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Monday, December 18, 2006

The 1950 Law for Renouncing Iraqi Jewish Citizenship

We failed to find any mention in any English source about the content of the 1950 law, which was passed by the Iraqi government in reference to Iraqi Jewish citizenship after the establishment of the State of Israel (1948). Most sources indicate that Iraqi Jews were persecuted and forced to migrate out of Iraq. Not only this is not true, the content of the 1950 law below proves it entirely WRONG.

The 1950 law's content has been published in various Arabic sources including (but not limited to) the Taareekh al-Wizaaraat al-Iraqiyya by Abdur-Razzaq al-Hasany and Safahaat min Taareekhil Iraqil Hadeeth by Hamid al-Hamdany. The 1950 law appears in its entirety in both of the above mentioned sources. In Hamid al-Hamdany's book, the articles of this law are enlisted in chapter 13 and can be accessed at

The 1950 law for Renouncing Iraqi Jewish Citizenship:

In Arabic
قانون إسقاط الجنسية عن اليهود العراقيين:ا

المادة الأولى : لمجلس الوزراء أن يقرر إسقاط الجنسية العراقية عن اليهودي العراقي الذي يرغب باختيار منه ترك
العراق نهائياً، بعد توقيعه على استمارة خاصة، أمام الموظف الذي يعينه وزير الداخلية

المادة الثانية : اليهودي العراقي الذي يغادر العراق، أو يحاول مغادرته بصورة غير شرعية تسقط عنه الجنسية العراقية
بقرار من مجلس الوزراء

المادة الثالثة : اليهودي العراقي الذي سبق له أن غادر العراق بصورة غير شرعية يعتبر كأنه ترك العراق بصورة نهائية إذا لم يعد إليه خلال مهلة شهرين من نفاذ هذا القانون، وتسقط عنه الجنسية من تاريخ انتهاء هذه المهلة
المادة الرابعة : على وزير الداخلية أن يأمر بإبعاد كل من أسقطت عنه الجنسية العراقية بموجب المادتين الأولى والثانية، ما لم يقتنع بناء على أسباب كافية بأن بقاءه في العراق مؤقتاً أمر تستدعيه ضرورة قضائية، أو قانونية، أو حفظ حقوق الغير الموثقة رسمياً

المادة الخامسة : يبقى هذا القانون نافذاً لمدة سنة من تاريخ نفاذه، ويجوز إنهاء حكمه في أي وقت خلال هذه المدة بإرادة ملكية تنشر في الجريدة الرسمية

المادة السادسة : ينفذ هذا القانون من تاريخ نشره في الجريدة الرسمية

المادة السابعة : على وزير الداخلية تنفيذ هذا القانون

كتب في بغداد في الثاني من شهر آذار سنة ألف وتسعمائة وخمسون ميلادية

ولم يكد يصدر هذا القانون حتى بادرت الطائرات الأمريكية بنقل اليهود المسقطة عنهم الجنسية إلى قبرص، ومنها إلى إسرائيل في بداية الأمر، ثم قامت برحلات مباشرة إلى إسرائيل فيما بعد، حيث تم نقل 130 ألف يهودي، تعزيزاً للدولة العبرية ورفدها بالطاقة البشرية) . ا

In English
The Law for Renouncing Iraqi Jewish Citizenship:
Submitted to the Iraqi Parliament on 2 March 1950

Article 1: The Council of Ministers decides to revoke the Iraqi citizenship of the Iraqi Jew who voluntarily chooses to leave Iraq conclusively, after signing a special form before the official appointed by the Interior Minister.

Article 2: The Iraqi Jew who leaves Iraq or tries to leave it illegally will have his citizenship revoked by decree from the Council of Ministers.

Article 3: The Iraqi Jew who previously and illegally left Iraq is considered as having left Iraq conclusively unless he returns to it within two months from the effective date of this law. His citizenship will be revoked after this period’s expiration date.

Article 4: The Interior Minister will order the deportation of everyone whose citizenship was canceled according to articles 1 & 2 of this law, if the Minister is not convinced, based on sufficient reasons, that [the person’s] stay in Iraq is temporarily required by a judicial or legal necessity or the protection of the officially documented rights of others.

Article 5: This law remains valid for a period of one year from its effective date. The law can be terminated at any time by a Royal Decree published in the Official Gazette.

Article 6: This law shall be implemented from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.

Article 7: The Interior Minister shall implement this law.
If you know of a non-Arabic source (in any language) that enlists the articles of the 1950 law above, kindly email it to

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Discussion about Iraqi Jews

The correspondence below provides information on the status of Jewish Arabs in IRAQ (from ancient times through their departure to Israel in the 1950s) and discusses the misconceptions about the subject matter. Those who participated in the discussion are members of the
History of IRAQ Yahoogroup. For better understanding of this lengthy correspondence, please begin reading from the bottom of this post and continue upwards.


Dear Wafaa'
This is just a quick response, mainly to address your request for a source on the full original text opf the 1950 law regarding the emigration and rescinding of the citizenship of Iraqi Jews.

Two books that will most probably between them together address your query are (and I am writing this from memory, as I have no access to these books right now, so the books' details will be incomplete and not 100% accurate):

(1)- Prof. Hanna Batatu's classic "The Old Ruling Classes and The Revolutionary Movements in Modern Iraq"; Princeton University Press, 1988 (or thereabouts)

(2)- Abbas Shiblaq's "The Lure Of Zion The Case Of The Iraqi Jews" (published in the UK, in the 1980s) (In both cases, the titles as I have stated them may not be 100% accurate, but very close)

While I do not agree with everything that either of the above two books state (in fact, I and a number of other people have identified some very serious factual errors as well as errors of interpretation in both of them, and conveyed the same to the author of the first one, now deceased, who, after a long fight, conceded these in writing, promising to correct them in the next editions, graciously apologizing to me and the family, also in writing; he did make some, but not all, of the corrections that he had promised us in the Arabic edition) , they do nevertheless constitute some of the most reliable (in some instances highly valuable) sources when it comes to documentation and referencing. (The facts that these two books contain such errors is hardly surprising considering the acute slant in the backgrounds of their respective authors against the old Iraqi regime; Batatu, a Palestinian-Lebanese Christian turned communist, living in the USA, and Shiblaq, a Palestinian Leftist living in the UK; their preconceived notions and hell-bent condemnation of everything that had to do with the Royalist era in Iraq seep through their respective books from cover to cover, although sometimes more subtly than others. The late Batatu's mainstream thesis, thinly disguised, is to promote the cause of the Iraqi communist party, all the way through bemoaning its loss of opportunity to govern Iraq forever).

Another possible (albeit dubious) source, is an Israeli one (of Iraqi-Jewish origin) that I have heard of but have yet to read, is the memoirs of one of the main organizers of the Zionist terrorist/emigration operations "for" (even many Iraqi Jews would now say "against" rather) the Jews of Iraq in the 1940s and 1950s, namely Shlomo Hillel, published (originally in English, and soon after translated into Arabic) again in the 1980s. (No further details are available to me as I write, but, it can be found without too much trouble, if you are interested).

I am ccing a number of members on my e-mail list who may have some useful input to contribute to all this.




Dear Wafaa'

Thank you very much and may god bless you for this enthusiasm.

This is a quick addition to your letter.

Paragraph 2 : the IRAQ Farhood event in 1941, which was fueled by the Nazi-backed Rashid Ali Al-Ghailany ( as you have written ). I was living in Basra when the British invaded the city in April '41. Our house was near the big Bazaar in Ashar and we saw many men coming from the bazaar carrying different articles. That was our first experience of ' FARHOOD '. We went into the bazaar and saw people pillaging shops and big stores.We saw some British military men helping the pillagers force opening secure locks. This ' Farhood ' again was taking place in Baghdad when the British army entered the city at the end of May '41 and the escape of the government. Many people said that the incidence was instigated by the apparent joy that the Jews had shown when the Beitish army approached Baghdad. I believed this and believed that ' Farhood ' was against Jews as Jews until many decades later when I heard what happened in New York during power failure some years ago, and especially when I saw what happened in Baghdad on the 9th of April 2003. Interestingly, there were incidents of American military men force opening secure locks to help looters pillage secure stores. There were no JEWS! This looting, and may be the two ' Farhoods ' too, were the 'result' of lawlessness following the fall of government.



Dear friends,

I am a new comer to this group and my attention was drawn to the issue of Jews vs. Arabs. Tamara seems to have in mind the prevailing belief that Arabs came to Iraq ONLY with Islam and the area was inhabited by other people who were not Arabs. Before we go forward in any discussion, we must I believe agree on the terminologies used so as not be to going around in circles. What do we mean by the following terms: Arabs, Jews, Semites, Israelis and Hebrews?
I would be grateful if Tamara would answer as to how she understands these terms, after which I can perhaps elaborate on the subject.

My regards


Dear Tamara,

According to the Old Testament, Jews are the grand sons of Abraham. Abraham lived in Ur ( in present Iraq )before emigrating to Canaanite territories. Was he a "Tribe '' ALONE? And was he of different race other than the people around in Ur and elsewhere in Mesopotamia? History tells us that many '' WAVES "emigrated successively from the Arab peninsula. Where those ' Tribal Waves'? so we can say that this wave was Arabic and the other was Chaldean for example? How can you say affirmatively that Jews of Iraq existed in Mesopotamia prior to the move of Arabs from the Jazeera to Mesopotamia. Scholars of the Babylonian language find astonishing similarities between that language and Arabic. This should be sufficient proof that those people were the same people whom you think had come to ' Mesopotamia ' after the Jews.

