IF THE 20th century is considered the era of Arab disappointments, starting with the ‘Sykes-Picot’ Agreement followed by the ‘Balfour Declaration’; then the 21st century is without a doubt the era of secession and separation of countries. This is true not only in the Arab world, but the entire globe as well.
The secession infection spread from the Iraqi Kurdistan area and Yemen to Spain and Cameron passing through Ukraine, while many other regions in the world are striving towards independence.
As Arabs, our concern today – the 100th year of ‘Sykes-Picot’ Agreement, is the time that the British and French pens tore apart our small world to become countries which continue to witness border disputes and fight greed as a result of expansion and control.
This happened in 1990 when Saddam Hussein disrespected all Arab and international agreements and treaties by mobilizing his forces to invade Kuwait in a bid to annex it to Iraq, or in Sudan which ended in division at a time the Europeans were uniting.
Perhaps, some would think that the Kurdish secession referendum and the anger it provoked quenched such desire, or rather, delayed the declaration of independence.
In reality, these steps encouraged the countries striving to divide Iraq in the best possible manner, especially Iran whose leaders have never forgotten that a united and strong Iraq means continuous threat to the Persian expansionism dream on sectarian grounds.
This is clear through the current attempt to render sectarian gangs, affiliated to Tehran, as the core of secessionism army in the South.
Therefore, we ought to ask: Is history repeating itself in Iraq whose rivers were full of blood that was shed on the borders of regions in conflict?
In the first century of Hijri (622AD-719AD), when Abdul-Malik bin Marwa (Umayyad Caliphate) rose to power; there was a dispute influenced by the separatism movements, particularly in Iraq.
At the time, no one was there to unite Iraq apart from Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef. When he reached Baghdad, he stood and warned everyone that once he removes his turban everyone will know him.
On that day, the sword put an end to separatism movements and Al-Hajjaj reconstructed the Umayyad Caliphate.
Today, things are no longer the same as Arab blocs have devoted themselves to external powers and got armed by the so-called international civil society organizations. Everybody knows these organizations have multiple standards which vary according to the interest of the countries that control them. They even used institutions as tools for political blackmailing, the same way they turned a blind eye to the crimes committed by Iran, America and other countries, whether in Syria or Iraq. At the same time, they tried to blackmail Saudi Arabia by claiming there are crimes in Yemen.
Thus, betting on the United Nations and the Security Council that is bound by the veto power of five permanent countries is not good for the Arabs. In the past four decades, Arabs tried their luck with these institutions – whether in the Palestinian file wherein America did everything through such institutions to protect Israel and encourage it to commit more crimes against Palestinians, or in the Iranian-Iraqi War that lasted for eight years and resulted in the death and injuries of about four million people at a total cost of $600 billion.
Iraq and Iran would have become advanced countries without the Iraqi-Iranian bet on the game of favors played by Israel, America and Britain; in addition to the attempts of the Mullah regime in Tehran to export the revolution to neighboring countries. This stretched the war to as long as eight years.
We have to admit the Arabs have not taken advantage of the lessons of history or from the experiences of other countries. This is why the current Arab wars will last until they reach the level of awareness that their interests will be served only through unity. This is exactly the case of Europe which realized it cannot go forward without unity after the wars between Europeans resulted in the death of millions and devastated their economy.
Arabs would have saved themselves from killings and destruction if they took into account the two successful Arab unity models which have had positive impacts – the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unification project and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The first transformed seven emirates into a modern leading State; while the second protected Kuwait, Bahrain and other GCC countries from external attacks.
The real problem in the Arab world is political mismanagement, particularly in seizing power through bloody coups and revolutions and practicing autocracy the way it used to be in Iraq whose northern part sought secession. The same applies to Iran today as the Khamenei Revolution and doctrinal approach in governance pushed Ahwaz, Baloush, Kurds and Azeris among other Iranian components to call for secession.
Arabs have no option but to seek coalition in expanded unions where the social characteristics of each component are honored and respected, just like the European Union whose peoples speak different languages yet they rally under the banner of unity that serves as their current source of strength and protection.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times