How Did Iraq Come into Being?

History Q & A

Mr. Tripp is the author of A History of Iraq.

Prof. TRIPP: Iraq was the first of the League of Nations mandate states to become independent in 1932. The British had decided quite early on that there was no need to be an imperial power in a very detailed sense in Iraq, that is administering every aspect of the Iraqi state. Rather, they should exercise what came to be called 'informal empire' in Iraq, that is a influence over the government, military basing rights, but beyond that, largely granting the Iraqis their independence. So after 1932, Iraq was formally independent. There was still, of course, a large measure of British influence and British power there, but it was certainly independent earlier than any of the other Arab states.

GROSS: What happened after Iraq got its independence? How did its own national politics start to take shape?

Prof. TRIPP: Well, one of the things that became apparent quite quickly was the fact that the British had installed a monarchy in Iraq, because that's the way the British at the time thought that you would bring a certain degree of cohesion. And they'd chosen as the monarch a member of the Hashemite family from the Hejaz in Arabia, who had been very instrumental in the Arab revolt.

And King Faisal I, the first king of Iraq, was man of extraordinary authority, and battling against great odds, both against the British and against the Iraqis, managed to forge something like a national sense of loyalty to him. But he died a year after independence, and then you had his much weaker son, and his son died in a car crash a few years later, and then his infant child. So the monarchy was in Iraq, but increasingly troubled, increasingly at odds with various factions of the Iraqi population.

And one of the things that became apparent very quickly in the 1930s was the role of the army in Iraqi politics, that is the importance of the army officers in deciding who should govern the country. And just as Iraq became the first of League of Nations mandates to become independent in 1932, it was also the first of the Arab states to suffer what one came to think of as a classical military coup d'etat in 1936, which led to a whole succession of coups and countercoups up until 1941.

GROSS: And what happened in '41?

Prof. TRIPP: Well, in 1941, the Second World War was raging, and the people who were coming out on top in Iraqi politics increasingly believed that the British Empire was about to be defeated by the Axis of Germany and Italy in Europe and North Africa, and rather unwisely sided with the Axis powers, at the same time seeking to defy British demands to send increasing troops through the Middle East via Iraq. And that led to a brief war with Great Britain in 1941, whereby the British invaded, recaptured Baghdad and reinstated the monarchy.

GROSS: And how long did the monarchy last?

Prof. TRIPP: Well, until 1958, when, again, a military coup d'etat by revolutionary army officers swept aside the monarchy, killing most of the ruling family and establishing the Iraqi republic.

GROSS: And how did the Iraqi republic compare to what had gone before?

Prof. TRIPP: In some ways, the Iraqi republic wasn't very different to the Iraqi monarchy. And I think this is one of the features that one has to take into account when looking at Iraqi history, is that whether under monarchy or under republic, one of the features was the very centralized, authoritarian state, the importance of the army in that state, the lack of truly representative life and the increasing importance of oil income. These are all features of the republic as they were increasingly of the monarchy under the Hashemite monarchs.

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More Comments:

Dean Inan - 12/26/2010

The question is Where did and/or Who gave these names and When did ? these Countries get named and Why ?
Was there such a tribe or sect?

fadhil - 7/19/2004

fadhil - 1/2/2004

fadhil - 1/2/2004

jon harris - 10/20/2003

you don't have anything to do a report

Amir Wahab - 8/4/2003

Although it is entertaining to read your post, it about as false as flying pigs. Reading your post has proven to me that ignorant people can be entertaining. The only thing that is flawed is your sick idea about Islam. You have no clue what the Koran is about.

Abdul-Ilah - 6/10/2003

Dear Sirs,
I'd be grateful if you send me information about a.m subject.

Albert Alessi - 6/7/2003

I wish there had been mention of Kuwait being an artificial British colonial contrivance designed to help British control the large interior. By controlling the coastal access very tightly, with a crown colony in Kuwait, the British felt they could in fact rule informally. The point is that Kuwait should always have been a part of Iraq, not that Hussein was justified in violent invasion.

tyrice white - 5/27/2003


Rick - 4/23/2003

Does the former Royal Family of Iraq have a chance for restoration now that Saddam is gone?

Kataya Urquhart - 4/4/2003

I want to know how Saddamm came into power I have heard that It was the American Government that put Saddam into power in the first place I want to know if this is true and what America has to gain in taking over Iraq now.

Is this the begining of American world domination?

-Kataya Urquhart-

David Haugen - 3/31/2003

"Saddam Hussein maintains, as a means of establishing the legitimacy of Iraq, that the country has a 5,000 year history. Mr. Tripp points out Iraq was actually the creation of the British."

The country does have a 5,000 year history. I'm familiar with and have a lot of respect for Terry Gross, but the wording of that passage bugs me. She makes it sound like the Brittish somehow invented Iraq, and that the flaunting of 5,000 years of history is mere propaganda.

