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Review of the civil administration of Mesopotamia


Éditeur : His Majesty's Stationery Office Date & Lieu : 1920, London
Préface : Pages : 150
Traduction : ISBN :
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 180x310 mm
Code FIKP : Liv. En.Thème : Général

Présentation
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Review of the civil administration of Mesopotamia

Review of the civil administration of Mesopotamia

Gertrude L. Bell

His Majesty's Stationery Office

In the spring of 1910, Ottoman rule in Mesopotamia was epitomised by a singularly competent observer, Mr. J. G. Lorimer, British Resident at Baghdad, in words which cannot be bettered. "The universal Turkish system of administration," he wrote in the Political Diary for the month of March, "is in almost every respect unsuitable to 'Iraq. "The Turks themselves must recognise that it is a failure here, but probablj' few of them appreciate the cause, though that is sufficiently obvious. 'Iraq is not an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, but a foreign dependency, very much in the rough ; and its government by sedentary officials according to minute regulations, framed at Constantinople for Western Turkey, can never be satisfactory. I had no idea before coming to Baghdad of the extent to which Turkey is a country of red tape and blind and dumb officialdom, nor of the degree in which the Turkish position in 'Iraq is ...



MESOPOTAMIA: REVIEW OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER I.—Occupation of the Basrah Wilayat

In the spring of 1910, Ottoman rule in Mesopotamia was epitomised by a singularly competent observer, Mr. J. G. Lorimer, British Resident at Baghdad, in words which cannot be bettered. "The universal Turkish system of administration," he wrote in the Political Diary for the month of March, "is in almost every respect unsuitable to 'Iraq. "The Turks themselves must recognise that it is a failure here, but probablj' few of them appreciate the cause, though that is sufficiently obvious. 'Iraq is not an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, but a foreign dependency, very much in the rough ; and its government by sedentary officials according to minute regulations, framed at Constantinople for Western Turkey, can never be satisfactory. I had no idea before coming to Baghdad of the extent to which Turkey is a country of red tape and blind and dumb officialdom, nor of the degree in which the Turkish position in 'Iraq is unsupported by physical force. One cannot but admire, however, the dogged and uncomplaining resolution with which the Turkish civil bureaucracy and skeletion army persist in their impossible tasks, the former in that of governing according to code and paragraph, the other in that of maintaining a semblance of order."

This description outlines the conditions prevailing in the country at the outbreak of war, except that the intervening four and a half years of administration under the auspices of the Committee of Union and Progress had tended to exaggerate former evils while arousing hopes of improvement which could not be fulfilled. Encouraged by the catchwords of liberty and equality, the subject races of the Ottoman Empire began to formulate aspirations wholly contrary to the centralising spirit which animated the Committee even more than the regime it had replaced. Claims to local autonomy, which had first been heard in Syria, were enunciated there in more assured tones and found an echo in Mesopotamia, not only among the Arab population, but also among the Kurds, who had been no less alienated than the Arabs by a spasmodic assertion of authority which the Ottoman Government was powerless to maintain. It is not too much to say that the Mesopotamian Wilayats of Basrah, Baghdad and Mosul had reached the limits of disorder consouant with the existence, even in name, of settled administration. For years past British Consular officials had been accustomed to receive embarrassing requests from local magnates and tribal chiefs that the British Government should put an end to the intolerable chaos by assuming control of the country.

British maritime and commercial interests in the Persian Gulf, together with its political importance to the Government of India, had thrust upon us responsibilities there which we could not avoid. Our position with regard to the ruling Arab chiefs along its shores had gradually been consolidated. We had entered into treaty relations with the Sultan of Masqat, the Shaikhs of the Trucial Coast and of the Island of Bahrain. Ibn Sa'ud, Ruler of Najd, who in 1913 had pushed his way down to the sea, was anxious to obtain our recognition and support ; the Shaikh of Kuwait, always apprehensive of Ottoman encroachments, had been assured of our protection, and the Shaikh of Muhammarah, Arab by race though a subject of Persia, looked to us for help in maintaining his position against Sultan and Shah alike.

I These alliances were a valuable asset when war was declared on Turkey on 29th October 1914, and it was of primary importance to make clear to the chiefs of the Gulf the causes of the breach with the Ottoman Empire and the scope of hostilities. Accordingly the Political Resident issued on 31st October, under the orders of His Majesty's Government, a proclamation to the Arab rulers of the Persian Gulf and their siibjects explaining 'that Turkey had entered into war at the instigation of Germany, to her own destruction, and that it seemed impossible to hope that the Ottoman Empire could be preserved. To the chiefs who had enjoyed the benevolent protection of Great Britain we promised that no act of ours should threaten liberty or ...




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