A long history of exploiting the Middle East continues.
At the recently held Cannes G-20 Summit, the host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, unaware of the fact that his lapel microphone was live, said to U.S. President Barack Obama, "I cannot stand Netanyahu. He's a liar." And, according to the report by French media website Arret Sur Images, Obama responded with, "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day." The shameful and hypocritical behavior of Sarkozy and Obama, not to be outdone by Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron, speaks volumes about their perfidy and treachery.
Earlier this year, Sarkozy and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron threatened Israel with severe consequences if Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not accept the Hamas-Fatah unification, and agree to their demands as a price for the resumption of “peace” talks. Sarkozy (and Cameron) hinted he will certainly vote for a Palestinian State. Although France ultimately abstained on Palestinian statehood, France voted for the Palestinians to have full membership in UNESCO.
French treachery vis-a-vis Israel has a history. And, on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War it was on full display, when French President Charles de Gaulle decided to reverse the country's foreign policy to one in favor of the Arabs, and placed an embargo on weapons deliveries to Israel, despite France’s contractual agreements with Israel. De Gaulle, who had served as founder and president of France’s Fifth Republic from 1959-1969, had forged an alliance with the Jewish state during a time when both France and Israel fought Arab nationalism in Algeria and Nasser’s Egypt respectively.
In 1960, France promised to supply Israel with 200 AMX-13 tanks and 72 Mystere fighter jets over the next 10-years. On June 2, 1967, three days before the war broke out, de Gaulle cut Israel off cold. He told his cabinet that “France will not give its approval to, and still less, support the first nation to use weapons.” De Gaulle’s statement was hypocritical and treacherous since he had already decided to abandon Israel and embrace the Arabs. On November 27, 1967, in a televised news conference, de Gaulle described the Jewish people as "this elite people, sure of themselves and domineering."
Much of the instability and violence in today’s Middle East has its antecedents in the actions taken by the British and French governments. While World War I was still going on they met and began to draw the map of the Middle East and drew up what would became known as the Sykes-Picot secret agreement of May 1916. Following the end of war and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire they created new and mostly artificial nations such as Iraq, Trans-Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, while abandoning minorities such as the Kurds.
On August 10, 1920, a pact between the allies (Britain and France) and the representatives of the Ottoman Turkish government, known as the Treaty of Sevres, abolished the Ottoman Empire and obligated Turkey to renounce all rights over the Arab Middle East and North Africa. The treaty also provided for the establishment of an autonomous Kurdistan.
The Turks rejected the Treaty of Sevres, and in 1923, Turkey was recognized as an independent nation, with the Treaty of Lausanne subsequently replacing Sevres. Under its terms, Turkey was no longer obligated to grant the Kurds autonomy. The treaty divided the Kurdish region among Turkey, Iran, and Syria - with British and French collusion.
Syria became a hodge-podge of ethnic and religious groups. The French, who were wary of Sunni-Arab nationalism, granted autonomous status to the Alawites. They created an officer cadre from amongst the Alawites, which eventually gave rise to the Assad dictatorships, and Alawite domination of the Syrian military. Today’s upheaval in Syria has a great deal to do with those early French policies. The majority Sunni-Arabs resent the Alawite monopoly on power, and they remember (as the Kurds do) the betrayal of the French.
In Iraq, a minority Arab Sunni-Muslims ruled over a majority of Arab Shiites, and non-Arab Kurds. This explosive blend was exposed in 1943, when Mullah Mustafa Barzani led a Kurdish rebellion against the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq seeking Kurdish independence. Barzani led another uprising in 1962 against the Sunni military dictator, General Abdul Karim Kassim. The Kurds and the Shiites in Iraq, encouraged by the Bush Sr. administration, rebelled once again in 1991, this time against the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.
Jurisdiction of the area known as Palestine was awarded to Britain as a Mandate in accordance with the principles of the Balfour Declaration following a unanimous vote in the League of Nations. The area designated to be the site for the restored Jewish homeland included 37,000 sq. miles of land east of the Jordan River which is today’s Jordan (known then as Trans-Jordan). Arab pressure and the 1921 riots, in addition to pro-Arab policies of the British Mandatory administration in Palestine, prompted British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill to issue the 1922 White Paper in order to appease in particular the Hashemite family, which had lost Syria to the French and Arabia to Ibn Saud. Trans- Jordan became the consolation prize for the Hashemites for the loss of Damascus. The big losers were the Jews whose promise of a restored homeland was effectively reduced to 23% of the original.
In an attempt to recruit the Hashemites against the Ottoman Turks, London empowered Henry McMahon (Britain’s High Commissioner of Egypt) to negotiate with Hussein Bin Ali (the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca) in what is now known as the 1915 McMahon-Hussein correspondence. Britain promised to facilitate the establishment of an independent Arab nation in exchange for the Arab Revolt against the Turks.
In sheer unabashed perfidy, the British issued conflicted promises to all parties, and by pitting Arabs against Jews in Palestine, and Arabs against Kurds in Iraq, the British sought to divide and rule. British perfidy goes even deeper in its treatment of Palestinian Jews. On the eve of WWII, Britain issued another White Paper that effectively shut the doors of Palestine to Europe’s Jews attempting to escape Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. Once again, appeasing the Arab rioters, oil interests, and an anti-Semitic instinct by Britain’s elitist Foreign Office sought to guarantee an Arab majority in Palestine in total disregard of the Balfour Declaration.
The perfidy and treachery of Britain and France did not end with colonialism. Today, equipped with veto power in the UN Security Council, Britain and France can add hypocrisy to their policies.
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