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Context of 'August 1920: British Announce Iraqi Insurgency Defeated; Intelligence Official Warns Otherwise'

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British forces invade Iraq and occupy Baghdad, ostensibly to save the Iraqis from the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In reality, the occupation is at least partly motivated by the desire to secure the Iraqi oil fields for Britain. Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude proclaims: “Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. You people of Baghdad are not to understand that it is the wish of the British government to impose upon you alien institutions. It is the hope of the British government that once again the people of Baghdad shall flourish, enjoying their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws.” Author and former CIA agent Larry Kolb will write in 2007: “That sounded a lot to me like the rosy assurances our own [American] leaders gave the Iraqis in 2003 not long after we flattened half of Baghdad and then drove our tanks into what was left of it. But history shows that eventually the British liberators were driven out of Iraq by pissed-off locals, the insurgency. Just as eventually British liberators were driven out of Palestine, by both Jews and Arabs. And just as Napoleon, the liberator of Egypt, had eventually been forced by the locals to abandon the Nile in humiliation. The track record of Western armies fighting local insurgencies is abysmal. If President Bush didn’t know that, surely someone on his staff should have.” [Kolb, 2007, pp. 93-94] Three years later, the British will find themselves battling a fierce insurgency in central Iraq (see Early 1920).

Entity Tags: Stanley Maude, Larry Kolb

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Three years after Britain declared victory in Iraq (see 1917), their occupational forces are locked in fierce fighting with an Iraqi insurgency that had grown up in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. The British begin a campaign of aerial bombing against Fallujah and Baghdad, and heavy urban assaults in Samarra. [Kolb, 2007, pp. 94]

Entity Tags: Iraq, United Kingdom

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

British generals announce that the insurgency in Iraq (see Early 1920) has been defeated. But former British Army intelligence officer T. E. Lawrence—“Lawrence of Arabia”—disagrees, in a dispatch published by the London Times. “The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor,” Lawrence writes. “Things have been far worse than we have told. We are today not far from a disaster.” Lawrence knows the insurgents—indeed, he had helped train them in the techniques of guerrilla warfare. [Kolb, 2007, pp. 94]

Entity Tags: United Kingdom, Iraq, T. E. Lawrence

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US State Department official Jonathan T. Howe sends Secretary of Defense Lawrence Eagleburger a memo reporting that US intelligence has determined that “Iraq has acquired a CW [chemical weapons] production capability, primarily from Western firms, including possibly a US foreign subsidiary” and that Iraq has used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Kurdish insurgents. Referring to the US policy “of seeking a halt to CW use wherever it occurs,” Howe says the US is “considering” approaching Iraq directly, but in a way that avoids playing “into Iran’s hands by fueling its propaganda against Iraq.” Significantly, the memo acknowledges that the US has so far limited its “efforts against the Iraqi CW program to close monitoring because of our strict neutrality in the Gulf war, the sensitivity of sources, and the low probability of achieving desired results.” [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Jonathan T. Howe, Lawrence Eagleburger

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, US-Iraq 1980s

Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. When asked by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) whether he has read the British white paper (see September 24, 2002) on Iraq and whether he disagrees with any of its conclusions he responds: “[T]he one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We’ve looked at those reports and we don’t think they are very credible…” [US Congress, 7/7/2004]

Entity Tags: John E. McLaughlin, Jon Kyl

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Niger Uranium and Plame Outing

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office sends advisers to Iraq to work with the country’s oil ministry on “fiscal and regulatory” issues. [Muttitt, 2005] Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, describing the ministry’s role, will tell Parliament in July 2005, “We discuss with the Iraqi ministries their priorities on a regular basis.” [UK Parliament, 7/12/2005] But the office will never publish a formal policy statement and will refuse to comply with Freedom of Information requests for related documents. One of the exemptions the office will use to refuse a request is that its advice to the Iraqis is “voluminous.” [Muttitt, 2005]

Entity Tags: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Iraq under US Occupation

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