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Studying history is important,
because it brings in something
we often never get
Context for how a particular event played out.
Context for how something changed.
And context for how the past always plays a rule and affecting our lives.
In the present, we kind of just write off the Middle East
as a place that has always been a region of
fundamentalism, dictators and civil wars.
But it didn’t have to be.
History is chocked full of divergent points,
crucial decisions that lead to certain changes
for better or worse.
There is always the joke that we live in the darkest timeline.
And after doing lots of research,
I think that’s actually true and regards to the Arab world.
A place of failed states and terrorism,
was not at all the destiny for the region set in stone.
One single decision ruined the entire region
before it had a chance.
No, I’m not talking about the United States invading Iraq
or Russia being involved in Syria.
而是伊拉克 叙利亚 约旦和黎巴嫩
I’m saying that Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon
never were supposed to exist in the first place.
So when did this decision take place?
It wasn’t from the decision Millennial or even centuries ago.
It happened at the end of World War I.
The Ottoman Empire once ruled the entire Middle East.
For centuries, they had oppressed people from Europe and Arabia alike.
By the time of the 20th century,
their land and power had diminished considerably.
The final nail in the coffin for them was betting on the Central Powers.
As the war raged on,
the Ottoman front was not really considered important.
Compared to the European fronts,
they were the sick man of Europe.
And the Germans and Austrians were seen as bigger threats.
It was a sideshow to Britain and France.
That didn’t mean the Ottomans were entirely useless.
They were losing power,
and the British knew that they could exploit this weakness
by gaining the help of people
who were also sick of Turkish rule – the Arabs.
You might know this rebellion because it involved Lawrence of Arabia
who helped the Arab rebels fight against the Ottomans.
Now although Lawrence of Arabia is kind of a modern mythical figure today,
at the time near rebellion against the unimportant Turks
in a dessert far away,
was not seen as very important.
It was deemed the sideshow to a sideshow.
For their support in the war,
the Arabs agreed with the British on one condition.
If the Arabs fought against the Ottomans,
then after the war, they would be able to
organise their own unified Arab State.
That was the understanding,
until, well, the war actually ended.
When the Great War was over and the Ottomans surrendered,
their land was now up for grabs at the negotiating table.
And that’s when the Arabs got the bad news
that previous agreement was not actually going to happen.
It turned out that two year earlier,
France and Britain, in secret,
had decided that they wanted the land for themselves.
This was called the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
It was a secret pack by both countries
to split the Ottoman territories among themselves,
nicely devided into Zone A and Zone B.
the humble origins of what would become Syria and Iraq.
You see, France had invested resources into the Syria region for decades,
stuff like electricity and schools.
So to them it was only natural
that they would take Syria as a French dominion in the Mediterranean.
The British already own Egypt and the nice canal included.
So they want a territory that could protect
their strategic interest in Egypt if they had to.
Long story short, there’s a lot debating between the two
to finalize just where French Syria would end and British Arabia began.
The Arabs weren’t involved, don’t be silly.
By the end of the war, the United States was now
the bright eye new power that could tell the older Europeans a thing or two.
Woodrow Willison was a staunch anti- colonialist
and his negative attitudes towards global empire was what America brought to the table.
‘Consent of the Governed’ was an idea that America preached frequently
at the grumbling of everyone else.
However, Europe did listen to one Wilson idea
the establishment of a league of nations of proto UN
That would be for peace and prevent wars,
which it certainly did.
One of the things this new league of nations did
was establish the idea of mandates.
A mandate is when an allied power takes control of
former German and Ottoman land and governs it
to protect the natives from the modern world,
at least until they’re able to protect themselves.
No you silly. It’s not spoils of wars.
It’s international diplomacy, what are you talking about?
We’ll just take this for now.
For global peace.
This established the new te-,
I mean mandates of the Middle East.
The French mandate of Syria, the British mandates of Palestine,
and Transjordan and Iraq,
were set up at least until the natives could take care of themselves.
It was just a coincidence these mandate boarders lined up perfectly
with the agreement before the League even existed.
但是 算了 别去想了
But that… don’t think about it.
At the time, British and French were competing with one another
over their ever expanding empires
that would certainly never collapse until they did.
Two decades after the decision to split up the Arabs was made,
World War II effectively destroyed the homelands of France and Britain.
