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The Elite, the Effendiyya, and the Growth of Nationalism and Pan-Arabism in Hashemite Iraq, 1921–1958

  • Michael Eppel (a1)

One of the basic characteristics of the social conditions that marked political life in the Arab states in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s was the complex relationship between the politicians from among the elites of traditional notables of the Fertile Crescent cities and the effendiyya, or Westernized middle stratum. These elites consisted not only of traditional notable families, but also of families newly risen since the Tanzimat reforms in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire. Since the end of World War I, these elites had stood at the center of the new states established by the Western powers—Great Britain and France—and it was now the politicians from within those elites who headed the struggle of those states for independence. This relationship, as well as the character of the elite of notables and the effendiyya, constituted an important element in the social conditions characterizing the political and ideological environment in which the Iraqi politicians from the elite of notables had operated, and in which Arab nationalism and Pan-Arab ideology became a highly influential factor.

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Author's note: I thank Israel Gershoni, Haggai Erlich, and Sharon Neeman for their useful comments.

1 Hourani, Albert, “Ottoman Reform and the Politics of Notables,” in Beginning of Modernization in the Middle East, ed. Polk, William R. and Chambers, Richard (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 6168;Dawn, Ernest, From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins of Arab Nationalism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973);idem, The Rise of Arabism in Syria,” Middle East Journal 16 (Spring, 1962);Roded, Ruth, “Social Patterns among the Urban Elite of Syria during the Late Ottoman Period 1876–1918,” in Palestine in the Late Ottoman Period: Political, Social and Economic Transformation, ed. Kushner, David (Jerusalem and Leiden: Yad Ben Zvi and E. J. Brill, 1986), 146–65;idem, “Ottoman Service as a Vehicle for the Rise of New Upstarts Among the Urban Elite Families of Syria in the Last Decades of Ottoman Rule,” in Studies in Islamic Society: Contributions in Memory of Gabriel Baer, ed. Warburg, Gabriel R. and Gilbar, Gad G. (Haifa: Haifa University Press, 1984), 6394;Maoz, Moshe, “The Impact of Modernization on Syrian Politics and Society during the Early Tanzimat Period,” in Beginning of Modernization, 333–49;Toledano, Ehud, State and Society in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

2 Batatu, Hanna, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982);Pool, David, “Politics of Patronage, Elites and Social Structure in Iraq” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1972).

3 Khoury, Philip S., Syria and the French Mandate, The Politics of Arab Nationalism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987);idem, Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism, The Politics of Damascus 1860–1920 (Cambridge, London, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

4 Lerner, Daniel, The Passing of Traditional Society (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1958).

5 Ramadan, ʿAbd al-Azim, Tatawwur al-Haraka al-Wataniyya fi Misr 1918–1936 (Cairo: Dar al-Katib al-ʿArabi, 1968), 60–82, 130–90;Erlich, Haggai, Students and University in 20th-century Egyptian Politics (London: Frank Cass, 1988);Gershoni, Israel, “The Evolution of National Culture in Modern Egypt: Intellectual Formation and Social Diffusion 1892–1945,” Poetics Today 13 (1992);idem, Egypt Between Distinctiveness and Unity (Tel Aviv, 1980);idem, “Between Ottomanism and Egyptianism: The Evolution of ‘National Sentiment’ in the Cairene Middle Class as Reflected in Najib Mahfuz's Bayn al-Qasrayn,” in Studies in Islamic Society, 227–64;Deeb, Marius, Party Politics in Egypt: The Wafd and Its Rivals 1919–1939 (London: Ithaca Press, 1979);Mitchell, Richard P., The Society of Muslim Brothers (London: Oxford University Press, 1969).

6 Fernea, Robert, The Shaykh and the Effendi (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970).

7 Main, Ernest, Iraq, From Mandate to Independence (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1935), 233–36.

8 Lewis, Bernard, “Effendi,” IS 2, 2, 687.

9 Shaw, Stanford Jay, “Some Aspects of the Aims and Achievements of the Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Reformers,” in Beginning of Modernization, 2939;Toledano, , State and Society, 71–72, 92107.

10 Khoury, Philip S., Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism, The Politics of Damascus 1860–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983);Hourani, Albert, “The Arab Awakening: Forty Years Later,” in The Emergence of the Modern Middle East (London: Macmillan, 1981), 205;Toledano, , State and Society, 71. On the elite or traditional social class in Iraq, see also Batatu, , The Old Social Classes.

