These days coincide with the anniversary of the death of Lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim Sheikh Ali Al-Ghasebah Al-Azzawi, a senior officer in the Iraqi army in the middle of the twentieth century, and the owner of important positions that left a clear imprint in the modern history of Iraq, most notably his participation in the 1948 Palestine War.
He was born in Al-Mansouriya district in Diyala governorate in 1910, and he was ranked third among the sons of Sheikh Ali Latif Al Khalaf, sheikh of the general of the Azza tribe, who stood with the Ottomans in resisting the British occupation, and then became a deputy in the royal parliament for several sessions, according to his son, Dr. Abdul Rahman.
Sheikh Ali added to Al-Jazeera Net that Ibrahim joined the Royal Military College in its fifth session in 1928, after his two older brothers, Abdulaziz and Abdel-Wahhab, joined him.
Al-Azzawi, a senior officer in the Iraqi army, mid-twentieth century (Al-Jazeera)
He points out that the three brothers ’affiliation to the military institution came with the support of their father to contribute to establishing and empowering the Iraqi state, rooting the army and consolidating its foundations, in response to the government's request to establish army units under the auspices of the country's King Faisal the First, who had a close relationship with Sheikh Ali, as his cousins were from The King's Advisors.
Al-Jumaili confirmed that the Iraqi army had an active and influential role in the Palestine war (Al-Jazeera)
After graduating from the Military College, he joined the ranks of the army, and participated in most of the events in Iraq, most notably the May 1941 movement led by Rashid Ali al-Jilani against the British, as assistant commander of an infantry regiment.
His brother, Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Aziz, commander of the 9th regiment, was killed in the battle of "Sin Al-Dhaban" and wounded his brother Abdul-Wahhab, commander of the armored battalion, in the battle to break the siege on behalf of the forces stationed in the vicinity of Habbaniyah base in Anbar Governorate (west).
He also participated in the Palestine War in 1948 as an assistant to the commander of an infantry regiment, under the command of the Iraqi commander, the commander of Major General Omar Ali, according to the professor of modern and contemporary history at Al-Mustansiriya University, Dr. Saad Nassif Jassem Al-Jumaili.
Al-Jumaili explains to Al-Jazeera Net that the Al-Azzawi regiment was stationed near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the city of Jerusalem, and the Iraqi army at that time did well, and inflicted heavy losses on the Israeli occupation forces, pointing out that his brother Colonel Abdel-Wahhab was leading the Arab volunteers as he was the commander of the garrison of the city of Jaffa.
He adds that the Iraqi army had an effective and influential role, as it contributed to preventing displacement from dozens of Palestinian villages during the war at the time.
For his part, a researcher specializing in contemporary Arab history, Dr. Ammar Fadel Hamzah, confirms that Al-Azzawi was one of the prominent officers who participated in the 1948 war, referring to some Israeli officers who confirmed in their memoirs at that time the effectiveness of the Iraqi force that was tied in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was led by Al-Azzawi, and tasted them. Both are due to its violent fighting.
Hamzah added that Al-Azzawi used to deal with his soldiers and officers from a tribal standpoint, and his leadership was based on respect, professionalism and humility, as he was known for the love of the soldiers and fighters who work under his command.
Hamzah points out that Al-Azzawi's clan affiliation was reflected in his management of the war in Palestine in the form of Hamas and faith in the Arab cause.
Hamzah: The Israelis recognized the effectiveness of the Iraqi force that was stationed in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (Al Jazeera)
Regarding the accomplishments of the Iraqis in the Arab-Israeli war, the former Colonel Salim Shaker Al-Amami says that they have achieved great achievements that have made significant changes in the balance of the war at the time.
Al-Amami cites the confession of the Israeli officer, Jacob Amidor, who said, "The Iraqis stopped our advance in the 1948 war, and Israel came to control a land area of no more than 12 kilometers, and prevented us from expanding in the West Bank."
He adds that the Iraqis had remarkable advances and victories in several battles against Israel, such as the battles of Tulkarm, Qalqilya, and Netanya, as well as the battle of Jenin, Kafr Qasim, and others.
Returning to Al-Jumaili, he agrees with Al-Amami about the effectiveness of the Iraqis ’role in the war with Israel, as he confirms that the participation of Iraq was great due to the pressure of the street through the demonstrations that went out in Baghdad calling for sending Iraqi forces to participate in the war.
He adds that the Iraqis kept the areas they defended, until the balance of war changed and the truce was declared.
Al-Jumaili continues that the Iraqi army contributed to preventing displacement from dozens of Palestinian villages during the war, pointing out that its soldiers fought ferociously, and their graves in Palestine attest to that.
But the Iraqi political decision - adding Al-Jumaili - was closely related to the British decision, similar to the rest of the Arab region, which suffers from the influence of Britain, and this led to restraining the Iraqi army, the failure to continue the real and strong participation, and the declaration of the armistice and approval by the Arab governments, including the Iraqi. Which allowed the Israeli forces to obtain military supplies and change the balance of battle in their favor in that war.
Regarding the secret of the Iraqi army’s distinction and presence in the Arab-Israeli wars, Al-Jumaili believes that it is due to the distinguished military and combat experience it enjoys, in addition to the importance of the Palestinian cause and their belief in it.
After the war
After the return of Lieutenant Colonel Al-Azzawi from the Palestine War, he continued his service in the army until his retirement in 1963, in a busy march that was crowned with many medals and medals: the Medal of the Palestine War of 1948, the Medal of the May Revolution of 1941, the Medal of the Public Service in 1956, in addition to the Medal of the July 14 Revolution in the year 1958.
Al-Azzawi remained an advisor to the military leaders from the people of the province until his death on May 15, 1992.