Education and the radicalization of Iraqi politics: Britain, the Iraqi Communist Party, and the “Russian link”, 1941–49purchase PDF
Authors: Johan Franzén
Iraq, history, Iraqi education, political radicalization, Communism, imperialism
Following the termination of its mandate in 1932, Britain precariously tried to retain its influence in Iraq. Nonetheless, nationalist endorsement of educational expansion precipitated the emergence of new intermediate social strata, which, unattached to traditional loyalties, became increasingly radicalized during the 1940s. Among these strata new anti-British political groups emerged who increasingly challenged the British presence in Iraq. The Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), founded in 1934, was arguably the greatest threat to British interests in Iraq during the monarchical period. Yet, British (and Iraqi) intelligence failed to fully understand the threat posed by the ICP, nor did it recognize the potentially dangerous role of the politicized intermediate strata. Dismissing the idea that Iraq with its traditional polity could produce ideologically committed Communists, British officers on the ground maintained that any signs of Communism in Iraq were inevitably a result of ‘Russian imperialism’. The stringent and disdainful attitude of these officers towards both the domestic politicized classes and the local Communists thus further isolated the British. This, in turn, helps explain the wide chasm that developed throughout the 1940s between the Iraqi elite and the British on the one hand and the ‘popular classes’ on the other, culminating in the popular uprising known as the Wathbah in 1948.