THE AMENDED SHEIK
Popular opinion, generally the collective term for vague, often incorrect, knowledge, lumps Arabs and Turks together as one people. The same authoritative source is responsible for the traditional idea that the Arab is an unambitious, emotional nomed good as the inspiration for a "Sheik" and excuse for a Valentino. This popular opinion has prevailed to such an extent that the Arab, like the Turk, has been discounted as a ruler, in the case of Palestine for a recent example, in the belief that he has little aptitude for much beyond tent-life and pillaging.
But Arabia has a great past in history and Arabian and Persian today are the Latin and Greek of the Mohammedan world. The present picture of Arabia is that of a gentleman in "rejuced circumstances" as Captain Costigan would say, but still a gentleman. The British Government, recognizing the potential authority in the remnants of the Arab empire, the tribal state of Irak, has attempted to set up as independent the territory held under a mandate. A twenty year treaty signed at Bagdad on October 10 incorporates the Arabs of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in a self-governing state.
The British will evacuate Irak entirely when the threat of a Turkish invasion is removed. In the meantime they will support the Irak army if need arises, furnish financial aid and at the same time transfer to the native government the irrigation system and other public utilities created under the mandate.
The Arab now has, for the first time since the last days of the great Caliphate, the opportunity to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the world. What complicates the affair from the British point of view, is the fact that Irak's bitter enemy is the other Arab kingdom of the Hedjaz, also subsidized from British coffers.
There are many "ifs"; if the British can keep the two little kingdoms from wiping each other off the map, they may merge eventually into one strong state. If Irak remains in sane hands. Bagdad may again become the centre of a culture that rivalled Alexandria in the height of its glory. If the Bedjas maintains an enlightened policy towards the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina, the door is left open for the expansion of Mohammedanism. At any rate the chance is here for an Arabian Renaissance, and the Arabs are being given a free hand to make the most of it.