Now America was the global superpower
and this spelled the death of colonialism and the two empires.
Remember the idea that mandates should be ruled
until they’re able to take care of themselves?
Well, conveniently, after the war,
the mandates were granted independence.
Now the mandates that were made artificially
without the consent of the natives
were legal modern nation states.
Good luck everyone, no changing the borders now.
That means you Kurds.
This is the fundamental flaw of the modern Middle East.
These borders only exist
because they were strategically important
to long gone empires.
And we’re seeing today the effects of this.
It isn’t that Europe made the Middle East a violent place,
it’s always been that.
It’s that these borders split people up who wanted to be together
and made countries out of people who didn’t want anything to do with one another.
If people in your county can’t get along,
then you’ll have an unstable society.
Strong man dictators usually take hold of unstable societies
as we’ve seen time and time again.
However that isn’t the actual reason why I made this video,
simply segmenting people into nations isn’t directly the cause
even if it’s a massive contribution.
What was the ultimate genesis for all of these issues
was the betrayal of that agreement.
And how that betrayal accidentally lead to the rise of Islam terrorism?
In the original agreement, the British were going to allow the Arabs to control their own state,
one that controlled this region.
It was to be ruled by the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein Bin Ali.
He was to be the king of the Arabs.
Because of the British decision to make the land and instead of mandates,
this hurt the relationship with the Sharif.
At the time the Arabian Peninsula was not united,
instead, it was being fought between mainly two different factions.
Hussein Bin Ali was a member of the Hashemites,
the tribe of the prophet Muhammed.
By the 1920s, a powerful family called the House of Saud
had been conquering territory throughout the rigion.
The Sauds believed in an ultraconservative sect of Islam
called Wahhabism or Salafism.
It was fundamentalist.
Far more than any of the time.
Because of this diplomatic breakdown between the Hashemites and the British,
due to the sykes-picot agreement in the first place,
instead of ruling a significant larger portion of land,
Hussein ruled a small kingdom on the coast.
By the 1920s, without British support,
it was conquered by the Sauds.
If that name sounds familiar,
it’s because Sauds renamed the region
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
所以现在 一个极端保守的王国 而不是一个温和的王国
So an ultraconservative kingdom now ruled over a fair bit of land,
instead of a more moderate one.
This wasn’t much of an issue, at least until 1950s
when Saudi Arabia discovered their vast vast oil supplies.
Salafism is a religious movement with the main goal
to bring Islam back to an ultraconservative mindset.
When the Sauds discovered oil,
that extreme ideology now was funded
by billions and billions of dollars in oil money.
So what did Saudi Arabia do?
They built mosques, schools,
在整个伊斯兰世界 提供奖学金 资助新闻记者
funded scholarships, funded journalists, universities,
为大学 教授 以及激进分子提供资金
professors and militants, all over the Islamic world,
to abide by their version of conservative, and inviolate Islam.
Frankly put ‘Oil money funded a religious in cultural shift around the globe’.
新的组织 如基地组织 塔利班 伊斯兰国等等
New groups like Al-Qaeda , the Taliban, ISIS…
All were born,
inspired by this one particular teaching of Islam.
So, the Sykes-Picot Agreement did two things.
It set the stage for a fundamentalist regime to rise instead of a moderate one,
which then founded a violent cultural shift in the Islam world
and split the region into mandates like Iraq and Syria
who are never meant to actually govern themselves
and shockingly collapsed.
Yes, this is truly the darkest timeline for the Arab world.
Now does this excuse the decisions
of both Arab and western leaders in recent times? No.
Does this mean that the Middle East was a perfect place
of sunshine and happiness place before? No.
It’s the example of how history that we might not have heard of
can culminate to shape our everyday lives.
反恐战争 叙利亚 难民危机
The war on terror, Syria, the refugee crisis
all in many ways stand from the single decision
from empires long gone.
I don’t have the answer.
I can only attempt to imagine a world where it didn’t occur,
which was actually what this video was supposed to be about,
but instead became 80% history
since nobody would actually know what I was talking about.
So take this as a prequel of sorts,
I want to imagine a world where this decision never happened.
And the best solution was to just make a separate video for it.
History always influences our lives,
even if it’s people and events we never thought of before.
And that’s why bringing in context can also shape our ideas
of how our world today truly came to be.
This is Cody of Alternate History Hub.
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