Diaries

19/10/1919

Sat. Oct. 19. [19 October 1919] Went with Fattuh at 10 to the home of Mur'i Pasha al Mallah; he is one of the richest men here. The Mallahs came from Mecca [Makkah] some 300-400 years ago. An old man, not I should say very capable. Mudir al Waqf; held various appointments under the Turks. We talked almost wholly about the future of this country and the necessity of our leaving. He said the Syrians would 1000 times rather have the Turks than the French. Then to the Rais al Baladiyah, Ihsan Beg al Jabari. His family is important and numerous; long established here. A young and intelligent man with rather pale blue eyes. He only came back from C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)] recently {but since the armistice was representative of the Arab govt in C'ple}. They are originally of Albanian origin. Several other people were there. We talked of Syria; all were bitterly anti French. Then of the C'ple question; all would like to see the Turks remain there. The scheme Ihsan Beg would prefer would be a nominal Turkish suzerainty over all the Arab provinces with British protection and advice. They asked anxiously whether Alexandretta [Iskenderun (Alexandria ad Issum)] would be a free port and whether we would help them if they had cause of complaint against the French or whether the Americans would help them. Also whether there would be a strip of the Baghdad rly in French hands between Tall Abyadh and Nisibin [Nusaybin (Nisibis)]. Ihsan Beg said that Turkey and the Arabs had come off worse than anyone in the war because of the division of their countries and the Arabs had deserved it least. So to Major Bichan [see also Bichen] where I lunched. He is a charming man. He complained much of the fact that British officers were not properly informed of our true policy. Read the Brayne-Wilson papers and those relating to Naji Suwaidi. The Baghdad complaint against Naji that he is not ready to take trouble Major Bichan disagrees with. He has always found him ready to work night and day. He is the active force behind Ja'far. Naji and Ihsan Beg are by far the most capable men here and the most hard working. Sir Robin has come up against the Arab authorities because he is not a good administrator and doesn't understand how to work through the Arab authorities. \n\nAfter lunch came Rushdi Beg al Safadi who commands a division here. Like Ihsan he was in C'ple till about 4 months ago. His family have been settled in Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)] for several hundred years; merchants - they never have held official appointments. They are I think originally from the 'Iraq but they take their name from Safad [Zefat], whence they moved to Damascus. A young man, educated in Germany, speaks excellent German. (Ihsan speaks pretty well too.) Always belonged to the Nationalist party and after the armistice was representative of the Arab govt at C'ple. He opined that the Damascenes who objected to the Baghdadis were only those who did not themselves hold office. \n\nAfter him came Naji Suwaidi, and then 5 Baghdadi officers, one of whom belongs to the 'Ubaid family; then Ihsan and his brother Ghalib and others. \n\nWhen they left, Major Bichan and I called on an old 'alim, Shaikh Zarqah who lives near the mosque outside the town. He is much esteemed by Faisal and was put in as Qadih but could not get on with Shukri al 'Ayubi, a useless man, now at Madinah [Al Madinah (Medina)]. The Shaikh asked why we had not given more help to the Arab Govt. \n\nThen to tea with Fuad Beg al 'Adli, a very rich man who lives in a beautiful house below the Qal'ah surrounded by a delicious garden. He takes no part in politics and is out against the Arab govt because they are turning him out of some waqf lands wrongfully acquired by him during the war. A pleasant man. \n\nFinally I went to see the Pauls and so home. Major Barrett (?) P.O. Urfah [Sanliurfa (Edessa)] and Capt. Erskine also a P.O. in these parts, and another man came to dinner.

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