Innlegg merkte med ‘Mesopotamia’

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.

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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.)

For dei som er interesserte i første verdskrigen kan dette dokumentarkivet vere verdt å sjå på. Arkivet innheld ei rekkje historiske kjelder i samband med verdskrigen (før, under og etter), som til dømes traktatane i VersaillesLausanne og SèvresSykes-Picot-avtalenBalfour-deklarasjonen og The Economic Consequences of the War av Johan Maynard Keynes. Arkivet vart oppretta i 1995 og er ein del av ei større dokumentsamling for europeisk historie på nett, EuroDocs.

Sidan eg studerar Midtausten si historie, var det dokument om denne regionen eg var mest interessert i. Av naturlege grunnar er krigen i Europa hovudfokuset på nettsida, men det er likevel litt å hente der for dei som er meir interesserte i kva som gjekk føre seg i Midtausten på same tid. Desse er desverre litt vanskelege å finne sidan arkivet ikkje har ein eigen Midtaustendel.

I førre posten min viste eg til James Barr sin blogg der han greia ut om T.E. Lawrence sine råd for Irak etter krigen. Nokre av råda og kritikken han kom med med tanke på britisk styre i Irak, kan ein lese i dette avisinnlegget i Sunday Times frå 22. august 1920, A Report on Mesopotamia.