A valiant effort : Faisal's failed inculcation of national identity in Iraq
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The lack of attention to any comprehensive scholarly study of King Faisal I of Iraq since his untimely death in 1933 is interesting, considering that the twelve years in which he ruled Iraq witnessed the imposition and evolution of many of the institutions of the twentieth century state along with their concomitant ideologies and justifications. The construction of the modern Iraqi state belonged solely neither to the British nor to the efforts of the Ottoman-educated ex-Sharifian officers who followed Faisal from his aborted kingdom in Syria to the newly established monarchy in 1921. It was more a mélange of competing ideas, collaborative efforts, and political realities. In all this, Faisal played no small part as he maneuvered delicately among the strategic concerns of two major European powers, a re-emergent Turkish nation, his family's historical nemesis in the Nejd, relations with Iran following the 1921 coup d'état, and a variety of internal separatist ambitions and parochial interests. This paper seeks to redress this lacuna, concentrating on Faisal's efforts to establish a solid base of support and control while crafting an independent, coherently functioning polity from the patchwork of provinces presented him on his accession to the throne of Iraq.