Some Italian and Catholic Sources on Jazira (1920-1950)

  • Mirella Galletti


During World War I the Allies supported the centrifugal thrusts of the ethnic and religious groups hostile to the Ottoman Empire. But the promises of a great unified Arab State, of a Kurdish State, of an Armenian State and of an Assyrian State were patently irreconciliable.

The division of the Ottoman Kurdistan removed the protection of autochthonous communities (Armenians, Assyro-Chaldeans, Kurds and Yezidis) so that they became the internal problem of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. These peoples haveĀ  consequently become transnational. Dispersed through various Middle Eastern States, they have been forced to create different policies, and to pursue different objectives. The passage from multinational identity has had dramatic consequences for each of these people, whereas the Arab and Turkish States pursued a nationalistic policy aimed at creating a new identity for the whole population.

The available documentation in the archives of the Ministry of Italian Foreign Affairs enables a broader and deeper understanding of the tensions and problems, with special reference to Iraq. Nonetheless, these diplomatic observateurs are interesting because they create the atmosphere of this historical period. Italian politics seemed to agree to the rigid application of the Lausanne Treaty and the maintaining of the status quo. Fascism follows a pro-Arab strategy which leaves no room for developing a strategy toward the Middle Eastern communities.

A section is devoted to the Syrian Jazira that, being at the Turkish and Iraqi border, represented an important observation post to follow the Kurdish and Assyro-Chaldean problems in those years. The refugees coming from the two countries sheltered in the region because of the politics of tending to integrate them. These politics were pursued by the French mandatary power.


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