By Luca Foschi
You do not fix history with a drone. What we are witnessing today in Iraq is the slow collapse of a century-long geopolitical partition drawn up in a secret document by United Kingdom and France, in one of their last acts as imperial powers.
In May 1916 diplomats Mark Sykes and François Gorges Picot signed an agreement that reshaped the Near East, previously ruled by the Ottoman Empire who were siding with Austria-Hungary and Germany during the First World War. A vast melting pot of people, with differing political and religious traditions were herded into new nation states. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan were born.
At this time, Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence successfully prepared the first “Arab uprising”. Backed by the high commissioner Henry Mc Mahon, he convinced al-Husayn ibn Alì, sheriff of La Mecca and descendant of the Prophet Mohammad himself, to rebel against Istanbul’s tyrannical hegemony. Tribes from the Arab peninsula, Transjordan and Syria fought against the empire’s troops. They were promised freedom and dignity, and a nation of their own. In the meantime Paris and London had promised the Jewish people a national homeland in the recently acquired colony, Palestine.
Today the West Bank is under siege. The abduction of three young Israeli students in Hebron unleashed Israel’s disillusionment about a peace process, already endangered by the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas, divided since the 2006 bloody elections in Gaza.
Lebanon’s war with Tel Aviv is prevented only by the presence, of the UN’s mission UNIFIL II. In Tripoli there is a fragile truce between the two opposing neighbourhoods of al-Tabbeneh an Jabal Moshen, ruled by the Sunni Salafist and the Assad supporters Alawites (president’s Shia sect) respectively.
Since 2012 Hezbollah’s Shia army, is a fundamental pawn in the Damascus regime’s survival. Syria’s government struggles to regain fragments of territory taken by what we then called the Free Syrian Army. Now Assad has to fight ISIS, who were able to easily disperse the Iraqi army.
In Iraq, western powers supported the secular Saddam Hussein in fighting the newly born Islamic state of Iran, in a war (1980-1988) that left one million dead and saw the Iraqi army adopting chemical weapons, provided by US and Germany.
Two years later Saddam became the enemy. Bush Snr convinced the Shia majority to rise up in arms, only to abandon them allowing Saddam to maintain power. The Shia opposition faced harsh punishments and mass imprisonments.
So, after years of sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people leaving intact the Saddam regime, the US and UK invaded the country to seek out the notorious weapons of mass destruction.
The ensuing instability wasn’t the west’s fault said Blair, “The reality is that the whole of the Middle East and beyond is going through a huge, agonising and protracted transition. We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this. We haven’t”.
Whether the west caused it or not, we still get involved. In August 2013, the west planned to shell Damascus in support of the very same terrorists Mr. Blair is now willing to annihilate; the 6,000 strong army, ISIS. Their ranks are swelling daily with Sunni militias who have become frustrated with the regime.
The Iraqi army offered no resistance, which has cost the west £5.6 billion dollars per year to train. Only the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, protected by its Peshmerga, was able to repulse invaders, taking control of Kirkuk, a city always considered as belonging to the Kurdish state.
Money is not an issue for ISIS. They are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey; all allies of the west. They provide all the funds and technology necessary to dismantle the Shia axis represented by Iran, Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah.
The Shia Prime Minister of Iraq Minister Nuri al- Maliki, called for volunteers to join the army, supported by the powerful voice of the supreme Ayatollah al-Sistani. Muqtada al-Sadr Brigades rallied in thousands through the streets of Bagdad.
At the same time Pasdaran counselors from Tehran are organising the resistance in the capital, in what could became the most unexpected military collaboration in the last 35 years, that of US and Iran.
The newest allies in a century of deceit, exploitation, and death.