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Mushtaq was born in Kazimiyya, Iraq, in 1900. His father was an Ottoman official of Turkish origin. When the First World War began, Mushtaq tried to enter the Ottoman army but was rejected due to his young age. Once Britain occupied Iraq, Mushtaq fled to northern Iraq with his family where they settled in Kirkuk. Mushtaq was sent to Izmit, Turkey, where he was entered into a boarding school. Once the Ottomans were defeated in the war, Mushtaq took part in Turkish nationalist rallies in Istanbul against the Greek invasion and gave a speech to the public where he called for the independence of Izmir. He returned to Iraq due to economic reasons when he sought financial support from Sherif Husain, a representative that encouraged Iraqi's in Istanbul to return to Iraq. After arriving in Iraq Mushtaq embraced Arab nationalism and engaged in nationalist activities during the 1920s and became the Director of Education in Basra.