La première invasion britannique de l'Irak

La première intervention britannique dans ce qui est aujourd'hui l'Irak a eu lieu au début de la Première guerre mondiale. Initialement, il ne s'agissait pour la Grande-Bretagne que de protéger son approvisionnement en pétrole. Mais rapidement elle a voulu également s'assurer la prise de Bagdad, capitale de la Mésopotamie (qui était alors une province de l'empire ottoman) et le contrôle du territoire qui s'étend au-delà.

Alors que la Turquie (qui appartenait elle aussi à l'empire ottoman) entrait en guerre en octobre 1914, une force expéditionnaire en provenance des Indes britanniques progressait depuis sa base avancée à l'embouchure du Shatt al Arab, le débouché de l'Irak sur le Golfe persique. Le 7 novembre 1914, elle prend le contrôle des installations pétrolières d'Abadan. Le 22 novembre, elle s'empare de Bassora, sur les bords de l'Euphrate, 30 kilomètres à l'intérieur des terres, où la résistance est plus vive.

La résistance turque étant plus faible que celle qu'ils imaginaient, les Britanniques envisagent d'étendre leur contrôle sur la Mésopotamie. Les premières offensives sont victorieuses, les Turcs se retirant d'Ahwaz en direction de l'est, les Britanniques s'emparent des champs pétroliers de la région. En mars 1915, deux divisions d'infanterie et une brigade de cavalerie britannique progressent vers le nord, entre Tigre et Euphrate, jusqu'à Al-Kut.

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