Contemporary Arab Politics: a Concise History

By George E. Kirk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
IRAQ REVERTS TO TYPE

The causes of the Iraqi revolution of 1958 are not hard to find. The valley of the Euphrates and Tigris did not emerge from World War I as a long-standing political entity, but had latterly been administered by the Ottoman Empire as three provinces based on its three main cities; and under that administration, it had "passed from the nineteenth century little less wild and ignorant, as unfitted for self-government and not less corrupt, than it had entered the sixteenth." 1 As in Lebanon, there was numerically no majority community. Arabic was the predominant language, with important minorities speaking Kurdish, Turkish, and Syriac; but the Arabic- speaking population was divided nearly equally into Shi'is in lower Iraq and a somewhat smaller Sunni Arab community mainly to the north of Baghdad. 2 There were Jewish communities of long standing in Baghdad and Basra which played an important part in the commerce of those cities. Outside the cities, the social organization was predominantly tribal, and even the agricultural areas were populated (except for the Syriac Christian villages north of Mosul) largely by tribesmen who had only recently and reluctantly become sedentary and been reduced to tillage from the more "noble" (considered so

-137-

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Contemporary Arab Politics: a Concise History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Introduction 9
  • Chapter 1 the Myth of the Fourteenth Muslim Century 13
  • Chapter 2 the Sapping of the Seven Pillars 21
  • Chapter 3 the Free Officers Lose Their Freedom 29
  • Chapter 4 the Great Divorce 45
  • Chapter 5 the Smothering of Syria 91
  • Chapter 6 Jordania Phoenix 107
  • Chapter 7 the Lebanese Civil War 113
  • Chapter 8 Iraq Reverts to Type 137
  • Chapter 9 Abdel Nasser at Damascus-- or the New Saint Paul 149
  • Conclusion 173
  • Appendix the Egyptian Land Reform 177
  • Notes *
  • Recommended Reading *
  • Index *
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