A topical subject: the reinvention of the Caliphate?
The underlying assertion of this blog is, that the ongoing struggles between fundamentalism and secularism continues.You will have heard on the news this week, that the mercenaries, who invaded Iraq and Syria, wish to restore the Khalifa or Caliphate system in both countries. I realise this is not exactly news as it has been discussed lots on this blog and on the internet generally but it does provide a basis for the entry.
The demise of the Ottoman empire or Caliphate had far-reaching consequences for the Muslim populations of Turkey, the Arabic territories and the Indian ssub-continent. The break up was agreed by the Turkish government along with some Arabic leaders as well as the influential European nations, Britain and France, who were concerned to maintain their colonies and trade routes. For the Turkish and the Arabs, there was a shift towards nationalism or the nation-state.
Though it is not the remit of the entry it should be said, that the status of the Ottoman Caliphate is disputed by the Shia Muslim population as they maintain a Caliph (or ruler) is legitimate only if he is a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The Sunni sects maintains it is sufficient, that the Caliph be descended from a member of the Quraysh, prophet Mohammed’s tribe.
There are bound to be variations on this theme but they are not for discussion here. Earlier entries looked at the Umayyad Caliphate, one of the first and probably one of the most important Caliphates for the Sunni sects. It appears, that the Rashidan Caliphate is an equivalent for the Shia Muslims.
The last post referred to the Turkish uprising, in the early 20th century, in support of the Tanzimet (the liberalisation of Ottoman rule), a momentum, that was thwarted eventually by Turkish nationalism under the iconic leadership of Mustafa Kemal or Ataturk.
No-one doubts, that the failure of attempts to restore the Tanzimet and the subsequent break up of the Ottoman empire was due to a range of factors but the young modern mercenaries and proponents of a restored Caliphate cannot blame it solely on the mandates, which is the case according to the media
The Arabs were ready for change and with a national identity, they might have been a force to reckon with, albeit if they hadn’t had the western yoke around their neck. The Turkish too were divided but Ataturk and his ideas of Turkish nationalism prevailed.
The 1914-1918 war, how Turkish occupation was replaced by British
The discussion will continue with the events of the 1914-1918 war, which produced changes in greater Syria and Iraq. Firstly it is important to recognise, that the period saw the beginnings of the oil trade, marking a raise in the economic stakes. According to Sir Reader Bullard Britain was fearful, that Persia (Iran) would join with Turkey and Germany presenting a threat to Kuwait and the Persian independent Sheikhdom of Mohamerrah.
The Anglo-Persian oil company in the Persian area of Abadan in Khuzestan (a disputed territory according to Iraq), increased its production to 900,000 tons of oil by 1918, from 270,000 tons in 1914. Interestingly Khuzestan also borders on Kuwait and after Britain bombed Iraq in 1990, troops remained in the region until the invasion of 2003, when Britain occupied Basra and the Americans, Baghdad.
Sir Reader describes how Iraq contained a settled population with a complex administrative system, which was taken over by Britain as the Turkish army ”fled” along with influential Ottoman officials. The momentum was not in support of Arab independence, though Britain did have some Arabic allies, rather the plan was for the annexation of Basra and possibly Baghdad, to India or the British empire in general.
In consideration of this perhaps it is not surprising, that so many of the modern mercenaries are of Indian origin. Plans for annexation came to nothing but there was no love lost between the British colonisers and the indigenous population but seemingly the Turks were not missed either. Iraq needed independence from the Turkish raj, unfortunately this was replaced by, that of the British.
Mosul was the last Territory to be seceded from Turkey to Britain by the nationalist government as intricate discussions were occurred beforehand. The acquisition of Mosul by Britain came after the abolition of the Capitulations, which is no surprise, when one considers the significance of those economic treaties (see the entry, ‘the Turkish Capitulations’ and their impact on foreign trade).
The part played by France is anomalous as, even though they had done little fighting in the region during that period they had previously. Under the Picot-Sykes agreement France gained Mosul and Palestine, which they relinquished to Britain in exchange for Syria and Lebanon. More about this next time.
A declaration of a new Caliphate is no excuse for a full-scale war between Sunni and Shia Muslims
The system of ancient Caliphates and their historical role bears little relationship to the current situation as, what is proposed by the mercenaries in Syria and Iraq is nothing less, than a front for a blood bath. It is also, an excuse for a foreign adventure and a chance to earn some money from among others, Britain, Qatar and the former soviet union states.
There is no excuse to enter another country and murder the inhabitants. Syria is a secular country, with a small economy and was stable but is no longer. When Britain entered Iraq in 2003, it was supporting a fundamentalist momentum, regardless of, whether it was of the Sunni or Shia brand (they did not care).
Now the west is attempting to draw Iran into a war with Iraq, even after the Iraqi Shia population fully supported their government in the war between the two countries which, began in 1979 and raged for 8 years. Mr. Maliki may have been exiled in Iran but it is doubtful if, that country trusts his popularity, even if they wanted to wage war, which they do not by all accounts: Iran’s memory is not that short.
If Russia is stupid enough to support the ”Iraq government”, in support of a Shia momentum in Syria, it is barking up the wrong tree. President Assad’s ideology is so far removed from that of Mr Maliki. Of course Russia does want to sell it weapons and will do under the auspices of fighting fundamentalism but as has been shown in this publication, during the 19th and 20th centuries, the European powers switched allegiances time and time again.
The Iraqi Kurdish irony
One of the most interesting positions is that of the Iraqi Kurds, a group, that the Syrian Kurdish are not eager to join. Since the invasion of Iraq, the Kurdish have been selling off Iraqi land to the Israelis and now the latter have called for an official Kurdish state to be established.
It is difficult to believe the Zionists trust them as over the years they have been divided as a group and unreliable, this view is tenable, since last week the Kurdish were calling for a united Iraq based on the old secular principles.
In addition the BBC (‘From Our Own Correspondent’) reported, that they had established trade deals with, whoever is in control of Mosul. The choice is the old Ba’ath party guard or the mercenaries. My bet is on the former being in control but things could change. Either way it is a strange choice for a secular sect, that was said to hate the Ba’ath party and can hardly identify with the system of Caliphates if they want a nation-state: spot the irony.
Wikipedia: a perpetrator of genocide?
Last but not least, those responsible for the publication Wikipedia need to look at themselves closely. The liberalism, which condones the slaughter of people, if not literally, then by white middle class apathy is not justified. The self obsessed ilk of 30 somethings, with too much colonial money at their disposal are bored and ignorant.
I’m referring to the entry in the online encyclopedia supporting a Caliphate in North Syria and Iraq. Remove it now because it is an exercise in rape and murder and contradicts the teachings of the Koran. You are supporting genocide Wikipedia, all in the name of your personal ”freedom”, which counts for nothing, in the scheme of things.
Caliphate is not the latest buzz word to land on the lips of the middle classes, firstly it is a serious means of spreading the Ummah and secondly it is a colonisation ploy, which was largely unsuccessful the first time round. That is why the system eventually broke down or evolved into the nation-state. Both the nation-state and the Caliphate are patriarchal systems but the latter is easier to govern and inspires at least some unity in people. Not a very anarchic concept but a real one
Next time the political backdrop to Zionism and the break up of Syria, the role of the Arabs.
No to NATO!!
There will be a NATO summit held in Newport and Wales is none to pleased. We plan to oppose this debacle. If you are interested see www.nonatonewport.org for further info.