Franco-Lookalike Grabs Power in Iraq

Friday 6th November 1936

The Minister for foreign Affairs of the new Iraqi government in Baghad set out the circumstances of the departure from power of its predecessor under General Yasin al Hashimi. Hashimi had come to power eighteen months before with a great reputation and great expectations that he would succeed as national leader. He had not. There had been approximately five tribal risings during his time in office and none of the country’s deep-seated problems had been properly addressed.

This had all prompted the professional head of the army, Bakr Sidqi, to stage a coup, possibly the first of the many classic military coups that in the modern Arab world. Sidqi bore a faint, but unmistakable, physical resemblance to Franco. Taking advantage of Hashimi’s absence abroad, Sidqi brought almost all the senior offices out against him, began a march on Baghdad and, in another premiere, dropped leaflets on the capital from aeroplanes, demanding the reinstallation of the anti-reform Hikmat Sulayman as Prime Minister. The ineffectual King, Ghazi I, fell in with Hashimi’s demands. Another military strongman, Jafar al Askari had been foolish enough to go to Hashimi’s advancing troops to try to halt them. This provided the perfect opportunity to kill him, cementing Hashimi’s power behind the screen of Sulayman’s nominal administration, unchallenged until the following year when Hashimi in his turn was murdered.


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