Abdul Karim Hani


Dear Huda and Naser:

It is wonderful to hear from you both and receive your info. and commentary.

I will number my thoughts below, so that I won't forget any point:

1. Wikipedia is an excellent on-line encyclopedia, but it has some misconceptions and errors when it comes to matters related to the Arab and Islamic worlds.

2. This brings me to the top statement in the link about how Jews were facing discrimination, harassment and persecution in the Arab world, offering an outrageous generalization and exaggeration! The Jews in nearly all over the Arab world were not treated with discrimination in any field and I challenge anyone who undermines this reality. They were neither persecuted in the Arab world just because they were Jews, with the exception of the IRAQ Farhood event in 1941, which was fueled by the Nazi-backed Rashid Ali Al-Ghailany. So this statement provides a malicious accusation about Arabs in light of and in comparison with how the Christians of industrial west treated Jews: from discrimination to expulsion and persecution (since 1500s) including the 20th-century European holocaust.

3. No one who is well knowledgeable of history facts will accept the term 'antisemitism' when it comes to Arabs' misconducts. The term 'antisemitism' is native to and invented by Christian Europe to describe their own misconduct toward Jews, not to describe that of Moslems/Christians of the Middle East ESPECIALLY ARABS because the latter are Semites. How can they be anti-Semites when they are Semites. This is from a perspective of terminology usage. Additionally, Arabs treated and considered the Jews, who lived in the Middle East and North Africa, as Arabs, not to mention that Jews, in these regions, considered themselves, interacted with others and behaved as Arabs. Therefore, the term 'anti-Semitic' is not accepted in this Arab scenario, it describes a western phenomenon.

4. There are additional information regarding the bombing of synagogues by Israelis, which is not mentioned in the link below. It will be mentioned in the documentary film "The Other Arabs", which is scheduled for release in November.

5. FINALLY, I am looking for the exact words of the original 1950 law, hopefully the document itself that was passed by the Iraqi government with hopes that the Israelis since 2003 did not confiscate and burn such a document as it has been their conduct since the fall of Baghdad to the occupation in april 2003. This law has never been quoted 'as is' by Iraqi Jews, other Iraqis and Israelis alike at least in recent writing and documentation.

PLEASE help us locate this law.

I will be posting our recent discussion about Iraqi Jews on our History of Iraq blog and email you the link hoping to hear from others regarding this subject.

I also hope that the matter of Iraqi Jews will bring us to discuss and clarify other misconceptions and errors about other minorities within in IRAQ, i.e. the Sabieans.



Dear all:

Thanks to Huda Al-Safwani for the link she provided with regard the Iraqi Jews, for your convenient I posted it bellow (emphasize and color were added). It is so easy from the information in the link to understand that the Iraqi governments didn't expel the Iraqi Jews but most of them left the country under the pressure of the Zionist organizations which were trying to bring as much population as it can to Palestine even by bombing their places in Iraq. Nevertheless, most of the Iraq Jews left Iraq after a formal registration according to the law of 1950 which allowing Jews to emigrate on condition of relinquishing their Iraqi citizenship. In this case the Iraqi governments have the legal power and rights to frozen and later confiscate all foreigners properties especially if we know that according to Iraqi law (at least in that time) foreigners has no legal rights to have property in Iraq. Thus, there is no any legal ground to compensate any (Iraqi) Jews, on the contrary, according to the United Nations resolutions Israel should pay compensation to Iraq for its aggression on the Iraq (Tammuz) reactor on 1981.

With best wishes
Naser Mahmoud

Main article: History of the Jews in Iraq
In 1948, there were approximately 150,000 Jews in Iraq. In 2003, there were 100 left, though there are reports that small numbers of Jews are returning in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In 1941, following Rashid Ali's pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 200 Jews were murdered (some sources put the number higher), and up to 2,000 injured.

Like most Arab League states, Iraq forbade the emigration of its Jews for a few years after the 1948 war on the grounds that allowing them to go to Israel would strengthen that state. However, intense diplomatic pressure brought about a change of mind. At the same time, increasing government oppression of the Jews fueled by anti-Israeli sentiment, together with public expressions of antisemitism, created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

In March 1950, Iraq passed a law of 1 year duration allowing Jews to emigrate on condition of relinquishing their Iraqi citizenship. Iraq apparently believed it would rid itself of those Jews it regarded as the most troublesome, especially the Zionists, but retain the wealthy minority who played an important part in the Iraqi economy. Israel mounted an operation called "Ezra and Nehemiah" to bring as many of the Iraqi Jews as possible to Israel, and sent agents to Iraq to urge the Jews to register for immigration as soon as possible.

The initial rate of registration accelerated after a bomb injured three Jews at a café. Two months before the expiry of the law, by which time about 85,000 Jews had registered, a bomb at the Masuda Shemtov Synagogue killed 3 or 5 Jews and injured many. The law expired in March 1951 but was later extended after the Iraqi government froze the assets of departing Jews (including those already left). During the next few months, all but a few thousand of the remaining Jews registered for emigration, spurred on by a sequence of bombings that caused few casualties but had great psychological impact. In total about 120,000 Jews left Iraq.

In May and June of 1951, the arms caches of the Zionist underground in Iraq, which had been supplied from Palestine/Israel since the Farhud of 1942, were discovered. Many Jews were arrested and two Zionist activists, Joseph Basri and Abraham Salih, were tried and hanged for three of the bombings. A secret Israeli inquiry in 1960 reported that most of the witnesses believed that Jews had been responsible for the bombings, but found no evidence that they were ordered by Israel. The issue remains unresolved: Iraqi activists in Israel still regularly charge that Israel used violence to engineer the exodus, while Israeli officials of the time vehemently deny it. According to historian Moshe Gatt, few historians believe that Israel was actually behind the bombing campaign -- based on factors such as records indicating that Israel did not want such a rapid registration rate and that bomb throwing at Jewish targets was common before 1950, making the Istiqlal Party a more likely culprit than the Zionist underground. In any case, the remainder of Iraq's Jews left over the next few decades, and had mostly gone by 1970.


Dear Wafaa,
I hope this link maybe of use in this argument.

Kind regards
Huda Al-Safwani


Thank you, Wafaa'
I have been searching for this important and have-been-distorted law for months, but unable to locate it. I hope someone will email it to the group.

Earlier I made a mistake. I wrote, "Or all of these people are less important than their majesty the Iraqi Jews who chose to leave more than sixty years ago and now they regret it and won't to get some quick cash from IRAQ!"

I meant to write, "they regret it and WANT to get some quick cash...."

Walaa' Ali


Thank you, Tamara and Walaa', for the commentary.

It is extremely important to understand that with very few exceptions (Kurds and Turkmans), Iraqi Jews are near entirely Arabs. So to state that the Jews lived in Mesopotamia for thousands of years prior to Arabs is highly problematic. They were Arabs by tribe affiliation, language, ethnicity and customs, but they followed Judaism. Arabs did not just exist in Arabia (what is today Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Yemen). Tens of Arab tribes lived in what is today Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt from biblical times. The Qahtanis, Kanaanis, Adnanis and many other Arab tribes were living all over the Middle East long before Islam. Why don't you read about the ancient Arab history during queen Balqees (in Yemen) and queen Zenobia (in Laventine: Syria-Jordan)? You will then realize that Arabs did not only exist in Arabia and their history did not begin with Islam.

Here is where the Zionist Jews are highly contradicting themselves. On one hand they believe and document in their religious and history books that Abraham's wife, Hajer, and her-Abraham's son, Ismael, are Arabs. Yet they give no credit to Arab's existence before Islam!!

If anyone on this list has the 1949/50 law that was passed by Nouri As-Saeed regarding the Jewish Exodus, it would be greatly appreciated to email to us. If you have any link providing this law in Arabic and in English, will be ideal. If in Arabic only, I will translate it. I don't remember if this law was discussed in Samir's "Forget Baghdad" documentary.

Thanks for this stimulating discussion, which I hope it will bring us closer to the truth and have others on this list comment on this matter.




While we are aware of the Jewish presence in Mesopotamia for thousands of years, I found your commentary about the fact that they were there before the Arabs typical and due to lack of knowledge and misinformation. They are Arabs, Tamara. They are Jewish Arabs who lived in IRAQ for thousands of years, of whom some converted to Christianity and others to Islam later.

This is a Zionist propaganda about Jews not being Arabs and that they were living in Mesopotamia thousands of years before Arabs, and is very damaging and highly distorting IRAQ's history.

Nobody forced them to leave. The law was clear, if they left IRAQ to Israel, they'd lose their property. But no one forced them, they chose to leave IRAQ for their Zionist dreams. Thousands of Jews stayed in IRAQ with their normal daily lives, education, property and work intact all through the early 1970s. The Zionists used even bombs at their own Synagogues in IRAQ and Egypt (the Lavon Affair) to force the needed Jewish Arabs to flee to Israel so that they would be used as laborers, work in odd jobs and get discriminated against upon their arrival in Israel. They were even sprayed with DDT upon their arrival in Tel Aviv's airport. Why don't they ask the horrible and Zionist government of theirs for reparation not only for the properties that they lost, but for the psychological damage and first-class discrimination that they've encountered?

