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By Helen Chapin Metz

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He stressed that this step would pave the way for ending the alien rule that the Iraqis had experienced since the latter days of the Abbasid caliphate. The proclamation was in accordance with the encouragement the British had given to Arab nationalists, such as Jafar al Askari; his brother−in−law, Nuri as Said; and Jamil al Midfai, who sought emancipation from Ottoman rule. The nationa− lists had supported the Allied powers in expectation of both the Ottoman defeat and the freedom many nationalists assumed would come with an Allied victory.

The British decision at the Cairo Conference to establish an indigenous Iraqi army was significant. In Iraq, as in most of the developing world, the military establishment has been the best organized institution in an otherwise weak political system. Thus, while Iraq's body politic crumbled under immense political and economic pressure throughout the monarchic period, the military gained increasing power and influence; moreover, because the officers in the new army were by necessity Sunnis who had served under the Ottomans, while the lower ranks were predominantly filled by Shia tribal elements, Sunni dominance in the military was preserved.

For reasons that have never been explained, they were repelled by the Syrians. During this time, King Faisal was outside the country for reasons of health. According to scholarly sources, Minister of Interior Hikmat Sulayman had adopted a policy aimed at the elimination of the Assyrians. This policy apparently was implemented by a Kurd, General Bakr Sidqi, who, after engaging in several clashes with the Assyrians, permitted his men to kill about 300 Assyrians, including women and children, at the Assyrian village of Simel (Sumayyil).

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