Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tribes and towns

Due to the wonders of technology I am actually able to write this direct from the Churchill Archive in Cambridge, where I am working today.

Following the revolt in Iraq in 1920, Sir Percy Cox, a popular British officer who had been the chief political officer in Baghdad during the First World War, was brought back to serve as High Commissioner. Coccus, as he was known to the Iraqis, was clearly the linchpin. As one of his colleagues wrote: "the whole apparatus of administration is held together simply by Sir Percy’s personality." The official went on to have a dig at Lawrence, whom, he said thought that it would be possible to unite the tribesmen and the towns. "The former are terrified of an Arab Government as we understand it (the Euphrates tribes hoped for universal lawlessness), and they accept it only because of Sir Percy." Lawrence denied this: "tribes and towns are irreconcilable" he wrote in the margin of the report, pointing to one essential fautline in the Iraqi state today. (Ref: CHAR 17/2/100)

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