The fact that they are asking for their used-to-be property in Iraq back NOW forcefully and requesting 10 billions of dollars of reparations is beyond pathetic and unfair. It is in fact a crime. Then what about the Iraqis who lost their homes because of the USA-UK-Israel Occupation? Israelis are now nesting in the North of IRAQ thanks to the Kurds and have assassinated hundreds of Iraqi scientists already. They have been even buying properties (in IRAQ) at no cost or utterly cheap from those who are fleeing their towns or the entire country due to the war. Actually, the Iraqis who should ask for reparations. The lives of scientists are invaluable, Tamara. What about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been with no homes since the nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 with the creation of Israel? Or all of these people are less important than their majesty the Iraqi Jews who chose to leave more than sixty years ago and now they regret it and won't to get some quick cash from IRAQ!

Why don't you do your homework better before you send such unnecessary comments?

Walaa' Ali


While I am not Jewish, I do respect the history of Iraq and Mesopotamia. The Jews in Iraq have been there since the Babylonian captivity, and they have been part of the mosaic that is Iraq for centuries. In fact, the Jews of Iraq existed in Mesopotamia prior to the move of Arabs from the Jazeera to Mesopotamia. Therefore, I find it disengneous, that some are disturbed by Jewish Iraqis claiming their properties in Iraq like any other of the expats that flooded back to Iraq after 2003 to claim theirs.

Thank you
Tamara Q.


I see both your, Walaa' and Richard, points and agree with them.

It is near impossible to find any link related to Jewish Arabs that educates about their heritage and history before the creation of or separately from Zionist Israel.

David Shasha, a USA-born Sephardic Jew and a subscriber of this group list produces very interesting newsletters (electronically and on hard copy) on the history and culture of Eastern Jews (particularly Arabs). His grandmother and grandfather were from Syria and IRAQ. To learn more about the heritage society he founded, the biweekly newsletters he produces or to be on his email list, write to him at  I hope he follows up to provide more information about his project (The Sephardic Heritage Society and the newsletter). Unfortunately he does not have the information, articles and newsletters posted on an Internet link. It will be great to receive some objective websites regarding Sephardic or Arab Jews if he knows of any.

Best Regards,


I understand your frustration, Walaa'.

While it is indeed upsetting knowing that such a group exists and conducting
awful actions, simultaneously however it is important to read about them and
be alerted and knowledgeable about their activities. This will enable you, as
Iraqi, to protect yourself and know how to deal with the situation. Luckily,
they've stopped being secretive and published their activities on the Internet.
This is perhaps what will make their politically wrong activities not last long.

Conducting reunions in Baghdad is not awful, but the awful thing is that it has
taken place during a time when Baghdad has fallen to the occupiers and
is bleeding. They have stained their mission and so it will be harshly
resisted in Iraq and condemned outside of Iraq, don't worry.


In a message dated 6/28/2006 1:25:58 AM Eastern Standard Time, WMS_Al writes:

Dear Wafaa':

I just visited this website for the Iraqi Jews.

It seems that it is maintained by Zionist Iraqi Jews who all they care about is celebrating reunions in Baghdad, voting in corrupt elections and working to confiscate their Iraqi properties back (most probably by force) from the time when they left IRAQ in the 1950s.

Don't you think we, Iraqis, have more than enough problems and enemies that a group like the Zionist Iraqis are the last we need to read and get upset about? Aren't the USA citizens, British, Ashkenazi Zionists, the CPA (Dutch, Polish, S. Koreans and many others), the militias and mercenaries, the Kurdish Peshmergeh, the Kuwaitis and the Iranians more than enough?

Walaa' Ali

Wafaa' wrote:

The following link maybe of interest to some of you:



Wafaa' wrote:

Thank you so much, Abdul Kareem, for your response and for providing the information about Iraqi Jews in the army.

Especially precious is the fact that you provided such information from the harsh environment of Iraq where there is crime, robbery and lack or absence of electricity thanks to the occupation!!

I hope David Shasha (subscriber on this list) will forward your answer to Nissim Rejwan and we receive his commentary on the subject matter. What happened to Iraqi Jews or how they lived their lives in IRAQ are among the many subjects being distorted in IRAQ's history!


Abdulkarim Hani wrote:

Dear Richard.

I have been discussing the question of Iraqi Jews with Wafaa' when I came across your inquiry about the Jews being not allowed to own/carry arms in IRAQ. I am old enough ( born in 1930 ) to remember conditions in my country when Jews lived among us. They comprised about1/4 of our class at the medical school, they served in the army and some of them were officers. Mr. Rajaa' H. Husni mentions in his book ( History of the Iraqi Army 'in Arabic') that there were 6 Jewish officers in the Iraqi army.

Mr. Chayem Cohen in his book(History of the Zionist Movement in Iraq 'in Hebrew' ,which was translated to Arabic by the Institute of Palestinian Studies ) the names of Jewish officers in the Iraqi army, with their ranks. The last time Jewish students were admitted to the Iraqi Military college was in 1945.As for carrying/owning arms- Iraqis in general, and there were no laws discriminating against Jews or others, were not allowed to carry arms. There were licenses issued by the police department in special cases permitting certain people to own arms. Carrying arms was strictly limited and needed another permit –one for owning an arm and another for carrying it.Jews and others were treated on equal grounds in that respect. Of course all this had been changed after May 1948.

Abdulkarim Hani.---

Wafaa' wrote:

You are welcome, Richard.

There are two individuals on this group list who can elaborate on your inquiry about Iraqi Jews owning arms. I hope they comment and/or provide> sources on the subject matter. However, my knowledge was that Iraqi Jews were admitted to the Iraqi army until 1947. In this year, when troubles began to be more noticed in Palestine and an indication for the establishment of a Zionist Jewish home was becoming very strong, Iraqi Jews were banned from joining the Iraqi army. If the paragraph in Nissim Rejwan's book was meant to rule out even the fact that Jews were being trained to bare arms, then that is not true! But if it was meant for civilians not to purchase guns for their own personal use, this maybe true, but I am not hundred percent sure of the laws at that time pertaining the matter of owning/purchasing arms!! I hope others will provide more information/sources about the subject matter.



Thank you, Wafaa', for keeping us updated. I agree with Walaa' that you are doing a wonderful job. I am getting the impression that some individuals on this list are not reading the emails coming through this list. PLEASE do not be discouraged. We need you to continue learning about IRAQ's history, which has been sadly distorted. This brings me to the following matter: I have read recently a paragraph in a book by Nissim Rejwan, an Iraqi Jew, indicating that Jews were not allowed to own/carry arms in IRAQ. Can you or anyone on this list elaborate and provide sources on the subject matter? I will greatly appreciate it.

Richard Sullivan

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Iraq History E-Newsletter April 2006

The Book Cover and pages 118 and 323 of Abdur-Razzaq Al-Hasani's
book, "ta'reekh al-wizaraat al-Iraqiyya" providing the
date of King Faisal I's appendectomy in August 1922 (page 118) and the date of
the King's death and who accompanied him to Switzerland (page 323).

IRAQ History E-Newsletter
April 2006

Inside This Issue

1. Iraqi Society During the Late Ottoman Era
By Anees Al-Qaisy

2. Iraq's Kings and Leaders Part 1  

3. Iraq's Kings and Leaders Part 2  

4. Iraq's Kings and Leaders Part 3
Compiled and Translated by Wafaa'

5. Important Announcements

6. Acknowledgement


1. Iraqi Society During the Late Ottoman Era
- Characteristics, Loyalties and Perspectives
By Anees Mahmood Al-Qaysi,
Faculty of Arts, History Department, University of Baghdad

This study focuses on the important topic on whether Iraq, in its distinct demographic constitution, was similar to the states of the Arab east, namely Syria and Egypt, which were witnessing an intellectual and national awakening during this period?

During the later Ottoman era, Iraqi society of a distinct nature, given that it was varied in its religious and ethnic makeup. There were Moslems, Jews, Christians and other religious groups, and there were also Kurds, Turkmans and other ethnic groups. This religious and ethnic composition impacted the crystallization of the Iraqi culture. It may be attributable to the policy followed by the Ottoman state towards the various segments of the Iraqi society.

The Ottoman state, as is known, relied upon the Sunni segments of Iraqi society. It allowed them to establish schools and to obtain state positions and to serve in the army. Hence, they had a greater opportunity than the Shiites in holding important state posts due to their support for the Ottoman state, which in turn availed them of the opportunity to get a better education. In effect, they dominated intellectual life and got the lion's share of governmental positions. The pan-Islamic policy of Sultan Abdul Hameed II contributed to strengthening this privileged position among the Sunnis, whose aim was to reinforce allegiances to the Ottoman state, while the Shiites who were districted from governmental positions and were prevented from opening schools. The Ottoman state did not recognize the Shiite religious authorities. This contributed to the increase in the rate of illiteracy among Shiites and the prevalence of superstitious beliefs, in contrast with the Sunnis who had a better education and so were secular in appearance and were Ottoman in culture. This policy led to a great increase in the role of the Shiite mujtahids (jurists) in Iraq, a majority of whom was of Persian orientation. They provoked both the Iraqis and the Ottoman state.

