By Michael Eppel
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Extra resources for Iraq from Monarchy to Tyranny: From the Hashemites to the Rise of Saddam
22 The overwhelming majority of the Iraqi politicians came from or were related to this social stratum and constituted the ruling political elite, committed to the status quo which served the class interests of the stratum. The tiny industrial bourgeoisie was also connected with the ruling class. At the end of the 1950s, six families owned most of the industrial enterprises in Iraq. The building of the Iraqi state after World War I and the attempts to 32 / Chapter 1 crystallize the national identity within it involved complex interactions with the development of an upper social class and the expansion of the effendiyya and the tribesmen, many of whom became peasants and tenants.
The Iraqi state was incapable of coping with the Shi ite tribal revolt, which was supported and exploited by the opposition—that is, by politicians from the ruling Sunnite elite. The Iraqi Army, whose chief of staff, Taha al-Hashimi, was the brother of Yasin al-Hashimi, refrained from putting down the revolt. In March 1935, the rebels reached Baghdad without encountering any resistance on the part of the military. In view of the confusion and disorder in the capital and throughout much of southern Iraq, King Ghazi dismissed Ali Jawdat, and brought Yasin al-Hashimi back to replace him as prime minister.
The national identity fostered by the various regimes ran the gamut from Iraqi-Arab identity, in which precedence was given to Arabspeaking Sunnites, Shi ites, and Christians, to Iraqi-territorialist identity, in which the Kurds and Turkmen, Christian Assyrians and other Aramaicspeaking minorities were also included as equals. By crowning Faysal, head of the Hashemite family of Hijaz, the British had set up as head of the Iraqi state a member of a dynasty who was foreign to most of the country’s population.