Frederick P. Isaac

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Articles and book information on Assyrian issues including contemporary history, experiences under Islamic rule, leadership and Assyrian aspirations to nationhood.


Indigenous Peoples

Under the Rule of Islam

 

by Frederick P. Isaac

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The Will to Right the Wrong  

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The Assyrian Tragedy

 

 

Dashed Hopes
 

 

In the ensuing sinister Sykes-Picot plot, the French, took the initiative in 1923 and detached Lebanon from the liberated territories of the Middle East towards its independence for the protection of the Maronite (Catholic) Christian community (Rafic Boustani’s footnote. The Atlas of the Arab World; Geopolitics and Society; *p31). The British inspired by the French, also proclaimed an Assyrian-Chaldean state in line with the French emerging policy for the Maronite Latin-Catholics in Lebanon. The Arabs, considering Mesopotamia and the whole of the Middle East region as part of the Islamic States of the Abode of Peace, strongly objected to the detachment of Lebanon by the French and creation of an Assyrian state, in Ninweh, North of Iraq by the British.

The Arabs sought the support of their old and influential friend T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) to foil the French/British attempts. T.E. Lawrence, a staunch supporter of the Arabs, vehemently opposed detachment of Lebanon by the French and restoration of the Assyrian state by the British. The French proceeded determinedly despite all the obstacles and succeeded with their plan. The British, too, resisted Arab pressure for several years. However, Arab/Islamic pressure on the British to drop their support for an Assyrian state continued to mount. The fate of the Assyrian state became uncertain. Following annexation of the former Ottoman Province of Mosul to Iraq, in March 1925, through the League of Nations, with the consent of the British, support for the Assyrians waned.

Still not satisfied, Arab nationalist leaders incited Arab tribal uprisings, especially the Shammar and Eneza tribes, against the British for giving the Assyrians assurances of protection and security in the Mosul Province of northern Iraq. Under constant Arab pressure, the British, in 1932, buckled and abandoned the Assyrians and let the hope of an Assyrian State slyly disappear. Later, in August 1933, the Iraqi army turned on the Assyrians, attacked and massacred in cold blood over three thousand Assyrians at Simele village and other nearby villages in northern Iraq. The brutal action of the Iraqi central government was to remind the Assyrian people that the “millet" provision of the Islamic rule was still in force. That their political and social status would remain derogated, and unchanged. And that it would continue, as it had been, under the Ottoman rule, and earlier when under the Arab rule, in past centuries. The Islamic concept in regards to Israel is no different from that of the ill-fated Assyria.

The political influence of T.E. Lawrence, Advisor on Arab Affairs, on the British government earlier, and later in 1921, particularly on Sir Winston Churchill, had played a leading role in nipping the Assyrian-Chaldean state in the bud. For settlement of the Middle East Affairs, Churchill, then Colonial Secretary relied heavily on the advice of the eccentric Lawrence ‘of Arabia'. Treating the Assyrians as Indian outcast natives of a lower caste,

 

‘…It was indeed imperial rule on the cheap. By September 1922, Sir Winston Churchill, during his short term in the colonial office, had reduced the expenditure in the Middle East, from £45 million to £11’ (Rose; 1994: pp 154-155, 165).

 

Lawrence was well known for his deep sympathy for the Arabs. Although a strong and capable guerrilla leader, Lawrence was given a free hand and meddled too much in the politics of foreign affairs during the mandated period. According to the above policies, Sir Winston Churchill did not view the Assyrian Nation as worth saving.

 

 

<<

The Will to Right the Wrong  

Table of Contents

>>

The Assyrian Tragedy

 

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