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Ali Ridha Pasha (also Ali Ridha Pasha and Ali Rida Pasha) led the Ottoman army in 1831 against the mamluk governor in Baghdad after Da’ud Pasha refused to relinquish his office. Ali Riza Pasha captured the city and mamluk leader Da’ud Pasha ending the mamluk rule in Baghdad. Baghdad fell in September 1831 after a ten week long blockade of the city which caused mass famine.[1]

While Ali Ridha Pasha was able to capture Baghdad and unseat Da’ud Pasha, he still had to deal with the "mamluks" who remained in Baghdad. In order to preserve his power and ameliorate the mamluks, he gave many of the mamluks positions in his government [2]. In the few days following his conquest of Baghdad, Ali Ridha Pasha published a "firman", or decree, which made him the governing authority over the cities of: Baghdad, Aleppo, Diyarbakr, and Mosul. The "firman" eventually covered all cities in Iraq [3].

Ali Ridha Pasha then marched his army south to Basra where he occupied the province ending mamluk rule in 1834. Ali Ridha Pasha’a conquest of Baghdad and Basra brought the provinces under direct rule from Istanbul and subjected them to Tanzimat reforms[4] . Ali Riza Pasha replaced malmuk governor Da’ud Pasha in Baghdad placing the province under direct control of the government in Istanbul. Under the recommendation of Ali Ridha Pasha, Da’ud was exiled to Brusah [5]. After Da’ud departure from the city Ali Ridha was credited with he return of trade and end to crime. For a short time he was able to control the mafia that was able to control these regions and especially Karbala in the vacuum of a region without government [6]. He promised appointments and estates to mamluk notables and continued past privileges of the East India Company [7].

Ali Ridha Pasha was a member of a Shiite-influenced Bektashi order, and sympathized with the Shiites living in Iraq. When trying to appoint a governor in Karbala he came into conflict with the Shiite mafia living in Karbala who murdered or drove away governors they disliked. Karbala is an important shrine town in Iraq because Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad is buried there. Along with the religious significance of the city is the economic significance and power of being able to levy taxes on pilgrims and earn a significant profit for the local government [8]. In the summer of 1835 Ottoman Ali Ridha Pasha attempted to attack the town of Karbala with an army of 3,000, but was to weak to continuously occupy the city and compromised with the mafia. Apart from trouble continuously controlling Karbala because of local resistance and the Karbala mafia, Ali Ridha Pasha also had to deal with the British who wanted to remain the imperial power of the Awadh government and the Iraqis’ communication link to the outside world [9].

Ali Riza Pasha appointed ‘Abdu’L-Wahhab in charge of the city of Baghdad. In 1842 after eleven years of governing Ali Riza Pasha was replaced by Muhammad Najib Pasha[10] . Ali Ridha Pasha was transferred from Baghdad to Syria[11].

Ali Ridha Pasha’s personality is more of a mystery than his political and military achievements. His personality is recounted in a Judeo-Iraqi folksong as very courageous and is even likened to that of a lion, but he was most likely admired by Jews because he replaced Da’ud Pasha and redistributed land to people living in Karbala.[12]. A different account of Ali Ridha Pasha is given by a traveler named J.B. Fraser who visit Iraq in the mid 1800s. Fraser describes Ali Ridha Pasha as “a fat man about fifty years of age, clad in a fur beneesh, with a fez upon his head.” The description of Ali Ridha Pasha continues with Fraser explaining “His mind is not more attractive than the casket which enshrines it. He is weak of judgment, infirm of purpose, irresolute in action, gross in his appetites, selfish and avaricious [13].

Notes and references

  1. ^ Longrigg, Stephen Hemsley (1925). Four Centuries of Modern Iraq. Oxford University Press. pp. 270–273.  
  2. ^ The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 67, No. 2/3 (Oct., 1976 - Jan., 1977), pp. 129-141 University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1453994
  3. ^ A Description of the Ascent of 'Alī Riz̤ā Pāshā in a Judaeo-Iraqi Folk Song Author(s):Shimon L. Khayyat. The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 67, No. 2/3 (Oct., 1976 - Jan., 1977), pp. 130
  4. ^ Charles Tripp. A History of Iraq (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, rev. edn. 2007), 13-14.
  5. ^ Stephen Hemsley Longrigg. Four Centuries of Modern Iraq (Lebanon: Oxford University Press 1925), 274
  6. ^ Juan R. I. Cole; Moojan Momen, "Mafia, Mob and Shiism in Iraq: The Rebellion of Ottoman Karbala 1824-1843," Past and Present, No. 112. (Aug., 1986), pp. 112-143
  7. ^ Stephen Hemsley Longrigg. Four Centuries of Modern Iraq Lebanon: Oxford University Press 1925, 275-276
  8. ^ Juan R. I. Cole; Moojan Momen, "Mafia, Mob and Shiism in Iraq: The Rebellion of Ottoman Karbala 1824-1843," Past and Present, No. 112. (Aug., 1986), pp. 112-143.
  9. ^ 'Indian Money' and the Shi'i Shrine Cities of Iraq, 1786-1850 Author(s):Juan R. I. Cole Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Oct., 1986), pp. 461-480 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4283138
  10. ^ Juan R. I. Cole; Moojan Momen, "Mafia, Mob and Shiism in Iraq: The Rebellion of Ottoman Karbala 1824-1843," Past and Present, No. 112. (Aug., 1986), pp. 112-143. (http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00312746%28198608%290%3A112%3C112%3AMMASII%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U)
  11. ^ Stephen Hemsley Longrigg. Four Centuries of Modern Iraq (Lebanon: Oxford University Press 1925), 282
  12. ^ The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 67, No. 2/3 (Oct., 1976 - Jan., 1977), pp. 130
  13. ^ The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 67, No. 2/3 (Oct., 1976 - Jan., 1977), pp. 131
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