The Genesis of Israel - Palestine Dispute

The Middle East was already on the Boil with the Sectarian Clashes between Assad Regime & the Sunni rebels in Syria, where as per latest UN Estimates over 1 lac people have died. After a lull of years after American Troops pull out in 2011 winter Iraq has once again gone in the crisis as the blowback of Syrian War engulfs the Iraq with Sunni Militant Group ISIS against the Shia Dominated Iraqi Govt lead by PM Maliki. While the heat was on in Syria-Iraq; the most old conflict in the region between Israel & Palestine once again erupted a few backs leading to Invasion of Gaza by Israel. The dominant narrative around the world is Israel is the culprit of illegal occupation & war crimes and that the Palestinians are the victims. This is one conflict, which has always divided the world sharply with opinions mostly loaded in favour of Palestine in Arab states & some parts of Asia as well. The imbalance of the narrative was visible even during UNHRC Resolution dt 23.07.2014 where 29 Countries voted against Israel, with US voting against it & most EU nations abstaining from the vote. But the overwhelming sense of the meeting was Israel must stop its aggression in Gaza and come to peaceful solution.

There are always two sides of a coin, every incident or dispute cannot be one sided but has to have other perspectives as well. The imbalance of narrative against Israel is what intrigued me to look into what’s the issue all about. Are the dominant views that we hear that Israel is the Occupier, the aggressor true ? Why is there so much anti semitism that is used as rallying point in many countries specially arab & Islamic states?. On being confounded with these questions, with full sympathy to the innocent Palestinians who are caught in the cross-fire; one must hear the objective view & time line of Jewish History and the Palestinian dispute.

History of Jews in Israel & Palestinian Dispute:

Israel has been holy land of Jews for over 3300 years beginning in 2nd Millennium BCE under Various Kingdoms & Kings beginning from the time of Abraham. The People of Israel trace back their origin to King 'Abraham' who established the belief that there is one god the creator of the universe (Torah). Abraham his son Yitashak (Issac), Grandson Jacob (Israel) are Patriarchs of people of Israel who lived in Land of Canaan or Israel as we know. Jewish people shared same language, culture shaped by Jewish Heritage & religion passed through Generations of Founding Father Abraham from 1800 BCE. The Descendants of Abraham Crystallised as a Nation in 1300 BC, after Exodus from Egypt under leadership of Moses (Moshe). After 40 years in Sinai Desert, Moses lead them to the Current State of Israel, that is Cited in Bible as land promised by God to its people.

The Rule of Israel starts with Conquest of Joshua in 1250 BC. Period between 1000 - 587 BC is known as "Period of the Kings"(i.e David, Solomon). King David (1010-970 BC) established Jerusalem as Capital of Israel & King Solomon (970-931 BC) built first temple as stated in Old Testament. In 587 BC, first time Jews were Driven out by Babylonian Army & the first temple was destroyed. This started period of Conquest on this area. Many armies invaded Jewish land from Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Hellenstine, Roman, Bazyentine, Islamic, Christian, Ottoman & British Empire. Jews returned from Exile from Babylon in Persian Rule (538-333 BC) & constructed 2nd Temple, which was desecrated during Alexander Rule. In 70 CE Roman Army lead by Titus invaded & Jews were exiled again; 2nd Temple was destroyed. Then Arabs (633-1099 AD) lead by Caliph Abd-el-malik built a Dome of Rock on foundation of Temple. Then Crusaders from Europe  (1099-1291 AD) conquered the holy land and persecuted the non christian population. After that during the reign of Sultan suliman of Ottoman Empire (1516-1918 AD) walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were re-built where the jews settled. Finally British Colonial rule from 1917 to 1948 over this area which was later partitioned under UN Guidance and separate State of Israel was created along with a Palestinian state giving homeland to the Arabs living there.

Not to forget that in WWII the Holocaust in Nazi Germany where Hitler Massacred Million of Jews & deported equal no of jews. Hence Many jews after facing persecutions during the Holocaust & elsewhere returned back to Israel after it gained Independence in 1948. Jews have been one community that have been exiled & persecuted many times by Arabs, Christians etc & yet despite hostile neighborhood their self determination to exist as nation has been incredible. Unfortunately in highly imbalanced narrative against Israel, these facets are never brought to light & discussed.

Arab States attacked Israel on Independence where it managed to survive, thereafter in 1964 Arab League Setup PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation)  targeting Palestinian Independence of occupied territories militarily & technically rejecting the Israeli claims as per the partition plan of UN. From 1949-1967, it was Egypt that controlled Gaza & Jordan controlled West Bank including East Jerusalem. Then there was the famous 6 day Arab-Israel war in 1967. In the 1967 War, Israel defeated 9 Arab Armies & captured Sinai Peninsula & Gaza from Egypt, and when peace overtures failed with Jordan it captured West Bank from Jordan. Israel later Captured Golan Heights from Syria. Meanwhile the UN resolutions in November 1967 called on Israel to vacate the Conquest Territories according to Partition Plan approved in 1948. 

