The Blood-Red Arab Flag: An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy, 1797-1820

The Blood-Red Arab Flag: An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy, 1797-1820

The Blood-Red Arab Flag: An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy, 1797-1820

The Blood-Red Arab Flag: An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy, 1797-1820

Excerpt

This work does not presuppose any specialized knowledge of the Persian Gulf or its history. It is the account of an historical investigation into an evocative piece of history, dark and dramatic, rich and uncertain, whose significance was disproportionate with its human scale. The Qawasim— whence the adjective Qasimi (pronounced Kawáassim and Káassimee)— were Arabs inhabiting the ports of what is today the north-western United Arab Emirates. This book examines piracy said to have been committed by them between 1797 and 1820.

The significance of these dates is that it was during this period that the Qawasim's maritime activities were of concern to the British Government of Bombay; so much so, in fact, on account of attacks on British shipping, that no less than two British military expeditions were sent against the Qawasim, in 1809/10 and 1819/20. On each occasion, the Qawasim's capital, Ras al-Khaima, was briefly overrun and many of their boats were burnt. After the second expedition a treaty was drawn up with the Arab tribes which inaugurated 150 years of regular British involvement in the Gulf. Supposed piracy by the Qawasim in 1797–1820, and Britain's response to it, helped shape not only Britain's special role in the Gulf during the nineteenth century, but also the long-term political development of the Arab Gulf states, and in particular and most directly, that of the United Arab Emirates.

For very many years, the generally accepted view was the official British one that the Qawasim had been pirates engaged in piracy. Recently some have sought to qualify or completely to refute this conception. The structure of the present work is to a large extent dictated by the problems raised by this controversy. The work falls into three parts: first, an introduction to the region; second, an examination of the evidence relating to the Qawasim's maritime activities; and thirdly, an interpretation of the results of that examination.

In addition to its historical significance, there are two further aspects to the fascination of this subject. In the first place, it has human and social interest: for this reason, as well as out of a desire for authenticity, quotations from primary and mostly contemporary sources have been wielded quite liberally in the text. In the second place, the subject as a whole . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.