The Second Great War No. 42

Glsaptcr 165 SUPPRESSION OF THE RASHID ALI REVOLT IN IRAQ The Iraqi Quisling— Axis Intrigues and Infiltration— First Act in a Middle Eastern Plot— Iraqi Attack on R.A.F. Station— Germans Send Aircraft— Iraqis Ejected from Habbaniya— Capture o f Fallujah— Imperial Forces Reach Baghdad— Rashid Ali Flees— British Capture Mosul— Rebels Ask fo ran Armistice— Return o f the Regent The Iraq trouble flared up at the beginning of April. 1941, follow­ing the action of Rashid Ali al-Gailani, the Iraqi quisling designate of the Axis, in bringing about a “palace revolution ”on April 3 and assuming power. It had really begun earlier, when tlie Germans started intriguing with Rashid Ali and the four Iraqi army commanders known collectively as the “Golden Square.” These com­manders were Salah ed-Din, commander of the Western Army Kamil Shabid, commander of the 1st Division Fahmi Said, commander of the Mechanized Forces and Mahmud Salman, com­mander of the Air Force. Rashid Ali had been Premier until his resignation on January 31. The German intrigue in Iraq formed part of an ambitious Axis plan, and was no mere isolated episode. The plan from Libya to the borders of Afghanistan and India. Like all Hitlerian projects of the kind the ingredients of the German plan were the usual ones of the com­bination of Fifth Column action from within with military attack from with­out. The Germans played upon the Nationalist feelings and personal ambi­tions of Rashid Ali and the four com- Golden Square, promis- political and financial support, and the usual bait that if Iraq did the Axis bidding it would abe leader in Hitlers New Order in the Middle East. Rashid Ali was to stage his revolt and the Germans Would then come to his assistance. Vichy was to play the role in Syria of allowing the Germans to use that country as abase for aerial opera­tions in Iraq and a jumping-ofE place for a bigger operation against Britain in the Middle East. German ’planes with Iraqi mar kings did for a time reach Iraq, but Rashid Ali may have been too precipitate. In any case the promptness and energy of the British reply were such that his revolt was in the process of being broken before it reached the stage at which the Germans were in a position to intervene. This, together with the British inaction Syria, forestalled the Germans, who had to leave Rashid Ali in the lurch. was designed to turn us out of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediter­ranean and to isolate us from our Turkish ally. It envisaged the Iraq revolt as the first act in a Middle' Eastern drama of which the second act was to be Syria, the third Iran (Persia), and the fourth Egypt. The Middle East is to be understood as a military command, replacing the older political term the Near East, manders of the This military area, first under the ing military, command of General Wavcll and later under General Auchinleck, -consists of Northern Africa (Libya and Egypt), Syria (with Lebanon and Trans­ jordan), “Saudi Arabia and Oman, Iraq and Iran. It thus stretches The British acted with commend­able speed because they realized, no less than the enemy, the big strategic issues involved. They knew that a German success in Iraq would make possible not only the establishment of the Axis in Iraq and Syria but would bring about the isolation of Turkey. Moreover, it would have meant a blow to our prestige throughout the Arab world, with the most deplorable con­sequences both military and political. Last, but not least, there was the •MAJOR GLUBB AND THE TRANSJORDAN FRONTIER FORCE APolitical Officer in Iraq in the war of 1914-18, Major (local Colonel) John Bagot Glubb, O.B.E., M.C., was transferred to Transjordan fn 1932 to command the Arab Legion. During the Iraq operations of 1941 he was an inspiration to all who worked with him with a mechanized squadron he led forays and harassed the enemy’s communications. Later, in Syria, when attacked by an enemy mechanized column he completely routed it, taking 80 prisoners and much war material. He was awarded the D.S.O. Inset, Major Glubb the other photograph shows a unit of the mechanized squadron of the Legion on patrol in Syria. I'liotos, British Official Crown Copyright Planet News
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