Innlegg merkte med ‘1920s’

Før den moderne staten Irak vart oppretta etter fyrste verdskrig var området betre kjend som Mesopotamia. Dette var òg det offisielle namnet britane brukte om området. Då britane skulle lage ei statseining av dei tidlegare osmanske provinsane Basra og Bagdad (Mosul-provinsen vart lagt til seinare), ynskte dei eit nytt namn. Den britiske høgkommisæren i Irak på denne tida, Percy Cox, ba 13. august 1921 koloniminister Winston Churchill om at ein frå då av skulle bruke namnet Iraq i staden for Mesopotamia. Churchill godtok dette etter å ha rådført seg med Hubert Young, ein tenestemann i Midtaustenavdelinga av Kolonidepartementet. Bruken av namnet Mesopotamia forsvann dimed raskt frå offisiell britisk bruk.

Dette var vel og bra, hadde det ikkje vore for ein viss Eyre Crowe, den permanente undersekretæren for utanlandssaker i det britiske utanriksdepartementet. Utanriksdepartementet meinte at ein heller burde skrive Irak med k, ikkje med q, i offisiell bruk. Dette gjekk naturlegvis ikkje kolonidepartementet og Hubert Young med på. Dimed var krangelen i full gang og i fem år, frå januar 1922 til juni 1926, krangla britisk UD og KD om ein skulle skrive Irak eller Iraq.

Før Crowe døydde i april 1925 hadde han dette å seie om spørsmålet:

When we read of the battle of Kut or the heroics of Kut, we know where we are. The Colonial Office want to insist on our writing Qut! We are familiar for generations with the Turkish dignitary called the Kaimakam. The Colonial Office protests that we must write Qaimaqam!

I call it lunacy!

Utanriksdepartementet stod fast på sitt og nekta konsekvent å bøye seg før William Tyrrell, som tok over for Crowe, gav etter i juni 1926 og ba sine underordna om å bruke q.

No kan debatten om k vs. q verke ein smule artig og tøysete, noko den sikkert var, men mykje av det som låg under argumenta var alvorleg. Debatten gjekk nemleg ut på korleis ein på ein korrekt måte skulle transliterere arabiske namn om til engelsk og gjere det brukande innanfor offisiell språkbruk. Kolonidepartementet stod for ein lettversjon av translitererte namn, slik sitatet over viser, medan utanriksdepartementet stod for ein meir inkonsekvent bruk av namn basert på kva ein til då hadde skrive og dimed var vande med. Etter fyrste verdskrig fekk Storbritannia eit behov for meir nøyaktig geografisk kunnskap om den ikkje-vestlege verda og med det eit anerkjend system for transliterasjon av utanlandske geografiske namn. Difor var PCGN, Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use, etablert i mai 1919, og krangelen om k vs. q må difor sjåast i lys av dette.

På arabisk skrivast forresten Irak slik: العراق , og blir transliterert slik: Al-ʾIrāq

For dei som er interesserte i ei mykje lengre utgreiing om denne debatten kan sjå artikkelen eg henta historia frå, Irak or Iraq? The Problem of Geographical Nomenclature in British Official Use av Jeffery A. Rudd.

In a continuation of my post from yesterday, Travelling with loaded rifles, here is a new entry from Clayton’s diary. It is five days later, 15th of October 1925, and he is well settled in Ibn Saud’s camp that is situated right outside Mecca. Every evening he, his aide (George Antonius) and their personal bodyguard provided by Ibn Saud, takes a walk outside the camp to see the sunset. Here is Clayton’s description of the daily walk and their escort:

We usually start shortly before sunset, so as to get to some hill before the sun goes down. We then get a very delightful view, as the bare hills begin to take on a soft-purple light, and every night there is to the east over Mecca a great bank of cloud which reflects the setting sunlight and becomes a great welter of rosy flame. At the actual moment when the sun sets we always have to stop in order to allow our escort to say his prayers, which he does with great devotion and a lack of self-consciousness which Christians might well copy. He is a Sudanese slave, by the name Idris, who has been made specially responsible for our safety and who never leave us. He is always armed, sometimes with an Enfield rifle, sometimes with a curved sword in a heavily silver-mounted scabbard, sometimes with a heavy mace studded with nails, and occasionally with all three. He is a capital fellow. When I call «Ya Idris,» he always replies «Ay wallah» (Yes, by God). Then I tell him to do something or ask for something, to which he always replies by one of three ejaculations: «Inshallah» (God willing) or «Marhabba» (Everything is open to you) or «Ma yekhalif» (There is no objection).

– From An Arabian Diary by Gilbert Clayton

So will it be with the English!

The following text is a memorandum translated from Arabic describing the «wicked ways» of the English. It was issued by the Arab Committee of the Pan-Islamic Society and distributed secretly. It was written in a pocket book belonging to a member of a deputation from Emir Faisal in Mesopotamia (Iraq) to Ibn Saud, then the Sultan of Nejd. Ibn Saud handed it over the Mesopotamian authorities from their information. This happened in the first half of 1920 when the future of the Middle East still was not certain and when idea of pan-Islamism was very much alive. It is a pretty interesting read:

[The English is] a most cunning and ambitious people on the face of the earth. They are hypocrites and fanatic for their race and religion. They hope to rule all the world even after generations and to attain this, they have plans and committees which have control and branch offices and employés.

