October 1, 1918 Lawrence of Arabia – Today in History

I have been in hospital for two weeks, hence the gap in transmission.

Lawrence tried to convince his superiors that Arab independence was in their own best interest, but found himself undermined by the Sykes-Picot agreement, negotiated in secret between French and Br…

Source: October 1, 1918 Lawrence of Arabia – Today in History

The Children’s Crusade | Crusader History

The Children’s Crusade

In the year 1212, tens of thousands children, put down their ploughs, carts, the flocks they tended, claiming it be God’s will, and joined the Children’s Crusade to the Holy Land. In May of 1212, a…

Source: The Children’s Crusade | Crusader History

The Other Orientalism: Colonialism in the Caucasus | JSTOR Daily

When discussing Orientalism and the Muslim world, we usually talk about the Middle East: its hoary stereotypes of both beauty and danger that cast the region—to quote an oft-mocked LA Times job posting for a Middle East correspondent—as a place of “ancient and dazzling cultures… [with] mesmerizing variety, deep intellectual history, turbulent social upheaval…and capability for brutish violence.”

Much has been made of that LA Times posting, and of the wider problem of Orientalism in the English-speaking media. But as the fight against ISIS expands, we would do well to remember that the Middle East is not the only historic canvas on which Orientalist and colonialist notions of Islam have converged.

For centuries, the Caucasus was to the Russian Empire what the Middle East was to…

Source: The Other Orientalism: Colonialism in the Caucasus | JSTOR Daily

A rare accolade to ” Lawrence of Arabia “ | David Hencke

Lawrence of Arabia: Pic credit: BBC

While the press has been inundated by flooding stories and fears of terrorist attacks  by Islamic State in the run up to Christmas , the government slipped out a genuine good news announcement  for fans of ” Lawrence of Arabia “.

The heritage minister, Tracey Crouch, announced that Clouds Hill, the tiny home of T E Lawrence , near Wareham in Dorset has been given Grade II * status – an Historic England  accolade given to only a few hundred buildings in England. The ruling gives its special protection.

The decision  taken 80 years after Lawrence’s death has been given no coverage by the press but is a piece of living history for anyone interested in…

Source: A rare accolade to ” Lawrence of Arabia “ | David Hencke

Illustrated London News May 15, 1943—General Alexander



A second triumph has come to General Alexander; with Montgomery in the field, he planned the campaign that started at El Alamein, and now, as chief strategist of the Tunisian campaign, he has used the men of the Eighth Army, the First Army, the Second American Corps and the Corps d’Afrique with brilliant results. He has completely out-generalled von Arnim and helped to bring about the repaying of the Dunkirk debt.  General Alexander was appointed C.-in-C., Middle East, in 1942, after fighting, as G.O.C., Burma, the brilliant delaying action which saved India by giving us time to reorganise. It was he, too, who was in command at last on the beaches of Dunkirk, and on that occasion as well, no  little credit is due to him as a master strategist. Now these bitter memories will be wiped out, and he has the satisfaction of knowing the enemy are suffering the same as our men at Dunkirk.

Reading the above, which is from my original edition of The Illustrated London News, 15th May 1943, the one thing that strikes me above all is the clue the last sentence gives about the reality of Dunkirk. Only the brain-dead would not have realised that that episode of the war had been an unmitigated disaster.

© Sarah Vernon

ISIL and Sykes-Picot


Fat Chance

Several months ago, ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, announced it’s intention to do away with the borders of the modern Middle-East. It already controls territory spanning the “border” between Iraq and Syria. “Levant”, a more accurate translation of the Arabic “Al Sham” also includes Lebanon, Jordan and the old “Trans Jordan”, now Israel and the Palestinian territory. ISIL considers these lands as Sunni patrimony.

The murderous tactics of ISIL are reprehensible but do they have a legitimate grievance against the colonial borders originally drawn by Britain and France with blatant disregard for the sectarian loyalties of the local populace?

The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement is a flash-point for Arab resentment. It divided Ottoman Asia into British and French zones of influence. Britain was assigned the Baghdad and Basra districts — Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine. Modern day Syria and Lebanon were given to France.

Britain wished…

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