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done nothing to justify the hopes based upon her by the Sultan and his advisers, while from farther south the Mohammedans of Sierra Leone, through their religious ministers (imams), send spontaneous messages of loyalty, in which we are told that they are incessantly praying that Allah may grant victory to England. They, being honest folk unversed in the frothy sophisms with which our journalists confuse our and their own minds, candidly explain, as the Agha Khan has also done, that the ground of their attachment to the British throne is not sentimental but practical. 'Some of us,' they say, 'have had the privilege of travelling to foreign parts, and from our experience of the treatment received by natives at the hands of their foreign rulers, especially the Germans -whose destruction may God expedite-we cannot but come to the above conclusion.'
The negative reason why Moslems in general have not responded to the Caliph's call is an absence of cohesion which renders any common movement impossible in the Mohammedan world. Islam still is, to a very large extent, where Christendom was in the Middle Ages. It possesses that unity of creed which rendered the Crusades possible. But this religious unity is accompanied neither by political coherence nor by community of culture. It is a far cry from the educated graduate of Oxford or Paris to the Bedouin of the Sahara. The Turkish Sultan, by virtue of his position as Caliph, and as the head of the greatest Moslem State still free, might have supplied a rallying-point to the scattered forces of Islam. But he has always failed to do so. The causes of that failure are even more instructive than the fact itself.
First comes a difference of temperament which marks off the Turk from the Arab as sharply as the extreme type of Teuton is marked off from the extreme type of Latin. There can be, and there is, no sympathy between the stolid, taciturn, slow-moving Turk and the impulsive, talkative, nimble Arab. The depth of the mental and moral chasm that separates the two races becomes apparent whenever and wherever representatives of each are brought into physical proximity, as was the case in the Tripoli camp. There I had a daily demonstration
of its existence and of the mutual distrust and dislike
that resulted therefrom. The Turks despised the Arabs for their excitability, and were despised by them for their own stupidity, want of dash and initiative, and general incompetence-an incompetence particularly galling when accompanied by arrogance. The antipathy was shared by every Arab I came across, but it found most eloquent utterance among those Arabs who had come under European influence and were able to contrast the sloth they saw in the Turkish headquarters with the conditions which prevailed in Tunis under the French. Tunisian male nurses could find no words with which to express their disgust at the chaos of the Turkish hospitals; and a Tunisian who had served for some years in the French army stood aghast at the sight of the ill-clad, ill-fed, slovenly, uncared-for Ottoman troops.
Equally instructive was the Turk's indifference to, or rather unconsciousness of, the contempt he inspired. Nothing was done to bridge over by tact the chasm fixed by nature. The result was perpetual animosity, which at times developed into dangerous friction. All this was only a fresh illustration of the Turk's familiar want of imaginative comprehension-the want which has always caused him to fail as a leader of alien races. What was new was a feature imported into the picture since the Revolution. The Old Turk, whatever his deficiencies might be, was at least a True Believer; his piety made up, in a measure, for his stupidity. The Young Turk had accentuated, in the eyes of his Arab comrades, the inherited arrogance and unintelligence, by adding to it a religious indifference which in some cases amounted to rank infidelity. During the four months I spent among them, I saw only three Turks (all three men over fifty) pray; and I heard an Arab sheikh give vent to a horrified suspicion that there were among us Turkish officers who denied the existence of God. There is reason to believe that this attitude is not confined to the Arabs of North Africa-it is general among all the Arab populations, from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Even the dreamers who dream of a Day of Redemption and Retribution are shrewd enough to see that the Turk is not the man appointed for the task. The prophet whom I have already quoted summed up this feeling to me in these weighty words:
'There are many Pashas in Stambul, but not a single wise man among them. One pursues an English, another a German, a third a French policy-and they all take bribes. No; that is not the sort of people to do the great work. We want men with a Moslem policy-men who have faith in Allah. And these men are to be found in the Sahara, not in Stambul.'
