It was in 1916, in the midst of World War I, that Britain and France (pitted against the Germans, Austrians and Ottoman Turks) made their infamous Sykes-Picot agreement. In grand imperial style, they used this agreement to divide up the Middle East between them. It was a daring move, considering that the war was at a stalemate and the two allies did not know if they were going to win the struggle. Nonetheless, they went ahead with the agreement and in doing so made a number of decisions that continue to shape the region to this day.
Besides bringing traditional European imperialism forward into the twentieth century, what made Sykes-Picot infamous was the fact that it broke a significant previous promise made to the Arabs. By 1916 the Arabs had taken to the battlefield against the Turks. For their doing so, the British had promised to support the creation of a large Arab state. But this promise had always clashed with the imperial ambitions of Britain and France, and so, in the end, they secretly conspired to betray their non-Western ally. Among the eventual consequences of this betrayal, the “Arab state” was confined to what is, today, Saudi Arabia; Palestine (which originally was to be part of the Arab state) would become a “national home for the Jews”; Syria went to the French, and much of the rest of the region was given over to the British.
The Sykes-Picot agreement allowed for one further change. It made possible a state for the Kurds – a people who constituted the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East. This state, known as Kurdistan, was to be carved out of territory within the eventually defeated Ottoman Empire. This intent was publicly confirmed in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920. The Kurdish leaders, who by this time must have been aware of the Western powers’ betrayal of the Arabs, therefore should not have been surprised when, despite the treaty, the British and French betrayed them as well. The 1923 Treaty of Lucerne amended the Treaty of Sevres, and sure enough, the state of Kurdistan was omitted. The lands that would have made up the Kurdish nation instead become parts of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Thus, the Kurds remained stateless. However, they never gave up statehood as a goal.
Now we can fast-forward to 20 March 2003, the date that President George W. Bush took the fateful step of invading Iraq. Bush had an array of flimsy excuses for doing this: Saddam Hussein’s non-existent nuclear weapons, Saddam’s alleged plot to assassinate Bush’s father, the dream (really the nightmare) of forceable “regime change” as a way of making the Middle East safe for the U.S. and Israel, or perhaps just the cutting loose of neoconservative bellicosity. Whatever the president’s depth of ignorance led him to anticipate, the invasion set loose forces that neither Bush, nor any subsequent U.S. president, has been able to control. Among these are the consequences that followed the falling apart of Iraq.
The Kurdish Issue Resurfaces
Like the destruction of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the destruction of Iraq that resulted from the 2003 U.S. invasion opened up a Pandora’s Box of potential territorial changes. Not the least of these was the possible creation of the state of Kurdistan.
Like the Arabs in World War I, the Kurds became a fighting ally of the West in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent Syrian civil war. The region’s chaos allowed for the emergence of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (aka ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh). ISIS turned out to be a grim and brutal manifestation of religious fanaticism run amok. Its growth threatened just about every state in the region, as well as the citizens of the European Union and the U.S. If stability was to eventually prevail, ISIS had to be defeated, and the Kurds played (and continue to play) a notable role in this fight. There is little doubt that one of their goals in doing so is to create favorable conditions for a Kurdish state.
For all those powers (Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq) seeking to reestablish the status quo ante, the prospect of an independent Kurdish state is anathema. Each state has Kurdish minorities and is afraid that an independent Kurdistan, even one carved out of another state’s territory, would lead to or exacerbate Kurdish insurgencies in their own countries. The possibility that such a state might instead cause a lessening of minority Kurdish restiveness through voluntary immigration seems not to have occurred to the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Syria.
As Jonathan Cook has recently made clear, the question of Kurdish independence has been complicated by Israeli influence in this matter. The Israelis have long been keen on an independent Kurdistan not because, as some of their politicians disingenuously claim, the Kurds have a “moral right” to a state (so do the Palestinians). Rather, the Israelis have an undeclared but official policy aimed at “Balkanizing” the Arab states. They have been encouraging “sectarian and ethnic discord” in order to destabilize their neighbors. In other words, Israeli support of the Kurds is an effort to weaken primarily Iraq, and secondarily, Syria and Iran (Turkey is just “collateral damage” in this process).
One can hardly blame the Kurds for taking help where they can get it – in this case from Israel – in a fight for independence that has been going on for centuries. Nonetheless, one can also understand that Israeli meddling seriously frightens the other states affected.
Leaving aside the Israeli issue for a moment, the question that should guide policy here is: can Iraq be reestablished as a viable state? Putting the question more informally, in 2003 a rather stupid American president, working under the influence of Zionists, Iraqi nationalists bearing false witness, and witless neoconservatives, knocked the Iraqi Humpty Dumpty off its precarious wall. Can it be put back together again? The answer is, well, maybe – but there seems to be only two ways to do this. One is a near-genocidal war waged by regional powers against the Kurds. Alternatively, Iraq might be resurrected if the Kurds are willing to settle for half a loaf in the form of being an autonomous part of a confederated state.