11 Qazaz, Nissim, The Jews in Iraq in the Twentieth Century (Jerusalem, 1991), 25.

12 Toledano, , State and Society, 6887.

13 Erlich, , Students and University;idem, Students and Universities in the Political Life of Egypt After World War I,” Ha-Mizrah He-Hadash 19 (19681969): 5077.

14 Bevin, Ernest to Eyres, M. (Damascus), 15 01 1947, PRO/FO/371/522365/E/12303; Bevin to Sir Hugh Stonehewer Bird (British ambassador in Baghdad), PRO/FO/371/522365/E/12303. Similar letters were sent to British representatives in Cairo, Damascus, and Beirut.

15 Ibid., Bevin, to Eyres, , 15 01 1947.

16 Ibid., SirBird, Hugh Stonehewer (Baghdad) to Bevin, , 10 03 1947.

17 Troutbeck, (British ambassador in Baghdad) to Eden, Sir Anthony, no. 6, 9 01 1953, PRO/FO/ 371/104678/EQ/1052/4.

18 Halpern, Manfred, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963), 5178. On the centrality of bureaucracy as a source of employment for the effendiyya, see, for example, Ayubi, Nazih N. M., Bureaucracy and Politics in Contemporary Egypt (London: Ithaca Press, 1980).

19 Fernea, , The Shaykh. (It should be noted that Fernea cited clear characteristic traits for the effendiyya: officeholders at the lower end of state bureaucracy); Lerner, , The Passing of Traditional Society.

20 al-Hilālī, ʿAbd al-Razzāq, Muʿājamat al-ʿIrāq (Baghdad, 1954), part I, 217.

21 This table was prepared by means of comparison among various sources whose data were not always identical. al-Ḥuṣrī, Sāṭiʿ, Mudhakkirāti fī al-ʿIrāq, vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Taliʿa, 1968);Qubain, Fahim, Education and Science in the Arab World (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1966); idem, The Reconstruction of Iraq, 1950–1957 (London: Atlantic Books, 1958), 211;Mathews, R. D. and Akrawi, Matta, Education in the Arab Countries of the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: American Council of Education, 1949).

22 Simon, Reeva, Iraq Between the Two World Wars (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 7694;Cleveland, William L., The Making of an Arab Nationalist (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971). Concerning Satiʿ al-Husri's activity in Iraq from his own personal viewpoint, see al-Ḥuṣrī, Sāṭiʿ, Mudhakkirātī fī al-ʿIrāq (Beirut: Dar al-Taliʿa, 1968), both volumes. Concerning his educational–nationalist views, see al-Ḥuṣrī, Sāṭiʿ, Arāʾi wa-al-Aḥādīth fī al-Tarbiya wa-al-Taʿlim (Cairo: Matbaʾat al-Risala, 1944).

23 al-Miqdādī, Akram Zuaʿitar and Darwīsh, Taʾrīkhunā bi-Uslūb Qiṣaṣi (Baghdad: Matbʿat al-Kashaf, 1939);Dawn, C. Ernest, “The Formation of Pan-Arab Ideology in the Interwar Years,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 20 (02 1988): 6788;Simon, , Iraq, 9899.

24 Ḥusayn, Jamīl, Al-ʿIrāq Shahāda Siyāsiyya 1980–1930 (London, 1987).

25 Ibid., 203–32; Mushtāq, Ṭālib, Awrāq Ayyāmī (Beirut: Dar al-Taliʿa Liltabaʿat wal-Nashr, 1968), 188;Al-Ḥuṣrī, , Mudhakkirātī, 2:14. Akram Zuaʾitar, a Palestinian activist who began working in the Iraqi school system in the early 1930s, was active in nationalist circles in Baghdad and mentioned the demonstrations against Mond as an example of Iraq's support of the Palestinian Arabs; Zuaʿitar, Akram, Yawmiyyāt Akram Zuaʿitar al-Ḥaraka al-Waṭaniyya al-Filasṭiniyya 1935–1939 (Beirut: Muasasat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniyya, 1980), 51.

26 Sasson, Eliahu, On the Way to Peace (Tel Aviv: ‘Am Oved, 1978), 5571. Part of the report by Zionist emissaries to Iraq about the meetings with Hikmat Sulayman and other Iraqi politicians. Eppel, Michael, The Palestine Conflict in the History of Modern Iraq, 1928–1948 (London: Frank Cass, 1994), 5455.

27 al-Fkayki, Ḥānī, Al-Awkār al-Ḥāzimat, Tajrībī fī Ḥizb al-Baʿth al-ʿIrāqī (London: Riad al-Rayyes Books, 1993), 28.

