Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Quotes of the Day (IV)

First, an apology for being out of touch lately. After the conclusion of the MCAC (Mobilization Civil Affairs Course), I went home for a four day pass, and have spent the last week trying to outprocess from Ft. Bragg. (More on both these topics later).

For now, here are some quotes from Gertrude Bell (the female Lawrence of Arabia) on Iraq, circa the early 1920s. The official British condescension to and marginalization of the Iraqi Shi'a was a significant contributing factor to the social problems that we are encountering in Iraq today.

- "The truth is I'm becoming a Sunni myself; you know where you are with them, they are staunch and they are guided, according to their lights, by reason; whereas with the Shi'ahs, however well-intentioned they may be, at any moment, some ignorant fanatic of an alim may tell them that by the order of God and himself they are to think differently."

- "The object of every government here has always been to keep the Shi'ah divines from taking charge of public affairs."

- "The vilain [sic] of the piece is Saiyid Muhammad Sadr, the son of old Sayid Hasan Sadr [and grandfather of Muqtada al-Sadr]. . . . Saiyid Muhammed was the man who first received us, a tall black bearded alim with a sinister expression. At the time you and I paid our call, Saiyid Muhammed was little more than the son of Saiyid Hasan, but a month later he leapt into an evil prominence as the chief agitator in the disturbances. He has still a certain amount of influence and it's a hand to hand conflict between us and him. He is in a black rage and I feel as if we were struggling agaqinst the powers of evil in the dark."