Mosul, the Ottoman legacy and the League of Nations | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1751-2867
  • E-ISSN: 1751-2875


This article looks into the workings of the special Commission on Mosul sent by the League of Nations after World War I. The Commission was assigned to determine whether the province of Mosul should be part of the new Republic of Turkey or of British mandatory Iraq. Its chief guiding principal was the new notion of national self-determination. Yet the people of Mosul, like other Ottoman communities, had belonged to multiple groups simultaneously, identifying by family, location, occupation and faith. Such plural notions of identity were inconsistent with the nation-state model that had recently been reified by the League of Nations. The effort to define affiliations based on a European taxonomy that emphasized ethnicity and nation clashed with Mosulis' older Ottoman-style affiliations, proved initially confusing and then quite frustrating to the Commissioners.


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