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World War 2
History of the Middle East
Persian Language and Culture

Were Iraq Iran Kuwait and North Africa allies during World War 2?


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March 05, 2015 8:24PM

It is a lot murkier than "Yes" or "No".

Iraq was both an Ally and Axis member at different times of the war. Whenever it was under direct British control (as a result of British troops occupying the country) it was an Ally. However, whenever British troops were deployed out of Iraq, such as in 1941 to retake Syria and Lebanon (which became part of Axis-aligned Vichy France when France surrendered in June 1940) or in 1943 to protect oil pipelines in Iran, Iraq "Axis-ified". In 1941, Iraq actually tried to initiate their own Holocaust (which became the Farhud, the largest pogrom in Iraqi Jewish History) and in 1943, Iraq openly declared Axis affiliation.

Iran was considering aligning with Germany, but in 1940, the British and Soviets conspired together to have a coup d'etat which replaced Shah Reza Pahlavi with his son Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Mohammed Reza maintained a pro-Ally position, but was unable to effectively protect his country from several German advances which had to be repelled by the British.

Kuwait was Allied since it was a British protectorate, but did not really contribute to the war in any substantial way.

North Africa should be divided between Libya, which was an Italian possession and therefore Axis, Egypt, which was a British possession and therefore Allied, and the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), which were French possessions. The Maghreb region initially started as allied, due to their connection with France. However, when France surrendered, all of the French Empire became part of Vichy French Empire, which made it Axis aligned. Resistance groups and the Free French remained Allied-aligned. The Algerian Tirailleurs were consistently Allied.