During World War I, Nuri participated in military operations against the British but was captured. In 1916, he joined the Allied Sharifian Arab army led by Amir Faysal I, which was supported by Great Britain and commanded by Major General Edmund Allenby. Nuri then distinguished himself in battle in the Arab revolt against Ottoman rule. After the revolt, Faysal briefly led an Arab state with its capital in Damascus, where Nuri participated in its administration. He attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 as military adviser to Faysal and was appointed chief of staff of the Iraqi army in 1920. The French destroyed Faysal's state in 1920, but in 1921 Faysal became the first king of Iraq. Nuri became prime minister in 1930.
While prime minister, on 30 June 1930, Nuri signed a treaty with British High Commissioner Sir Francis H. Humphrys that granted independence to Iraq. Nuri was prime minister on 14 different occasions. Pro-British, he supported the Hashemite dynasty under King Faysal. When Faysal died in 1933, much of the Iraqi population, especially the young, disagreed with Nuri's views. Conflicts arose at the start of World War II when Nuri supported the British and declared war on Germany in 1940.
In April 1941, Rashid Ali Gailani staged a coup and forced Nuri and his supporters into exile. While Rashid was in power, he ignored Italy's declaration of war against Britain and permitted anti-British propaganda and activities. In May 1941, however, the British sent in military forces and crushed the Rashid Ali regime. Nuri then returned to Iraq and served as prime minister with British sponsorship from 1941 to 1944. Nuri maintained political dominance and sought to create a union of Arab states with British support. A believer in Arab unity, he sought to unite Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Trans-Jordan, and Yemen.
Iraq became a charter member of the Arab League in 1945. At the end of World War II, however, there was strong nationalist feeling in Iraq and resentment toward the West, while Nuri favored continued ties with the Western powers. In February 1958, Nuri sponsored a union with Jordan, but this led to another change of government. In July 1958, Iraqi army units led by Karim Kassem overthrew the monarchy. On 14 July 1958, Nuri al-Said was killed by an angry mob in Baghdad.
M. David Yaman
Armajani, Yahya. Middle East Past and Present. Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970.; Brown, Carl. International Politics and the Middle East. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.; Chatterji, Nikshoy. History of the Modern Middle East. New York: Envoy Press, 1987.; Sicker, Martin. The Middle East in the Twentieth Century. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001.; Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.; Warner, Geoffrey. Iraq and Syria, 1941. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1974.