28 Batatu, , Old Social Classes, 318–19. A considerable number of the Sharifian officer–politicians came from the middle or lower-middle strata. Thus, for example, Jamil al-Madfaʿi (who served as prime minister four times in the 1930s and 1940s), Jaʿfar al-ʿAskari (who served as minister of defense in the 1930s). Yasin al-Hashimi, and his brother Taha all had humble origins but found their place in the conservative elite and became part of its backbone. (Admittedly, the al-Hashimi family of Baghdad was a notable family with a certain status; Yasin and Taha al-Hashimi, however, came from an impoverished branch of the family.)

29 Concerning the expansion of the press in Iraq, see: Batti, Rafāʾīl, Al-Ṣaḥāfa fī al-ʿIrāq (Cairo: Jamiʿat al-Duwal al-ʿArabiyya-Muahadat al-Dirasat al-ʿArabiyya, 1957);Mushtāq, , Awrāq Ayyāmī, 36.

30 On the February–March 1928 demonstrations and riots in Baghdad, see Batatu, , Old Social Classes, 398–99. High Commissioner for Iraq to Minister of Colonies, no. 820, 9 February 1928, PRO/FO/371/13033/E/702. Sluglett, Peter, Britain in Iraq, 1914–1932 (London: Ithaca Press, 1976), 159–60. al-Ḥasanī, ʿAbd al-Razzāq, Taʾrīkh al-Wizārat al-ʿIrāqiyya (Baghdad: Dar al-Shuun al-Thikafiyya al-ʿAma, 1988, new edition), 2:51.

31 Batatu, , Old Social Classes, 398–99.

32 Humphrys, (British ambassador in Baghdad) to Simon, (British minister of foreign affairs), no. 1164, 21 02 1932, PRO/FO/406/70/E/6888.

33 Simon, ,Irag, 82114.

34 Zuaʿitar, Akram, Yawmiyyāt Akram Zuaʿitar al-Ḥaraka al-Waṭaniyya al-Filasṭīniyya 1935–1939 (Beirut: Muasasat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniyya, 1980), 351. Letter from Epstein, , 22 05 1938, CZA 5/25/ 3528.

35 Concerning that coup and the trends of the subsequently established government, see Tarbush, Mohammad A., The Role of the Military in Politics (London: Kegan Paul International, 1982), 121–49.

36 Hirszowicz, Lukasz, The Third Reich and the Arab East (London and Toronto: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), 103–92;Hamdi, Walid M. S., Rashid Ali al-Gailani and the Nationalist Movement in Iraq, 1939–1941 (London: Darf, 1987);Tarbush, , Military in Politics, 167–82.

37 Mack, (Baghdad) to Bevin, , no. 104, 29 03 1948, PRO/FO/371/68448/E/4291. Concerning the economic situation in Iraq in the autumn of 1947, see Political Review of Iraq for the Year 1947, PRO/FO/ 371/68443/E/834. On the economic situation in 1948, and the desperate attempts by the regent and the minister of finance to obtain relief from Britain in the form of food and cash payments to cover the salaries of the civil service, see PRO/FO/624/141, 19 March 1948; see also Mack, to Foreign Office, no. 408, 14 04 1948, PRO/FO/371/68448/E/4793.

38 The nationalist–rightist al-Istiqlāl and the National Democratic Party reorganized in 1946, following the lifting of the prohibition against party–political activity, which had been imposed following the Rashid ʿAli movement.

39 About Salih Jabr, see Louis, Wm. Roger, The British Empire in the Middle East, Arab Nationalism, the United States and Postwar Imperialism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 321.See also Busk, (Baghdad) to Bevin, , 6 09 1946, PRO/FO/371/52402/E/9318.

40 On the role of al-Istiqlāl and the National Democratic Party in provoking the riots and their difficulties in controlling the situation during the wathba of 1948, see Batatu, , Old Social Classes, 548;Kubbah, Muḥammad Mahdī, Mudhakkirāt fī Ṣamīm al-Aḥdāth 1918–1958 (Beirut: Dar al-Taliʿa, 1965), 227–31. About the wathba, see also Marr, Phebe, The Modern History of Iraq (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1983), 103–4.

41 Eppel, , The Palestine Conflict, 177–89.

42 Sluglett, Marion Farouk and Sluglett, Peter, “The Transformation of Land Tenure and Rural Social Structure in Central and Southern Iraq, 1870–1958,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 15 (03 1983): 493–95;Jwaidah, Albertine, “Midhat Pasha and the Land System of Lower Iraq,” St. Antony's Papers III (1963): 106–36;idem, “Aspects of Land Tenure and Social Change in Lower Iraq During Late Ottoman Times,” in Land Tenure and Social Transformation in the Middle East, ed. Khalidi, Tarif (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1984).

