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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/4/14

From Sykes-Picot to "Degrade and Destroy"

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke earlier this week in Ottawa, Canada. At one point in his Tuesday remarks to the Canadian American Business Council, Johnson followed the current fear/hate U.S./Israel script when he said:

"ISIL is a stateless group of depraved criminals, rapists, kidnappers, killers and terrorists who control territory. There is no religion, including Islam, and there is no God, including Allah, that would condone ISIL's violent tactics."

That is a half-truth. It is also a half-lie. What is nearer to the whole truth is that ISIL is but the latest progeny of the colonialist-driven Sykes-Picot agreement.

In a pivotal scene in the 1962 David Lean film, Lawrence of Arabia, a British diplomat, Mr. Dryden, explains the Sykes-Picot agreement to Lawrence.

Dryden, finding it hard to believe that Lawrence had not known about the agreement, says to him:

"You may not have known, but you certainly had suspicions. If we've told lies you've told half-lies. And a man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it."

The history of the Middle East from the day the Sykes-Picot agreement was signed, until the day the U.S. began bombing ISIS, is filled with lies and half-lies.

(The film clip from Lawrence of Arabia, and the script of the scene, may be viewed below.)

It is certainly true that ISIL, whose armies now control large areas of Syria and Iraq, is a movement that employs gruesome beheadings and mass killings of civilians to evoke precisely the response it is receiving from the West.

Nor is Homeland Security Secretary Johnson alone in following the script employed in the current conflict by the national media, politicians and government officials who describe the bombing campaign which President Obama says will "degrade and destroy" ISIS (also known as IS).

There is much more, however, to the current conflict in Syria and Iraq than name-calling. All of the events leading up to this moment in history is a series of lies and half-lies, including President George W. Bush's decision to attack Iraq in 2003.

The current conflict between the U.S. and its allies is a conflict that can only be understood by a look back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the 1919 document that allowed Great Britain and France to carve up the Ottoman Empire for their own selfish colonial purposes.

Islamic scholar Jeffrey Kaplan, writing for the Martin Marty Center Sightings, September 25, captures the connection between the ISIS movement and the Sykes-Picot agreement.

"The sudden and rapid expansion of IS is steeped in the history of the Islamic world. In the Islamic worldview, the distant past is but yesterday and the future Golden Age exists today. One need only institute sharia to realize a perfect world since sharia is timeless and inerrant."

When IS dismantled the border separating Iraq and Syria in its brutal sweep, Kaplan writes, "jubilant IS fighters announced that at last they had erased Sykes Picot, the secret 1916 pact in which France and Britain divided the territory of the defunct Ottoman Empire's lands by drawing lines in the sand."

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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