In 1936, a coup d'etat brought the nationalist forces to power amid great public jubilation, only for the coup to fail when its leaders fell out among themselves. In 1941, the Iraqi army went to war with the British for violating the terms of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. The Iraqis lost the war, and as a result, had to endure British military occupation for the next five years. In 1946, political parties were allowed a certain degree of freedom, but the opportunity was thwarted as the regime failed to deliver on the democratic reforms promised. Further opportunities presented themselves, especially in 1948, when a massive uprising known as al-Wathba forced the cancellation of the Portsmouth Treaty. In 1952, the Iraqi intifada brought more pressure to bear on the regime to introduce the political reforms that the Iraqi people were clamouring for. On both these two occasions, the ruling regime failed yet again to implement free elections and parliamentary democracy. Perhaps the best opportunity of all was presented by the 1958 Revolution. This ended with the army retaining power and the political parties collapsing in disarray.
The failure of the revolution and the brutal authoritarian rule that followed dashed the country's hopes for the democracy that it had so long struggled and sacrificed for, but which it has yet to achieve.
Foulath Hadid was educated at Victoria College, Alexandria, and Christ 's College, Cambridge and is now an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, University of Oxford. He edited his father's memoir, The Struggle for Democracy in Iraq, and has published articles on democracy in the Middle East.
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