Right now the future is uncertain. One has the impression that the Turks and Iraqis (whose forces assaulted the Kurdish claimed city of Kirkuk on 16 October 2017) are quite willing to try to solve the matter by prolonged war. This would be a big mistake. It would lead to an Iraq that may be technically united but in truth would be even weaker than it is now, and not really independent at all. Its northern region would probably be under the de facto control of Turkey and Iran, and the rest of the country would continue to be in a decentralized mess experiencing an ongoing sectarian civil war. On the other hand, a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue could lead to the stabilization of the rest of Iraq as a confederated state. Also, as part of a confederated Iraq, Kurdistan’s autonomy can preclude an independent foreign policy, thus minimizing Israeli influence.
Despite the recent Kurdish vote for independence, their leaders must know this can only be made real if they can win a prolonged war against Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Israel is not in a geographical position to effectively help them do this. And so, the Kurds probably cannot endure such a struggle. That leaves them with only one rational choice.
The Kurds are now closer to independent status than at any time since the near-miss days of World War I. Their best strategy is to make the best (if not the most) of that status within a confederated Iraq and end their interaction with Israel. This has to be better than a near-genocidal war in which they would be the victims. However – and this is the usual question in such situations – will the emotions roiling on all sides allow sanity to prevail?
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GR Editor’s Note
The following article by professor Eric Waddell was first published twelve years ago by Global Research in December 2003 in the immediate wake of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by US and British forces, with a postscript added in 2007. The article provides an incisive historical perspective on America’s “long war” against humanity, which is being carried out under a fake humanitarian mandate.
Let us be under no illusions as to the intent of the US and its allies.
We are dealing with World Conquest under the disguise of a “Global War on Terrorism”.
Michel Chossudovsky, December 24, ...
Well, once again, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu astounds. One would think that there must be some limit to the bizarre statements that issue from his mouth, but no, we learn again and again that he is willing to push the bizarreness envelope to places where, like the crew of Star Trek’s Enterprise, no one has ever before ventured.His latest flight of fancy even seems to have astonished his worshipful U.S. government, which characterized his statements as ‘inappropriate and unhelpful’, harsh criticism indeed from that bastion of Israeli love. And what is it that Mr. Netanyahu has said? This writer ...
Our Planet Earth is heading straight towards the most dangerous collision in its history. It is not a collision with some foreign body, with an asteroid or a comet, but with the most brutal and selfish chunk of its own inhabitants: with people who proudly call themselves “members of the Western civilization.”
Again and again it is clearly demonstrated that Western culture, which the paramount psychologist Carl Jung used to call “pathology”, couldn’t be trusted.
This “culture” had already mercilessly slaughtered several hundreds of millions of people in all corners of the world; it enslaved entire continents, and plundered all that had ...
Will the election of Republican George W. Bush as President usher in changes in foreign policy with regard to Serbia, Yugoslavia, and the Balkans? Will there be a continuation of „humanitarian interventionism“, „military humanism“, „economic globalism“ and „globalization“?
The Bush Administration foreign policy team has rejected the selective humanitarian interventionism of the Bill Clinton/Al Gore Administration, as espoused by Madeleine Albright and James Rubin. John Hulsman, Balkans adviser to Bush, announced that Bush was concerned about „imperial overstretch“ and has rejected a foreign policy that uses the US military in „nation building“. Hulsman has announced a „philosophical sea change“ in Balkans ...
Rising tensions in the global relations and hotbeds of old and new crises call for unity and efforts of all peace forces for closing foreign military bases, particularly U.S. and NATO foreign military bases, around the globe. The peace forces are obligated to send a clear message that U.S. and NATO foreign military bases represent the tools of hegemonism, aggression, occupation and that as such must be closed.Peace and inclusive development, elimination of hunger and misery require redistribution of spending for maintenance of military bases in favor of development needs, education, and health services. After the end of the Cold ...
According to Israeli Intelligence News Source
This article was first published in September 2014. Can we believe Hollande and Cameron? Evidence confirms that NATO is behind the recruitment of “jihadist terrorists
While NATO leaders in Newport Wales [September 2014] debate the Atlantic Alliance’s role “in containing a mounting militant threat in the Middle East”, it is worth recalling that in 2011 at the outset of the war in Syria, NATO became actively involved in the recruitment of Islamic fighters.
Reminiscent of the enlistment of the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO headquarters ...
There was international jubilation when Montenegro seceded from its union with Serbia in 2006 after a controversial referendum. The Referendum Law prevented Montenegrins living and registered in Serbia from voting in the referendum, ensuring that tens of thousands of Montenegrins, in a country of only 622,000, who would have voted to remain the union could not vote in favour of maintaining it.It must be remembered that state-paid workers like teachers and police were told by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) leader Miodrag Vuković before the referendum May 2006, that someone “cannot work for the state and vote against it,” something objectively ...
The New York Times reported on October 22 that the United States has “just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories,” which is a staggering total. But in an intriguing revelation the Times reported that there are a further 37,813 troops deployed “on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as ‘unknown.’ The Pentagon provided no further explanation.”It is not surprising that Washington’s war-spreaders do not supply information to the American public concerning the location of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen involved in clandestine operations around the globe, because this might bring to light the lack of justification for ...
