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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

Letter in which Bell discusses the ongoing political crisis within the Iraq government, referring specifically to the conflict between the Minister of Interior, Muhsin Beg, and the Prime Minister, Yasin Pasha, and a visit by Maurice Pernot, editor of Revue des Deux Mondes, and his wife, who is interested in "the state of Moslem feeling" towards the West. She ends by noting her travel plans for the following week, and by giving a brief update in relation to her earlier comments regarding the ongoing political crisis, stating that Muhsin Beg's proposals for Cabinet are now being debated and making reference to Sir Henry Dobbs' preference for Minister of Finance, Naji Suwaidi.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Hashimi, Yasin al-
Suwaydi, Naji al-
Dobbs, Henry
Cornwallis, Ken
Eskell, Sassoon
Sa'id, Nuri al-
Cooke, R.S.
Clayton, Iltyd
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad June 24 Dearest Father. I [sic] was very nice to get your letter from home of June 11 and Mother's of June 10 in which she says she is suffering so from the heat. I know what will happen - by the time I get home it will be icy and will remain so for the next two months' of my leave. And probably rain all the time. However perhaps that will be a pleasant change.
I was cut to the heart about Anthony. I hope you will give me some news of Sylvia.

An interesting man came to see me on Monday, one Pernot. He is editor of the Revue des Deux Mondes and is making an exhaustive enquiry for it and for the Débats into the state of Moslem feeling towards the West. He is said to be very anti-British, or at least very pro-French, but the first quality didn't emerge in his talk. His wife is with him but I haven't seen her yet. They are both dining with me tomorrow. They have come from India and Afghanistan and are going on to Persia and Turkey. He knows Turkey very well, was here in 1912 and in Angora [Ankara (Ancyra)] in 1923. I have Ken and Iltyd and Nuri to meet them tomorrow.

Otherwise our social existence is uneventful. The Sinbads swam and picknicked with Ken, Iltyd, Mr Cooke, and me on Sunday and I swim generally three afternoons in the week with more or less the same party. Today Ken and I are taking the J.M. Wilsons. It is really the only nice thing to do in the afternoon. It has been very hot and stuffy the last few days and the river correspondingly - and pleasantly - warmer.

Politically we are in full crisis. The Cabinet has been at sixes and sevens for weeks past, the main cause of disruption being a fundamental difference in outlook between the Minister of Interior, Muhsin Beg, and the Prime Minister, Yasin Pasha. Yasin is the ablest man here but as crooked as he can be and neither trusted nor liked by anyone. The struggle came over the elections and Muhsin won. Dim as is political understanding in this country people feel vaguely that in following him they are backing the status quo, the Arab Kingdom as it is, with the British connection and all else. Yasin's supporters are the people who think they will have richer fishing in troubled waters; he backed them surreptitiously and scarcely any of them got in. The feeling, I think, that he could not possibly face a parliament of this complexion - nor can he - he reverted again to the disunion of the Cabinet. Finally they all settled to resign and Yasin was asked to form a new one. He has tried for two days and failed, and now Muhsin has been charged with the task. He is not going to find it easy either; the Ministry of Finance is the crux. Sasun has been quite impossible to work with and neither side want him back again, but there is really no one else to be an effective Finance Minister and with no Adviser - for H.M.G. has not found anyone yet to succeed Mr Slater - an effective Minister is needed.

I personally hope that Muhsin will succeed. He is an honourable man and he stands for stability. I believe it will be found that he has a majority in parliament for on the whole the country is all in favour of stability. It's a pity that here or elsewhere the economic stringency presses so greatly. Trade is at a low ebb and a bad harvest has made things specially difficult. However - !

I am not looking forward to the first part of my journey. We leave at 9 a.m. on Tuesday week (July 7) and go practically straight through to Haifa by car, two or three hours at Beyrout [Beyrouth (Beirut)] only. We arrive at Haifa on Wed at 8 p.m. and catch the train for Alexandria on Thursday at 8 a.m. Alexandria Friday morning and embark at noon on a Lloyd Triestino for Venice [Venezia]. Lionel will, I hope, join my train at Ludd [Lod (Lydda)]. I think it will be fearfully tiring. Marie comes with me.

June 25. [25 June 1925] Muhsin has made proposals for his Cabinet; they are now being debated. Sir Henry is inclined to insist that the Minister of Finance should be bi-lingual and the only available person who possesses this qualification is that very slippery gentleman, Naji Suwaidi.
Goodbye dearest. There's a despatch waiting to be written for Sir Henry. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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