Modern History of the Arab Countries. Vladimir Borisovich Lutsky 1969

Palestine, Syria and Iraq at the Beginning of the 19th Century

The Failure of French Plans in Syria.

Palestine, Syria and Iraq – remote provinces of the Ottoman Empire, brutally oppressed by local despots, who only formally acknowledged the authority of the Sublime Porte –were suddenly drawn into the whirl of events that shook Europe at the dawn of the 19th century. During Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt and the bitter Anglo-French struggle in India, they found themselves at the hub of international politics. Napoleon, who throughout his career never gave up the idea of a campaign against India, had far-reaching plans in which Syria and Iraq occupied an important place. The French expedition to Egypt was to have been followed up by an advance on India via Syria and Iraq along the Euphrates Valley.

The Directory, continuing the traditions of the Bourbons in this respect, had endeavoured to spread French influence eastwards, with the defence of French trade and Eastern Christianity as its watchwords. Even then, the necessity of defending the “rights of Eastern Christians” had been used extensively by the French bourgeoisie as an excuse for penetrating into Syria and Palestine and to cover up its expansionist plans in the East. As in Egypt, the French bourgeoisie’s aims were purely predatory. France’s concrete plans in this region closely followed the strategies of Bonaparte’s Egyptian expedition, and were also designed to realise his dreams of conquest in India.

When Bonaparte launched a campaign against Syria, in 1799, during the expedition to Egypt, he did so with the intention of forming an Arabian army with a French nucleus to be deployed against the Turks and the British. For this he counted on the help of the Arab feudal lords and the local Turkish governors. The talks with the Syrian Pasha, Jazzar, however, were a failure, since the latter already had considerable power, as well as money from the British. For over twenty years he had exercised absolute control over Syria and was not now willing to share his power with an interloper.

As for Emir Beshir II of the Lebanon (to whom Colonel Sebastiani was sent to open negotiations), he cunningly bided his time, waiting to see which side would win. To Jazzar’s orders to despatch his troops to Akka he answered that complete anarchy reigned in the mountains, and that the people would not pay taxes and would not hear of a campaign. But this did not stop him from supplying both the Turks and French with provisions. Beshir had to take into account the fact that in the northern Lebanon, especially in Beirut, the Catholic priests and monks who had fled from Europe were stirring up hatred of the French Republic and Bonaparte among the backward elements of the Maronite population.

Only the Sheikh of Safad, Salih, the grandson of the famous Zahir ibn Omar, went over to Bonaparte’s side and helped him rout the Mameluke troops at the foot of Mount Tabor (on April 16, 1799). Here in Bonaparte’s camp, a meeting took place between the victors and envoys of Beshir II and the Maronites, who pledged their support in event of the capture of Akka.

Yet in spite of a seventy-day siege and repeated assaults the French were unable to capture Akka, which was defended by the guns of the British squadron under Sidney Smith. On June 14, 1799, Bonaparte returned to Cairo.

Bonaparte’s reckless schemes had failed. The French conquerors had not been actively supported by the people of Syria. But the feeling of hatred towards Jazzar was so great that the Syrian Arabs had not offered any support to the Turks either.

The French army did not have such a deep effect in Syria as it did in Egypt. The French got no further than Akka. They occupied only the Palestine seacoast and the Esdraelon Plain. They remained in the country for only three months. But the military operations in Syria complicated the internal situation and led to fresh outbursts of fighting between the feudal lords.

The Anglo-French Struggle for Iraq.

The failure of the Egyptian expedition foiled Bonaparte’s plans, but did not deter him. Soon after the conclusion of the Treaty of Amiens, the French once again became very active in the Middle East. In the autumn of 1802, Colonel Sebastiani made another tour of the countries of the Middle East, establishing contacts with the local rulers and preparing the way for a new French expedition.

In 1805, Napoleon invigorated his Eastern policy by drawing up a plan for a campaign against India. This time he intended to effect a landing at the estuary of the Orontes and from there to advance towards the valley of the Euphrates.

The next step was to ensure the passage of the French troops through Iraq. Bonaparte’s agents came to an agreement with the Baghdad Pasha, Hafiz Ali, who had seized power in Iraq after the death of Buyuk Suleiman in 1802 and now, with the help of French instructors, formed a regular military force along European lines. In August 1807, he was killed by conspirators, but his nephew, Kuchuk Suleiman, who was also connected with France, routed the conspirators with the help of the force of regulars his uncle had built up. On the insistence of General Sebastiani the Porte made Kuchuk Suleiman the Pasha of Baghdad. At the same time, France concluded a treaty of alliance with Iran and a military mission under General Gardane was despatched to Iran to reorganise the Shah’s army and make preparations for the passage of French troops through the country.

