National Geographic : 1919 Nov
393 THE LAND OF THE STALKING DEATH tions, trade will no doubt increase con siderably, especially our export sales of such necessaries as cloth, ail, glassware, tools, and perhaps firearms. Moslem political power centered in Mecca, under a British protectorate, sig nifies the end of Islam's old policy of bigotry and exclusiveness. It may even banish forever the specter of a holy war in the Middle East, notwithstanding the Prophet's warning that "Paradise lies under the shadow of the Sword." ARABIA'S LIFE A SEE-SAW It is not easy to believe that the mighty Moslem faith will lose adherents because of the world war. But perchance the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the passing of its hermit spirit will bring trade and the quickening influence of the Western World to these long somnolent regions. "When Othman falls, Islam falls" is an old saying in the Levant. Certainly the founding of the new Arab State, under British control, marks the begin ning of closer and more confidential re- lations between Christian and Moslem nations; and it means a tremendous gain to civilization in Britain's increased pres tige over Moslem peoples in India, Asi atic Russia, Persia, Egypt, and elsewhere. Possibly the Moslems of the Russian, French, and British territories can even be gradually assimilated politically, to emerge eventually from this melting pot as citizens and loyal subjects first and good Moslems afterward. The Koranic faith withstood a terrific blow in the loss of the Sultan's power and standing, and it is a most significant fact that, whether he resides at Cairo or Mecca, the new head of the faith will be under Christian British influence, and Arabia will be open to the trade and travel of all nations. In the long ago Arabia conquered Egypt, Syria, and Persia, and the Om miad dynasty spread the conquest from India to Spain. Till the twelfth century, Arab rule in the Orient was supreme, and art. literature, and science flourished. Freed of the Turkish yoke, Arabia may rise again. THE LAND OF THE STALKING DEATH A Journey Through Starving Armenia on an American Relief Train By MELVILLE CHATER ASK the average American what he knows about the Transcaucasus, and he will probably draw from his boyhood memories the fact that it produced those blonde-haired beauties who used to be headline curiosities in dime museums. And if you particular ize in Transcaucasian topography by ask ing "What do you know about Geor gia?" it is ten to one that he will answer promptly, "Sherman marched through it." And so, it was not without curiosity that I, as an average American, caught from a British transport's deck my first *For a map of the territory described by Mr. Chater in this article, see page 374. glimpse of those mountain-ringed shores which the maps of one's childhood de picted as a pea-green isthmus lying be tween the Black and Caspian Seas. Everyone was on deck for the night British Tommies and their officers, the little Mongol-faced Ghurkas, the tall and dignified Sikhs, the gray-clad nursing sisters-and even the Punjabi cooks in our fore hatchway ceased work on the flour-and-water cakes, which they had been baking incessantly for four days, and shaded their eyes toward the wide, squat port of Batum, with its foreground of British warcraft and its sky-line where the pear-shaped church domes of Russian civilization spired upward.