Rabat - The present-day chaos in the Middle East can be attributed to the borders created British and French diplomats in the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, according to Robert Fisk, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent.
Rabat – The present-day chaos in the Middle East can be attributed to the borders created British and French diplomats in the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, according to Robert Fisk, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent.
In a recent article, Fisk wrote about Islamic State’s (ISIS) ability to take advantage of previously imposed borders and hypothesized about their political aim.
The borders created by Sykes-Picot disregard family groups and existing community structures in the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the partition, present day Syria, Lebanon, and Northern Iraq became French territory, with Palestine, Jordan, and Southern Iraq went to the British.
Britain and France then imposed kings, generals, and dictators under a façade of democracy to rule these created states. Fisk writes, “For the Arabs, “democracy” did not mean freedom of speech and freedom to elect their own leaders; it referred to the “democratic” Western nations that continued to support the cruel dictators who oppressed them.”
Coverage of the Arab Spring lacked proper depth and understanding of the actual issues, Fisk believes. Westerners viewed it as a sudden awakening due to the prominence of social media rather than a social justice oriented celebration.
What really manifested in the Arab Spring was the deeply held Arabic conviction that the West has built were “worthless, that the statehood which we [the West] had later awarded to artificial nations within equally artificial borders was meaningless,” he wrote.
In ISIS’s first video, long before its gruesome productions of murder, the group is seen using a bulldozer to destroy borders with the words “Down with Sykes-Picot” visible. By understanding the complex relationship between the European-created states, the group can gather support for their cause. Because these borders are essentially obsolete in the minds of local people, ISIS can easily spread from Western Europe and North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula regardless of territory.
Fisk also discusses the current trends of violence in the Middle East and Europe. He says because the West has grown so used to attacking Arab lands, “that only when Muslims began attacking our capital cities did we suddenly announce that we were at war.”
Finally he notes an ironic similarity between the West and ISIS in that Western nations have been using local troops to fight their battles for years in the Middle East, supporting combat with no “boots on the ground.” Now ISIS is starting to do the same, supporting their European sympathizers as they plan and execute deadly attacks. According to Fisk, this clearly demonstrates ISIS’s intentions of provoking civil war within Europe.
Fisk writes, “The significance of this…has been spoken of in whispers. Indeed, much of the media coverage of the Paris massacres has often avoided the very word Muslim.”