Bakr Sidqi

Bakr Sidqi

Bakr Sidqi ( _ar. بكر صدقي), an Iraqi nationalist and general of Kurdish descent, was born 1890 in Kirkuk and assassinated on August 12, 1937, at Mosul.

Sidqi was Kurdish by birth, but like many ambitious men who lived in the Ottoman Empire, he joined the Turkish army as a young man; already an Arab nationalist who favored freeing the Arab lands from Turkish domination, he nonetheless spent formative years in what was essentially the colonial army. Having studied at the Military College in Istanbul and graduated as a second lieutenant, he fought in the Balkan Wars and joined the Staff College in Istanbul, graduating in 1915.

Sidqi joined Faisal's army in Syria and served in Aleppo with a number of other Sharifian officers. After the collapse of Faisal's kingdom in Syria, in 1921 Sidqi joined the army of Iraq (which had become an independent country following World War I). He attended the British Staff College and was considered one of Iraq's most competent officers. He lectured in the military school and achieved the rank of colonel in 1928 and brigadier general in 1933. He spent much of his time crushing Assyrian tribal rebellions in the 1930s. In August 1933 Sidqi ordered the Iraqi Army to march to the north to crush militant Assyrian separatists in the town of Sumail, near Mosul, which led to 3,000 Assyrian civilians being killed. [ — FIDH report on ethnic cleansing in Iraq, which describes the Sumail massacre in the second paragraph of page 17.] In 1935, he cracked down on the tribal rebellions at al-Rumaitha and al-Diwaniya with unprecedented harshness.

In October 1936, during the reign of Faisal's ineffectual son King Ghazi I, Sidqi, then acting commander of Iraqi army, staged what was probably the first modern military coup d'état in the Arab world against the government of Yasin al-Hashimi. Iraqi planes distributed leaflets that called for the overthrow of the cabinet and the appointment of ousted anti-reform Prime Minister Hikmat Sulayman. The leaflets warned that the military, under Sidqi's leadership, would march on Baghdad if these steps were not implemented. Jafar al-Askari, minister of defense, attempted to dissuade Sidqi from his plans, but the latter arranged for his murder. Al-Hashimi subsequently resigned and left the country, leaving power to Sidqi, at the head of a conservative group opposed to democratic reforms.

Sulayman became prime minister but after overthrowing the government, it was Sidqi who as commander of the armed forces essentially ruled Iraq. However, the murder of al-Askari created strong feelings against the new government, and Sulayman's cabinet lasted under ten months. Sidqi was assassinated in Mosul on his way to Turkey by a group of dissident nationalist military officers who had withdrawn their support from him. As a result, Sulayman resigned as Prime Minister and was succeeded by Jamil al-Midfai. Sidqi was recognized as one of the most brilliant officers in the Iraqi army, known for his intelligence, ambition, and self-confidence. He also believed the army was needed to bring about reform and achieve order, a stance he shared with Atatürk and Reza Shah Pahlavi.

imele Massacre

In Baghdad, the government panicked, fearing disaster as the Assyrians presented a formidable fighting force that could provoke a general uprising in the north. The government unleashed Kurdish irregulars who killed some 120 inhabitants of two Assyrian villages in the week of August 2 to August 9 (with most of the massacre occurring on August 7). Then on August 11, Kurdish general Bakr Sidqi (who had clashed with Assyrians before) led a march to what was then one of the most heavily inhabited Assyrian area in Iraq, the Simele district.

The Assyrian population of the district of Simele was indiscriminately massacred; men women, and children. In one room alone, eighty one Assyrians of Baz tribe were massacred [International Journal of Middle East Studies , "The Assyrian Affair of 1933", by Khaldun S. Husry, 1974] . Religious leaders were prime targets; eight Assyrian priests were killed during the massacre, including one beheaded and another burned alive [Assyrian International News Agency ] . Girls were raped and women violated and made to march naked before the Muslim army commanders [International Journal of Middle East Studies , "The Assyrian Affair of 1933", by Khaldun S. Husry, 1974] . Holy books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were flung in the air and pierced with bayonets.

Back in the city of Dohuk, 600 Assyrians were killed by Sidqi's men [International Journal of Middle East Studies , "The Assyrian Affair of 1933", by Khaldun S. Husry, 1974] .

In the end, around 65 Assyrian villages were targeted in the Mosul and Dohuk districts [Modern Aramaic Dictionary & Phrasebook" By Nicholas Awde. Page 11] . [Majed Eshoo, "The Fate Of Assyrian Villages Annexed To Today's Dohuk Governorate In Iraq" ]

Today, most of these villages are inhabited by Kurds. The main campaign lasted until August 16, but violent raids on Assyrians were being reported up to the end of the month. After the campaign, Badr Sidqi was invited to Baghdad for a victory rally [Iraq and the Problem of the Assyrians", By R. S. Stafford, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1931-1939), Vol. 13, No. 2 (Mar. - Apr., 1934), pp. 159-185] . The campaign resulted in one third of the Assyrian population of Iraq fleeing to Syria [The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire, by Justin MacCarthy ] .

ee also

*Simele massacre



* Ghareeb, Edmund A. "Historical Dictionary of Iraq", p. 224. Scarecrow Press, 2004, ISBN 0810843307.

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