Margot’s Post on Ahmida’s “State and Class Formation and Collaboration”

The section of Ali Abdullatif Ahmida’s article, “State and Class Formation and Collaboration” that I found most interesting was when Ahmida discussed collaboration on the part of the upper class. He describes different types of collaborators, in particular compradore merchants, members of the Muntasir notable merchant class, Jewish middlemen tied to Italian interests, and what Ahmida calls “waverers.” Ahmida argues that these collaboration and factionalism between the notables ended up undermining the Tripolitanian resistance whose numbers rose to fifteen thousand fighters by 1913.

The compradore merchant were tied to the Bank of Rome and wanted to protect their economic interests. An example Ahmida gives is Mayor Hasuna who was in contact with the Italian government starting in 1890. He collaborated with the Italians because he thought they would make him ruler of Tripoli like his grandfather had been. He helped the Italian army by collecting Ottoman guns from the city. The Italians did not end up appointing him as ruler of the city.

The Muntasir notable merchant class were also working for the government and they justified their actions because they wanted to retain their fortune and influence in the region and were motivated by revenge against rivals in Tripolitania.

The Jewish middlemen were tied to Italian interests because they dominated the import-export trade with Italy and spoke some Italian. Poor Jews weren’t as enthusiastic, but like the other collaborators above, economic interest overruled any reservations they had.

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