At the end of the First World War the British found themselves in possession of three former Ottoman vilayets-Baghdad, Basra and Mosulwithout having a defined policy for their future.

Britain’s interests in the area went back to the eighteenth century, centring on trade from India to the Gulf and vice versa. After the First World War the need to guarantee a continued British presence in the Gulf area became imperative for two reasons: to safeguard the air route connecting the various parts of the British Empire and to retain control of the Persian oil fields and the Mosul vilayet. In both cases, strategic and economic interests were intertwined, as Mosul’s oil, although commercially unexplored, already weighed as a factor in British political considerations.