PLO setup by Arab League in 1964 was lead by Yaseer Arafat (an Egyptian) till the time of his death in 2005, PLO was first was against the existence of Jewish State of Israel & rather aimed for a Military Solution. It was for this reason that PLO was designated as Terrorist Organization by many countries in West & Israel. PLO finally gave in when in 1988 Charter it Promised to Recognize Israel. The year 1988 was the Turning Point when PLO turned to Political Authority & Offered to Recognize State of Israel that lead to talks with US and finally resulted in Oslo Accord down the years in 1993. Secret Talks between Israel & PLO facilitated by the west lead to Oslo Accord in 1993 when Yaseer Arafat wrote to Israel recognizing it as State & Shunning violence as a means to which Israel reciprocated in similar sense. Meanwhile Hamas (a militia group) was formed in 1987 which Disagreed with PLO on Political Recognition of Israel and believed that Jews were the occupiers leading to suicide bombings from mid 90s that mainly originated from Gaza. Hamas's charter Article-7 Clearly states that destruction of jewish state is the will of the almighty & we shall fulfill it. Therefore negotiations with Hamas be it 2009 2012 or 2014 have always failed. 

After the failed conference Henry Kissinger started conducting shuttle diplomacy, meeting with Israel and the Arab states directly. The first concrete result of this was the initial military disengagement agreement, signed by Israel and Egypt on January 18, 1974. The agreement commonly known as Sinai I had the official name of Sinai Separation of Forces Agreement. Under its terms, Israel agreed to pull back its forces from the areas West of Suez Canal, which it had occupied since the end of hostilities. Moreover, Israeli forces were also pulled back on the length of the whole front to create security zones for Egypt, UN and Israel, each roughly ten kilometres wide. Thus Israel gave up its advances reaching beyond the Suez canal, but it still held nearly all of Sinai. It became the first of many such Land for Peace agreements where Israel gave up territory in exchange for treaties.

Another Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement, the Sinai Interim Agreement, was signed in Geneva on September 4, 1975, and was commonly known as Sinai II. This agreement led Israel to withdraw from another 20–40 km with UN forces buffering the vacated area. After the agreement, Israel still held more than two thirds of Sinai, which would prove to be a valuable bargaining chip in the coming negotiations. A peace agreement between Israel and Egypt was finally reached in September 17, 1978 in the famous Camp David Accords after negotiations hosted by President Jimmy Carter. In accordance with the treaty, Israeli forces withdrew gradually from Sinai with last troops exiting on April 26, 1982. Israel also struck Peace deal with Jordan in 1994.

After Death of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the peace process of Oslo received a deadly blow. Violence by Hamas Escalated later in 2000s despite the peace efforts by US in Camp David. In 2000/01 During the Camp David Summit held in US mediated by the  Bill Clinton almost came to a negotiated settlement on the lines of 2 state theory. Israel accepted all the Clinton Parameters which stated that 94-96% of West Bank & Full Gaza would go to sovereign Palestine state. In East Jerusalem Israel would get jew dominated areas in swap for arab dominated areas to Palestine. Israel has reservations over the Temple Mount & wanted to retain sovereign right of it, also that it would not accept any more refugees. There will be an International Monitoring Force on Jordan/Palestine border. These broad terms were accepted Israeli Cabinet & endorsed by Saudi Arabia as well; the Palestinian Liberation Authority headed by Yasser Arafat rejected the Terms. This was termed by Clinton & many other as historical blunder as two sides were close to achieving sovereign Palestine state & a peaceful Israeli nation. Arafat once called said "You are a Great Man", Clinton replied, "I am not a great man but a failed person & you made me one".

In 2005 Israel finally left Gaza to end its occupation but Sea & Air Blockade continued which was partially relaxed years later. After death of Yaseer Arafat, PLO factions Fatah Ruled West Bank under Prez Abbas with Hamas Capturing Power in the Elections held in Gaza in 2006. This is the History of Israel Palestine dispute running from ancient times. There has been twice Invasions of Gaza by Israel in 2008/09 & 2012, which were preceded by Rocket Fire Provocations of Hamas just like 2014. Meanwhile there are Disputed Territories in West Bank near Jerusalem & Ors are matter that can be sorted out with talks but not on gun point by Hamas which not only continues to fire rockets in Israel but also put lives of innocent Gazans in Peril by such provocations. In the latest Conflict in 2014, Hamas has fired more than 1650 Rockets into Israel in last 15 days most of them were intercepted by the Missile defence of System of Israel called "Iron Dome". 'Iron Dome' has been instrumental in limiting the casualties in Israel to minimal.

It is no one's case that occupation of areas in West Bank & Gaza by Israel is Justified. It is equally condemnable the actions of Hamas a designated terrorist organization whose aim is not peaceful coexistence of Gaza but mainly destruction of State of Israel. No country can live under continuous barrage of Rocket Fire, Terror Tunnels which are used by Hamas to infiltrate into Israel for terrorist attacks. To stop these illegal activities when Israel acts in its Legitimate Right to self defense, then Hamas uses places like schools, hospital to arms, ammunition & rockets; putting the ordinary Gazans in peril using them as human shields - Hamas's Human Shield war. Even the Correct & Balanced approach of International Law on Israel-Palestine Conflict would indite Hamas for provocations by Firing Rockets & then using Human Shields when Israel acts in Self Defense. This is double war crime by Hamas.

Any war or military conflict does not only affect the military or armies but there is always collateral damage which in the present case seems to be Innocent Ordinary Citizens of Gaza who are caught in this cross fire. This is unfortunate and condemnable but then blame can not be only put on Israel for Dis-propionate use of Force but rather should fall equally on Hamas for provocating Israel & putting Ordinary Gazans in peril for its objectives. Some References are - Gaza conflict takes toll on Hamas rocket stocks and tunnels , UNRWA condemns placement of rockets for a Second time in One of its Schools. Gaza’s underground: A vast tunnel network that empowers Hamas. 

