Political Diaries of the Arab World: Iraq 1920–1965

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-85207-865-2   Extent:  8 volumes, 5,000 pages
Editor: R. Jarman, [FRGS] former Advisor to the Bahrain National Museum Published: 1998
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available


These volumes comprise the periodical political reports and intelligence summaries prepared by British political officers stationed in Iraq.
The Diaries provide an on-the-spot account of local events in the detailed and disciplined format demanded by the British Foreign Office, and cover political events in Iraq, diplomatic analysis and interpretation, foreign relations, home affairs, civil administration and development, tribal affairs, economic affairs and local personalities. The value of the Diaries lies also in their frequency and their detail, creating a cumulative, consistent and reliable historical record.


During the years covered by these Diaries, the history of Iraq can be split into three distinct phases - firstly, until 1932, when it was under the mandate administration of the United Kingdom; secondly, from independence in 1932 until the revolution in July 1958, when it was a monarchy; and lastly, from July 1958 until 1965, when there was a republican form of government.
The beginning of this collection in November 1920 is dictated by events - that is, when the recently-arrived British High Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox, began a series of Fortnightly Intelligence Reports that was to continue uninterrupted until the end of 1932. The ending of this collection in 1965 is an artificial one and is dictated by the public accessibility of British Government official documents. The publisher plans to continue this series to cover the years after 1965 when documents for a further period have been released.
This publication creates, for the benefit of scholars, an orderly series of political reports for Iraq in a single 8-volume set, where previously the various reports lay scattered and unknown in numerous official files and no integrated collection was available.


Political Diaries of the Arab World: Understanding the series
This is the eagerly awaited fourth in our series of collected political reports for the Middle East. Already published are those for Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. The series provides scholars, researchers and historians with a tremendously detailed archive of material on each of the areas covered. Over the years many different series of reports have been undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to the events on the ground. These series wax and wane with the tide of history but they are also subject to the force of personality of the compiler and the voracious demands of the British Foreign Office for information. Certain government officials will be seen to be prolific and others merely content to cover the main points clearly. However, whether the reports are being demanded by Her Majesty´s Government or showered upon it by officials in residence the effect is to leave a national treasure for following generations in the form of regular, structured, detailed reports of the current events, main players and political direction of the day. At one end of the scale alongside the public security and political events, the weekly reports log the minutiae of administration, with details of sowing and harvesting as well as trade, health and education. At the other end of the scale is the annual report sweeping grandly through the events of a year, giving a thorough background in the main political movements and permitting itself only the small luxury of a short chronology to furnish a little detail.
The Political Diaries series ends with the year 1965. Material for later years will be published when available.


Volume 1: 1920-1921
Volume 2: 1922-1923
Volume 3: 1923-1924
Volume 4: 1925-1928
Volume 5: 1929-1932
Volume 6: 1932-1947
Volume 7: 1948-1958
Volume 8: 1959-1965


There are eight types of report reproduced in this collection. Below is a brief description of each.
Fortnightly Intelligence Reports (1920-1932)
These reports contained an unrivalled description of political activities in Iraq during this period as well as a digest of the Iraqi press and public opinion. They were started by Sir Percy Cox shortly after his arrival in Baghdad as the first British High Commissioner for Iraq.

Annual Reports and Reviews (1923, 1932-1965)
The Annual Reports covered foreign relations, naval policy, the machinery of government, finance, education, and the press and its influence on public opinion. They were replaced during the Second World War by short political reviews, which continued to 1965 and beyond.
Personal Reviews (1928/9, 1945, 1954, 1958, 1965)
When a British representative left his post, he often wrote a despatch reviewing the period he had been serving. Four such valedictory despatches have been written - Dobbs in 1928/9, Cornwallis in 1945, Troutbeck in 1954, and Wright in 1958. In addition, we have reproduced a retrospective despatch comparing Iraq in 1965 with Iraq in 1955.
Ambassador´s Occasional Reviews and Despatches (1939-1940, 1959)
Sometimes the ambassador in Baghdad felt the need to submit a review of events if it was considered necessary. The death of King Ghazi in 1939 and the war situation in 1939 and 1940 prompted such despatches. In 1959 the ambassador produced two quarterly reviews and these have also been included.
Ambassador´s Regular Reviews (1941-1945)
During the confrontation between the British and Rashid Ali at the beginning of 1941, the British Ambassador sent several despatches to London giving a review of the events leading up to the British intervention and the restoration to power of the Regent. These initial despatches developed into a regular review every two months or so.
Consular Reviews (1947-1965)
A series of monthly summaries from the British Consulate in Basra giving reviews of the situation in the south of the country. As a result of the July 1958 revolution, the embassy in Baghdad resumed the sending of the Basra summary to London; it also sent summaries for a few months from Kirkuk and Mosul. These have also been included.
Fortnightly Political Summaries (1958-1959)
Immediately after the July 1958 revolution that toppled the monarchy, the Embassy started producing a series of fortnightly reports on the situation in Iraq.
Hayman´s Weekly Political Letters (1959-1960)
Almost immediately after the fortnightly political summaries were discontinued, there were serious riots in Kirkuk (July 1959); a round-up of the situation was produced on 24th July 1959. A further letter was produced the following week and this new series of reports began - not as a continuation of the official fortnightly summaries, but as unofficial letters from Peter Hayman at the British Embassy in Baghdad to the Eastern Department at the Foreign Office in London.