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Sykes-Picot Regime Is Falling Down in the Middle East

By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 8, 2011


The upheaval in the Arab World these days is the second attempt within half a century to bring down the treacherous Sykes-Picot regime imposed on the region after the First World War. It was a secret Anglo-French treaty to usurp, divide and rule the region while during the same period Britain had promised freedom to Arabs if they joined its war effort against the Ottoman State. The same power had promised Arab Palestine to the Jews if they too helped it out during that war.  

As a result of that war not only was the Ottoman Empire dismantled, caliphate finally extinguished, Arabs betrayed and enslaved, and Jews rewarded, but also a cruel dependency regime was imposed on the divided Arab World where local satraps presided over police states with full support of London and Paris. After the Second World War, the masters changed. Now Washington was the qibla of these local nawabs. Russians too enjoyed a little sunshine during the 1950s and 1960s. The Arab defeat in 1967 slowly drove away the Russians and Washington alone became the beneficiary and benefactor of these regimes especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

West had in 1948 succeeded to implant “Israel” at the meeting point of the eastern and western flanks of the Arab World, thereby cutting it into two disjointed parts. A clear Western policy was devised to keep the tiny Israel more powerful than all the Arab countries together. Denial of arms and nuclear power to the Arabs was a basic ingredient of this policy while Israel was allowed to create and own an arsenal of unprecedented proportions complete with nuclear power and nuclear warheads pointed towards all major Arab countries.  

When Egypt tried in mid-1950s to rebel against this arms embargo, it was threatened, humiliated and finally taught a lesson in June 1967. Slowly Arab satraps accepted Israel too which had all-along dreamt to emerge as the major power of the Middle East and tried this most unsuccessfully in 1982 when it invaded Lebanon. That fiasco may have put paid the power of Fateh but it also led to the emergence of powers like Hamas and Hizbullah which emerged and evolved firmly outside the satrap-master equation ruling the region. 

Arab people had earlier, during the 1950s, tried to change this equation. “Revolutions” erupted in Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan etc., but somehow the army was able to replace the old team of satraps. 

The current revolution which started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Iraq, Algeria, Bahrain and Mauritania etc., is the second popular attempt to dislodge and break free of the Sykes-Picot shackles. Apart from Washington (and West), the only big loser today is a trembling Israel whose long labour to become the sole imperial power of the Middle East suddenly has come to a naught. The revolution is still unfinished. Washington seems to be maneuvering to replace the old faces with new ones. But a lot of water has flowed down the Nile and Euphrates these past years. Arabs are no longer an illiterate and innocent lot. Once the current upheaval settles down, the Middle East will not be the same again.

Zafarul-Islam Khan, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, is the editor of The Milli Gazette, New Delhi

(Published in the Milli Gazette, 1-15 March 2011)







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