Israel Palestinian conflict have had the complexities of Jews vs Arabs in the regions but the Dynamics have changed over last few decades & years. Israel brokered peace in exchange of land with Egypt in 1981 & a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994 which has been honoured till date. Furthermore, even Saudi Arabia has hinted making peace with Israel given the common threat of Iran perceived by both the nations. Meanwhile Egypt tried to strike ceasefire between Israel & Hamas a week back, which was promptly accepted by Israel and had the Backing of UN & US but was rejected by Military Wing of Hamas. It is amply clear that an incident of Kidnapping of 3 Israeli youths snow balled into a armed conflict started by Hamas Barrage of Rockets  & later lead to Invasion of Gaza by Israel to disrupt the terror activities & network of Hamas. Another facet of this long dispute is Iran's tacit support to Hamas arming it with Rockets just like it created Hezbollah in Lebanon to target Israel via Proxies. 

The dispute between Israel & Palestine is an old one but it is also a fact that the State Of Israel & Jews who have been persecuted & exiled many times over from their land have full right to existence in as much as the Palestinians have right to co-exist; and as stated by many countries only a negotiated settlement between the parties on the lines of 2 States Formula can bring peace in the region but groups like Hamas never wants to Recognize State of Israel or believe in the 2 State Formula. Hamas doesn't wish to live in peace else after Israel left Gaza in 2005, if properly governed Gaza would have become Singapore but Hamas's main objective is destruction of Israel based on anti semitism for which it invested Billion of $ of aid in creating Terror infrastructure & tunnels to target Israel and not for the welfare of Gazans. Hence the demand of Israel for demilitarization of Gaza looks justified and the blockade of gaza can be lifted once the threat of armed militia like Hamas & Palestinian International Jihad wanes out. No country can live under constant threat of gun put to its head. There has to be assurance that territory of Gaza will not be used directly or indirectly by outside players for attacks against Israel only then can Israel trust Opening up Gaza blockade fully leading to final settlement.

Further given the fact that Israel lives in a Hostile Neighborhood & the constant threat to its existence from groups like Hamas and countries like Iran, Israel claim of systematic targeting of it by vested interest in Middle East is not unfounded. This gives further legitimacy to Israel's Right to Self Defence for its peaceful existence in wake of these threats. Unfortunately the history of Jews & their legitimate rights have never been told correctly in highly one sided narrative against it, though giving rightful coverage to the Justiciable Rights of the Palestinians.

The Geo-Politics in Persian Gulf

The Sino-Soviet Bloc and Three Central Strategic Fronts by Zbigniew K. Brzezinski in his Book in 1997.
Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan were in an area called the “Northern Tier” by American strategists. This area was believed to be the region from which the Soviet Union could breakout of Eurasia by reaching the Persian Gulf. It was also considered to be the area bordering the Soviet Union’s most sensitive area. It was from here that a game of expansion, containment, and penetration was being carried out. A balance of power was very important in this regard.

One country above all others was vital for the balance of power and that was Iran. If the Soviets overran Iran, they would have direct access to the Persian Gulf and if American or British troops were in Iran they would be directly on the southern and sensitive borders of the Soviet Union.  The status quo had been, since the time of the so-called “Great Game” between Britain and Czarist Russia, that Iran would be a military buffer zone. While Iran was an ally of the U.S. and NATO before 1979, there were also restrictions on it in the context of a longstanding bilateral relationship with the Soviet Union. 

Iran severed its military alliance with the United States after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. This was seen as a geo-strategic victory by the Soviet Union. Although the Soviets were concerned about the ideology of the new government in Iran, they were relieved that Iran was no longer colluding with the U.S. and its partners. Nonetheless, there was still a state of mistrust between Moscow and Tehran. The Americans could not intervene militarily in Iran with a view to gaining control over Iran’s oil fields.  A bilateral treaty between Iran and the Soviets had allowed the Soviet Union to intervene in Iran if forces of a third party operating within Iran were perceived as a menace to Soviet security. Naturally, Moscow would perceive any American invasion of Iran, on the direct borders of the U.S.S.R., as a threat and invoke the bilateral treaty. 

This is where Iraq, a Soviet ally, became useful against Iran. Before the Iraq-Iran War there existed no diplomatic relations between the Iraqi and U.S. governments. Iraq had gravitated outside of the Anglo-American orbit in 1958, after a revolution ousted the Iraqi branch of the Hashemite Dynasty and in 1967 Baghdad cut its ties with America. In 1972 the Soviets and Iraqis had also signed a Friendship Treaty that resulted in large Soviet weapon deliveries to the most independent-minded Arab country in the Arab World, which became a real threat to U.S. and Israeli interests.

A real match of geo-strategic chess was being played. According to Henry Kissinger, Iraq was the single most radical Arab country that posed the greatest danger to U.S. interests during the Nixon era. Furthermore, the U.S. was afraid that if Iraq was not neutralized that the Soviets would take the geo-strategic initiative of penetrating into the Middle East and overwhelming Iran. If one remembers Afghanistan also had a pro-Soviet government too. In Henry Kissinger’s words, “The Soviet Union would try to squeeze Iran between [a pro-Soviet] Afghanistan and its Iraqi client.”