As for the remaining segments of the Iraqi society, such as Jews, Christians and others, they enjoyed special privileges in accordance with the Ottoman reforms and, also, in accordance with the foreign privileges. This led to their becoming autonomous in their religious and judicial affairs. The Jewish population focused on banking and economic activity, while the Christians focused on owning land and other properties, and they had schools, which were supported by western missionary institutions.

Iraqi society was and still is religiously and ethnically diverse. Although this diversity is for the most part positive and it did not prevent the flourishing of cities like Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala and Basra, Iraqi society remained non-cohesive, which made the penetration of western cultural and commercial interests in Iraq abundantly possible, and in turn deepened the rift between the segments of Iraqi society.

After the Turkish coup d'etat of 1908, the concept of Turkification, which was pervasive in Iraq, was substituted for the concept of Ottomanism. In fact, Turkification was the main impulse for the emergence of Arab nationalist movement (Qawmeyyah) in Iraq prior to World War I. However, this movement was exclusively restricted to the Sunni segment that was supportive of the Ottoman state. As for the Shiite segment of the population, it had a national sentiment (Wataneyyah) more than a pan-Arab feeling. This was clearly displayed in the 1920 revolution.

In brief, Iraq was not a favorable environment for the emergence of the nationalist idea as was the case in Syria and Egypt.

Note: This is an abstract from a 35-page study entitled, "Iraqi Society During the Later Ottoman Era: Characteristics, Loyalties and Perspectives"

4. Iraq's Kings and Leaders Part 3
- Compiled and Translated by Wafaa'

The era of King Faisal I was featured in part 1 of this series. The information later sparked a prolonged debate among few Iraqis about some of the puzzling and unknown aspects of his life and especially his death. In this part of the series, King Ghazi's era is highlighted. As mentioned in part I, King Faisal I was enthroned as the King of Iraq on August 23, 1921. He became ill suffering from appendix pain on the same day (August 23) one year later (1922). The British doctors advised him to undergo appendectomy.

All sources agree that King Faisal I died in Berne, Switzerland in 1933. But not all sources agree on the exact date and the way the king had died. Some state that December 8 was his death date, others indicate that it was in September. The latter is accurate because his son, Ghazi, became the king in September. King Faisal died on September 7, 1933.  Some sources indicated that as he was with Nuri As-Saeed and Rustum Haidar in Switzerland for a treatment, he suffered a sudden heart attack!

". . . with the untimely death of King Faisal, Iraq became like a ship without a captain. With the accession of King Ghazi to the throne in September 1933, the country became prey to military coups and tribal uprisings." King Ghazi inherited none of his father's diplomacy especially with the tribes. He was young and inexperienced, a situation that weakend the monarchy politically and encouraged the army to penetrate in politics.

Majid Khadduri, in his book "Independent Iraq" (2nd edition) stated that:

"The disillusionment of the army officers was reflected in voicing certain grievences such as that the army was excessively used to put down inspired tribal uprisings, while the politicians were to gain the fruits of victory. Why should not the army itself, it was whispered among the army officers, put an end to the quarrel and vices of the politicians and rule the country through a military dictatorship? "

The first problem faced King Ghazi was that of his marriage. He liked a lady by the name of Nimat (daughter of Yaseen Al-Hashimy) who was a friend of his sisters. Nuri As-Saeed (former Prime Minister until 1932) interfered because he did not want his opponent, Yaseen Al-Hashimy, to have the royal prestige and be called 'uncle' by King Ghazi. Nuri even requested the mediation of Prince Abdullah of East Jordan. He wanted him to marry his (first) cousin, Alia, who was living in Istanbul. After numerous attempts and prolonged pressures, King Ghazi married Alia Bint Ali on January 25, 1934.

King Ghazi's reign witnessed revolts and coup attempts in 1934, 1935 and 1936. In all of these events, the army enforced the law and order.

After resigning from his post as a Prime Minister, Nuri As-Saeed sought to return to power. Details on how he came back to power will be tackled in part 4 of this series. He became the Prime Minister in 1939, which was an exceptionally eventful year. The situation in Palestine was continuously deteriorating. During this year, the Palestine Conference took place, King Ghazi was killed and World War II began. Concerning the first event, it had become evident that the Jews wanted an independent state, which was a matter rejected by Arabs.

In March 1939 following Nuri’s return from the Palestine Conference, he became aware of an army plot, and so he was determined to overthrow King Ghazi. Nuri informed the King and the British Ambassador, Sir Maurice Peterson, that the fifteen-officer plot was connected with the ex-Prime Minister, Hikmat Sulaiman. In a telegram to the Foreign Office, Sir Peterson referred to these officers as ‘Bakr Sidqi’s Gangsters’. Sulaiman was arrested with the other officers and were sentenced to death. All the death sentences were later converted to long-term imprisonments.

“In Iraq the plot was widely seen as a fabrication by Nuri in order to avenge for Jaafar Al-Askari’s assassination (his brother-in-law) by Hikmat and Bakr entourage.”

The sudden death of King Ghazi came as a shock. He was killed in a mysterious car crash in the evening of April 3. His death was announced on the 4th. The mystery of his death can be summarized by the testimonies of those who were at the scene of the King’s death or have witnessed statements that can be argued as a motive for the King’s killing:

1. Rasheed Ali Al-Gailany,
When I learned of the accident from Nuri As-Saeed, I went immediately to the Palace. There, I saw Doctor Sanderson working to cover the injured spot with gauze. I saw his injury, it was located in the rear of his head. Because the car was said to have hit an electric column, I expected it to hit the King’s head from the front.”

2. One of the Palace’s employees indicated that,
The royal family’s primary physician arrived an hour after the accident, and the rest of the doctors arrived later. Nuri As-Saeed was the first to arrive in the Palace and joined Queen Alia and Prince Abdul Ilah."

3. Tawfeek As-Swaidy,The Deputy of the British Foreign Ministry complained vigorously about King Ghazi’s behaviors as he publicly discussed the issue of Kuwait on his radio station from al-Zuhoor Palace."

King Ghazi was seen by his people as a nationalist hero for his suppression of revolts, his claim on Kuwait (which used to be part of Iraq before the British annexed it), his support for the Palestinian cause and his anti-British broadcasts from al-Zuhoor Palace’s radio station, which he established as a result of his love for radio broadcasting.

1. "Independent Iraq" by Majid Khadduri [2nd edition], London 1960, pages 77-78
2. "Rashid Ali al-Gailani -- The Nationalist Movement in IRAQ 1939-1941 " by Walid M. S. Hamdi, London 1987
3. "Al-Iraq -- Shahada Siyaasiyya 1908-1930 " by Hussein Jameel (in Arabic), London 1987
4. " Al-Iraq -- Hawamish Minat-Tareekh walmuqaawama " by Abdur-Rahman Muneef (in Arabic), Lebanon and Moracco, 2004
5. " Tareekhul Wizaaraatil Iraqiyya -- Part I " [5th edition] by Abdur-Razzaq Al-Hasany (in Arabic), Baghdad 1978


5. Important Announcements
** Iraqi Women Historians are needed to join the writing/editing team to participate in the writing and editing of this IRAQ History e-newsletter. The candidate must posses a Masters degree with teaching experiences in Iraqi history and/or have been writing and publishing in the field. Please submit a biography and contact information by emailing it to

** Swiss-Arab Cultural Center **

The 6th International Poetry Festival al-Mutanabbi    2006
From May 13 to May 20, 2006, in Zurich, Lucerne, Berne, Geneva and Lugano

In 2006 the “International Poetry Festival al-Mutanabbi” takes place for the sixth time. This is also the highlight of the regular events at the Swiss-Arab Cultural Center in Zurich. In Switzerland and Europe it is now the only poetry festival that has allowed the intercultural dialogue with Arabic poetry since its foundation in 2ooo.

After five years of existence the 6th “International Poetry Festival al-Mutanabbi” expands its programme to the three great language areas of multicultural Switzerland. This year, between May 13 and 2o, 2oo6, the eight multilingual festival readings and the panel discussion take place in the five cities of Zurich, Lucerne, Berne, Geneva and Lugano.

The theme of the 6th “International Poetry Festival al-Mutanabbi” 2006 is “Poetry and Politics”. The panel discussion about this year’s festival theme will be held at 12 o’clock on Sunday, May 14, 2006, in the Swiss-Arab Cultural Center in Zurich. It will deal with political subjects such as tolerance, democracy, human rights, equality, freedom, and other social topics that also form the subject of both oriental and occidental poetry.

From May 13 to May 20, 2006, Arab authors such as Murid Al-Barguti (Palestine), Helmi Salem (Egypt) and Kadhem Al-Hajaj (Iraq) meet Swiss colleagues, among whom Kurt Aebli, Sabine Wang, Kathy Zarnegin, José-Flore Tappy, and Alberto Nessi, and international writers such as Adnan Özer (Turkey), Daniel Leuwers (France), Matthew Sweeney (Ireland) and Luisa Castro (Spain), as well as Robert Schindel (Austria) and Ernest Wichner (Germany).

The festival readings are from Saturday, May 13, to Monday, May 15, at 8 p.m. at the Culture Market Rats (Zwinglihaus) in Zurich; on Tuesday, May 16, at 8.3o p.m. in the Old Casino in Lucerne; on Wednesday, May 17, and Thursday, May 18, at 8 p.m. in the Dampfzentrale in Berne; on Friday, May 19, at 8.3o p.m. in the Société de lecture in Geneva, and finally on Saturday, May 2o, at 9 p.m. in the Hotel Pestalozzi in Lugano.

