a primer on iraq

in march of 1933, feisel I, then british-assigned monarch of iraq, had this to say about his country:

‘There is still — and I say this with a heart full of sorrow — no Iraqi people but an unimaginable mass of human beings, devoid of any patriotic idea, imbued with religious traditions and absurdities, connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil, prone to anarchy and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatever.’

in 1959 historian hanna batutu wrote the following of iraq:

“For four days and four nights Kurds and Yezidis stood against Arabs; Assyrian and Aramaean Christians against Arab Muslims; the Arab tribe of Albu Mutaiwat against the Arab tribe of Shammar; the Kurdish tribe of al-Gargariyyah against Arab Albu Mutaiwat; the peasants of Mosul country against their landlords; the soldiers of the Fifth Brigade against their officers; the periphery of the city of Mosul against its centre; the plebeians of the Arab quarters of al-Makkawi and Wadi Hajar against the aristocrats of the Arab quarter of ad-Dawwash; and with the quarter of Bab al-Baid, the family of al-Rajabu against its traditional rivals, the Aghawat.”

so … if we read these thoughts correctly, we begin to see the tribal forces at play in the region known as iraq. did you know, dear reader, of such a tangled and complex historical context in iraq? did you really think it would simply take removal of saddam hussein to “correct” the region? how naive, indeed! and did the region need correcting at all, any more than the usa needed ‘correcting’ during its own civil war? any more than canada required ‘correcting’ during the FLQ crisis?

and … dear reader, what do you think happened to this region in the post WWI period, when victors of the great war carved up the lands of the defeated ottomans? well, exploitive distribution, of course. with western interests in mind. does it surprise you to know that little regard was given to involving the iraqi people in the formation of their own fate?

its interesting, isn’t it? learning that colonial interest in mosul-kirkuk did not surface until AFTER discovery of oil in this region? and that oil – and western dependence on same – motivated the brits’ invasion and subsequent occupation of iraq during WWII?

historical context. sociologic context. tribal underpinnings of the populace. when one considers iraq, one MUST consider context. and so, that means … what? simply, that one must consider the current uprising of insurgents in its context. the region and peoples of iraq have suffered occupation and domination for very much of the past 748 years. knowing this, king feisel I’s remarks, made 73 years ago seems so very fitting today.

and … it leads me to ask. what does america think its doing, in iraq? and why are we, the world, so surprised at the reaction of iraqis?

and, more importantly. this begs me to ask. through what process does a mass of humans become a nation of people? can external and culturally alien entities impose such a process on the population of iraq? how much of a nation’s development and social progress must simply originate from WITHIN? and what can the west do to assist? and that line separating domination from guidance? do we know where it exists? do we even know it exists, at all?

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image originally uploaded by lotse

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Filed under historical analysis, humanity, iraq, middle east, politics, war

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