Monday, June 16, 2014

Robert Fisk: The old partition of the Middle East is dead. I dread to think what will follow // Dennis J. Kucinich - Stop Calling the Iraq War a 'Mistake'

NB -British imperialism was an expert at partitioning countries and regions as a means of extending its control - especially during its declining years. So it was in Ireland, Palestine, Arabia and India. (Read more about the controversies surrounding India's partition here  and here.) Partitions were always followed by mass population expulsions, about which even Lord Curzon, ex Viceroy of India, and Britain’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs between 1919 and 1924, is quoted as saying that 'the driving out of peoples is a thoroughly bad and vicious solution, for which the world will pay a heavy penalty for a hundred years to come’. He was referring to the expulsions that followed the Turkish-Greek agreement of 1923, but the phenomenon itself was to be repeated many times in the oncoming decades, and he was right. A century after World War One, or the Great War, the world is still threatened by its aftermath. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 is one imperial master plan whose ramifications Fisk is referring to here - DS

“Sykes-Picot is dead,” Walid Jumblatt roared at me last night – and he may well be right.
The Lebanese Druze leader – who fought in a 15-year civil war that redrew the map of Lebanon – believes that the new battles for Sunni Muslim jihadi control of northern and eastern Syria and western Iraq have finally destroyed the post-World War Anglo-French conspiracy, hatched by Mark Sykes and François Picot, which divided up the old Ottoman Middle East into Arab statelets controlled by the West. The Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and Syria has been fought into existence – however temporarily – by al-Qa’ida-affiliated Sunni fighters who pay no attention to the artificial borders of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or Jordan, or even mandate Palestine, created by the British and French. Their capture of the city of Mosul only emphasises the collapse of the secret partition plan which the Allies drew up in the First World War – for Mosul was sought after for its oil wealth by both Britain and France.

The entire Middle East has been haunted by the Sykes-Picot agreement, which also allowed Britain to implement Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour’s 1917 promise to give British support to the creation of a Jewish “homeland” in Palestine. Perhaps only today’s Arabs (and Israelis) fully understand the profound historical changes – and deep political significance – that the extraordinary battles of this past week have wrought on the old colonial map of the Middle East. The collapsing Ottoman Empire of 1918 was to be split into two on a north-east, south-west axis which would run roughly from near Kirkuk – today under Kurdish control – across from Mosul in northern Iraq and the Syrian desert and through what is now the West Bank to Gaza. 

Mosul was initially given to the French – its oil surrendered by the British in return for what would become a French buffer zone between Britain and the Russian Caucasus, Baghdad and Basra being safe in British hands below the French lines. But growing British commercial desires for oil took over from imperial agreements. Mosul was configured into the British zone inside the new state of Iraq (previously Mesopotamia), its oil supplies safely in the hands of London. Iraq, Trans- jordan and Palestine were under British mandatory control, Syria and Lebanon under the French mandate.

But the new geographical map created by al-Qa’ida and its Nusra and Isis allies runs not north-east to south-west but east to west, taking in the cities of Fallujah, Tikrit and Mosul, and Raqqa and large areas of eastern Syria. Jihadi tactics strongly suggest that the line was intended to run from west of Baghdad right across the Iraqi and Syrian deserts to include Homs, Hama and Aleppo in Iraq. But the Syrian government army – successfully fighting a near-identical battle to that now involving a demoralised Iraqi army – has recaptured Homs, held on to Hama and relieved the siege of Aleppo.

By chance, economist Ian Rutledge has just published an account of the battle for Mosul and oil during and after the First World War, and of the betrayal of the Sunni Muslim Sharif Hussein of Mecca, who was promised an independent Arab land by the British in return for his help in overthrowing the Ottoman Empire. Rutledge has researched Britain’s concern about Shia power in southern Iraq – where Basra’s oil lies – material with acute relevance to the crisis now tearing Iraq to pieces... read more:

Dennis J. Kucinich - Stop Calling the Iraq War a 'Mistake'
As Iraq descends into chaos again, more than a decade after "Mission Accomplished," media commentators and politicians have mostly agreed upon calling the war a "mistake." But the "mistake" rhetoric is the language of denial, not contrition: it minimizes the Iraq War's disastrous consequences, removes blame, and deprives Americans of any chance to learn from our generation's foreign policy disaster. The Iraq War was not a "mistake" -- it resulted from calculated deception. The painful, unvarnished fact is that we were lied to. Now is the time to have the willingness to say that.
In fact, the truth about Iraq was widely available, but it was ignored. There were no WMD. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The war wasn't about liberating the Iraqi people. I said this in Congress in 2002. Millions of people who marched in America in protest of the war knew the truth, but were maligned by members of both parties for opposing the president in a time of war -- and even leveled with the spurious charge of "not supporting the troops." I've written and spoken widely about this topic, so today I offer two ways we can begin to address our role:
1) President Obama must tell us the truth about Iraq and the false scenario that caused us to go to war. 
When Obama took office in 2008, he announced that his administration would not investigate or prosecute the architects of the Iraq War. Essentially, he suspended public debate about the war. That may have felt good in the short term for those who wanted to move on, but when you're talking about a war initiated through lies, bygones can't be bygones. 
The unwillingness to confront the truth about the Iraq War has induced a form of amnesia which is hazardous to our nation's health. Willful forgetting doesn't heal, it opens the door to more lying. As today's debate ensues about new potential military "solutions" to stem violence in Iraq, let's remember how and why we intervened in Iraq in 2003.
2) Journalists and media commentators should stop giving inordinate air and print time to people who were either utterly wrong in their support of the war or willful in their calculations to make war. 
By and large, our Fourth Estate accepted uncritically the imperative for war described by top administration officials and congressional leaders. The media fanned the flames of war by not giving adequate coverage to the arguments against military intervention.
President Obama didn't start the Iraq War, but he has the opportunity now to tell the truth. That we were wrong to go in. That the cause of war was unjust. That more problems were created by military intervention than solved. That the present violence and chaos in Iraq derives from the decision which took America to war in 2003. More than a decade later, it should not take courage to point out the Iraq war was based on lies.