Friday, December 11, 2015

Now they tell us

"Mosul's strategic importance made it seem a necessary addition to Iraq, and the strong probability that it contained valuable oilfields made it a desirable one, but it was part of what was supposed to have been Kurdistan; and [Indian Army Captain] Arnold Wilson argued that the warlike Kurds  . . . 'will never accept an Arab ruler.'

"A fundamental problem, as Wilson saw it, was that the almost two million Shi'ite Moslems in Mesopotamia would not accept domination by the minority Sunni Moslem community, yet 'no form of Government has yet been envisaged, which does not involve Sunni domination.'  The bitterness between the two communities was highlighted when each produced a rival Arab nationalist society.  Also to be considered was the large Jewish community, which dominated the commercial life of Baghdad, and the substantial Christian community that included the Nestorian-Chaldean refugees from Turkey who had gathered in the are of Mosul.

"Seventy-five percent of the population of Iraq was tribal, Wilson told London, 'with no previous tradition of obedience to any government.'"

-- D. Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace, 1989 at 450 (describing British Government cables of 1920)

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