Iraqi Troops Surround & Shell British Unit Near Baghdad

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Globalization41
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Iraqi Troops Surround & Shell British Unit Near Baghdad

Post by Globalization41 » 29 Jun 2004 08:49

London, By Special Cable to The New York
Times,
By Robert P. Post, Friday, May 2,
1941:
As the British had long feared, fighting
broke out in Iraq today. Troops of Rashid Ali
Beg Gallani
, the German-supported Premier
who seized power by a coup d'etat a month
ago, attacked the British airport at Habbania,
where for some years the British have kept a
unit of training airplanes. ... The British force,
probably a small one made up of Royal Air
Force air and ground personnel -- fought
back, and the fighting was still in progress
tonight, it was said here. Apparently, little
information has been received as to what
happened, but undoubtedly the Iraqis had
superior forces at the airdrome, which is on
the Euphrates River 65 miles west of
Baghdad
. ... The trouble started, it was said
here, after Rashid Beg had objected to the
arrival of a second contingent of troops from
India to reinforce a force sent to Basra
following Rashid Beg's coup. The new
Premier accepted the first troops, but when
he was notified of the arrival of the
reinforcements he said it would be a violation
of the Anglo-Iraqi treaty if they landed before
the first contingent had passed through. ...
The British stuck to their guns and Iraqi
troops thereupon surrounded the airport and
sent in an officer with a "provocative"
message. Soon thereafter the clash came. It
started, it was reported here, with Iraqi
shelling. ... It may turn out of course, that this
will prove to be only a minor outburst and the
quick British action may cause Rashid Beg to
back down or else be thrown out by his own
people. According to the British, large
sections of the Iraqi people are opposed to
Rashid Beg's anti-British policy. However,
there may be a bad situation for a few days,
since Basra is about 250 miles from the
scene of the operations, and it would take
time to get troops there. ... No matter what
happens it would now appear that the only
thing for the British to do is to follow the
course they have adopted to its logical
conclusion -- overthrowing Rashid Beg by
force if necessary, bringing back the six-year-
old boy King Feisal, and generally taking over
the government, though leaving as the treaty
requires, Iraqi sovereignty. ... While the
British are naturally worried that the flames of
war should break out at yet another place to
threaten the Empire, there is one school of
thought here that regards the development as
possibly a good one in the long run. ... The
school contents that Rashid Beg's outbreak
was badly timed. It is held that it is too early
for the Germans to have established by
infiltration any real machinery to aid Rashid
Beg and that the German drive southward
has not progressed far enough for the Nazis
to be able to give any effective help from
outside before British troops can take control
of the situation. ... As to the Iraqi Army,
British officers here do not appear particularly
worried. The Iraqis have no reputation as
fighters and they do not have much modern
equipment. There air force is negligible. The
British are confident they can handle the
situation, though there may be some nasty
incidents
, both at the airport and in Baghdad,
before troops arrive. ... Of course that may
be a too optimistic way of looking at the
picture. It may be that the Germans planned
the attack to come off when it did in the
expectation that they would be able to go to
the aid of the Iraqis or, at any rate, create a
diversion in Iraq. ... In some ways this
incident may be interpreted as supporting the
theory that the German's next move may be
to bypass Turkey entirely and leap across to
attack Syria and Palestine. There has been
serious infiltration going on in Syria, and the
French Mandate probably would not present
a particularly difficult military problem for the
Germans. But this would be a difficult move
and in any case it probably could not be
carried out quickly enough to save Rashid
Beg. [The main bulk of the German Army was
too busy to invade Syria and Palestine. It
was beginning to assemble and deploy along
the vast Nazi-Soviet demarcation line for the
upcoming summer campaigning season.]


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