine was carried on not so
much by Iraqis as by the Palestinian refugees—people who were not concerned
in Iraq welfare and whose sole object was to cultivate extraneous interests in
Palestine. As regards a solution of the Palestine question. His Majesty’s
[ 6 - 21 ]
15 JON <*40
INDIA OFFICE The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors.

About this item


This file is a continuation of IOR/L/PS/12/2861. It contains correspondence and memoranda regarding relations between HMG Her or His Majesty’s Government in London. and the Government of Iraq, and documents the reaction of the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. and Foreign Office to political developments within Iraq. The papers primarily consist of communications between HM Ambassador to Iraq and HM Foreign Secretary, regarding the cabinet of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, his resignation in January 1941 and the formation of a new cabinet under Taha al-Hashimi, and the resumption of power by Rashid Ali backed by the military in April 1941. The file concludes with papers detailing the escape of the Regent 'Abd al-Ilah, and initial negotiations with Rashid Ali's Government of National Defence.

The papers include detailed discussion of the relations between Iraq and the Axis Powers, and attempts by the British to persuade the Government of Iraq to sever diplomatic ties with Italy. They also discuss British concerns over the growing anti-British sentiment in Iraq, as a result of British interference in Iraqi internal affairs and British policy towards Palestine and Syria. Amongst the papers are intelligence reports on the 'Golden Square' Generals (folios 58-59), and a copy of British plans to undermine the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini (folios 194-195). The file also contains a small number of communications from the Government of Iraq, and from HM Ambassadors to Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the USSR.

Folios 4-8 concern the affairs of the family of the late Khan Sahib Badruddin Khan, and appear to have come from a different file.

Extent and format
1 file (256 folios)

The papers are arranged in rough chronological order from the rear to the front of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the last folio with 256; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. Two additional foliation sequences are also present in parallel between ff 2-256, and ff 206-225; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled.

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English in Latin script
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Coll 17/10(3) 'Internal: political situation; relations with HMG' [‎242r] (483/513), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2862, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 28 February 2020]

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