The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Albert Einstein
Thursday, 7 April 2016
MIDDLE EAST: 100 YEAR AFTERMATH OF BRITISH - FRENCH “COLONIAL – IGNORANCE”
ANNIVERSARY OF THE SYKES–PICOTAGREEMENT
In May 2016 it will be 100 years
since the signing of a document which went down in history under the title “the
SYKES–PICOT Agreement” (by the names of two diplomats—a FRENCHMAN
FRANÇOIS GEORGES-PICOT and an ENGLISHMAN MARK SYKES). It defined the
borderlines between the zones into which the ASIAN territories of the OTTOMAN
EMPIRE were divided after the World War I.
Today hardly anybody shows
interest in this topic. It is regarded mostly as a closed case file, or a
historical fact. But if you take a close look at the current developments in
the MIDDLE EAST, you will notice the echo of that deal. Threads of history do
not break but stretch through the decades.
is the historical background: none of the independent ARAB states
currently depicted on the world map existed before the World War I. Instead,
there were either FRENCH protectorates (e.g., MOROCCO and TUNISIA, with ALGERIA
being an integral part of FRANCE), or BRITISH protectorates — countries in the
southern part of ARABIA and provinces of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE. The later-formed ARAB
countries participated in the World War I as colonies. ARABS were drafted to
the so-called labor corps. They participated in combat operations (e.g. 80
thousand EGYPTIANS died at the WWI fronts).
Leading EUROPEAN states, and,
first of all, BRITAIN and FRANCE, engaged in a fierce fight for these
strategically important and rich in natural resources regions, located on the
juncture of three continents. After long negotiations, a secret agreement
between the governments of GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, RUSSIA and ITALY was signed
on May 16, 1916. The agreement defined the spheres of interests of its parties
in the MIDDLE EAST. GREAT BRITAIN was allocated control of the areas roughly
comprising the territory of the modern JORDAN, IRAQ and small areas near HAIFA
and ACRE. FRANCE inherited the southeastern part of TURKEY, NORTHERN IRAQ,
SYRIA and LEBANON.
The tsarist RUSSIA, although it
entered a number of military agreements with the Entente on the division of the
OTTOMAN EMPIRE, decided against claiming any ARAB lands.
After the October Revolution, RUSSIA
ceased its participation in the negotiations.
EAST UNDER THE RULE OF GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE
according to the SYKES–PICOT Agreement, after 400 years of the TURKISH
domination, the ARABS of LEBANON, SYRIA, TRANSJORDAN and PALESTINE found
themselves under the rule of BRITAIN and FRANCE.
But that did not put an end to
the dispute between the two powers. They continued reshaping the map of the
region against the backdrop of powerful anti-colonial protests of the local
population. As English Prime Minister GEORGE LLOYD admitted, circumstances of
that time required something more sufficient than secret agreements to preserve
the positions of the countries involved. Then the mandate system was
established under the Covenant of the League of Nations.
pay attention to the explanation of this phenomenon: the peoples who inhabited
these territories were considered “not yet able to stand by themselves under
the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” It sounds so familiar.
One hundred years later, the
Western block continues harping about the inability of ARAB peoples to govern
their lands and sets out on a mission to preach to them about genuine
democracy. Is it not an outright (as it was the case at the beginning of the
20th century and even today, in 2016) intervention in the domestic affairs of
other sovereign states?
These are attempts to impose
recipes on them from outside, promote concepts of a regime change under one
pretext or another. Before, it was done under the slogan of “humanitarian
interventions,” now these entities are trying to do it under the slogan of
struggle against violent extremism. Where in fact, only the peoples of the
countries of the region, as of any country in the world, have the right to
decide their own fate. This is an indisputable principle of the international
Let us travel back in time to the
beginning of the 20th century. Disputes
between BRITAIN and FRANCE competing for this region would not cease even after
the PARIS Peace Conference. Sometimes we perceive archives as just a pile
of papers, but they can describe events, people and countries in an expressive
and vivid way. A curious phrase once uttered by a FRENCH prime minister somehow
stood out and is worthwhile to recall. When asked what part of SYRIAand for how long FRANCE is
planning to occupy, he answered, “The entire SYRIA and forever.”
After a long haggling during the SANREMO
Conference, held in ITALY in April of 1920, the post-World War I Allied Supreme
Council determined to allocate the mandates for the administration of the
territories of the current IRAQ and PALESTINE to BRITAIN , and the mandates for
the territories of the current SYRIA, LEBANON and current TURKISH HATAY Province
to FRANCE. These resolutions were approved by the League of Nations on
September 29, 1923.
