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By Christopher D. O’Sullivan (auth.)
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Extra resources for FDR and the End of Empire: The Origins of American Power in the Middle East
The people met his exhortations with indifference. The British worried that he had failed to win any support among the people and had utterly failed to form a new government at Basra. 50 The events of April to June 1941 further reinforced Iraq’s importance to British power in the Middle East and throughout the wider world. British officials believed Iraq vital to their Middle East position. Their standing in the Near East was absolutely crucial to their status as a world power. 51 Anglo-American Tensions At the outset of World War II, the American legation in Baghdad, and US policy more broadly, followed the British lead, as Great Britain pursued its informal imperial objectives.
British military officials feared that Iraqi unrest might provoke repercussions in Palestine, Afghanistan, and India and jeopardize the nearby Anglo-Iranian oilfields. ”6 Like much of the rest of the Middle East, Iraq came under British control in stages during and after World War I. The Arabs believed that Great Britain would allow self-rule, but the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 hinted at the partition of the Middle East among the Allied powers. Britain placed Iraq under a League of Nations mandate in 1920.
Great Britain had far fewer resources at its disposal to compete with Lend-Lease and could not keep pace with the large sums Washington lavished on the region, particularly in the latter years of the war. In Saudi Arabia and Iran, for example, Washington launched massive aid programs, drawing those countries closer in line with their objectives at the expense of the British. British officials feared that the Americans would promote self-determination and mobilize the Arabs against their interests.