But the position of Iraq on the route to India was increasing Iraq’s importance to Britain and the activities of French agents there evoked British opposition. The East India Company had established mail routes through Iraq at the end of the 18th century, the mail being delivered from Bombay to Basra by sea and from there by camel to Istanbul via Baghdad and Aleppo. Accordingly, the representatives of the East India Company in Basra and Baghdad, who controlled this route (like the British representatives in Iran), received instructions to neutralise the activities of Napoleon’s agents. The plot against the Baghdad Pasha, Hafiz Ali, in 1807 was, in fact, organised with the aid of the British.

In 1809, when the events in Spain diverted Bonaparte from his Indian plans, the British achieved the expulsion of the French mission from Iraq, but a conflict arose in the same year between the East India Company and Kuchuk Suleiman, and the representative of the Company was forced to leave Baghdad.

Under British influence, in 1810, the Porte deposed Kuchuk Suleiman and sentenced him to death. The new Baghdad Pasha promised the East India Company to restore its privileges and not to interfere in its affairs, but in spite of his promises he was driven out of Baghdad and killed by Turkish troops. The trading stations of the East India Company in Baghdad and Basra were re-established.

Thus, at the beginning of the 19th century France was defeated in the fierce struggle for supremacy over the Near East. Everywhere, except for Egypt, which was ruled by Mohammed Ali, Britain held sway. She had considerably fortified her positions in Iraq and in the region of the Persian Gulf.

The Wahhabi Raids.

In the first decade of the 19th century, the towns and villages of Syria, eastern Palestine and Iraq (right bank of the Euphrates) became the object of constant Wahhabi raids. [For a detailed account of the Wahhabi state see Chapter V.] The advocates of Wahhabism did not recognise the Sultan’s authority over the Arab countries and strove to unite the latter on the basis of their religious doctrine. Lacking the necessary strength to realise this task, they restricted themselves to systematic raids on Syria and Iraq, during which they committed outrages, pillaged towns and gathered tribute.

In April 1801, the Wahhabis stormed Karbala, the holy city of the Shi’a. For two days they plundered the city, set fire to homes and made short work of the apostates. They killed over 4,000 persons and looted countless treasures from the Shi’a mosque, and then withdrew to the desert. The Baghdad Pasha sent a force to Arabia in their pursuit, but it was routed.

In 1803, the Wahhabis turned up in the neighbourhood of Aleppo. In 1804, they raided Zubair and Basra, but were repulsed by the troops of the Baghdad Pasha, Hafiz Ali. On the orders of the Porte, Hafiz Ali recruited an army for a campaign against Arabia, but his expedition (1804–05) was unsuccessful. The Wahhabis renewed their raids and made another attempt to seize Basra, Zubair, Karbala and Nejef.

In 1808, a Wahhabi force of some 45,000 men launched an attack on Baghdad, which was repulsed by Kuchuk Suleiman. In the same year, they appeared in the vast area between Ma’an and Aleppo. In 1810, they turned up in Hauran.

The Wahhabi raids on Syria and Iraq ceased only on the arrival of Egyptian troops in Arabia (in 1811) which threatened to liquidate the Wahhabi state.

The Growth of Feudal Anarchy.

The external political complications of the Sublime Porte and the interference of the Powers, the failure of the 1807-08 reforms, the death of Selim III and Mustafa Pasha Bairaktar strengthened the centrifugal tendencies of the Ottoman Empire. The separatism of the pashas ruling the Arab provinces of the Sublime Porte reached unheard-of proportions and grew into a completely unprincipled struggle for power and the pashaliks. The central government, which had neither the strength nor the means for a fight with the rebellious vassals, tried to find a way out of the complicated situation by setting one group of pashas against another, but, in doing so, only increased the general chaos. The European Powers, followed by Iran and Egypt, actively intervened in the internecine strife, in which they saw an opportunity of gaining their own ends.

Meanwhile, the French withdrawal from Palestine had considerably increased the authority and might of Jazzar, who credited himself with the victory over Napoleon. His little Akka had withstood the invincible hordes of the invaders and repulsed the invasion of an advanced European army that had never known defeat.

