|The Middle East prior to World War I. The Russians and British take over half of Persia, and the British colonize every area around the Turkish Ottoman Empire.|
The Middle East
A European-American Created Disaster
The Middle East "nations" artificially created by the Imperial powers of Europe after World War I appear to be vanishing at last.
The government of Lebanon does not control their own country. The same applies to Syria and Iraq that have been divided and subdivided by civil wars and invasions into micro-states run by local Islamic War Lords, Kurds or ISIS.
As an added "bonus" the Persians are moving back (perhaps permanently) into their old Mesopotamian provinces around Baghdad and southern Iraq that they ruled for thousands of years.
The Middle East nightmare just keeps getting better and better.
Let's Play the Blame Game
For good or ill, for centuries North Africa and the Middle East were rather peaceful places under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Though they did not love each other Muslims, Christians and Jews managed to exist side by side.
Then come the Europeans to stir up nationalism and Islamism.
The armies of Napoleon invaded Egypt and Syria. Then in 1830 the French conquered Algeria and Tunisia in 1881 turning these Muslim lands into colonies of Catholic France.
Not to be outdone, in the 1880s the British conquered Egypt and the Sudan from the Ottomans. The Italians followed by conquering Libya in 1911-1912.
World War I was an Imperialist wet-dream for Europe. The public was fed the usual line of bullshit about fighting a war for democracy. But the French and British could not wait to raise their flags over brand new colonies carved out of German and Ottoman Turkish lands. About 3,000,000 Muslim soldiers died in the war defending the Middle East from European invasion and colonization.
In the end Christian nations colonized the Middle East.
Muslim passions had been inflamed by the Ottoman Caliph calling for Jihad against the Christians in World War I. After the war Muslims started fighting back against the French and the British in 1919 and in 1920 (Syria), 1920 (Iraq) in 1925 - 1927 and in 1941.
After World War II the newly created artificial nations of the Middle East became independent, but under the surface there were huge ethnic and religious tensions waiting to boil over.
Aggressive Islamism began to rise again with the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the assassination in 1981 of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by Islamists.
That brings us to American intervention stirring up Islamism. The CIA backed Jihadists armies under people like Osama bin Laden in the Afghanistan War against the Soviet Union. Then we have George W. Bush's insane invasion of Iraq and the disbanding of the entire army of Iraq which totally broke down anything resembling a centralized state.
Meanwhile in the Syrian civil war we saw Obama, the CIA and our Islamist allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey flooding the country with mountains of weapons so every Islamist is fully armed and funded.
The result was an ISIS invasion of Iraq that currently has obliterated the World War I created borders of Iraq and Syria. This may even result in an independent Kurdistan and what is left of Iraq being absorbed by Iran.
Imperialism and the Law of Unintended Consequences. Welcome to our Brave New World of a resurgent and militant Islam.
|The Great Syrian Revolt Against France|
Shaykh Hilal al-Atrash, rebel celebration in Hauran, 14 August 1925.
|In the middle of World War I the Imperial powers of Britain and France were already drawing up lines for future colonies.|
|Woodrow Wilson drawing border for other people without their permission|
The Middle East That Might Have Been
American President Woodrow Wilson also wanted to impose his will on the peoples of the Middle East.
(The Atlantic) - In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched a theologian named Henry King and a plumbing-parts magnate named Charles Crane to sort out the Middle East. Amid the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, the region’s political future was uncertain, and the two men seemed to provide the necessary combination of business acumen and biblical knowledge. King and Crane’s quest was to find out how the region’s residents wanted to be governed. It would be a major test of Wilson’s belief in national self-determination: the idea that every people should get its own state with clearly defined borders.
After spending three weeks interviewing religious and community leaders in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and southern Turkey, the two men and their team proposed that the Ottoman lands be divided as shown in the map above.
Needless to say, the proposals were disregarded. In accordance with the Sykes-Picot Agreement Britain and France had drafted in secret in 1916, Britain and France ultimately took over the region as so-called mandate or caretaker powers. The French-administered region would later become Lebanon and Syria, and the British region would become Israel, Jordan, and Iraq.
|Click map to enlarge|
Not to be out done by the Europeans,
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's own plan to divide up the Middle East.
Today, many argue that a century of untold violence and instability—culminating in ISIS’s brutal attempt to erase Middle Eastern borders—might have been avoided if only each of the region’s peoples had achieved independence after World War I. But as the King-Crane Commission discovered back in 1919, ethnic and religious groups almost never divide themselves into discrete units. Nor do the members of each group necessarily share a vision of how they wish to be governed.
The King-Crane report is still a striking document—less for what it reveals about the Middle East as it might have been than as an illustration of the fundamental dilemmas involved in drawing, or not drawing, borders. Indeed, the report insisted on forcing people to live together through complicated legal arrangements that prefigure more recent proposals.
Among other things, the authors concluded that dividing Iraq into ethnic enclaves was too absurd to merit discussion. Greeks and Turks only needed one country because the “two races supplement each other.” The Muslims and Christians of Syria needed to learn to “get on together in some fashion” because “the whole lesson of modern social consciousness points to the necessity of understanding ‘the other half,’ as it can be understood only by close and living relations.”
But the commissioners also realized that simply lumping diverse ethnic or religious groups together in larger states could lead to bloody results. Their report proposed all sorts of ideas for tiered, overlapping mandates or bi-national federated states, ultimately endorsing a vision that could be considered either pre- or post-national, depending on one’s perspective.
In addition to outlining several autonomous regions, they proposed that Constantinople (now Istanbul) become an international territory administered by the League of Nations, since “no one nation can be equal to the task” of controlling the city and its surrounding straits, “least of all a nation with Turkey’s superlatively bad record of misrule.” Although the authors had been tasked with drawing borders, it seems that once they confronted the many dilemmas of implementing self-determination, they developed a more fluid approach to nationhood and identity.
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