ISIL and Sykes-Picot

toritto

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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Siegfried Sassoon, Hopelessness and Iraq

Critical Dispatches

Sassoon

Snooping around the charity shops of West London a week past, I spied a copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s fictionalized autobiography, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, on sale for £1. The discovery of a such a volume came as a revelation as although I had been aware of and enjoyed Sassoon’s poetic work (along with Wilfred Owen, he is my hero as far as political poetry is concerned) since I was a preteen– as I am sure anyone born in the North West of England is bred into – I had no idea that he also published prose. At a quid, I would have been the worst sort of miser not to pick it up.

The scale of the whole thing – the de-humaning conditions, the destruction of human life, the sheer hopelessness of it all – is nothing less than horrifying. I remember reading in Savage Continent, Keith Lowe’s brilliant…

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