The Poetry Festival “al-Mutanabbi” enjoys a good international reputation. We’ll be glad to have you as our guests at the 6th “International Poetry Festival al-Mutanabbi” in Switzerland. We’re at your disposal to answer your questions.

Zurich, May 21, 2006 (UNESCO Worldwide Poetry Day since 2000)

(915-965 CE)

Abut-Tayyib Ahmed al-Mutanabbi was born in 303 Hijriyya (HJ)/ 915 CE in an area called Kinda in the City of Kufa (in today’s IRAQ). He had a rare talent in versifying poetry with no competitors in his lifetime!

He was given the family name of al-Mutanabbi because he claimed to be a prophet (Nabiy) while in the Samawa desert.

Abut-Tayyib traveled to Aleppo, Damascus and various cities in Egypt. In 350 HJ, he returned to Baghdad. Then traveled to Arjan and then to Shiraz in Iran, and finally arrived in Baghdad. In the early month of Shaaban, 350 HJ / 965 CE, he traveled to Kufa. While he was on the road in Kufa accompanying his son and a friend, a group of men passed by and harassed al-Mutanabbi. They mocked and challenged him into fighting. As a result of the fighting, al-Mutanabbi, his friend and son were all killed.

Al-Mutanabbi was the master of the exuberant panegyric, which is impossible to translate into adequate English. His (Diwan) collected poems are famous for their long-lived qasida. With a flowery style and changing away from the traditional Arabic qasida, Al-Mutanabbi stands out as the most important representative for the panegyric poetry.

For further reading and sources, visit

6. Acknowledgement

Many Thanks go to Abdul Kareem Hani for providing the pages from Abdur-Razzaq Al-Hasani's book, and to Wasan Sadiq for providing the pages from Majid Khadduri's book. Had it not been for the gracious help of many members of the Iraqi community in providing historic information, these IRAQ History e-newsletters wouldn't have become a reality.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Excerpts from Uriel Dann's Book on Qassim

Paragraphs Related to OIL Under Qassim

Pages 354-355

On December 11, 1961, the government approved Law No. 80 “For the Definition of Exploitation Areas.” This curtailed the concession area of the oil companies by more than 99 per cent, namely to about 800 square miles undergoing exploitation, with provision made for a reserve, also of 800 square miles.

The oil companies protested against the new legislation, but did not dispute its validity. They demanded arbitration. However, they handed over to the government their technical data on the unexploited areas, in accordance with a provision of the law. Meanwhile, British and United States representatives interceded for the companies and asked for a renewal of negotiations. The Iraqi government rejected their proposals, which were condemned as “interference” from outside. The request for arbitration was ignored.

Nevertheless the law had no further practical consequences. Having come perilously close to brink, the two sides reined in. Qassim had never contemplated surrendering the annual ID 100 million in royalties for oil he knew he could not sell outside the West, and on which the government of the country depended. Nor did the oil companies intend to stop a profitable business while Qassim’s vagaries – unpleasant, costly and possibly auguring ill for the future – entailed no crippling damage for the present. The output of oil, at any rate, never suffered.

A National Oil company was envisaged to exploit the areas over which foreign companies’ concessions had been cancelled. The draft of enabling law was published in September 1962. It was due for promulgation early in February 1963, but Qassim’s regime met its end first.

The contest with the “imperialistic” oil companies received the enthusiastic support of the Iraqi newspapers at every phase. Their constant baiting may have encouraged Qassim, or may equally have been an embarrassment, impeding his freedom to maneuver.

There is no doubt that his handling of the oil negotiations and their aftermath did Qassim great damage with the West. The original British view that he was a match for the communists, and in the circumstances the least undesirable of possible regimes for Baghdad, had slowly been gaining ground in the United States. Now, as a communist takeover was no longer an imminent danger, Qassim had shown himself viciously ill disposed to the West. He had become expendable on positive as on negative grounds.


Baiting: Lure, attraction يغوي ، يغري
Curtailed: Shortened
Contemplated: Considered, planned.
Disposed: Willing, ready
Envisaged: Imagined
Expendable: Disposable, unessential مستهلك ، غير ضروري
Imminent: About to happen
Impeding: Obstructing, delaying يعوق
Maneuver: Plan خطة ، مناورةPromulgation: Broadcast, circulation

Book Title: "Iraq Under Qassim - A Political History, 1958-1963," written by Uriel Dann, published by Fredrick A. Praeger, Inc. (USA) and Pall Mall Press (UK) in 1969.

Monday, February 27, 2006

IRAQ's Kings & Leaders II - Announcemments

IRAQ History Monthly E-Newsletter

February 2006

Inside This Issue:

1. IRAQ’s Kings & Leaders Part II
2. Important Announcements
3. Introducing The Historians Behind This Newsletter
4. The Purpose of These Monthly E-Newsletters & How To Join This Group List


1. IRAQ’s Kings & Leaders - Part II

Compiled & Translated to English by Wafaa’

In part one of this series, King Faisal I (1885-1933) was featured
in a short article, that can be accessed at

An interesting debate began following the article's publication and emailing of part I to the IRAQ History group list, which focused on the way King Faisal I had died. One of the previous subscribers to the list indicated that the death of the king was not due to a strange heart attack shortly after drinking a cup of tea, but it was due to an appendectomy surgery in Switzerland in 1933. However a couple of sources indicated that the appendectomy surgery took place in the early 1920s in Iraq by a British doctor.

The following links provide more information about King Faisal I and mention the way he died. Some offer more details about his death than others. However, none of the links provide sources:

King Faisal I in a rare picture

Abdul Kareem Qassim (1914-1963)

Qassim, the first Prime Minister of the Iraqi Republic, was born in the Mahdiya part of the city of Baghdad. His siblings, in order of birth, are:
1. Hamid Qassim Mohammed al-Bakr (1905-1986), worked in commerce.
2. Abdul~Lateef Qassim (1907-1977), worked in the army as deputy officer who retired in 1959.
3. Ameena Qassim (1909-1983), housewife.
4. Najiyya Qassim (1916-1986), housewife whose husband was the general Abdul Jabbar Jawad (brother of the colonel pilot Mohammed Ali Jawad).

Qassim’s parents, according to an official document published while he was in office, were of pure Arab descent: His mother originated from the Adnan clan and his father from the Qahtan clan. However, many reliable sources indicate that his mother was a Shiite (Faily) Kurd. Qassim never married.

When he was six years of age, the family moved to Suwayra, a small town near the Tigris. Then moved to Baghdad in 1926. Qassim was an excellent student; he entered secondary school on a government scholarship. After his graduation in 1931, he taught at the Shamiyya Elementary School. He began his teaching on October 22, 1931 and resigned on September 3, 1932. His resignation was due to the fact that he was accepted into the Military College. In 1934, he graduated as a second lieutenant. Then, he attended al-Arkan (Iraqi Staff) College and graduated with honor (grade A) in December 1941. In 1951, he completed a senior officers’ course in Britain.

Militarily, he participated in the suppression of the tribal disturbances in the Middle Euphrates region in 1935, in the one-month war against Britain in May 1941 and in the Kurdistan war in 1945. Qassim also served during the Iraqi military involvement in Palestine from May 1948 to June 1949. Toward the latter part of the Palestinian mission, he commanded a battalion of the First Brigade, which was situated in the Kafr Qasem area south of Qilqilya. He left Kafr Qasem with the reputation of a disciplinarian, meticulous and honest. In 1956-57, he served with his brigade at Mafraq in Jordan in the wake of Israel’s Sinai campaign against Egypt.

The End of the Monarchy (July 14, 1958)

Prince Abdul Ilah objected to any resistance to the forces that besieged the Royal Rihab Palace. His hope was to gain permission to leave the country. Therefore, the commander of the Royal Guards battalion on duty, Col. Taha Bamirni, ordered the palace guards to cease-fire.

It was a little after 7 AM when all the royal family descended: King Faisal II; the Crown Prince Abdul Ilah; Princess Hiyam, Abdul Ilah's wife; Princess Nafeesa, Abdul Ilah’s mother, with the Qur'an in her hand; Princess Abadiya, the king’s aunt; and several servants. When all of them arrived in the courtyard they were told to turn towards the palace wall, and were all shot down by Captain Abdus~Sattar As~Sab’ with a sub-machine gun.

King Faisal II
and Princess Hiyam were injured
. The King died later before reaching hospital. Princess Hiyam was treated at the hospital and luckily no one recognized her. Later she left for Saudi Arabia where her family lived and then moved to Egypt until her death.

The coup was discussed and planned by the Free Officers, but was mainly executed by Qassim and Col. Abdes~Salam Aref. By 1956, the committee of Free Officers included; Qassim, Naji Talib, Abdul Wahab Ameen, Muhiddeen Abdel Hameed, Abdes~Salam Aref, Abdul Wahab Ash~Shawwaf, Abdul Kareem Farhan, Rifat al-Hajj Sirri, Col. Tahir Yihya, Rijab Abdul Majeed, Wasfi Tahir, Col. Sabeeh Ali Ghalib and Mohammed As~Sab’.