Intoxicated with success, Jazzar renewed his efforts to gain control over the whole of Syria and started waging continuous wars against the pashas of Damascus and Tripoli, whose domains he dreamed of annexing. This naturally brought him into conflict with the Porte, which eyed the growing might of the Akka Pasha with displeasure. Sultan Selim III, who was waging an obstinate struggle against the separatist tendencies of his deputies, tried to restrict Jazzar’s power and influence, and at the same time Jazzar found a new rival in the person of his protégé and vassal, the Lebanese Emir, Beshir II.

The heavy hand of Beshir II made short work of the revolts of his feudal lords, and it was not long before he had put an end to the old strife between the feudal lords in his domains and united the whole of the Lebanon under his rule. Jazzar decided to get rid of his rival, but in its struggle against Jazzar the Porte decided to support Beshir II.

Soon after the withdrawal of the French troops in 1799, Jazzar dismissed Beshir II. The Porte immediately reinstated him. Selim III confirmed Beshir II’s feudal rights not only in the area under his control, but also in the provinces of Biqa’s, Anti-Lebanon, Jubeil and Saida. From that time onwards, Beshir II became directly subordinate to the Porte, by-passing Jazzar Pasha. That was a severe blow to Jazzar, who was thus deprived of the control of the Lebanon.

But the Porte’s orders were executed only while the Turkish army was passing through Syria on its way to Egypt. No sooner had it passed than Jazzar skilfully using the discontent among the Lebanese peasants as an excuse, banished Beshir II and appointed two of his own agents to govern in his place. In 1800, the outrages of the new emirs led the Lebanese mountaineers to revolt and gave Beshir II an opportunity to regain his former power. He continued the struggle against Jazzar for several years until finally, in 1803, he concluded a peace, by which he agreed to pay Jazzar four hundred thousand piastres “for past arrears” and an annual tribute of 500,000 piastres. [Piastre (in Arabic girish) – a money unit in the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of the 19th century, a piastre was worth about a quarter of a franc.]

In 1804, the death of Ahmed Jazzar intensified feudal anarchy, and bloody internecine strife broke out in every pashalik. In Akka, after several months of fighting, Suleiman, the commander of Jazzar’s army, became pasha and ruled southern Syria for fifteen years (from 1804 to 1819). In Damascus, the pashas succeeded to power one after the other. At the same time, they had to fight against the Wahhabis. Genj-Yusef, a platoon commander, distinguished himself in the fighting and eventually gained possession of the pashalik of Damascus. He then fought not only against the Wahhabis, but also against the neighbouring pashas from Akka, Tripoli and Aleppo. These wars led to his downfall and he fled to Egypt somewhere around 1812. A member of Jazzar’s retinue, Mustafa Berber, installed himself in Tripoli. Accidentally appointed the commander of the citadel of Tripoli, he made himself master of the entire region, collected taxes and refused to recognise any authority except his own. In Jaffa, power was seized by a certain Mahmud Bey, nicknamed Abu Nabbed (“father of the hickory stick”).

The picture was the same in Iraq. The Persian ruler of Kermanshah, and the Kurdish beks actively intervened in support of the side they favoured. After the death of Kuchuk Suleiman in 1810, Abdullah gained possession of Baghdad, where he was destined to rule for two years. He was replaced in 1812 by Said Pasha, the son of the famous Büyük Suleiman. The years of his rule (1812–17) were marked by feudal disorder and the fruitless attempts of the Porte to put an end to separatism and the stubbornness of the Iraqi Kulemenis.

The Reforms of Beshir II in the Lebanon.

During the period of complete feudal disintegration, Beshir II launched a campaign for the centralisation and reorganisation of the Lebanon. Although he created neither a regular army nor new factories or schools, his activities were of a progressive character and promoted the Lebanon’s economic development.

Beshir II was often called “the Terrible.” The mere mention of his name filled his subjects with awe. Greedy and arrogant, he possessed indomitable ambition and determination in pursuing it. Cunning, executions, torture, bribery and plundering were the feudal methods by which, like other oriental reformers, Beshir II hoped to end feudal arbitrariness and develop the Lebanon’s economy.

He dedicated himself to the creation of a strong centralised state and the liquidation of feudal anarchy. When Beshir II succeeded to power in 1795, he exterminated several influential feudal families in the Lebanon and appropriated their property. In the 19th century, he continued the struggle against influential families. He wrested fiefs from rebellious vassals and gave them to his sons. Soon after Jazzar’s death he annexed the feudal principality of Jubeil in the northern Lebanon and then the Biqa’a Valley, which supplied the Lebanon with wheat.

