The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 13—8:50 a.m.]
100. From an international point of view anti-British feeling in Iraq has recently been the outstanding feature of the political situation here. While there are various alleged reasons therefor the basic cause is the Palestine problem.
German propaganda through the German Minister before the war and since by secret agents and the Italian and German Arabic broadcasts nourished and inflamed this growing anti-British feeling and political Palestine Arab refugees headed by the Mufti have through increasing influence here seriously aggravated the situation, particularly during the past few months until this anti-British feeling whipped up by politicians is now widespread, including Army circles. Iraqi politicians, egged on by the Mufti and his followers, hoping to gain personal political kudos as the liberators of Palestine, have endeavored to take advantage of Britain’s embarrassment in the stress of war to force an immediate British declaration regarding Palestine favorable to the Arabs, which Nuri explains to be should be implementation of the White Paper at once but with executive authority remaining for the present in the hands of British advisers and the High Commissioner similarly as in the case of Iraq from 1920 until 1932.
The British have resisted the pressure and Churchill7 has emphatically refused to do anything about Palestine until after war. The Iraqis are now discouraged and resentful, including pro-British Nuri, [Page 711]and I am reliably informed that the Iraqi Cabinet in drafting the Regent’s address to Parliament November 5 contemplated the elimination of any mention of the British alliance in the address. The statement of the President of Turkey November 1, however, influenced their decision and finally persuaded them to make the briefest mention possible, namely “while our friendly relations with our ally, Great Britain, and with other friendly states continue to develop on a basis of friendship and mutual cooperation”. The speech was also otherwise brief and colorless. The debates in Parliament now commencing may throw some further light on this subject.
It is believed even by the British that Iraqi anti-British [feeling?] will not be translated into any action which would materially impede the British in their prosecution of war measures.
Mail report follows.
Copies by pouch to Ankara, Beirut, Jerusalem, Cairo.
- Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister.↩