The Tripolitan campaign, far from drawing the Arab closer to the Turk, had the opposite effect. The Turks had there a chance of earning Arab loyalty. Through the causes mentioned, they missed it. One result of their failure was the collapse of Arab resistance to the Italians, the disintegration of the forces which a common hope had brought together, and a bitter disillusion. Another result, equally important with reference to the present situation, was a deepening of the sense of the Turk's unworthiness and weakness. The Tripolitan fiasco was an object-lesson which has sunk deep into the heart of the Moslem world. The Holy Warriors carried away from the Ottoman headquarters an ineffaceable impression of Ottoman incompetence and infidelity. Nor is this impression likely to be modified by the knowledge that the Turkish armies at the present hour are controlled by Christian generals, and that the summons to the Faithful which has gone forth from Stambul was dictated by a commander whose name is Wilhelm. Enver Pasha and his friends realise this as keenly as they fail to realise other important facts. Hence the clumsy attempt to persuade the Arabs of Syria that the Kaiser has embraced the faith of the Prophet-an attempt which affords but another proof of the Turk's ludicrous under-estimation of Arab intelligence. In this connexion I may cite a little incident that occurred in Tripoli. We had there four young German officers who had come out to help the cause, and incidentally, to promote German prestige in the Moslem world. In the very first engagement in which one of these gentlemen participated he was barely saved from death at the hands of an Arab warrior, who, suddenly discovering that the officer in a Turkish headgear was an infidel in disguise, turned his rifle upon him.
I have dwelt on this point at some length, because it appears to be vital in a consideration of the effects of
Turkey's participation in the struggle. Another point equally relevant to this inquiry is the fact that the Sultan's title to the Caliphate has never been accepted without question by the Arabs, and that his claim to act as the guardian of the Holy Places of Islam has often been disputed by force of arms, as well as of argument, by rival claimants in Arabia. Not very long ago the region of Mecca and Medina (Hejaz) was the theatre of another of these chronic efforts to rid it of Turkish domination. To understand Arab sentiment on the subject it is sufficient to bear in mind that the Ottoman Padishah's claim to the position of the Prophet's 'Successor' (Khalif) is based entirely upon conquest, that it derives no sanction from any Power higher than the power of the sword, and that it is of comparatively recent origin. Until 1517 the Caliphate was in the hands of the ancient Abbasid House, which held it by right of inheritance-a purely spiritual trust entirely divorced from temporal authority. That year the Sultan Selim the Grim wrested from the Mamluks Egypt, Syria, and the Mecca and Medina districts of Arabia, and compelled the representative of the Abbasids, who lived at Cairo, to make over to him the title of Caliph, and to surrender the sacred heirlooms which had been handed down in his family for centuries. From this it will become obvious on how precarious a foundation rests Turkey's pretension to act as arbiter of the destinies of the Moslem world. The position could only be maintained so long as it could be defended by the same weapon by which it was conquered. Turkey, by her entry on the battlefield, is now imperilling, together with her political existence, her spiritual leadership. It should be our endeavour to profit by her action, and to turn her mental aberration not only to our own strategic advantage but to the permanent benefit of Islam. I venture to urge that the present situation should be clearly visualised in all its bearings at once, and that no time should be lost in deriving all the good that can be derived from it. The situation is favourable in itself; but it is only by vigorous effort that it can be made fruitful.
The Prime Minister, speaking at the Guildhall Banquet the other night, was at pains to assert that whatever
doom might overtake the Ottoman Empire, the Holy Places of Islam would be carefully protected from foreign interference. The statement was timely, and the action which it indicated was in the right direction. But if our Government's plans do not go as yet beyond the negative stage of non-interference with the Hejaz, it is high time that they should do so. We need a positive policy with regard to the Near East; we have needed such a policy for too many years. The moment has come to exchange a hand-to-mouth diplomacy for constructive statesmanship. The materials for such construction are ready to hand. In the Arab-speaking world we have millions of True Believers who resent the Turk's usurpation of the Caliphate, and more than one individual who, adequately supported, could replace him. In addition we have the same millions ready, if properly assisted, to shake off the Turkish yoke-a yoke which, with the spread of European education in Syria and Egypt, they have learnt to despise more even than they hated it formerly. A European Power which would attempt to substitute Christian for Ottoman domination over those populations would be simply playing into the Kaiser's hands. But a Power which would come forth with a programme of Arab independence, backed by the material means for carrying it out, would find its hands strengthened by an enormous accretion of influence throughout the world of Islam. The severance of the connexion between Cyprus and Turkey, and the deliverance of the Cypriots from the millstone of the tribute they hitherto paid the Porte, is one of the good fruits which the Turkish move has already yielded to the British Empire. But it is quite an insignificant boon compared with the benefits, strategic, political, and moral, which the British Empire could reap by utilising that move for the purpose of creating a free Arabia, and thus giving to the call to arms issued from Constantinople a practical interpretation calculated to confound its authors.
G. F. ABBOTT.