Beshir II took over estates from the big Druze feudal lords of the southern Lebanon and settled them with Maronite peasants from the northern district, who paid him a relatively small rent, cultivated mulberry trees and spun silk. Some of these leaseholders grew rich and eventually bought the land.

Beshir lI also restricted the arbitrary rule of the Maronite feudal lords of Kesruan.

Beshir II’s fierce struggle against feudal banditry resulted in the complete elimination of lawlessness on the highroads and traders were at last able to take their goods through the Lebanese mountains, knowing that not a single highway robber would dare touch them for fear of being punished by Beshir II. The peasants could also breathe more freely because feudal taxes were less than in the time of Jazzar.

Beshir II restricted feudal arbitrariness, but permitted himself the liberty of exploiting the Lebanese peasants. He surrounded himself with regal luxury. The palace that was built for him at Beit Ed-Din is considered one of the greatest monuments of Lebanese architecture.

Officially, Beshir II was a Moslem, but he and his relatives “secretly” embraced Christianity and performed Christian rites at his secret court church. This “conversion” was dictated by political motives – the desire to use the influence of the Maronite clergy to unite the Lebanon under the Shehab rule – and Beshir II himself did much to spread this “secret” among the Lebanese Christians. The Catholic press pictured him as a devout Christian. Actually he was indifferent to religion. As the famous French poet Lamartine wrote, Beshir II was a Druze with the Druzes, a Christian with the Christians, and a Moslem with the Moslems.

Abdullah Pasha and His “Reforms.” The 1820 Uprising in the Lebanon.

When the governor of Akka, Suleiman Pasha, died in 1819, a tax-farmer, once in his service, bought the pashalik of Akka from the Porte for one of his favourite Mamelukes – Abdullah Pasha, a young man of about 26 with a flare for poetry, in which he glorified his imaginary feats of valour. He was also famous for his excellent handwriting and presented the Turkish Sultan, Mahmud II, a lover of calligraphy, with a handwritten copy of the Koran, thereby winning the Sultan’s favour. Thinking he was imitating such reformers as Mahmud II and Mohammed Ali, Abdullah Pasha recruited a regular infantry battalion from among his Mamelukes, but from these whims and several unsuccessful, yet unpunished revolts against Mahmud II, Abdullah did not distinguish himself in any way. He was completely in the hands of the tax-farmer, who had bought the pashalik for him and, until he eventually strangled him, was obliged to execute his orders. To meet the tax-farmer’s demands Abdullah was forced to levy an extraordinary tax throughout the Lebanon.

Beshir II, his vassal, set about gathering the tax. In 1820, the Lebanese fellaheen, foreseeing a return to the times of Jazzar, rose up in rebellion. Six thousand peasants held a meeting in the village of Antilyas (the northern Lebanon) where they announced their decision not to pay taxes. Beshir II fled from the Lebanon, but the two emirs appointed in his stead by Abdullah were unable to raise the necessary sum. Abdullah then returned the Lebanon to Beshir II, who set off at the head of a small force for Jubeil, where thousands of insurgents surrounded his camp. Another force, led by the big Druze Sheikh Junbalat, arrived just in time to help Beshir II repulse the insurgents and put down the uprising.

The Extermination of the Druze Nobility.

In 1822, the fear of incurring the Sultan’s wrath for his part in the unsuccessful revolts of Abdullah Pasha once again forced Beshir II to flee, this time to Egypt. In the Lebanon, power was seized by the Druze feudal lords headed by Sheikh Junbalat. They elected one of the Shehabs to the post of the Emir of the Lebanon. He was a weak-willed man, who dutifully executed their orders. Ancient customs, the autocracy and arbitrary rule were revived in the Lebanon, but Mohammed Ali secured Beshir II’s pardon from the Porte and the Emir returned to his domains. The feudal lords revolted against the restoration of his authority. Beshir lI brutally dealt with them and the Junbalat’s castle was destroyed. Sheikh Junbalat was taken prisoner and strangled. His children were banished and their estates divided among Beshir II’s sons. The same lot befell the Arslan emirs. Only a few members of the Arslan family managed to escape.

In his struggle against feudal autocracy Beshir II reached a point when he actually began to wipe out his own relatives and, having thus strengthened his rule, he reigned until 1840, when the international situation compelled him to leave the Lebanon for ever.

The Reforms of Mahmud II and Disturbances in Syria and Palestine.

