Press attacks against the Iraqi Government intensified. Students in institutions of higher learning went on strike on January 18, urging rejection of the Treaty of Portsmouth. Frenzied rioting erupted in Baghdad on the 20th.
Chargé Dorsz reported that “On January 21 HRH the Regent made an announcement which must have come as a bombshell to the British. Alarmed by the now serious riots and the possibility of a public upheaval, he summoned a conference of elder statesmen to the Palace and after a five-hour meeting announced that ‘the treaty does not realize the aspirations of Iraq and is not a useful instrument to consolidate the friendship between the two countries.’ The Regent further promised Iraqis that no treaty would be ratified which did not insure the interest of the country and its national aspirations.” The Jabr Cabinet resigned on January 27 and the next day a new government headed by Mohammed Sadr came to power (airgram 55 from Baghdad). Foreign Minister Hamdi al- Pachachi, on February 4, handed Mr. Busk a note communicating his Government’s rejection of the treaty and [Page 206] concluding that the Iraqi Government was agreeable to opening negotiations for a new treaty (telegram 146, February 7, 8 a. m., 741.90G/2–748).
London, on February 13, advised that it had “no information rejection AIT has in any way altered general British policy vis-à-vis Middle East countries although recent experience is likely to make Bevin and Foreign Office more wary. HMG concept of replacing old British position of strength by developing mutual defence and other interests with Arab states is unchanged. In view British Cabinet, essential merits its basic postwar attitude towards Middle East are too great to be abandoned lightly. However, Palestine partition has created dangerous reservoir emotionalism in all Arab states and even some minor event might set off conflagration. If this should happen HMG would have to meet new situation with materials at hand and might be forced to make, for time at least, extemporaneous policy alterations.” (telegram 554, 741.90F/2–1348)