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HISTORY: "The Arabs: Politics and People", 1948. pp.24-25

Reader comment on item: A Historic Step in Austria?
in response to reader comment: Is the Mufti a war criminal?

Submitted by Carlos (United States), Oct 14, 2020 at 06:43

The attempts Britain had made to meet what were considered legitimate Arab political demands were interpreted as symptoms of fatal weakness; and British propaganda on Nazi brutality only served to confirm Arab belief in Germany ' s strength and the wisdom of being on her side. Thus, even the few proBritish Arab leaders felt obliged to conceal their opinions and to pose as anti - British , in order not to forfeit the support of their following.

Significant evidence as to the way the Arab world felt during the war has been given by an 'Englishman particularly qualified to speak, Glubb Pasha , Commander of the Transjordan Arab Legion. Discussing the Iraqi revolt of 1941, he wrote:

"The British, of course, always knew we were going to win the war, but at the time of these operations every Arab was perfectly convinced that Britain was finished for ever, and that it could only be a question of weeks before Germany took over Arabia. The Iraqis were perfectly sure of this or they would not have declared war on us..."

In brief, during the six weeks before the fall of Baghdad, every Arab was convinced that we were done for. Every Arab force previously organised by us mutinied and refused to fight for us, or faded away in desertions. The men of the Arab Legion alone not only stood firmly by us, but played a most active, energetic and valuable part in our little campaign."

(Appendix to Somerset De Chair's "Golden Carpet")

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Lebanon did not declare war on Germany until February 1945, when the end of hostilities was imminent and victory had become absolutely certain. These declarations of war at the eleventh hour were merely formal, since none of these states took any direct part in military operations.

The declarations were obviously aimed at securing seats in the United Nations Organization in the establishment of which at San Francisco only those nations were permitted to participate which had declared war on the Axis before March 1, 1945.

One Arab principality did declare war on Germany as early as 1939. It was Transjordan which was under British mandatory rule and was not independent, having to rely mainly, as it still does, on grants - in - aid from the British Government, which also maintains the country's military force , the Arab Legion.

Iraq declared war in January, 1943, after the reversal of the fortunes of war at El-Alamein had proved definite.

This declaration was clearly motivated by the need to atone for the stab in the back Iraq had given the Allied cause in 1941.

The general attitude of the - Arab States was a reflection of the long - standing relationship between certain Arab circles and the Axis Powers .

The trips by Arab students to Germany and Italy, the visits of German politicians and agents to the Arab East, the flow to Arab countries of money and of Arabic newspapers and magazines from Germany and Italy, the propaganda broadcasts in Arabic by the radio stations of the Axis - all these activities had over the years created the state of affairs which was exploited during the war. In the case of Palestine, it is by now generally acknowledged that the Arab Riots of 1936 – 1939 were stimulated and subsidized by Nazi and Fascist sources.

The Mufti of Jerusalem through his agent in Geneva, Emir Shekib Arslan, was in contact with Mussolini years before the war. Some of their intercepted correspondence was published as early as 1935 in Arab papers opposed to the Mufti.

In Syria and the Lebanon connections between certain groups of Syrian leaders and the Axis States were of long standing.

There were a number of strong pre-war Arab - Nazi organizations — the Iron Shirts (led by Fakhri al-Barudi of the National Bloc, member of the Syrian Parliament to this day); the League for National Action (headed by Abu al-Huda al-Yafi, Dr. Zaki al-Jabi and others); the An-Nadi al-Arabi Club of Damascus (headed by Dr. Said Abd al-Fattah al-Imam);

the "Councils for the Defence of Arab Palestine" (headed by well - known pro - Nazi leaders, such as Nabih al-Azma, Adil Arslan and others); the "Syrian National Party" (led by the Fascist Anton Saada, who escaped during the war to the Germans and was sent by them to the Argentine). The National Bloc, the principal party in Syria, and more particularly the Istiqlal group (headed by Shukri al - Kuwatli, now President of the Syrian Republic) had for many years been openly pro-Nazi.

Before the war, Baldur von Schirach , leader of the Hitlerjugend, visited Syria on a special mission and established close contact with these circles and with the Arab youth organisation.

In Iraq , xenophobia has long been characteristic of the political mentality of the country's leaders , and even the so - called proBritish group was not entirely free of it. The Army played an important part both in domestic and foreign policy, and it was entirely pro-Nazi before the war. In Iraq, as in Syria, there were a number of pro-Nazi clubs and associations which were in contact with the German Ambassador, Dr. Grobba. Among them may be mentioned the Al-Muthanna Club, founded by Dr. Amin Ruweiha, Said Thabit and others, and the Al-Futuwa Club , which sent delegates to the Nuremberg rallies.

In the early part of the war, Iraqi politicians had relations with the German ambassadors in Baghdad and Ankara. Von Papen's top contact man with Middle Eastern Arab circles was the well-known Iraqi politician, Naji Shawkat.

At the beginning of the war there were a considerable number of political emigrés in Iraq; most of them had come from Palestine, were violently anti-British and had close connections with the Germans. These included Haj Amin al-Husseini, Jamal al-Husseini, Munif al-Husseini, Daud al-Husseini , Is'haq as-Salah al-Husseini, Amin Tamimi, Hasan Abu Saud, Fawzi Qauqji , Izz - ad - Din ash-Shawa, Is'haq Darwish, Dr. Amin Ruweiha, Salim Abd ur - Rahman , Darwish Maqdadi and many others.

With the help of the Iraqi Government , some of them had become civil servants and teachers in Iraq, and were thus in a position to propagate their doctrines among the masses of the people.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, was the central figure in the group. When he had come to Iraq from Syria in mid-October, 1939, he was received by Nuri Said, then Prime Minister of Iraq, with the state pomp and ceremony usually accorded a visiting hero.

On October 22nd, Nuri Said gave an official banquet in his honour, attended by members of the Cabinet, the Presidents of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Rashid Ali el Kailani, and many other notables. This was the first of a series of similar receptions and celebrations , attended among others, by Taha el Hashimi, Minister of Defence, and Ali Jawdat el Ayyubi, at present Iraqi Minister to Washington.

The hospitality of the Iraqi Government did not end with these banquets. The ex-Mufti was voted voted £18,000 by the Iraqi Parliament and was further paid the sum of £1,000 a month out of the Iraqi Secret Service Funds in addition to the...


Samuel Rolbant, "The Arabs: Politics and People", Amal Publications, 1948. pp.24-25

The Middle East and Arab Countries: A Collection of Pamphlets].

Issue 11 of The Middle East and Arab Countries: A Collection of Pamphlets].


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