Under these circumstances, it was to keep their socialist allies in power in Kabul and to prevent the destabilization of Soviet Central Asia via Afghanistan that Soviet troops entered Afghanistan, in context with the 1978 Soviet-Afghan Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Good Neighbourliness.

Henry Kissinger has written in regards to the danger from Iraq, “Though not strictly speaking a Soviet satellite, once fully armed with Soviet weapons Iraq would serve Soviet purposes by intimating pro-Western government, such as Saudi Arabia; simultaneously, it would exert pressure on Jordon and even Syria, which while leaning to the radical side was far from being a Soviet puppet.” The Americans and their British allies were intent on neutralizing an independent Iraq and an Iran steaming with revolutionary fervor. Also, the other goal of the U.S. and Britain was to regain the lost oil fields of both Middle Eastern countries. The Iraq-Iran War was America’s chance to recover the lost oil fields of Iraq and Iran.

Close to the start of the Iraq-Iran War, the Soviet government, after talks with the revolutionary government in Tehran, was notified that Iran was terminating Moscow’s right to militarily intervene in Iran, and by extension in the Persian Gulf, under the 1921 Treaty of Friendship signed between the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (S.F.S.R.) and Iran.

The Soviets objected to Tehran’s decision, but were reluctant and bogged down in Afghanistan. Eventually and with time they tacitly accepted the Iranian decision.

It was this agreement between the Soviets that kept the U.S. from invading Iran. It is also because of this agreement that the British did not try to invade Iran, but created an internationally illegal military blockade that prevented Iranian trade and the export of oil when the government of Dr. Mossadegh, the prime minister of Iran, nationalized Iranian oil in 1951.

“The southern rim of Asia - Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan - is a region of the world that may seem remote and strange to Americans, and yet it is a pivot of the world’s security. Within a few years of my 1973 journey, it became an area of upheaval. From the Iranian revolution to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the Iran-Iraq war, events dramatized the vulnerability of the Persian Gulf - the lifeline of the West’s oil supply. The vital importance of that region had been one of the themes of the shrewd strategic analysts I was to visit next: Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.” - Henry Kissinger (Years of Upheaval, 1982)

By 1980 America had systematically created an arc of volatility and instability from the borders of Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan running through Iran and Iraq to the Persian Gulf; in the process four nations (the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq) on the doorstep or gateway into the core of Eurasia were weakened. America was also using all four nations to destabilize one another. In retrospect it can be argued that the ground was being prepared for future operations in these areas.

It should be noted that the Soviet Union disengaged itself from Afghanistan in 1988, the same year that the Iraq-Iran War ended. In 1988, the Soviet effort to stabilize the Soviet economy was also underway. After the Iraq-Iran War ended in 1988, the U.S. tried to sabotage and to further destroy the devastated economies of Iraq, Iran, and the Soviet Union by deliberately getting Saudi Arabia and the Arab Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf to lower the price of oil.  The Soviets, the Iraqis, and the Iranians were planning on making the most of their vast energy resources, but their programs were stopped or obstructed in their tracks by the deliberate manipulation of petroleum markets. Washington D.C. was cleverly “killing several birds with one stone,” so to speak. 

In February 1990, Saddam Hussein asked Saudi Arabia to honour the limits on oil production rates or quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Arab countries like Kuwait and the U.A.E. were deliberately breaching the quotas set by OPEC in coordination with the White House. The Iranians also sided with Iraq and in addition blamed the Arab Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf of conspiring with the U.S. against Iran too.  Oddly, the U.S.S.R. appears to have kept silent. In May of 1990, Saddam Hussein finally gave a summit of Arab leaders in Baghdad a warning that the continued violation of OPEC production rates by fellow Arab nations represented a de facto declaration of war against Iraq, but Kuwait and the U.A.E., encouraged by the U.S., continued to violate their OPEC quotas.

“The Gulf War is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a ‘New World Order” - George H. Bush Sr., 41st President of the United States (January 16, 1991)

Finally Iraq was entrapped into invading Kuwait in August of 1990 with what Baghdad believed was an okay from President George H. Bush Sr. and the White House through April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The transcripts of the discussion between Ambassador Glaspie and Saddam Hussein confirm that Iraq was ensnared by the Bush Sr. Administration. U.S. officials in Washington D.C. also made it appear that the U.S. believed that the invasion of Kuwait was an “Arab-Arab issue.” The Iraqis also claimed that they invaded Kuwait to stop Kuwait from permanently damaging the Iraqi economy by flooding the global market with more oil.

John Kelly, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, testified to the U.S. Congress that the “United States has no commitment to defend Kuwait and the U.S. has no intention of defending Kuwait if it is attacked by Iraq,” on July 31, 1990, two days before the Iraqi Army marched into Kuwait Margaret Tutweiler, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, also told the international press on July 26, 1990 that the U.S. government had no objections or diplomatic message to Iraq about the mobilization of 30, 000 Iraqi troops that appeared to be planning an invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. was aware that the Iraqis would be monitoring Washington D.C.’s responses to Iraqi mobilization and Baghdad’s plans to invade Kuwait. Iraq was clearly led on by the U.S. government.

