As the violent situation in The Middle East continues to escalate, it may be confusing to fully grasp what is happening without understanding the historical context and the events that led us to where we are today. “When we talk about America’s challenges in The Middle East, we’re up to a generation now. Twenty four straight years where America has engaged in some sort of military conflict in an Arab country,” Chuck Todd said on his POTUS show Unscripted, With Chuck Todd. “It is worth going back and trying to figure out ‘how did we get here?’”
Below are some key historical facts from Todd’s discussion with James Barr, author of A Line in the Sand: The Anglo-French Struggle for the Middle East, 1914-1948. A book about the history of The Middle East.
- The British and the French determined the boundaries that created the current countries during the First World War without considering the ethnic makeup of the areas.
- The border between Israel and Lebanon, and Iraq and Syra was a “straight line drawn with a pencil across the map,” Barr says.
- Britain and France divided the territory after they failed to defeat the Germans on the Western Front, and wanted to knock out the Ottoman Empire on the Eastern Front.
- Before launching their attack, Britain and France were just deciding what would happen to the Ottoman empire after the war.
- The deal was an alliance between two rivals with no considerations for tribal affiliations and loyalties.
- There is no such thing as a “Syrian” person with “Syrian” nationalistic loyalties as there are 10 different types of people in the country based on ethnicity, religion and geography.
- The struggle against ISIS, experts believe, will take years to resolve.