Page 23


Lectures by Nuri al-Said on the Arab Revolt at the Iraqi Staff College in Baghdad.

Recently reprinted in Beirut (in Arabic)


Sharif Hussein of the Hejaz led the revolt against the Turks in June 1916, when they were fighting alongside the Germans in the war against the Allies, Britain and France.

Assisted by the British with gold, arms and munitions and supplies, the Sharif proclaimed himself King of the Hejaz. His armies led by his sons the Amirs Ali, Faisal, Abdullah and Zaid, and supported by Colonel Lawrence of Arabia and other British and French officers, defeated the Turks in the desert, and freed the Hejaz from Turkish domination, and, with General Allenby's armies, penetrated into Syria and raised his banners in Damascus and Aleppo in October 1918.

The British approached the Arab officers and men captured from the Turkish ranks and held in prisoner of war camps in India and in Egypt and took them to the Hejaz where they joined the Arab Revolt. Among them were Nuri as-Said, Ja'far al-Askari, Ali Jawdat, Jamil al-Midfai and other officers who, later on, became prominent in King Faisal's Iraqi administration of 1921-58.

Nuri as-Said, prime minister of Iraq, gave three lectures in May 1947 in the Baghdad Staff College on the Arab Revolt and his exploits in the First World War. His lectures were printed at the time in Baghdad and reprinted recently in Beirut. They form an important source of the history of Arab struggles for independence.

In his lectures, Nuri al-Said stated that he went from Jeddah to Cairo in 1917 for health treatment. He availed himself of the opportunity to get in touch with the British Army Command and met the Arab officers and men who volunteered to fight in the Hejaz in King Hussain's legions. He then said:

"My attention was attracted by the presence of one-hundred volunteers of Iraqi Jews, headed by two Jewish officers. They came from the prisoner camps to fight under the banners of King Hussain. The British and French Commands tried to separate these volunteers from their other brethren and employ them in the Palestine front but did not succeed, as they insisted to serve under the Arab flag in the Hejaz."

Nuri as-Said, in his subsequent lectures, mentions the exploits of the Iraqi Jews in the Arab war.

Muhammad Mahdi al-Bassir in his "History of the Iraqi Question" published in Baghdad in 1920, the prominent leaders of the Moslems, Jews and Christians to ask their opinion on the government to be formed in Iraq, liberated by the British from the Turkish dominion. The Jewish delegates were Sasson Heskel, Ezra Menachem Daniel, and Yahuda Zelouf. They joined the Moslem and Christian leaders to ask for an independent national Iraqi government to be formed in accordance with the Allies' Declaration.

Sasson Heskel then became the first Minister of Finance of independent Iraq under King Faisal I. Ezra Daniel, and before him, his father Menahem Daniel, were senators. Yahuda Zelouf, who for many years was chairman of the Jewish Council, was elected deputy for Baghdad in the Parliament of 1933.

Sent in by: Meer Basri



If you would like to make any comments or contribute to the scribe please contact us.