The Clinton Administration had also crafted the invasion plans for Iraq. In fact it was the economic sanctions and the Anglo-American bombing campaigns under the Clinton Administration that softened Iraq for a ground invasion under the Bush Jr. Administration. Iraqi air defences were also seriously eroded by the time Iraq was invaded in 2003. The no-fly zones over pre-2003 Iraq, that were declared by the U.S., British, and French governments were also not internationally recognized or de jure (legal).

The Persian Gulf was militarized over a long period of time through three successive wars: the Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988), the Persian Gulf War (1991), and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq (2003). After the British left the Persian Gulf, the area was militarized by the U.S. through the arguable necessitation of foreign ships being present to protect oil shipments and maritime traffic. This position was further endorsed during the Iraq-Iran War when the U.S. Navy flagged Kuwait oil tankers and fought against the Iranian Navy.

The invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent American-led war with Iraq allowed the U.S. to establish bases in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf in a second phase of militarization. A third phase of militarization started in 2003. This third phase involved the transfer of American and British assets into Iraq and the establishment of permanent super-bases starting in 2003/2004. NATO has also signed agreements with Arab states in the Persian Gulf littoral as the Franco-German entente becomes more involved in the management of the Middle East.

Aside from Iraq’s global importance as an energy supplier, Iraq’s geographic location is also central to the whole Middle East. With a central footing in Iraq the U.S. could spread out or control the rest of the Middle East and the head of the Persian Gulf. The Middle East, in addition to the Indian sub-continent, is also sandwiched between America’s Eurasian bridgeheads, Europe, and the Far East. Additionally, Iraq serves as a gateway of entry into Iran and as a natural barrier between Iran and the rest of the Arab World and debatably even the Persian Gulf. On the other hand, Iran serves as a geographic gateway into the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, and Central Asia. Establishing a footing in Iraq is a logical step in containing the spread of Iranian influence in the Arab World and pushing inwards into Central Asia. Therefore the invasion of Iraq would be vital in a drive towards Central Asia, through securing Iran, and ultimately encircling Russia and China.

Dismantling Saddam: American Foreign Policy in 1980s

After The Coups by CIA in Iraq & amp; Iran in 50s, 60s. The situation changed as Iraq Gravitated towards Soviets due to Arab Israel war in 1967 while Iran continued to be under the influence of US under the Monarchy of Shah of Iran till 1979 Revolution of Iran. The US faced a serious situation where one side you had saddam’s Iraq & on the other side ayatollah Iran both gravitating away from western influence, given the fact that both countries large amount of oil reserves & strategically located as gateways to Central Asia & Persian Gulf. The prospect of Soviets influence perculating down to Iran & Iraq posed a serious challenge to American Strategic Policy in the Oil rich Gulf Region. 

This is when after 1979 Iranian Revolution the US policy of Covertly Supporting Saddam’s Iraq against Iran started in early 80s along with creation of Al Qaida & afghan jihad to bleed the Soviets in Afghanistan. The decade long war between two soviet friends Iraq & Iran proved mutually destructive economically for Iraq & Iran; which was compounded by bogged down Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

US Covert Support to Iraq in Iraq-Iran War:

The Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) was one of a series of crises during an era of upheaval in the Middle East: revolution in Iran, occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by militant students, invasion of the Great Mosque in Mecca by anti-royalist Islamicists, the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan, and internecine fighting among Syrians, Israelis, and Palestinians in Lebanon. The war followed months of rising tension between the Iranian Islamic republic and secular nationalist Iraq. In mid-September 1980 Iraq attacked, in the mistaken belief that Iranian political disarray would guarantee a quick victory.

The international community responded with U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire and for all member states to refrain from actions contributing in any way to the conflict's continuation. The Soviets, opposing the war, cut off arms exports to Iran and to Iraq, its ally under a 1972 treaty (arms deliveries resumed in 1982). The U.S. had already ended, when the shah fell, previously massive military sales to Iran. In 1980 the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Iran because of the Tehran embassy hostage crisis; Iraq had broken off ties with the U.S. during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The U.S. was officially neutral regarding the Iran-Iraq war, and claimed that it armed neither side. Iran depended on U.S.-origin weapons, however, and sought them from Israel, Europe, Asia, and South America. Iraq started the war with a large Soviet-supplied arsenal, but needed additional weaponry as the conflict wore on.

Initially, Iraq advanced far into Iranian territory, but was driven back within months. By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks. The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism. (It had been included several years earlier because of ties with several Palestinian nationalist groups, not Islamicists sharing the worldview of al-Qaeda. Activism by Iraq's main Shiite Islamicist opposition group, al-Dawa, was a major factor precipitating the war stirred by Iran's Islamic revolution, its endeavors included the attempted assassination of Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz.)

Prolonging the war was phenomenally expensive. Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. The White House and State Department pressured the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions. The U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans for purchases of American commodities, to the satisfaction of U.S. grain exporters.

The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country's official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan. These were prepared pursuant to his March 1982 National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM 4-82) asking for a review of U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

One of these directives from Reagan, National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 99, signed on July 12, 1983, is available only in a highly redacted version (Doc). It reviews U.S. regional interests in the Middle East and South Asia, and U.S. objectives, including peace between Israel and the Arabs, resolution of other regional conflicts, and economic and military improvements, "to strengthen regional stability." It deals with threats to the U.S., strategic planning, cooperation with other countries, including the Arab states, and plans for action. An interdepartmental review of the implications of shifting policy in favor of Iraq was conducted following promulgation of the directive.

