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Fawzi al-Qawuqji in Baghdad

Fawzi al-Qawuqji had traveled from the Saudi Kingdom to Cairo and visited his old comrades in mid 1932. He spent time with various exiled rebels of the Syrian Revolt, including Rashid Rida and Dr. Shahbandar who were skeptical of al-Sacud, and opposed Shakib Arslan’s admiration for the new kingdom. Al-Qawuqji conveyed his positive experiences with King cAbd al-cAziz al-Sacud. He had several meetings with Yasin al-Hashimi, who happened to visit Cairo. Al-Qawuqji wrote that in the course of his travels, it finally dawned on him that al-Hashimi was the “man of the hour to unify the Arabs, and he pledged himself to the cause.” Ex-Ottoman army officers had emerged the leading men of new independent Turkey, and they agreed they should both seek the help and heed the example of their brother officers in Turkey. The fixing of the borders between mandates, especially Syria and Iraq, could only harm the cause of unifying the Arabs behind the leadership of their military officer vanguard.78

Fawzi al-Qawuqji traveled to Baghdad immediately after Iraqi independence in October 1932. He needed a job but he also wanted to serve the cause. Nominal independence had removed the threat of extradition from one mandate state to another, and al-Qawuqji was eager to work for the future he and Yasin al-Hashimi had discussed. French Mandate military courts had sentenced in absentia many Syrian rebels of the period 1925 7 to death or to long prison terms. Al-Qawuqji had mutinied along with the French Syrian Legion cavalry unit he commanded. He was at the top of the list of wanted men for the mandate authorities.

Baghdad was a bit too distant from Damascus for al-Qawuqji to be a celebrity, but he had friends from his years in the Ottoman army and in Damascus after the Great War. Taha al-Hashimi arranged for al-Qawuqji to work as an instructor at the Iraqi military academy. But teaching horsemanship at the military academy did not satisfy al-Qawuqji’s hunger for action and politics. He began to consider Palestine as the next place for decisive confrontations with the Mandate Powers.79 He sought support for an organized guerrilla campaign in Syria or Palestine from Yasin and Taha al-Hashimi, and others among his ex-Ottoman army comrades, and made two clandestine trips to Palestine to test the waters in 1934 and 1935.

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