What did British do to ibn Saud (Abu Mustafa) al-Khatab, the grandfather of the four children who would become known as “The Three Witches”? The answer is worse than you might think. Many elements of World War I are woven into the fabric of early Iraqi history, and some of these influences are still present today. This article will examine some of the most important of these influences.
The first group to benefit from Britain’s intervention in Iraq were the tribal leaders of the Anbar Province. The British used their influence to weaken and remove the powerbase of the tribes who had been oppressing the local population for decades. By removing the tribal overlords, they created a situation in which the tribes could fight for themselves, for their rights, and for a change of leadership. This was a major plus for the Iraqi people. In many cases, the tribal elders who became known as the “Three Witches” were replaced by elected politicians who actually represented the people.
The second major influence is the clan itself. The Anbar Province was ruled by a clan of tribesmen that were divided into smaller units, all related by descent. Many of these groups became powerful enough to challenge the central government. When the British forces came to remove the Clan leaders, they replaced them with technocrats or retired military officers who had more experience in dealing with the different clan groups. This was an excellent step toward uniting the fragmented Iraq.
The third influence is a family that came from the Alawi tribe. The Alawi was a group of Sunnis from southern Iraq who were often at odds with the Shi’as. They had been brutally oppressed by the Shi’a during the reign of Saddam Hussein. But, they rose up and fought against the Americans in the battle of Tal Afar and later in Basra. They are known today as the Golden Force. What did the British do to ibn Saad al-Khatab, a leading clan leader of the Anbar Province, when they removed him from power?
The fourth clan to have an impact on the removal of the Alawites was the Albu Karbak tribe. This group of Sunnis, once ruled by the Safavids, had long rivalries with the Shi’as in the region. Once the Safavids were removed, their resentment built up against the new regime. What, exactly, did the British do to expel these tribesmen from power? They abducted al-Khatab from his palace and took him to Britain as a bargaining chip.
In any event, there were many battles between the two forces in which the Shi’as lost. One of these was the Battle of Ramadan, fought in Ramadan, in November. The British and their Arab allies inflicted heavy losses on the Safavids. When the Battle of Ramadan was over, the British General Bernard Montgomery promised, “The fall of the Iraqi regime would usher in the restoration of democracy in that nation.” Some say this is precisely what happened.
Many Sunnis blame the British for the collapse of the Iraqi government. Many Iraqis blame the Shi’as for refusing to cooperate with the Americans and staying on the side of the al-Sistani-controlled governments. Both groups believe they acted in self-defense to defend themselves and their communities from the advances of the advancing Americans. What, exactly, did the British do to resolve this crisis? They simply went back to the drawing board, making some changes and adopting a more inclusive approach to the way they worked with the Sunnis.
So what did British do to resolve the crisis? They waited. They took a wait and see attitude. They took a risk. And they failed to rebuild.
The information is provided by IBN Saud Website. Thank you for reading!