By Michael Eppel
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Extra info for Iraq from Monarchy to Tyranny: From the Hashemites to the Rise of Saddam
The Iraqi policy of establishing a large Arab state or an Arab federation in the Fertile Crescent, which would mean Iraqi control of or hegemony in Syria, was nourished by the Sunnite Arab minority’s—including the primarily Sunnite ruling elite’s—fear of the Shi ite and Kurdish majority. A union or federation with Syria and the establishment of a large Arab state, in which a Sunnite Arab majority would be ensured, would extricate the Sunnite Arabs of Iraq from the status of a minority which both controlled and feared a Shi ite and Kurdish majority.
Nonetheless, the reliance of the politicians and the conservative elite on the tribes and the major tribal landowners resulted from the interests of the bureaucratic, landowning, and mercantile stratum. Pan-Arabism and Iraqi territorialist nationalism—the concept of the Iraqi people or the Iraqi nation—were fos- Historical Perspective of Iraq before 1941 / 27 tered by the state, by King Faysal, and by the ruling elite and its politicians. This policy was intended to assist in the processes of building the state, achieving its regional objectives and preserving the conservative interests of the ruling elite and the wealthy socioeconomic stratum.
Reinforcement of the tribal notables and their takeover of their tribes’ lands were favored by British and Iraqi legislation, as well as by their ability to integrate into the Iraqi establishment and political system. The involvement of the tribal notables in the Iraqi political arena strengthened that arena, the Iraqi state and the regime and increased their influence on the development of Iraq. In 1918, the British authorities occupying Iraq published the Tribal Disputes Regulations, which granted juridical powers to tribal notables on the basis of the local tribal law then in force, the urf.