I am a student of history. I love to study it, to see where we’ve been. It can tell us a lot about where we are going, and if we ignore it, how we get ourselves into holes that we’ve been in before. The Middle East is a quagmire that no one can seem to get out of, and the place where today’s issues can be pinpointed goes back just about 100 years.
Yes, I am completely aware that the Christian/Jew/Muslim history goes back millennia. The “it was the Crusades!” cries when trying to deflect today’s anger is actually kind of ridiculous and not accurate. Yes, Islam was violently taking over vast portions of the Middle East, including Jerusalem. Yes, they were attacking people who were either trading with the area or making religious pilgrimages there to visit holy sites. Yes Christians went there en masse to defend the “Holy Land”, its historical Christian/Jewish sites, as well as trade routes. Yes, it was bloody and horrible.
No, it wasn’t what the left would have us believe, and NO it isn’t the basis of what issues are in the area TODAY. The issues between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and all the other conflicts can actually be placed solely at the feet of an Agreement called the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
Understanding the rise of terrorism, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and ISIS (among others) depends on understanding exactly what happened before and after World War I and the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Glenn Beck did a program on The Blaze TV and nailed it quite well. Before 1916, there was an Islamic Caliphate, the last one in existence, and it was the Ottoman Empire. It controlled the area completely and controlled key shipping routes. At that time Britain was a world power and controlled vast portions of the Near and Far East. Britain needed those routes, so it sent T.E. Lawrence, an Army Officer, to deal with the situation.
Yes, that’s the base character for the movie with Peter O’Toole called Lawrence of Arabia.
Lawrence was told that he had to get the Arabs in the area to fight against the Ottoman Empire. He was to promise them the world, or at least their world, to get their cooperation. He did. He promised them a new united Arab kingdom of greater Syria — which encompassed present day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and parts of Iraq and Jordan. Great Britain never intended to honor that agreement, because they didn’t want a united area that could do exactly what the Ottoman’s were doing – control and shut down shipping routes. So, while they were negotiating with the Arabs, they were also negotiating with France about how to divide up the Middle East after the war.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement was the agreement with France that divvied up the area into smaller countries. After World War I, the Arabs had no choice but to accept the new model of nation states and it caused great resentment. Then the Brits threw in another wrench to the area, the British Mandate for Palestine: they set aside the area east of the Jordan River and it was called Transjordan; and the area west of it was a land for the Jewish people.
While I support a homeland for Jews, Israel, this was the gas on the fire that Arabs needed to focus on: the British pawns, the Jews. As Beck put it so well:
Remember, the British put together this partition — Transjordan and the Israeli state. So it was a two-state solution. It was split 56 percent Jewish, 43 percent Arab. 56 looks big, but much of the land’s not sufficient for crops, so it’s pretty close. Jerusalem, an international zone. The Jewish people accepted the plan. And if a Palestinian homeland was the goal for the Arab world — not the Palestinians, the Arab world — all they had to do was agree. But remember, the scapegoat goes away.
“The real goal … was uniting the Arab kingdom, one united Arab kingdom, a return of the Ottoman Empire, gaining control of greater Syria,” Beck said. “If you make peace with Israel, that all goes out the window. So when they were presented with what they said they always wanted, a nation of their own, they said no. And then all hell broke loose.”
It brought about the war in 1948 for Israeli independence. What is often not taught about this war is this (per Beck again):
Before the war broke out, Jordan made a secret deal with Israel. They wanted the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Jews weren’t promised this land in the UN partition, so they agreed to let Jordan take it. Jordan actually attacked Palestinian Arabs to get that land. Where is that in the history books? Egypt wanted southern Palestine. Iraq wanted the entire Fertile Crescent under their control, and Syria and Lebanon wanted northern Palestine — where was the Palestinian state? You see, it wasn’t about freedom for the Palestinian Arabs, or the Jewish occupation. This war was what wars are always about — land, power, control. Israelis today remember it as the war of Independence. Palestinians call it the nakba, “catastrophe” …But when you actually know the history, the only catastrophe was when the Palestinians rejected their chance of a nation of their own, and then were sold out by their Arab neighbors.
Can we hear that again: Arabs sold out Arabs after they turned down the chance for their own nation. It wasn’t Jews taking it from them. They are just a convenient, and historical, fall guy.
Today, Sykes-Picot is a rallying cry for ISIS. If you remember, they are looking to reestablish the old Ottoman Empire and then some. They want what they were promised, and to go back to before 1916 all over again. To do that the area must be in chaos.
Back to Beck, since he explains it so well:
How do you get there? First thing you do, you have to destabilize the region. And how do you destabilize the region? What did Sykes-Picot do? Sykes-Picot made all of these new maps, and they drew new borders that had never been drawn before. And these borders put people who were never together under one rule, the British knowing that if they did that, it would take a strong man to keep them from fighting and killing each other.
To get rid of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, you have to go after the dictators and remove them. We Americans don’t like dictators, but as evil as they can be, they do keep peace in the area.
“Look at the map,” Beck said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. … They’re doing nothing but remolding the map closer to their heart’s desire, and what they were promised 100 years ago. Now is their opportunity to achieve what they’ve always wanted from the very beginning: a return to a unified Arab kingdom. What a surprise, a caliphate. Islamic rule. There’s no judgment on this one way or another — this is just the fact. They want an end to the west and what the west created with Sykes-Picot. To get there, the best way to do it is to destabilize all these dictators, get them out of the way.
The Israelis and the Palestinians are now, as they have been for decades, a scapegoat. Don’t believe it? ISIS puts it rather plainly in this video:https://www.youtube.com/embed/FWHn96DXRDE
Radical Islamists will never agree to a two state solution. They will use anyone, including the Jews and the Palestinians, to defeat it. Fortunately for them, hatred for anyone not Muslim can be a unifying rallying cry. Their goal, simply put, is to return the area to a caliphate, under their control.
There will be no end to the violence until this happens. History bears this out.