By the summer of 1983 Iran had been reporting Iraqi use of using chemical weapons for some time. The Geneva protocol requires that the international community respond to chemical warfare, but a diplomatically isolated Iran received only a muted response to its complaints. It intensified its accusations in October 1983, however, and in November asked for a United Nations Security Council investigation.

The U.S., which followed developments in the Iran-Iraq war with extraordinary intensity, had intelligence confirming Iran's accusations, and describing Iraq's "almost daily" use of chemical weapons, concurrent with its policy review and decision to support Iraq in the war (Doc). The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against "Kurdish insurgents" as well (Doc).

What was the Reagan administration's response? A State Department account indicates that the administration had decided to limit its "efforts against the Iraqi CW program to close monitoring because of our strict neutrality in the Gulf war, the sensitivity of sources, and the low probability of achieving desired results." But the department noted in late November 1983 that "with the essential assistance of foreign firms, Iraq ha[d] become able to deploy and use CW and probably has built up large reserves of CW for further use. Given its desperation to end the war, Iraq may again use lethal or incapacitating CW, particularly if Iran threatens to break through Iraqi lines in a large-scale attack" (Doc). The State Department argued that the U.S. needed to respond in some way to maintain the credibility of its official opposition to chemical warfare, and recommended that the National Security Council discuss the issue.

Following further high-level policy review, Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 114, dated November 26, 1983, concerned specifically with U.S. policy toward the Iran-Iraq war. The directive reflects the administration's priorities: it calls for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities, and measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf, and directs the secretaries of state and defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take appropriate measures to respond to tensions in the area. It states, "Because of the real and psychological impact of a curtailment in the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf on the international economic system, we must assure our readiness to deal promptly with actions aimed at disrupting that traffic." It does not mention chemical weapons (Doc).

Soon thereafter, Donald Rumsfeld (who had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including as President Ford's defense secretary, and at this time headed the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co.) was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein," while emphasizing "his close relationship" with the president (Doc). Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.'s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran's ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting (Doc).

Rumsfeld also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, and the two agreed, "the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests." Rumsfeld affirmed the Reagan administration's "willingness to do more" regarding the Iran-Iraq war, but "made clear that our efforts to assist were inhibited by certain things that made it difficult for us, citing the use of chemical weapons, possible escalation in the Gulf, and human rights." He then moved on to other U.S. concerns (Doc). Later, Rumsfeld was assured by the U.S. interests section that Iraq's leadership had been "extremely pleased" with the visit, and that "Tariq Aziz had gone out of his way to praise Rumsfeld as a person" (doc) and (Doc).

Rumsfeld returned to Baghdad in late March 1984. By this time, the U.S. had publicly condemned Iraq's chemical weapons use, stating, "The United States has concluded that the available evidence substantiates Iran's charges that Iraq used chemical weapons" (Doc). Briefings for Rumsfeld's meetings noted that atmospherics in Iraq had deteriorated since his December visit because of Iraqi military reverses and because "bilateral relations were sharply set back by our March 5 condemnation of Iraq for CW use, despite our repeated warnings that this issue would emerge sooner or later" (Doc). Rumsfeld was to discuss with Iraqi officials the Reagan administration's hope that it could obtain Export-Import Bank credits for Iraq, the Aqaba pipeline, and its vigorous efforts to cut off arms exports to Iran. According to an affidavit prepared by one of Rumsfeld's companions during his Mideast travels, former NSC staff member Howard Teicher, Rumsfeld also conveyed to Iraq an offer from Israel to provide assistance, which was rejected (Doc).

Although official U.S. policy still barred the export of U.S. military equipment to Iraq, some was evidently provided on a "don't ask - don't tell" basis. In April 1984, the Baghdad interests section asked to be kept apprised of Bell Helicopter Textron's negotiations to sell helicopters to Iraq, which were not to be "in any way configured for military use" (Doc). The purchaser was the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In December 1982, Bell Textron's Italian subsidiary had informed the U.S. embassy in Rome that it turned down a request from Iraq to militarize recently purchased Hughes helicopters. An allied government, South Korea, informed the State Department that it had received a similar request in June 1983 (when a congressional aide asked in March 1983 whether heavy trucks recently sold to Iraq were intended for military purposes, a State Department official replied "we presumed that this was Iraq's intention, and had not asked.") (Doc)

During the spring of 1984 the U.S. reconsidered policy for the sale of dual-use equipment to Iraq's nuclear program, and its "preliminary results favor[ed] expanding such trade to include Iraqi nuclear entities" (Doc). Several months later, a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis said that even after the war ended, Iraq was likely to "continue to develop its formidable conventional and chemical capability, and probably pursue nuclear weapons" (Doc). (Iraq is situated in a dangerous neighborhood, and Israel had stockpiled a large nuclear weapons arsenal without international censure. Nuclear nonproliferation was not a high priority of the Reagan administration - throughout the 1980s it downplayed Pakistan's nuclear program, though its intelligence indicated that a weapons capability was being pursued, in order to avert congressionally mandated sanctions. Sanctions would have impeded the administration's massive military assistance to Pakistan provided in return for its support of the mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.)

