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The Battle of Sha’iba, 1915: Ottomanism, British Imperialism and Shia Religious Activism during the Mesopotamian Campaign

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Willow Berridge


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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This article analyses relations among the Ottoman Empire, British imperialism and Shia religious proto-nationalism in the period before and after the battle of Sha’iba of 1915, one of the pivotal engagements of the Mesopotamian campaign. It illustrates how the narrow victory of the British at the battle led them to draw a number of over-optimistic conclusions regarding their role in Iraq and their ability to co-opt the Arabs of the province against their ‘Turkish’ overlords. The victory at Sha’iba and in particular the ambivalent role played by a number of the Arab mujahidin volunteers led the British to conclude that there had never been any real enthusiasm for the jihad declared by the Ottomans against the British occupiers. However, this was based on the false perception that lack of commitment to Ottomanism could be equated with sympathy for British imperialism. In particular, the British failed to recognise that the Ottoman summons to jihad had strengthened the developing forms of Shia proto-nationalist consciousness led by various mujtahids influenced by the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Berridge WJ, al-Abbudi S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

Year: 2017

Volume: 45

Issue: 4

Pages: 630-651

Online publication date: 30/07/2017

Acceptance date: 18/04/2017

ISSN (print): 0308-6534

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9329

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/03086534.2017.1353258


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