Anglo-Iraqi Treaty (1948)

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The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1948, or Portsmouth treaty of 1948, was a treaty between Iraq and United Kingdom signed in Portsmouth, England, on 15 January 1948. The treaty was a revision of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty (1930).

During World War II, the British had reoccupied Iraq to reverse a pro-Axis coup that had taken place in 1941, and through the Treaty at Portsmouth on 15 January 1948, Sayyid Salih Jabr negotiated British withdrawal from Iraq. However, the agreement consisted of a joint British and Iraqi defense board that oversaw Iraq's military planning. Additionally, the British continued control of Iraqi foreign affairs.[1] Iraq would still be tied to the British for military supplies and training until 1973, a 25-year period that Arab nationalists in Iraq could not accept.[2] As a staunch reaction to the Portsmouth Treaty, Iraqis led the Al-Wathbah uprising in protest of a continued British presence in Iraq.[3] Al-Said repudiated the Portsmouth Treaty as a concession offered to the Iraqi and Arab nationalists, who rebelled.[3]

On 27 January 1948, groups of angry Iraqis who preferred independence from British colonialism, which to them was symbolised by Treaty of Portsmouth, gathered at both sides of the Ateeq Bridge (the bridge was later The Ahrar, or the Free Bridge because of this very incident). The crowds stood at each side of the bridge which is located between Al Risaffa and Al Kargh, planning to cross the bridge and unite withdrawing the police and showing the unities of the two sides of Baghdad against the Treaty. Snipers hid in the surrounding Mosques and shot the unarmed protestors which resulted in a halt of overrun. However, a woman named Bahija (who was later named The Lady of the Bridge) surprised everyone with a sudden run towards the other side singing and hitting her feet hard on the ground of the bridge, not stopping after the bullets of the police and snipers have hit her, this action made gave the crowds at that time a wave of rage and motivation to run uncaring for the bullets that killed dozens that day. In the end the two sides of Baghdad did unite that day on the bridge and moved on to the surrounding areas to insure the security of the rest of the protesters. The police withdrew very quickly. The uprising was of the middle and under class of Iraqis, which meant that including the Iraqi Army was a risk, since they too were a part of these classes. The treaty was revoked shortly after.

The treaty was repudiated after the Free Officers coup in 1958 removed Faisal II from power, and his pro-Western policies were reversed.


  1. ^ Eppel, p.74
  2. ^ Tripp, page 117.
  3. ^ a b Tripp, page 134