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Telegram to Viceroy, Foreign Department, from Baghdad


This telegram to the Viceroy of India contains a draft of a speech prepared by the War Cabinet to be delivered to the people of Baghdad after the British capture of the city. In this speech, Britain was depicted as the 'liberators' of Baghdad from the tyranny of the Ottoman Turkish empire. This rhetoric was mirrored during the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the Anglo-American forces. 

Although the speech clarified that the War Office wished to continue the occupation of Baghdad, the address depicted Britain as 'liberators' that 'the Arabs' had been waiting for. What was also deceptive about this narrative was that the speech did not acknowledge the majority Indian – not British – contribution to the advance on Baghdad. It also demonstrates how Britain used the military manoeuvres of the First World War to further its imperialist expansion into the Middle East. Furthermore, the speech condemned the religious authority in the Ottoman Empire – the Caliphate, irrespective that several Indian Muslims who served under the British army aligned themselves with the Caliphate.  

Central to this speech was a misleading narrative of a British ‘liberation’ of Baghdad. Neither the account of the Indian contribution seen in the previous source nor the Indian contribution to the siege of Bagdad were not acknowledged in this celebratory address.