The killing of the entire royal family was a gloomy start in Qassim’s era. His enemies accuse him of giving orders to kill the royal family. However, this was untrue. Qassim did not give orders to kill the King, never mind the entire family. It was a spontaneous decision made by Abdus~Sattar As~Sab’ and two others (I could not find their names). As~Sab' committed suicide later in Basrah. Despite that Qassim did not give orders to kill the king, not condemning the aggression against the royal family in his early speeches was a mistake.



Qassim’s accomplishments were many covering a large range of improvements with regard to social services, legal system, agriculture, health and education, construction and the arts. Considering his short-term leadership (four and a half years) and the youngest experience in the life of the Iraqi Republic, Qassim’s era brought the highest number of accomplishments and positive changes to Iraq compared with eras that preceded and followed him.

Some of these achievements were the passing of law No. 80 which took back the right of owning 98% of Iraqi land from the British-owned Iraq Petroleum Company, distributing fairly the farms owned by the few among the farmers, and, as a result of the two achievements, increasing in middle class percentage and privileges, the building of 35,000 residential units to house the poor and low middle class, the rewriting of the constitution for the benefit of all Iraq’s minorities and women, effectively encouraging and implementing laws with regard to women’s participation in the society, and giving birth to many other improvements, laws and projects pertaining literacy, education and the arts.

His accomplishments and successes in the Arab world’s scene can be summarized by his continuous moral and financial support to Algerians and Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination. In addition, Qassim succeeded in the struggle against Abdul Nasser of Egypt. “No doubt the fact that he had incurred Abdul Nasser’s displeasure weighed against Qassim’s position. But in the direct contest Abdul Nasser was thwarted; he grudgingly acknowledged his defeat, just as he has since acknowledged defeat against other opponents in the Middle East arena.”1

Qassim’s Last Moments:

The coup to overthrow Qassim by the Baathists was successful on February 8, 1963. Abdul Kareem Qassim was brought to the Broadcast Building on February 9 by his opponents. He was not awarded a fair trial. Qassim was executed at noon on February 9th, 1963.

The names and fate of the Iraqi collaborators who ruthlessly murdered Abdul Kareem Qassim are as follows:

1. Abdus~Sattar Abdullateef, died in early 2005 in Spain.

2. Abdus~Salam Aref, president of Iraq after the assassination of Qassim, died in 1966 in an airplane crash believed to be orchestrated on purpose.

3. Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr, president of Iraq from 1968 to 1979, who was, believed to be, killed by orders from Saddam Hussein.

4. Hardan At~Tikreeti, Minister of Defense who was killed by the Baathist secret intelligence in Kuwait.

5. Ali Salih As-Saadi, Deputy Prime Minister, died of sickness with rumors of being killed with poison.

6. Hazim Jawad, lived in the UAE, is currently living in London. His memoir was published in the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper

7. Talib Hussein Shabeeb, was a Foreign Minister & Iraqi Ambassador, then joined the Iraqi opposition against Saddam Hussein. He died in 2004.

8. Hani al-Fukaiky, Baath member and worked in commerce, later joined the Iraqi opposition against Saddam. He died of cancer in 2000.

9. Saleh Mahdi Ammash, Baath member, whose last post was Iraq's ambassador in Finland.

A radio clip (in Arabic) of the last moments in the life of Qassim can be heard by clicking on It narrates and includes the argument that went on between the nine individuals (listed above) and Abdul Kareem Qassim, which lasted about ten minutes and ended with a violent shower of bullets shot at Qassim, al-Mahdawi and al-Shaikh Ahmed.

That radio clip features a commentary by the Kuwaiti broadcaster, Najm Abdul Kareem, who aired it on London’s Radio Spectrum, the Arabic Broadcast in 1999. The recording of the argument that went on between Qassim and those (mentioned in the list above), who executed him, was unclear. After writing and posting this article and the radio clip on the Internet, I became aware of the fate of the individuals who witnessed and/or participated in the killing of Qassim. Please note that the radio clip does NOT provide accurate details about some of the individuals who were present at Qassim's execution.

The radio clip;
1. Does not mention an important person, Saleh Mahdi Ammash, who was present and gave orders to execute Qassim.

2. It mentions that Tahir Yihya was present, but he was not. The broadcaster even indicated that Tahir Yihya was executed while in prison, which was not true.

3. Because the clip aired in 1999, the fate of some of the individuals who were present at Qassim's execution has been updated in the list above.

Abdul Kareem Hani, former minister of labor and social affairs as well as a close friend of Tahir Yihya wrote, "Tahir Yihya, was imprisoned and later freed (unlike what the broadcaster had stated in the radio clip). Tahir Yihya was put under house arrest after being released from prison; he was not indicted nor sentenced. I visited him many times after his release. Then he had a stroke with hemiplegia and loss of speech, which lasted till his death."

According to Col. Ali Hussein Jassim, London-based member of the Royal United Services Institute, Tahir Yihya and Abdul Ghani Ar-Rawi were not present at the February 9th execution of Qassim. Col. Jassim was a witness (not a collaborator) during the execution. Ali H. Jassim provided the information regarding the presence of Saleh Mahdi Ammash and the fate of both Hani al-Fukaiky and Talib Hussein Shabeeb.

Main Reasons WHY the CIA Overthrew Qassim

1. The Passing of Law No. 80, which took back the right of owning 98% of Iraqi land from the British-owned Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) and giving it to the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC), baring in mind that the British right to the Iraqi land was for life and without relinquishment.

2. Disclosing interests to bring back Kuwait within IRAQ the way it used to be before British colonization, an interest was also disclosed by King Ghazi (1933-1939) who was killed by the British and by Saddam Hussein who was hanged in December 2006 by the USA!
3. Qassim's political neutrality and popularity among Iraqi people while still allowing political freedom for Iraqis to enjoy was a matter the USA-UK collaborative never wanted to see in an oil-rich country.

The following was not a reason, but an excuse provided to the public to justify killing him:

was accused of being a communist. He was not. In fact he belonged to no political party unlike the presidents who succeeded him. Additionally, he made no attempt to form his own political party. He gave freedom to most political parties to exercise their activities. His actions were backed up by some speeches in which he emphasized numerous times that the army must be above all political party affiliations.


1. "Iraq Under Qassem - A Political History 1958-1963" by Uriel Dann, published by Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. USA in 1969 page 377.


1. "Iraq Under Qassem - A Political History 1958-1963" by Uriel Dann, published by Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. USA in 1969.

2. Talib Qassim, nephew of Abdul Kareem Qassim, currently living in the UAE

3. "The Secrets of the July 14, 1958 Revolution", by Ismael al-Aref, published by Al-Majid Publishing Co. in London, 1987. (in Arabic language)


2. Important Announcements:

* The IRAQ History e-newsletter will be published and posted on bi-monthly bases. This is to ensure better quality e-newsletters and diverse participation. This is also to allow more time until the next issue to find additional Iraqi historians living outside of IRAQ who are able to participate more conveniently in the writing of IRAQ's history and in the discussion of this group list. Therefore the next issue will be published and emailed in April.

* We welcome Amer Fattuhi to the Research/Translation Team. Amer Fattuhi is an artist and a researcher whose focus is on the ancient history of IRAQ (BCE). He has published a book and numerous journals on the history of Chaldeans. He currently lives in Detroit, MI.

* We welcome May Tawfik to the Research/Translation Team. May has worked in social research in the Babel College for Theology and has participated in the reasearch and documentation of the ancient history of Arameans in Iraq. She currently lives in IRAQ.

3. Introducing The Historians Behind This Newsletter

4. The Purpose of the IRAQ History Monthly e-Newsletters & How to Join the Group List!

This group focuses on documenting and discussing various fields in IRAQ's history (politics, sciences, religions, law, the arts and other areas). The IRAQ History Group consists of a Writing/Editing Team made of historians and scholars and of Translating/Research Team made of researchers and translators (translating to English). The group's e-newsletters will be sent to the group list subscribers on bi-monthly bases.

The purpose of the group list goes beyond documenting to encourage discussions on regular (not daily) bases and the exchange of information and announcements. Those interested in learning about and/or in discussing IRAQ's history are welcome to subscribe, but subscribing to the list does not mean participation in the writing/editing of IRAQ's history. These e-newsletters will eventually be posted on a special website/blog for Internet use. We hope to receive grants/contributions to be able to compensate historians/scholars of the writing/editing team should we invite them to participate in events related to IRAQ's history or for writing essential studies/essays for the purpose of publishing them in journal/book forms and not placed freely on the Internet.We appreciate your recommendation of four Moslem and non-Moslem Iraqi women historians to join the writing/editing team.

The IRAQ History Group List was initiated and launched by Wafaa', writer, translator and an art researcher and critic.