By the twenties of the 19th century signs of growing discontent with the reforms of Sultan Mahmud II began to emerge in Syria and Palestine. Indignation at the Sultan’s innovations was widespread among the religious, who branded him as an “infidel,” a traitor to Islam. In an attempt to Europeanise the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan had ordered his officials to wear European suits, adopted the fez to replace the turban and reorganised civil administration. In 1826, he officially abolished the military-fief system of land tenure and the janissary corps.

In reply to the decree on the formation of regular military units the janissaries of Constantinople revolted. On June 15, 1826, they gathered on the square before their barracks and turned over their messtins as a sign of insubordination to the Sultan. The Sultan, however, suppressed the mutiny. He surrounded the square with artillery and ordered the barracks to be set on fire. Thousands of janissaries were burned to death and those who tried to escape were shot down by the Sultan’s guns.

The next step was to slaughter the janissaries in the provinces. Their protectors, the Dervish Bektashi, who greatly influenced the city-dwellers, were also severely punished. The Dervish order of the Bektashi was disbanded, and the guilds connected with the janissaries were completely reorganised.

All this increased the feeling of discontent in the towns. Moreover, a great deal of money was needed to carry out the reforms and most of it had to be contributed by the artisans and the small merchants. Wages fell, while taxes rose. Discontent grew into hatred for the Sultan, the “kafir” [Kafir – unbeliever, an apostate of Islam], who, as rumour had it, went on drinking bouts with the nobles, while the artisans’ children died of hunger. The Dervish priests would compare the luxurious life of the Sultan with the meagre existence of the artisans. Ideologists from among the artisans, especially the Bektashi, attacked the opulence and debauchery of the Sultan’s court in their sermons and called for a return to the strict ascetic simplicity of morals, and the preservation of ancient virtues and ancient, manual tools. These appeals were usually combined with the preaching of mysticism and civil disobedience.

The steady decline of the economy, the inability to understand the true nature of the reforms, and the Dervish propaganda, all this gave rise to a broad insurgent movement embracing various towns of the Ottoman Empire. In Syria the movement reached its peak in Aleppo and especially in Damascus.

In 1825, big disturbances broke out in Damascus in connection with the publication of a firman on money circulation. “Threatening to kill the governor and slaughter all the functionaries,” wrote a contemporary, “the people secured the publication of an order to keep all the money in circulation until the arrival of a treasurer from Constantinople.”

In the same year, an uprising took place in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nablus, where the people refused to pay taxes. Fresh uprisings flared up in Nablus in 1830 and in Damascus in 1831.

In Damascus the Turkish Pasha, on orders from the government, began making an inventory of all the artisan shops and stores with a view to raising taxes. This served as a signal for an uprising. The insurgents burnt the Pasha’s palace and laid siege to the citadel in which he had taken refuge together with the garrison. The siege lasted for six weeks. When the supply of provisions ran out, the Pasha made an attempt to break through the encirclement and was killed. But though they were victorious on the battlefield the citizens of Damascus were unable to reap the fruits of their victory.

These spontaneous uprisings and rebellions, and the general discontent in Syria played into the hands of Mohammed Ali, who had his eye on the Asian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. When in 1831, the Egyptian troops invaded Syria and Palestine, the people welcomed them as deliverers from the tyranny of the infidel Sultan.

The Reforms of Daud Pasha in Iraq (1817–31).

The Sultan’s prestige in Mesopotamia had also fallen to a low ebb. Cut off by the mountains, Iraq was actually an autonomous province, where the Porte’s authority was readily recognised but not respected. Iraq was ruled by the Kulemenis. Having beheaded his predecessor and brother-in-law in 1817, Daud Pasha succeeded to power. A Georgian by birth, he had as a child been sold into slavery to Büyük Suleiman. Daud stood out among the Kulemenis for his literary and diplomatic gifts, and for his excellent knowledge of Oriental languages and Moslem theology. He became Büyük Suleiman’s secretary and married the Sultan’s daughter. After Suleiman’s death Daud fell into disgrace and became a mullah in a Baghdad mosque. He established ties with the clergy and at the same time succeeded in winning the Kulemenis to his side, and with their support he became pasha.

Daud Pasha ruled Iraq despotically for fourteen years. He imitated the Egyptian Pasha, Mohammed Ali, in many ways.

First, he abolished the capitulations, which had weighed heavily on the local traders and placed the East India Company and its compradore agents (chiefly Persians) in a privileged position. On his instructions in 1821, the latter were deprived of their privileges and placed on the same footing as the local traders.