In February 1984, Iraq's military, expecting a major Iranian attack, issued a warning that "the invaders should know that for every harmful insect there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it whatever the number and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide" (Doc). On March 3, the State Department intervened to prevent a U.S. company from shipping 22,000 pounds of phosphorous fluoride, a chemical weapons precursor, to Iraq. Washington instructed the U.S. interests section to protest to the Iraqi government, and to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that "we anticipate making a public condemnation of Iraqi use of chemical weapons in the near future," and that "we are adamantly opposed to Iraq's attempting to acquire the raw materials, equipment, or expertise to manufacture chemical weapons from the United States. When we become aware of attempts to do so, we will act to prevent their export to Iraq" (Doc).

The public condemnation was issued on March 5. It said, "While condemning Iraq's chemical weapons use. The United States finds the present Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations and the moral and religious basis which it claims" (Doc).

Later in the month, the State Department briefed the press on its decision to strengthen controls on the export of chemical weapons precursors to Iran and Iraq, in response to intelligence and media reports that precursors supplied to Iraq originated in Western countries. When asked whether the U.S.'s conclusion that Iraq had used chemical weapons would have "any effect on U.S. recent initiatives to expand commercial relationships with Iraq across a broad range, and also a willingness to open diplomatic relations," the department's spokesperson said "No. I'm not aware of any change in our position. We're interested in being involved in a closer dialogue with Iraq" (Doc).

Iran had submitted a draft resolution asking the U.N. to condemn Iraq's chemical weapons use. The U.S. delegate to the U.N. was instructed to lobby friendly delegations in order to obtain a general motion of "no decision" on the resolution. If this was not achievable, the U.S. delegate was to abstain on the issue. Iraq's ambassador met with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jeane Kirkpatrick, and asked for "restraint" in responding to the issue - as did the representatives of both France and Britain.

A senior U.N. official who had participated in a fact-finding mission to investigate Iran's complaint commented "Iranians may well decide to manufacture and use chemical weapons themselves if [the] international community does not condemn Iraq. He said Iranian assembly speaker Rafsanjani [had] made public statements to this effect" (doc).

Iraqi interests section head Nizar Hamdoon met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Placke on March 29. Hamdoon said that Iraq strongly preferred a Security Council presidential statement to a resolution, and wanted the response to refer to former resolutions on the war, progress toward ending the conflict, but to not identify any specific country as responsible for chemical weapons use. Placke said the U.S. could accept Iraqi proposals if the Security Council went along. He asked for the Iraqi government's help "in avoiding embarrassing situation[s]" but also noted that the U.S. did "not want this issue to dominate our bilateral relationship" (Doc).

On March 30, 1984, the Security Council issued a presidential statement condemning the use of chemical weapons, without naming Iraq as the offending party. A State Department memo circulating the draft text observed that, "The statement, by the way contains all three elements Hamdoon wanted" (Doc).

On April 5, 1984, Ronald Reagan issued another presidential directive (NSDD 139), emphasizing the U.S. objective of ensuring access to military facilities in the Gulf region, and instructing the director of central intelligence and the secretary of defense to upgrade U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities. It codified U.S. determination to develop plans "to avert an Iraqi collapse." Reagan's directive said that U.S. policy required "unambiguous" condemnation of chemical warfare (without naming Iraq), while including the caveat that the U.S. should "place equal stress on the urgent need to dissuade Iran from continuing the ruthless and inhumane tactics which have characterized recent offensives." The directive does not suggest that "condemning" chemical warfare required any hesitation about or modification of U.S. support for Iraq (Doc).

A State Department background paper dated November 16, 1984 said that Iraq had stopped using chemical weapons after a November 1983 demarche from the U.S., but had resumed their use in February 1984. On November 26, 1984, Iraq and the U.S. restored diplomatic relations. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, in Washington for the formal resumption of ties, met with Secretary of State George Shultz. When their discussion turned to the Iran-Iraq war, Aziz said that his country was satisfied that "the U.S. analysis of the war's threat to regional stability is 'in agreement in principle' with Iraq's," and expressed thanks for U.S. efforts to cut off international arms sales to Iran. He said that "Iraq's superiority in weaponry" assured Iraq's defense. Shultz, with presumed sardonic intent, "remarked that superior intelligence must also be an important factor in Iraq's defense;" Tariq Aziz had to agree (Doc).

Related Articles to Read:
The Middle East Chess Board
The Colonization of Middle East
The Fall of the Ottoman's

The Middle East Chess Board

Post World War 2, like India-Pakistan in South Asia, the colonial powers created nation states in Middle East like Lebanon in 1944, Israel & Palestine in 1948 etc. The creation of the states based on religious or sectarian lines sowed the seeds of never ending conflict as we see in Israel-Palestine Dispute. Regional Conflicts aside the broader theme which divided the world in 2 blocs was the Cold War between two power Blocs lead by USA & Soviet Union. Every other crisis was somehow liked to this broader theme.

In The cold war Era the world was divided in 2 power blocs between USA & Soviet Union; USA was primarily backed by the western power, UK, France, West Germany and other NATO Allies and later on the Arab States, while Soviet Union was backed by East Germany etc. It was during the cold war era that Two Power Blocs used covert tactics to overthrow regimes, trigger revolutions & revolts; each one trying to out do each other. Countries in West Asia played a pivotal role in shaping up of the Cold War Order.