Writing/Editing Team (in First-Name Alphabetical Order):

Prof. Abdul Jabbar Naji

Anees Al-Qaisy

Dr. Mahmood Al-Qaisy

Nahar Mohammed Nuri

Ms. Saba Hussein Al-Moula

Dr. Sinan Sadiq Az-Zaidy

Dr. Suhaila Shindi Al-Badri

Tariq Majeed

Translation/Research Team:

Amer Fattuhi
Hanan Mohammed Mahdi
Wafaa’ Mahmood, IRAQ History Group List Moderator

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Kings & Presidents -- Last Jews in Baghdad

IRAQ History Monthly E-Newsletter January 2006

Inside This Issue:

1. IRAQ’s Kings & Presidents Part I
2. Sources in Arabic and English
3. “The Last Jews in Baghdad” - Letter Writing Series
4. Introducing The Historians Behind This Newsletter
5. The Purpose of These Monthly E-Newsletters & How To Join This Group List


1. IRAQ’s Kings & Presidents - Part I
Compiled & Translated to English by Wafaa’

King Faisal I (1885-1933)

King Faisal was appointed by the British on August 23, 1921 following the Cairo Conference, which was lead by Churchill. The British began to govern Iraq indirectly because they were severely challenged the year before when confronted by the region’s first ever revolt in 1920. They faced many obstacles and crises by governing Iraq directly.

The British policies from the early days of occupation were unreasonable and oppressive to Iraqis and their ambitions. They controlled nearly every facet of Iraqis' daily lives and gave them marginal privileges. For instance the top-executive positions of the administrative body that overlooked citizens’ affairs all through the middle of 1920 was comprised of 534 employees; of which 507 British, 7 Indians and 20 Iraqis!

Before the 1920 revolution, the education was in deterioration as well that the number of high schools in all of Iraq was only ten. Serious health problems and diseases threatened the society with Cholera and other fatal diseases that reduced the population of Baghdad to one third. All of the above-mentioned problems in addition to the political instability provided fertile ground for the 1920 revolution.

One of the major problems that faced King Faisal I was that of Mosul, a problem that existed before he became king. The Mosul crises began in 1918 and did not get resolved until 1925. The turbulence in Mosul was not due to only internal conflicts within various ethnic and religious groups and between various factions within Mosul and the Iraqi government, but was also due to external factors. The presence of oil in Mosul caused severe competition between foreign opportunists and delayed as well as complicated the process of resolving this problem.

It was hurtful, to the extent of funny, to read in history pages how Europe, the USA and Turkey stole and divided Iraq’s oil: France received 23,75%; the USA was awarded a similar percentage; Britain took almost 50%; Kulbankian, famous Armenian businessman, received 5% and Turkey was given 10% for a period of 25 years!

By 1933, the government was weaker than Iraq’s tribes and was at their mercy, not only in terms of coordination and alliances, but also in terms of weaponry. King Faisal I explained in a memorandum that the number of rifles in the country was more than 100,000 while at the government’s disposal was 15,000! Therefore, by this year, the tribes (Arabs and Kurds) were a leading force in IRAQ’s political life.

In the summer of 1933, King Faisal died in a mysterious way. As he was on a trip with Nuri As-Said for medical treatment, he had a sudden heart attack after drinking a cup of tea. Nuri As-Said refused to perform autopsy on the King’s body to verify the reason for the death. He accompanied the King’s corpse on a ship from Europe to the Palestinian shores. Then transferred the body to be buried in IRAQ.

Faisal I was known to have been physically weak and had some health problems that necessitated several treatments and operations in Iraq and Europe. He was known to be quiet, sad, and rarely smiled.

In his book on Rashid Ali al-Gailany, Dr. Waleed Hamdi evaluated King Faisal I by stating that,
he had been a great national leader and politician, his greatest political virtue having been his ability to bargain and knowing when to compromise…… He was able to maintain the balance between the British and the Iraqi nationalists; and also between rival factions, races and sects within Iraq itself.”


2. Sources in Arabic & English

* Used to provide the details of part 1 of the series (above):- “Rashid Ali al-Ghailani-The Nationalist Movement in IRAQ 1939-1941,” by Dr. Walid M. S. Hamdi, published by Darf Publishers Ltd. London, 1987.

- العراق - هوامش من التاريخ والمقاومة " عبد الرحمن منيف ، المركز الثقافي العربي ، 2004

* About Kings Faisal I & Ghazi for Additional Reading:

1. English Sources

- "Three Kings In Baghdad, 1921-1958" by Gerald De Gaury, published by Hutchinson, London, 1961

2. Arabic Sources

1. تاريخ الوزارات العراقية ـ عبد الرزاق الحسني ـ الأجزاء الأربعة الأولى
2. العراق قديما و حديثا ـ عبد الرزاق الحسني
3. لمحات اجتماعية من تاريخ العراق الحديث ـ د. علي الوردي ـ جزء سبعة
4. ملوك العرب ـ أمين الريحاني
5. ذكريات ناجي شوكت ـ تحرير عبد الرزاق الحسني
6. ألف يوم ويوم ـ سندرسن باشا
7. مهنتي كملك ـ الملك حسين بن طلال
8. الهاشميون في سوريا و العراق ـ د. عبد الكريم غرايبة
9. يقظة العرب ـ قسطنطين زريق
10. الحكم الفيصلي في الأردن ـ د. خيرية قاسمية
11. مذكراتي ـ جزءان ـ محمد كرد علي
12. من أوراق المس بيل ـ ترجمة جعفر خياط
13. العراق ـ ثلاثة أجزاء ـ خدوري خدوري
14. وريثة العروش _ فائق علي 2001

3. “The Last Jews in Baghdad” - Letter Writing Series

Dear Naseem/Nassim:
This is part III of my letter writing series.

Since the middle of October when I sent you the first letter regarding the subject matter of your book, “The Last Jews in Baghdad,” I’ve been on several short and long trips. So, this letter series has been delayed.

I also felt that maybe I was wasting my time and energy when Joel Beinin didn’t care to respond, and when I received three insignificant emails from you! Instead I received an email from Peter Sluglett discussing the issue of Jewish Arabs in the typical manner the so-called scholars of the industrial west argue it and referring to Joel Beinin as a scholar! With all do respect to Beinin, had he been truly a scholar, he wouldn’t have made many errors and misconceptions in the writing of your book’s forward and, as the definition of a scholar states, he would have at least responded to give feedback and equally learn!

1. To Naseem Rejwan on Jews, Sunnis, Shiites (Part I)

2. Corresponding with Naseem Rejwan Part II

3. Peter Sluglett on IRAQI Jews [MUST READ]

Also please read an important correspondence with Gary Leupp , a professor at Tufts University (unrelated to my first letter to you) about the definition of Arabs.

In this letter, I intend to bring your attention to the various errors and misconceptions in your book’s chapter one as well as to some of the wonderfully described objects and anecdotes. I hope you take the liberty of correcting the errors or rewriting the misconceptions and other viewpoints in a way that makes them less-or-non-debatable in the second edition with wishes to you for continued health to see it published.

The objective and intelligent writer, reporter and/or historian, must not get involved in biases and negative thoughts and should report or document with clear vision, compare and contrast without sectarianism, sexism or soap-opera-like stories. Unfortunately some of the documentation provided in your book’s forward by Joel Beinin and in chapter one fit in with these categories.

This brings me to the following points in chapter one of your book, “The Last Jews in Baghdad”:

1. In the first paragraph of page 1, you lamented about the Jews in the Babylonian diaspora, the number of synagogues left, about prayers and Prophet Jeremiah and gave a religious tone to your documentation and feelings. I hope that you are not one of the Israeli Jewish vast majority that though does not believe in God, still believe that God gave the land (of Palestine) to the “promised people”!!

2. In the same paragraph, you stated, “For those who, like myself, were born, grew up, and lived in Baghdad in the years preceding the mass exodus of Jews from Iraq in 1950-51, this state of affairs is extremely hard to imagine.” In this entire chapter, you failed to mention why the mass exodus has happened. You probably mentioned about it in later chapters, but providing few lines briefly explaining why it happened or referring to it being mentioned in chapter ‘so and so’ would have been appropriate. This way, the readers would not be left with question marks and exclamations as they read chapter one.

3. In paragraph two, you provided some of the most disputed and highly debated statistics about Baghdad’s population and its majority and minorities: “In October 1921, a British publication quoted these population figures for the city as given in the last official yearbook of vilayet: Total number of inhabitants 202,000, of whom 80,000 were Jews; 12,000 Christians; 8,000 Kurds; 800 Persians; and 101,400 Arabs, Turks and other Muslims.” This is indeed a stunning work by IRAQ’s occupiers; the Anglo Saxon “uncles” as Iraqis sometime refer to them sarcastically. These statistics are worm cans opener hinting the “Divide to Rule” fragrance of occupation. Here is why: Kurds and Iranians (not Persians as indicated in the statistics) are mostly Moslems, why were they not included with the “Arabs, Turks and other Moslems”? And who are the “other Moslems” included in the so-called 101,400 figure? Moslems of IRAQ are Arabs, Kurds, Iranians and Turkmen (who are Iraq’s Turks). So who are the others? Knowing the fact that several ethnic groups (not just Persians) came from Iran to Iraq, and knowing that the statistics were taken at the beginning of the 20th century during which it was called Iran and not Persia, it is wrong to refer to them as Persians.

The “Divid and Rule” of the current American occupiers has gone farther by neglecting the notion and term of ‘Moslems’ all together. Now they refer to Moslems as Shiites and Sunnis just like Joel Beinin did in your book’s forward. Imagine eliminating the word ‘Jews’ and constantly referring to them as Orthodox and Reformers. I don’t think Jews would like that.

It was equally disturbing, if not funny, to separate (in the statistics above) Jews and Christians from Arabs when Jews are near entirely Arabs (with very few Kurdish and Turkmen exceptions) and the vast majority of Christians are Arabs as well!!