AND FRENCH “COLONIAL IGNORANCE” – THE CAUSE OF CURRENT SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE
borderlines dividing the former provinces of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE were drawn to
meet the interests of colonizers, while centuries-old traditional borders
separating the territories of different groups of population were disregarded.
It led to an onset of a whole range of ethnic and religious conflicts. The
catastrophes the MIDDLE EAST has to deal now with were, so to say, pending
OF THE MIDDLE EAST
Just a short historical note. At
that time SYRIA was split into six dwarf states regarded as sovereign
countries: the State of DAMASCUS, the State of ALEPPO, the State of ALAWITES, the State of JABAL DRUZE, the
State of GREATER LEBANON and the SANJAK of ALEXANDRETTA. Could it be then that
the plans to break SYRIA down into a number of smaller states were taken off
the shelf in one of these archives? The logic behind that is easy to discern.
It is easier to manipulate a split country. It is easier to compel it to take
unfavorable and even dangerous for its people decisions. Maybe a renowned
Orientalist scholar BERNARD LEWIS was guided by these ideas when he proposed
his famous plan envisaging the breakup of LEBANON into several microstates, IRAN
into 4-5 parts, PAKISTAN into 3-4 parts, SYRIA into 4-5 parts and SUDAN into
two parts. His plan for SUDAN has actually materialized.
Information: BALKANIZATION OF SYRIA
Click below to read entire report: October 2015 we wrote:
Just one hundred years has passed
since the signing of the SYKES–PICOT agreement—a rather short span of time to
compare to the span of human history. Perhaps it would take to look back in
history to understand the root causes of some mind-boggling attitudes and
approaches exercised by many EUROPEAN countries with respect to the current
events in the MIDDLE EAST.
Today it would be reasonable to
point out that since the MUSLIMS comprise 20% of the population of our planet,
its welfare will largely depend on the trends prevailing in the ISLAMIC world.
BEN YAHMED, Editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique stated his opinion in the issue of
the magazine published on 12/02/2016 that three major factors will determine
the fate of the ARABIC and ISLAMIC world as a whole in the next two years: oil
prices, termination of the Civil War in SYRIA and the future of DAESH (the
so-called ‘Islamic State’), which continues to control significant areas of SYRIA
and IRAQ. If the international community manages to uproot this terrorist
organization, Sunni Islam will fizzle following the emasculation of its two
masterminds—SAUDI ARABIA and DAESH, Mr. YAKHMED noted. He thinks that it is too
early to predict what policy the current rulers of the Kingdom of SAUDI ARABIA will
pursue. Whether they will act in a more sober way or remain opportunistic.
Information: SAUDI ARABIA AND WAHHABISM
Many political observers believe
that the current situation is akin to a civilizational war between the
Christian/Secular West and the Islamic Caliphate. Some argue that NORTH
AMERICA, EUROPE and RUSSIA are natural allies in this struggle and need each
other more than ever before. “Together they can withstand the hydra of
pan-Islamism with its countless heads (DAESH, AL-QAEDA, JABHAT AL-NUSRA,
SALAFIS, MUSLIM BROTHERS, and others), and stabilize the MIDDLE EAST, the
cradle of Islamic fanaticism, and can stabilize EUROPE.” By deliberately overthrowing
GADDAFI’S and MUBARAK’S regimes and having wedged war against ASSAD, the US
destabilized the situation in NORTH AFRICA, the MIDDLE EAST and EUROPE. But
today the US and RUSSIA are uniting in
order to strengthen the position of President of EGYPT AL SISI, to enable him
to crush DAESH terrorists in SINAI and LIBYAand to achieve a political
settlement of the SYRIAN crisis. And if the West is really striving for this
alliance, it must recognize RUSSIA’S “near abroad” (i.e., UKRAINE, BELARUS,
CRIMEA, CAUCASUS and CENTRAL ASIA) as a traditional zone of its influence.
An assessment provided in The
Times is noteworthy as it dwells upon the ideas voiced by many political
analysts. The article published on 17/02/2016 says, “B. OBAMA made many
mistakes during the last Arab revolutions and gave V. PUTIN an opportunity to
become the winner in the SYRIAN conflict that turned for us into a disaster, as
now the West can play only the role of a spectator.” In most likelihood the US
will be doing its best to avoid a third world war or a direct East - West
confrontation, which could be interpreted as defeat.
This is what the current situation
in the MIDDLE EAST looks like a hundred years after the signing of the SYKES–PICOT
Adapted by Geopolitical Analysis
and Monitoring from the original Article written by Veniamin Popov, via NEO