The most important object of the English is to destroy the rule of Mohamedans and afterwards to destroy their faith. Mr Gladstone their foremost leader said «As long as the Koran is believed and respected, civilization is threatened». Lord Salisbury said «What the Cross has taken from the Crescent must not return to the latter, and what the Crescent has taken from the Cross must return to the Cross».

On this principle they declared at the outbreak of the Balkan war [1912-1913], that no victorious Power is allowed to take any territory from the conquered, believing that Turkey will be victorious. But when the Balkan States won the War they allowed them to take a good slice of Turkish territory.

From remote times Britain intended to take possession of the Arabian Peninsular and Mesopotamia. She made agreements with the Arab Chiefs and through these agreements she made them enemies to each other; Hejaz against Nejd and Imam Yehia against Idrisi etc.

Britain divided Mesopotamia and Syria between herself and her Ally, France. Mr Lloyd George declared that the war in Palestine was the last Crusade which is finished by finishing with the rule of Islam for the destruction of which the Crusades were created.

Their (the English) intention by giving Palestine to the Jews, is to prevent the Mohamedans from resuming their authority or rule. They will do the same in Mesopotamia by populating it with millions of Indian Heathens.

Their plan is to make the Arabs fight each other by helping one party against the other until the Arabs are weakened, when they will be desarmed unless they are required to fight for the English some where, as they made the Egyptians open the Sudan for them. When the British rule supreme over Arabia, they will spread Christianity and allow every thing which is forbidden by Islam except aggression against personal liberty, so that a man should not be allowed to prevent his son from becoming an infidel or his daughter from committing adultery.

In short the English are the greatest enemies of Islam and their sole object is to exterminate it. They are the cleverest people, as Bismarck said, to escape of their engagements by misinterpreting them, as they have done with Sherif Hussein and Ibn Saud etc.

The English have reached, after the war, the summit of their political influence; but as they have risen, they will also fall down. The human nature will no more submit to being enslaved. The British provoked all the world against the against Germany by accusing her of waging this war for the love of conquest and enslaving the world. But it has now appeared that it was England which attempted this for herself.

Bolshevism is against Imperialism and colonization and consequently against England and it is spreading in the East and being supported by the Mohamedans, because it is against colonization.

The Germans who are the best organized nation support the Bolshevism and the Moslems in India, Afghanistan, Caucasia, Persia and Turkistan against the English. India is in flames against them. The U.S. of A. is disgusted with their (English) wicked games. Their allies France and Italy hate them and will turn against them on the first opportunity.

It is therefore the time for the Arabs to open their eyes and not lose their opportunity. They must unite against the English who keep no covenant and fulfil no promise.

If they (Arabs) do not benefit by this opportunity of the English being in trouble in Europe, Egypt, India, Russia and the Near East, they will be enslaved for ever and lose everything.

Another equally interesting text follows about «The British ambitions to possess al-Hejaz». After both texts the translator comments:

With regard to the tone of the above articles I can say that they were written with a «pen of fire».

When Ibn Saud gave the text, that is basically praising Bolsheviks as champions of Islam, to the British he discussed it at length and requested British views on the subject. Britain then sent a private letter on the subject of Bolsheviks saying that «there is no sign that they contemplate further activities beyond the limits of Russia». The also added that they regarded Bolshevism «as unlikely to make headway in Mohammedan countries whose social organisation and traditions are alike unfavourable to the spread of views which are contrary alike to their religion and interests and repugnant to common sense».

(The memorandum has by the way a few grammatical errors and spelling mistakes so they can not all be credited to me.)

In the early 1920’s the power balance in Arabia changed. Sultan Abdul Aziz ibn Saud of Nejd was expanding his realm in all directions and defeated longstanding enemies. Ibn Saud was supported to a certain degree by Great Britain, but one of his main rivals, Hussein b. Ali, Sharif of Mecca and King of the Hejaz, was also supported by the British. A former British Agent once said that «ours is a Hussein policy» and there was no doubt that Britain focused most of their energy on Hussein. Britain’s ideas on Arabia, however, slowly changed as Ibn Saud grew more and more powerful and as Britain found Hussein more as a burden than a valuable ally. The same Agent, Col. Vickery, spoke of this growing power in November 1922:

I see also in Arabia, a growing power, a power not of our forging, a power which will eventually overrun the very homes of these we have so openly and so prodigally supported … The custodianship of the holy places lies now with the Sharif of Arabia [sic], but I feel that peace will not descend on Islam till the cities of the Prophet are once again under the aegis of a Mohamadan nation which unites both spiritual and temporal power.

Three years later the Hejaz fell to Ibn Saud’s fanatic fighting force, the Ikhwan, and thereby ending Hashemite rule over the holy cities of Islam. Hussein fled to Aqaba and was then «invited» by the British to Cyprus.

(The quote is from Randall Baker’s book King Husain and the Kingdom of Hejaz.)