David Haugen - 3/31/2003

"Saddam Hussein maintains, as a means of establishing the legitimacy of Iraq, that the country has a 5,000 year history. Mr. Tripp points out Iraq was actually the creation of the British."

The country does have a 5,000 year history. I'm familiar with and have a lot of respect for Terry Gross, but the wording of that passage bugs me. She makes it sound like the Brittish somehow invented Iraq, and that the flaunting of 5,000 years of history is mere propaganda.


September 11, 2001 was and will be an ongoing tragic catastrophe brought on by the moral and emotional blackmail of the previous U.N. coterie that forced Western Europe and the United States to allow in so many Islamic Trojan horses (fifth columnists) posing as immigrants and refugees fused to destroy modern civilization as they see fit. These are the vanguards of fanatically arrogant and religiously perverted people led by their imperialistic feudal sheikhs and emirs who are bent on imposing Islamic supremacy and fascism, which like nazism will spread amongst the meek, if we let them, the very human contagion that occupied, destroyed and denuded what was left of the real Egypt, North Africa, the Iberian peninsula and now in the process of deceitfully annihilating Israel, undermining the West and surreptitiously invading Australia, Checheno-Ingush (Russia) Jammu & Kashmir (India) and Sinkiang (China). These very slave dealers who are still buying and selling slaves no Arabs to this day considered any more evil than the buying and selling of horses. It is therefore rather ironic that one of the greatest pugilist in history should have changed his name from Cassius Clay to Mohammed Ali, and African Americans becoming Black Muslims when the greatest slavers in the world (Mehemet Ali, 1769-1849, and Mohammed Ahmed Ibn el-Sayyid - the Mahdi, for example) the Muslims have from time immemorial believed that "the end of all efforts" - the bottom line so to speak in today’s lingo - "is to procure Negroes" despite the effort of Britain (ever since general Gordon, Livingstone, Stanley, Speke, Baker, Burton, Kitchener) and France (Schweinfurth, Napoleon, Fourier, Berthollet, Denon, Desaix, Kléber) to end slavery. The reason why the vast majority of crime and violence are commited by Arabs having a field day in Europe and elsewhere is because all Muslims are taught not to rape, steal or kill their own people only in their land of Islam (Dar-al-Islam). However committing crime on anyone anywhere is fair game and open season in the land of the unnecessarily-hard working-instead-of-constantly-praying non-believers outside the Dar-al-Islam.

The Arabs are a very proud people, just as the nazi Germans and Kokuhonsha Japanese were very proud people. It has taken Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bring the erstwhile hazardously arrogant population back down to earth. The time has come when the Arabs must rid themselves of their foolish and detrimentally false pride and to take a crash course in humility.

The U. S. should take stock of the present geopolitical situation and try to understand that both China and Russia couldn’t be happier if they whack the Islamist good and proper.

Along with the government of Western Europe, politicians in the United States are totally unaware that the Arabs are using something which is efficaciously more powerful, above and beyond the use of deadly force (which they will continue to use if given the capability to do so) and that is the use of widespread bribery and corruption of the western media, money backed political influence (Halliday and Ritter) and PR onslaught upon the young and naïve.

We must understand that without the genocidal Arab threat from without, Israel may implode from within. Without Israel as their scapegoat, the penny will drop, and the Arab people will wake and uprise against their religious addiction that the ruling class of tyrants and despots wilfully had them hooked on in order to draw their attention away from the wealth these ostensibly educated rulers are unwilling to share and to fairly distribute.

The Arabs are “sweating” themselves and closing ranks to protect Iraq, for if Saddam and the Iraqi leadership were to be captured they will spill the beans and expose the involvement of many supposedly friendly Muslim heads of state in September 11 and plots currently being hatched.

It is neither in their vocabulary to apologize nor in their nature to say sorry however willing the West is at the drop of a hat to forgive.

1919 Treaty of Versailles, the rejection of Wilson’s League of Nations and the suffering of the German people notwithstanding, Europe in the late 1930s did not want war and (Chamberlain) did go as far as kowtowing to Hitler along with the leaders of Europe who went to Berchtesgaden to be humiliated. Had they closed ranks with Germany the Europeans would have been rightly regarded as racists. Conversely, if the Arabs were fair skinned, blond haired and blue-eyed, we would have recognised them to be the racists they truly are.

In order to stop them in their tracks and nip the danger in the bud, we should not beat around the bush but call a spade a spade. We have the power to be honest. We must not prevaricate. We have to raise hell to open the can of worms so that all hell could break loose and have all the hidden agendas come out of the woodworks if the den of iniquity is to be flushed out.

Saudi Religious Leaders Forbid Attacks on Non-Muslims.

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Ulema (Religious Scholars) has issued an
edict condemning attacks and other violence against innocents. The edicts
also convey that it is a crime to randomly judge people as “infidels” and
target them for violence.

This was a press release from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia


Sara - 10/6/2002

Charles Tripp--author