The East India Company retaliated by starting a war. Its fleet sailed up the Iraqi rivers and cut off connections between Basra and Baghdad. Daud then started confiscating the Company’s goods, and besieged its Baghdad residence. The conflict ended temporarily in the closing down of the Company’s establishments and the expulsion of its employees. Soon, however, the all-powerful East India Company induced Daud Pasha to restore its privileges as well as those of its agents and even compelled him to pay for the confiscated goods. Daud’s attempt to secure the interests of the local traders was a failure.

In his struggle for the centralisation of Iraq, Daud Pasha had to reckon with feudal and tribal separatism. He suppressed tribal revolts, dismissed the sheikhs who were of no use to him, and placed his own people at the head of the tribes. The struggle for the subordination of feudal Kurdistan was more difficult.

The Kurdish beks had a powerful ally in the person of the Iranian Shah. During the second half of the 18th century feudal Iran had been in a state of decline, but in 1797, the country was united under the rule of Fatih Ali Shah, who also strove to annex Iraq. The first thing he did was to contact the beks of Iraqi Kurdistan. The beks acknowledged themselves to be his vassals and started to pay him tribute, and some of them were appointed regional governors by the Shah. All attempts by the Baghdad pashas to restore their power in Iraqi Kurdistan met with the resistance of the Persian troops. Daud Pasha decided to put an end to this. In 1821, he undertook a campaign against the new bek, governor of Kurdistan, a Persian appointee, but was defeated by the united Kurdish and Persian forces. Daud then launched reprisals against the Persians in Iraq. He confiscated their property and arrested them. He ordered his men to confiscate the treasures of the Shi’a clergy of Karbala and Nejef. Many Persians, who had sought refuge in the Shi’a mosques, were exterminated. These measures sharpened the Turco-Iranian conflict over Kurdistan and resulted in the war of 1821–23.

The odds were in Iran’s favour. The Iranian army had been partially reorganised along European lines. The Turks suffered a series of defeats in both Iraq and East Anatolia. The Persians occupied Suleimaniya, Kirkuk and Mosul, and were stopped only by an epidemic of cholera, whereupon they concluded the Erzurum Peace Treaty (March 1823), according to which Iraqi Kurdistan was to remain in the hands of the Turkish pashas.

The war with Iran convinced Daud Pasha of the superiority of European warfare and he set to work to create a regular army. Unlike his predecessors, Daud employed not French but British instructors. With the help of Colonel Taylor, the East India Company’s new resident at Baghdad, Daud Pasha formed regular units fitted out and trained in the manner of the Anglo-Indian sepoys. Moreover, Daud bought up-to-date artillery and built an arsenal at Baghdad that fully answered the technical standards of his day.

To raise money for the reorganisation of the army, Daud, like Mohammed Ali, exercised the exclusive right to buy up and export Iraq’s main products: wheat, barley, dates and salt. He bought sea-going and river vessels for shipping these goods. Following Egypt’s example, he also tried to grow cotton and sugar cane.

Daud, like Mohammed Ali, decided to use Turkey’s defeat in the war against Russia in 1828–29 to secure the independence of Iraq, which was under his control. According to the Treaty of Adrianople, Turkey was burdened with huge indemnities. Sultan Mahmud II had demanded money from his pashas. A special functionary of the Porte was sent to Iraq to collect the tribute. On Daud Pasha’s orders he was killed immediately after the lunch reception.

The Porte declared Daud Pasha a mutineer and in 1820, sent the troops of Ali Riza, the Pasha of Aleppo, to fight against him. But Daud Pasha had long since begun to prepare for the fight against the Porte. He had a well-trained and well-equipped army and all that was needed for a war. Having at his disposal regular units, a 25,000-strong irregular infantry and cavalry corps and also a 50,000-strong tribal levy, he had every reason to expect success. But the outcome of the war was determined by other circumstances. A catastrophic flood, crop failure and a fever epidemic undermined Iraq’s might. The plague of 1831 almost completely destroyed Daud’s army. When the epidemic was over, Ali Riza’s troops entered Iraq and occupied the emptied and exhausted land, having encountered almost no resistance. In September 1831, Daud Pasha was deposed and sent to Istanbul. At the same time, an end was put to the separatism of the Baghdad pashas and Kulemenis. From then on the Baghdad pashas were appointed by the Porte and they saw to it that its orders and policy were put into practice.


Last updated: 27 July 2020