Anglo-Iraqi Treaty

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For the later treaties, see Anglo-Iraqi Treaty (1930) and Anglo-Iraqi Treaty (1948).
Anglo-Iraq Treaty of 1922
Anglo Iraq Treaty 1922.jpg
The Anglo Iraq Treaty of 1922, Cmd 2370[1]
Created 1922
Ratified 1924
Signatories Percy Cox and Abd Al-Rahman Al-Gillani
Purpose Codification of the British Administration of the newly created Kingdom of Iraq

The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of October 1922 was an agreement signed by the governments of the United Kingdom and the government of Iraq. The treaty was designed to allow locals a limited share in power while allowing the British to control foreign and military policy. It was intended to conclude an agreement made at the Cairo Conference to establish a Hashemite rule in Iraq.

In the aftermath of World War I, the possessions of the Ottoman Empire were split mainly between France and Britain, with the remainder becoming the country of Turkey. The former Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra were proposed to become a League of Nations Class A mandate under direct British rule, known as the British Mandate for Mesopotamia (legal instrument). The idea of being a “mandate” was seen with serious skepticism among many Iraqis as a thinly veiled attempt at colonization, and the mandate was not implemented as a nation-wide Iraqi revolt broke out in 1920, after which it was decided the territory would become the Kingdom of Iraq. On 23 August 1921, Faisal ibn Hasayn was crowned as Faisal I, King of Iraq.

Concurrently, Iraq was going through a period of political turmoil. Nationalists who believed that the expulsion of the Ottomans would lead to greater independence were disappointed with the system of government formed by the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. Short of the Iraqis gaining a new sense of national identity through self-governing, the British imported civil servants from India who had previous knowledge and experience on how the government of a colony is supposed to run.

The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1922 served to regulate Iraqi citizen uprisings by giving Britain control of the Iraqi military, and its economic and political affairs.

French interests in the Middle East in blue, British in red. Overlapping in modern day Israel.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement[edit]

During the First World War, an agreement was struck between the foreign ministers of Great Britain and France on behalf of their respective governments on a vision of a post war division of the Ottoman Empire in which the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire (south and west of Anatolia) would be split into spheres of influence for the French and British.

That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab states or a confederation of Arab states (a) and (b) marked on the annexed map, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall have priority of right of enterprise and local loans. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall alone supply advisers or foreign functionaries at the request of the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.


The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty was signed due mostly to the revolutionary efforts of the citizens of Iraq, a coalition of both Sunni and Shia Arabs. Major centres of insurgency during the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 included Mosul, Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala. The insurgency effort in Karbala was inflamed by a fatwa issued by the grand mujtahid Imam Shirazi. The fatwa made the observation that it was unislamic to be ruled by the British, who did not practice Islam. The fatwa ordered a jihad against the British occupation.

The Kurds of northern Iraq also waged war on the British in the years of the signing and ratification of the treaty. The Kurds sought to cede from Iraq and form a homeland for their people. The revolutionary efforts were tempered by the British in large part due to air to ground attacks conducted by the Royal Air Force, but the aid of other Kurds to defeat the revolt were of significant consequence. This would be the first revolt by the Kurds attempting to create a homeland against the British and later the government of Iraq.

The Cairo Conference[edit]

The Cairo Conference of 1921 would set the stage for greater Iraqi autonomy. The British appointed Faisal ibn Hasayn to lead the country as the first King of Iraq. Faisal was seen as a compromise between British interests in the country, and the revolutionary nationalists; he could trace his family lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad, as well as having participated in the 1916 Arab revolt against the Ottomans. However, the British still saw Faisal as dependent enough of their support to bend him under pressure.

The Signing[edit]

The treaty was signed on behalf of the British by Sir Percy Cox on October 10, 1922. The treaty was not ratified by the Iraqi government until 1924. It was not until the British High Commissioner threatened to wield his authority to scrap the constitution, drafted by the Iraqi constituent assembly, was the treaty ratified. It was seen with disdain by many Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia. However, it was still the first step towards a more independent Iraq.


The Treaty was eventually suspended upon the signing of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930.

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  • The History Guy [1] accessed on 13 April 2008.
  • Encyclopaedia of the Orient [2] accessed on 9 August 2007.
  • Chronological Table of Middle East History [3] accessed on 9 September 2007.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica [4]

This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain.

This article uses an image reproduced from with permission (Mahmoud Abu Rumieleh, Webmaster).