National Geographic : 1959 Jan
A Supreme Court Justice Touring the Simmering East Talks with Tribal Leaders "People are a good mirror in which to see the soul and spirit of a nation," reports Justice William O. Douglas after his most recent journey through Southwest Asia. Motoring many a dusty back road on their trip from Karachi to Istanbul, the Justice and his wife met shepherds and gover nors, nomads and shopkeepers of five nations. He described the lands and peoples east of Baghdad in the July, 1958, National Geographic. Here the author and Prince Tahsin Said (right), leader of the Yazidis, a Kurdish religious sect sometimes called Devil Worshipers, talk with priests and elders at Ash Shaykh 'Adi, the faith's holiest shrine. Yazidis claim followers in the U.S.S .R ., Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Adherents believe in a God who created the universe but pay deference to Shaitan (Satan) as a fallen angel who carries out God's will on earth. They honor him with feasting and dancing, regard the pea cock as his emblem, but never speak the name Shaitan. halfway mark of a journey across 4,000 miles of Southwest Asia, a journey which with all its side trips stretched to 7,000 miles. West Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and much of Iraq had already rolled beneath the wheels of Mary's laden, long-suffering station wagon.* By now we knew all too well our car's in clination to break springs, drop its muffler, or blow a tire at the most awkward spots. With a cruel plain of gray sand and camel's-thorn ahead, we wanted to embark on this next major leg in the cool of morning. Flaming Gas Above the Plain The sun was not long up before it was showing its authority. By 9 a.m. the ther mometer was mounting toward 120° F. By 11 a.m. we had sighted the flaming jets of natural gas from the oil field of Kirkuk; they seemed a fitting climax to the burning, desolate country we were crossing. Kirkuk is the center of a vast petroleum industry operated by IPC, the Iraq Petroleum Company. Revenue from IPC finances Iraq's great capital developments-particularly the irrigation, drainage, and flood-control proj ects that we saw the length and breadth of Mesopotamia. We stopped at the U. S. Consulate to visit Mr. and Mrs. Lee Dinsmore and to talk of these developments and the changes oil is bringing to the face of Iraq.t Then we drove * See "West from the Khyber Pass," by William O. Douglas, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1958, and the author's new book, West of the Indus, published by Doubleday and Company. t See "Iraq-Where Oil and Water Mix," by Jean and Franc Shor, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1958.