43 Sluglett, , and Sluglett, , “The Transformation,” 487–89;Pool, David, “From Elite to Class: The Transformation of Iraqi Leadership 1920–1939,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 12 (11 1980): 340–47.

44 Batatu, , Old Social Classes, 100104.

45 Ibid., 103. A further discussion of developments among the elite can be found in al-Qazzaz, Ayad, “Power Elite in Iraq, 1920–1958,” The Muslim World LXI (1971): 267–82.

46 Khadduri, Majid, Independent Iraq (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 4851;MacDonald, A. D., “The Political Developments in Iraq Leading Up to the Rising in the Spring of 1935,” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 36 (1936).

47 al-Urfalī, Jamīl, Lamḥat min Dhikrayyāt Wazīr al-ʿIraq Sābiq (Beirut: Dar Maktabat al-Hayat, 1971), 84.

48 al-ʿAẓm, Khālid, Mudhakkirāt Khālid al-ʿAẓm (Beirut: al-Dar al-Mutahida lil-Nashr, 1973), 2:310–11, 445.

49 Batatu, , Old Social Classes, 354–57;Troutbeck, (Baghdad) to Churchill, , no. 108, 22 07 1953, PRO/ FO/371/104665/EQ/1016/32.

50 Concerning Salih Jabr's efforts to reconcile the tendencies of his various supporters—the effendiyya, the land-owning tribal notables, and the elite—while exploiting the latter's fear of revolution following the fall of the monarchy, see Beeley, (Baghdad) to Furlonge, (FO), no. 118, 21 08 1952, PRO/FO/371/ 98737/E/1017/6.

51 Concerning al-Ahālī and the views of Kamil al-Chadirchi, who was a prominent member of that organization and the leader of the National Democratic Party starting in 1946, see al-Chādirchī, Kāmil, Mudhakkirāt Kāmil al-Chādirchī (Beirut: Dar al-Taliʿa lil-Tabʿa wal-Nashr, 1970). See, for example, the article by al-Chādirchī, , Ṣadā al-Ahālī, 17 10 1949.

52 On Nuri's conservative attitudes in the framework of the struggle and challenges of the 1950s, see Troutbeck, (Baghdad) to Eden, , 3 11 1954, PRO/FO/371/110991/VQ/1015/79;Troutbeck, (Baghdad) to Allen, R., 10 02 1954, PRO/FO/371/110998/VQ/1015/12.

53 On the differences in orientation of various Western trends, see al-Jamālī, Fāḍil, Dhikriyyāt wa-ʿIbar (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Jadid, 1965), 105;al-Jamali, Mohammad Fadhil, “Iraq Under General Nuri,” Middle East Forum 15 (1964): 19;Troutbeck, (Baghdad) to Eden, , no. 260, 1 12, 1953, PRO/FO/371/104677/EQ/10345/3. Also, on Jamali's trends, see PRO/FO/371/104666/EQ/1016/52. Concerning Salih Jabr's trends and the hopes entertained of Jabr by British diplomats inspired by Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, see Busk, (British chargé d'affaires in Iraq) to FO, no. 761,23 09 1946, PRO/FO/371/52402/ E/9957. See also Eppel, Michael, “Iraqi Politics and Regional Policies, 1945–1949,” Middle Eastern Studies 28 (01 1992): 112.

54 Humphrys, (Baghdad) to Simon, (British foreign minister), no. 27, 25 03 1933, PRO/FO/371/16903/E/1853.

55 On the role of the Palestine question in Iraqi political history, see Eppel, , The Palestine Conflict (see n. 26).

56 For a report on the crumbling of the tribal structure and the increasing alienation between the tribal notables who had become land-owners and the tribesmen who had become serfs, fellahin, or city-dwellers against their will, see Thesiger, W., “The Mass Movement of Tribesmen from Amara Liwa to Baghdad and Basra,” in a dispatch from the British Embassy (Baghdad) to the Levant Department, 5 08 1955, PRO/FO/371/115748/VQ/1O15/11.

57 Dann, Uriel, Iraq Under Qasim (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1969);Fernea, Robert and Louis, W. M. Roger, eds., The Iraqi Revolution of 1958, The Old Social Classes Revisited (London: I. B. Tauris, 1991).

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