4. Thank you for making me laugh at the British proclamation that states, “A proclamation issued by the British military governor early in 1919 fixed the number of sheep to be slaughtered daily in Baghdad East (al-Risafa, the more populous half of the city) at 220 for Jewish butchers and 160 for Moslems and other butchers.”
It is interesting to read again the British so-called accuracy by using the term “Other”; even butchers have others. And what about Christians? Shame on them they don’t have butchers? J They just buy and eat? What was the significance of this piece of statistics? To present Jews as richer, more spoiled and ate more lamb, and were unfriendly slayers of sheep or to prove that their number in east Baghdad was higher? To include the sheep figures in your book immediately after the paragraph on population figures without commenting on them indicates that the number of killed sheep is used to prove the high number of Jews in Baghdad, which is irrelevant. And what made the British and you, for quoting them, rule out the possibility that Jewish butchers may sell sheep to non-Jews, and the same for Moslem butchers. Another issue of concern is the fact that the sheep figures were only provided for the east part of Baghdad. What about the west side (al-Karkh)?

5. In Hebrew language, the R is pronounced like the French R and like the Arabic sound of the letter ‘ghayn’. Therefore your transliteration of the Arabic-Hebrew word for ‘water well’ in page 4 should have been el-Beer and NOT el-Bigh.

6. I loved your description of hib on page 5, last paragraph: “The hib was a many-faceted device. Apart from keeping the water clean and fit for drinking it also served as a kind of primitive refrigerator. The water was always cool thanks to the breeze, which no matter how burning hot it was itself, always managed to cool the outside of the hib by contact with its damp walls. Moreover the hib, which was rounded and with a narrow base, was placed on a steady wooden “cage” with small holes that, while permitting the draught to circulate inside out, kept the place out of reach of scorpions, cockroaches, snakes, and other intruders from land. It was in this “cage,” qafas, that some of the most valuable necessities were tucked away. Besides the special jug that was placed right under the hib’s base to gather the water dripping therefrom, there was ample space in it to accommodate pots, bottles, and plates containing cooked meals, milk, yogurt, liquid medications, fruits and vegetables, which were preserved in reasonable coolness through the sweltering heat of summer and kept out of harm’s reach. The qafas also prevented the cats from reaching the meats and the milk products.”

I wished your paragraphs about Iraq’s majority and minorities, the Jews’ exodus and other topics mentioned in chapter one were described in the eloquence and extent of details as those awarded to the hib.

7. I also loved the anecdotes you provided about the snakes and how Iraqis dealt with them in paragraph two on page 6, which reads, “It was rare in those days for a house in Baghdad to be free of scorpions and snakes, and in many households it was customary for the head of the family to go to bed only after he had inspected the holes in the walls for snakes. Although destroying scorpions was a duty, killing or harming a snake was strictly forbidden. Usually ground dry leaves of the nice-smelling butnaj were spread on the floor in the belief that snakes cannot stand the smell and consequently refrain from intruding any further. In certain households, again, the mistress of the house left a plate of milk around so that a snake drinking it would become pacified and friendly to members of the household. In such cases the mother chants, “O snake of the house, do not do us harm and we won’t harm you!

A variety of issues came to mind as I read the paragraph about the snakes: One- you did not specify whether the killing of snakes was forbidden due to practice by all Iraqis or only by Jews! Two- it shows that Iraqi households were friendlier to other beings than after the 1960s, as it has been around the world, by living more with machinery and in crowded cities and due to the reduction of green landscape for the sake of construction. Three- it even indicates that Iraqis (like people worldwide) were more understanding of and tolerant with animals than (again) after the 1960s! Four- In English, Butnaj means “Betony”. If you click on this linkبطنج, you will find a detailed and interesting description of butnaj in Arabic.

8. In paragraph three on page 6, you wrote, “One day when I was about four years of age, the head of some little snake somehow came out of one of the holes in a wall in the inner house. Panic reigned; no one dared either to push the snake inside or bring it out. In the end, a certain “professional,” a Muslim living in the neighborhood, was brought to the scene….” Why did you need to indicate that the “professional” was a Moslem?

9. On page 6, last paragraph, you wrote, “The work of clearing the drains and the toilets was considered – and in fact was – the most menial of all menial jobs. It was undertaken almost exclusively by Christians from a certain small town in north of Iraq called Talkeif, but there were also Jews who engaged in the work; but never, never a Muslim. As small children, we used to dub every Christian nazzah , the name Baghdadis gave a man who cleaned drains and toilets. And Iraq’s immortal popular poet and versifier Mulla ‘Abbud al-Karkhi had an unforgettable poem in which he asks, among scores of other rhetorical questions: “Yimkin Mislim yisir nazzah? Yimkin yehudi yisir tcharkhatchi?” (Is it possible for a Muslim to be a latrine cleaner? A Jew to be a night watchman?)

This paragraph is one vivid example of the non-scholarly writing that you have done in your book so far. It is racist, soap-opera type of writing. You failed to analyze it objectively. It showed that your bad-meaning-malice side is live and kicking. Why was such a paragraph necessary to document? Here are some of the errors and points you failed to mention and analyze in this paragraph: Not all Iraqis dubbed Christians as nazzah (or sewage cleaner), not even the majority of Iraqis! They did not dub Christians in general; they dubbed the few who lived in Talkeif. By dubbing every Christian nazzah, as you wrote, you and your Jewish community were racist and disrespectful as well, not just the Moslems especially when, as you indicated, some Jews were working in this menial job! Shouldn’t you dub Jews as well? And where else in the world that such unfair and racist dubbing does not take place? Isn’t this happening in every society? Do you want me to remind you about how non-Jewish Arabs (Christians and especially Moslems) have been dubbed and working in all kinds of odd jobs in their own homeland since the European Jews established the racist and Zionist state of Israel? You are documenting this gossip and soap-opera-like stories while living in Israel. Do you want to document valuable information and provide objective analysis for the readers to appreciate your Jewish community and its accomplishments or do you want to use a writing style that antagonizes others in order to show how victimized you, Jews, have been? If the first was your purpose behind writing this book, this entire paragraph should be deleted with an apology!

10. You are wrong about paragraph three, page 7, which reads, “It is interesting to note here, in parentheses, that in Iraq – and presumably in other parts of the Arabic-speaking world – in those days the appellation Arab was never used to define a person’s identity, and the Jew-Arab opposition we constantly encounter today was never used either in writing or in daily discourse. A Baghdadian was usually said to be a Jew, a Muslim, a Kurd, a Christian, Armenian, Turk, Persian.”
This paragraph is worth deleting. I guess living in the Zionist state of Israel for a long time somehow affected your memory and style of documentation! The information in this short distortion of facts is contradictory to the British statistics you thought worth providing in the first page of this chapter (one). How would they include so many Arabs in the figures of Baghdad’s population if people didn’t identify themselves as Arabs? You are right about the absence of Jew-Arab opposition in writing or in daily discourse at that time, but wrong about the Arab identity in Iraq and in some other Arab countries and about the list you provided showing how a Baghdadi (not Baghdadian) identified him/herself. Additionally, it is important to enlist either only ethnic or only religious groups together in order to be accurate and avoid replication. Enlisting Christian and Armenian means you are repeating yourself since all Armenians are Christians and partially repeating yourself since Armenians are among Christians. The same is true about your inclusion of Moslems, Kurds and Turks together in one list. Remember and never forget the fact that IRAQ is a majority Arab country including Baghdad whether the Americans, British and Israelis like to admit it or not.

Thank you for taking the time to read this (second) letter. I hope you and the publisher of your book take these comments and corrections seriously for the betterment of your wonderful book!
Wishing You Continued Health,

4. Introducing the Historians Behind This Newsletter

5. The Purpose of the IRAQ History Monthly e-Newsletters & How to Join the Group List!

This group focuses on documenting and discussing various fields in IRAQ's history (politics, sciences, religions, law, the arts and other areas). The IRAQ History Group consists of a Writing/Editing Team made of historians and scholars and of Translating Team made of researchers and translators (translating from and to Arabic). The group's e-newsletters will be sent to the group list subscribers on monthly bases.

The purpose of the group list goes beyond documenting to encourage discussions on regular (not daily) bases and the exchange of information and announcements. Those interested in learning about and/or in discussing IRAQ's history are welcome to subscribe, but subscribing to the list does not mean participation in the writing/editing of IRAQ's history. These e-newsletters will eventually be posted on a special website/blog for Internet use. We hope to receive grants/contributions to be able to compensate historians/scholars of the writing/editing team should we invite them to participate in events related to IRAQ's history or for writing essential studies/essays for the purpose of publishing them in journal/book forms and not placed freely on the Internet.

We appreciate your recommendation of two non-Moslem Iraqi women historians to join the writing/editing team.

Writing/Editing Team
(in First-Name Alphabetical Order):

Prof. Abdul Jabbar Naji
Anees Al-Qaisy
Dr. Mahmood Al-Qaisy
Dr. Nada Shabout
Nahar Mohammed Nuri
Ms. Saba Hussein Al-Moula
Dr. Sinan Sadiq Az-Zaidy
Dr. Suhaila Shindi Al-Badri
Tariq Majeed

Translation/Research Team:

Ms. Hanan Mohammed Mahdi
Wafaa’, IRAQ History Group List Moderator

Group Email Addresses