September 26, 2017


The Greatest Curse of the Middle East Region (Sami Moubayed, 9/26/17, Middle East Online)

At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Zionists aggressively lobbied for their share of the cake -- a Jewish state in Palestine -- and so did other minorities, notably the Kurds, whose representative, Serif Pasha, pointed to the Fourteen Points of US President Woodrow Wilson, which, among other things, promised "self-determination" for "non-Turkish races" of the Middle East.

When the final borders were drawn and accepted internationally, neither the Arabs nor the Kurds got their independent state. The Kurds were divided among Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey while the Arabs were scattered throughout the kingdom of the Hejaz, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and throughout North Africa. The Jews had to wait until 1948 to get their country while the Kurds carved one out of Iraq in 1991.

Obviously, nobody was satisfied with these settlements, wanting to believe that they were temporary. Some within the Alawite community petitioned the French in 1936, demanding that they get to keep an independent mini-state in the Syrian coast instead of being reunited with Mother Syria. Abdullah I of Jordan dreamt of a throne in Damascus and constantly positioned himself as a king-in-waiting, pleading with the British to install him whenever a vacancy emerged in Syria. In the 1940s, he tried to talk Syria's Druze into seceding and merging with his kingdom.

His brother Faisal, who was briefly king of Syria before becoming sovereign of Iraq, often suggested a Syrian-Iraqi Union under his crown, with a rotating summer/winter capital between Baghdad and Damascus.

When parliament tabled a bill demanding the restoration of Baalbek, Rashaya, Hasbaya and the Bekaa Valley to Syria, arguing that they had been forcefully annexed to Lebanon, Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli, an Arab nationalist, turned it down saying: "What difference does it make if they are in Syria or Lebanon? These borders are temporary and we will one day erase them to create an Arab Nation."

More recently when President Hafez Assad -- Bashar's father -- mentioned Palestine in private talks with Arab nationalists, he referred to it as "southern Syria."

Some residents of the Middle East wanted to expand their borders to include larger more ambitious Arab projects; others worked for mini-states based on ethnicity or religion. More than ever, this is materialising in Syria and Iraq today.

Before its ambitious "caliphate" began to crumble, the Islamic State (ISIS) carved out what effectively became "Sunni-Stan" in major cities such as Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Mosul. The Kurds did the same in north-eastern Syria, creating militias to fight just about anybody who hovered close -- be it the Free Syrian Army, ISIS, al-Nusra or government troops.

Two referendums that will bring them closer than ever towards statehood were set.

Eventually, they'll get their rump Alawistan and have to decide for themselves whether they want Assad to govern them.

Posted by at September 26, 2017 7:02 AM