November 22, 2004

Intercontinental Fact Check

Posted by Jeremy Brown

You're too nice to say it so I'll say it to myself: 'lighten up, Brown." Well I will. I will try to contain my peculiar brand of gloomy optimism. But by way of transition, let me share the following tidbit. Ali, who blogs at Iraq the Model, has done a little fact check on a post by Juan Cole:

I was surfing the net as usual to find out what’s happening in the world, as I rely mainly on the net instead of TV now When I came across this article by Dr Juan Cole that made me feel ashamed of myself. This man who doesn’t live in Iraq seems to know more about the history of Iraq than I do.

[...]

He also provide a link to another article by a professor of Arab studies in the university of Colombia and use it as a reference to back up his theory. What Dr. Cole was trying to tell us, as you can see in his article, is that Fallujah is celebrated in Iraq’s history as a symbol for the large rebellion/revolution against the British back in 1920. His source, Dr. Rasheedi goes as far as considering Fallujah the start point of that event and says in his article:
“To restore Iraq to their control, the British used massive air power, bombing indiscriminately. That city is now called Fallujah.”

Finally Ali remembers that yes, indeed this was the version of events he'd learned...in a film funded by Saddam Hussein:

So anyway everything looked ok and my mind regained its peace, as everything the two well-informed professors said seemed to match perfectly with what Saddam’s hired director sowed us in his movie!

So what is the version of events that is commonly understood among Iraqis of Ali's community, and in a historical text (by a sociologist/historian named Dr. Ali Al Wardi)?

No revolution inside Fallujah, no bombing at all and not even the leading role they described for the tribes near Fallujah in the revolution that magically turned to be inside Fallujah in their posts.

Anyway, I don’t know which is worse; that the two experts in Arb world didn’t know about Dr. Al Wardi and his writings or that they knew but chose Sadam’s version of Iraq’s history!?

Posted by Jeremy Brown at November 22, 2004 01:54 AM
Comments
Ali's writing style is a little scattered, so maybe I'm misinterpreting what he says, but Wikipedia seems to back up Cole:
In the spring of 1920, the British, who had gained control of Iraq after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, sent Lt. Col. Gerald Leachman, a renowned explorer and a senior colonial officer, to quell a rebellion in Fallujah. Leachman was killed just south of the city in a fight with local leader Shaykh Dhari. The British sent an army to crush the rebellion, and the ensuing fight took the lives of more than 10,000 Iraqis and 1,000 British soldiers.
And there does seem to be a terrorist or insurgent group named the 1920 Revolution Brigades, which seems to be in reference to the action in Fallujah in 1920. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 22, 2004 12:44 PM

Well, even if Ali is wrong I guess my title still holds water. Just make that a bi-directional intercontinental fact-check. It does merit more research.

Thanks for the info.

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at November 22, 2004 12:59 PM

Wikipedia seems to be practicing a bit of revisionist history. Wikipedia is the last place I would turn for an authoritative source, particularly compared with a huge 3 volume set by a famed Iraqi historian.
But Wikipedia may be as deep as some are capable of going.

Posted by: mel turmer at November 23, 2004 01:43 PM

“To restore Iraq to their control, the British used massive air power, bombing indiscriminately." In 1920.

That claim is at a minimum hyperbolic, and likely false in every regard.

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