One of rock's greatest albums is Pink Floyd's 1973 Dark Side of the Moon.This somber, surrealistic album paints a picture of what society has become, both 44 years ago and now. Such is this present American Empire, replete with our phony wars, excessive militaristic mindset and of course the drive for super wealth by greedy corporations and equally greedy individuals.Those of us who "knew better" foresaw the economic bubble burst of 2008 years before it occurred. So many of our friends and neighbors cared not a damn about the phony wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and later on against Libya and now proxy ...
A year ago, at a closed-doors meeting between the USA and EU officials and the leaders of the four major parties of FYROM in Strasbourg, a route map for the resolution of the protracted political crisis was agreed on (or rather imposed). The roots of this political crisis are to be found outside FYROM: it is actually more a confrontation by proxy between “the West”, which supports the opposition, and Russia, which is trying to maintain its influence in the region. In conjunction with the public discontent at government policies and the escalating corruption, the negotiations have contributed to sharpening ...
More than a decade and a half after the US-NATO- under international law illegal – war aggression against Yugoslavia using highly toxic and radioactive uranium projectiles, the enormity of this war crime becomes clear: In Serbia, aggressive cancer among young and old has reached epidemic proportions.
The suffering of the people cries out to heaven. Particularly affected is the south of Serbia and Kosovo. According to the Serbian Ministry of Health, every day a child suffers from cancer. The entire country is contaminated. By harming the genetic material (DNA) generation after generation, malformed children will be born. Knowingly and willfully, a genocide ...
While this excellent analysis by Srdja Trifkovic focuses on the “internal” history of Croatia, it is important to note that four days after Nazi Germany declared war on the United States, Hitler’s staunch ally the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) declared war on both the United Kingdom and on the United States on December 14, 1941. What makes this especially significant is that less than three years later, on April 16, 1944, which was Easter Sunday for the Serbian Orthodox, the Anglo-American forces bombed Belgrade, the capital of their loyal and devoted ally Serbia, even though there was no strategic ...
If the Trump phenomena showed anything, it showed the consensus reality the mainstream media attempted to create concerning Hillary’s certain victory, as well as the consensus reality erected for decades, is not omnipotent.In fact, the earliest days of mass print media were erected on a famous fraud known as the “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 – something researcher Chris Kendall has long called attention to – wherein the “educated,” “elite” widely accepted the mainstream publications’ claim bat people inhabited the lunar surface.In our day, a similar hoax still reigns, as mainstream media is literally as credible as Weekly World News’ Bat Boy ...
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On October 12 the British media gave prominence to a three-hour foreign affairs debate that had taken place in the House of Commons the previous day. The Commons’ proceedings centred on allegations that Russia had committed war crimes in Syria and there were many insulting and purposefully offensive statements about Russia and its president made by almost all members of parliament who took part. The final speech was made by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and can be taken as reflecting the policy of the British government towards Russia.
The Guardian newspaper reported that “Making his frontbench debut as foreign secretary ...
When I read Professor Thomas DiLorenzo’s article the question that leapt to mind was, “How come the South is said to have fought for slavery when the North wasn’t fighting against slavery?”
Two days before Lincoln’s inauguration as the 16th President, Congress, consisting only of the Northern states, passed overwhelmingly on March 2, 1861, the Corwin Amendment that gave constitutional protection to slavery. Lincoln endorsed the amendment in his inaugural address, saying
“I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”
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If Pentagon chief James Mattis was seeking to reassure the world of American restraint in the North Korea crisis, he clumsily did the opposite. The US Defense Secretary was speaking after intense discussions with President Trump and other senior military officials in the White House Situation Room following the sixth nuclear test carried out by North Korea on Sunday.Mattis emerged from the meeting to say that any threat from North Korea to the United States and its allies would be met with an «overwhelming military response». He then added – with a weirdly presumed ethical tone – that the US «was not looking to ...
World Conquest: The United States’ Global Military Crusade since 1945
Netanyahu, Palestine and Ethnic Cleansing
Ignorance and Indoctrination of Westerners Kills Millions
New Old World Order? The Foreign-Policy of the George W. Bush Administration
Close Bondsteel in Kosovo!
NATO’s Role in the Recruitment of Islamic Terrorists
NATO Doesn’t Care that Montenegro is a Haven for Crime and Corruption
The Dark Side of the Empire
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put a Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
Aftermath of the US-NATO War on Yugoslavia: The Unspoken Impacts of Radioactive Depleted Uranium Ammunition
Croatia and Nazi Germany
The Entire Mainstream Warmongering Media is Fake
President Trump: Just Another Con Man Riding a Trojan Horse
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation from Washington to London
How We Know the So-Called “Civil War” was not over Slavery
Holodomor in the United States
Israel: America’s “Mad Dog” in Syria
Palestine: There’s no Conflict, There’s an Illegal Occupation
An Isolated Tyrannical Regime – Not Pyongyang, It’s Washington
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