While Jordan, Lebanon, Israel were pro US countries later on joined by Saudi Arabia & Emirates in the late 70s after Petro $ Scheme was introduced. While Syria was a Soviet Ally & Communist Party in Iraq was against the Interest of West, which was crucial to US Interest in a Region that Dominated of World’s Most Oil & Gas Reserves. Hence before understanding the Dynamics of Middle East in Cold War era, we need to understand the Petro $ scheme determines US Foreign Policy in the Region & world as a whole.

Coup in Iraq:

In 1957 at the age of 20 Saddam Hussein joined the Baath Party - a movement founded by two Syrians in the early 1940s. It's ideology combined elements of Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism and socialism and were strongly opposed to the Iraqi Communist Party - which was largest in the Arab world. Evidence suggests that Hussein was already working as a CIA agent in 1958, and that he may well have recruited by them in the previous year. There was no way the US or the U.K. was ever going to allow a popular and secular Communist party to come to power - or allow any leftist government in Iraq. 4 years earlier, in August 1953, the CIA and MI6 in operation TPAJAX deposed the moderate Iranian government of Mohammad Mossadeq and installed the brutal Shah dictatorship. According to The Secret of the Iranian Coup, 1953:

The CIA extensively stage-managed the entire coup, not only carrying it out but also preparing the groundwork for it by subordinating various important Iranian political actors and using propaganda and other instruments to influence public opinion against Mossadeq.

If the CIA did this Iran in 1953 it makes sense to me that they also did this in Iraq in 1963 - when they helped the Baathists to power - the only difference being that they subordinated various important Iraqi political actors - in this case the Baathists - a right-wing political movement that was both anti-Communist and anti-monarchist.

A military coup in 1958 coup brought to power Abd al Karim Qassim. Hussein participated in a 1959 attempt to assassinate Qassim. The assassins killed Qassim's driver and wounded Qassim, but not fatally. One of the assassins was killed, and Hussein was shot in the leg and got away.

After the botched assassination, Saddam Hussein had to flee Iraq. He spent the next four years in the Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, the only period he has lived outside Iraq. While Saddam Hussein was in Beirut, the CIA paid for his apartment and put him through a brief training course, former CIA officials said according to Richard Sale writing for the United Press. The agency then helped him get to Cairo, where he attended law school in Cairo and is believed to have made frequent visits to the U.S. embassy there, according to Eric Star writing in Star Tribune on February 2nd 2003 (A history of Iraq, the cradle of Western civilization). Star writes that:

“The Iraqi Baathists and the CIA had a common interest in getting rid of pro-Soviet Qassim. Several authors believe that Saddam was helping the CIA and the Baathists coordinate a coup.”

The CIA's role in 1963 coup was "substantial."

The CIA were also closely involved when in 1963, the Baathists overthrew Qassim. This time Qassim was killed him, but the Baathists held power only briefly, setting off a period of coups more instability in Iraq. Said K. Aburish, who worked with Hussein in the 1970s, an author of "Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge," has said that the CIA's role in the coup against Qassim was "substantial." The coup resulted in the return of Hussein to Iraq - he was immediately assigned to head the Al-Jihaz al-Khas, the clandestine Ba'athist Intelligence organisation. As such, he was soon involved in the killing of some 5,000 communists.

CIA agents were in touch with army officers who helped in the coup, operated an electronic command center in Kuwait to guide the anti-Qassim forces, and like in Indonesia in 1965, supplied the conspirators with lists of people to be killed. A former senior CIA official said: "It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran's communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed." Aburish confirms this saying that

"The relationship between the Americans and the Baath Party at that moment in time was very close indeed".

This is supported by Miles Copeland, a veteran CIA operative, reported in the United Press that the CIA had enjoyed "close ties" with Qasim's ruling Baath Party, just as it had close connections with the intelligence service of Egyptian leader Gamel Abd Nassar. In a recent public statement, Roger Morris, a former National Security Council staff member in the 1970s, confirmed this claim, saying that the CIA had chosen the authoritarian and anti-Communist Baath Party "as its instrument."

Qassim had ignored warnings about the impending coup. It was the involvement of the United States that secured his downfall - he had taken Iraq out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact, threatened to occupy Kuwait and nationalized part of the foreign owned Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). We really had the wires crossed on what was happening, James Critchfield, then head of the CIA in the Middle East was reported as saying on The Age website in Australia. We regarded it as a great victory. Iraqi participants later confirmed American involvement.

We came to power on a CIA train, admitted Ali Saleh Sa'adi, the Baath Party secretary general. CIA assistance also reportedly included coordination of the coup from the inside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as well as a clandestine radio station in Kuwait and "solicitation of advice from around the Middle East on who on the left should be eliminated once the coup was successful".

But the success for the Baathists was short-lived - they were soon ousted and prominent Baathists were jailed. Hussein went underground again, but was arrested and spent portions of 1964-66 as a political prisoner. He escaped and went back underground to help plot the Baath Party's return to power.

The CIA bring Saddam to power in 1968

Due to splits in the Baath party, and Hussein rose quickly to the No. 2 position, behind his relative Ahmed Hassan Bakr. In 1968, the Baathists seized power again - Hussein became vice president and head of security services in the new regime, serving under Bakr, and soon emerged as the real power behind the throne.

Some writers claim that the CIA played a role in the 1968 coup, as well. Roger Morris, a former State Department foreign service officer who was on the NSC staff during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, says the CIA had a hand in two coups in Iraq during 1963 and 1968. According to David Morgan in his article Ex-U.S. Official Says CIA Aided Baathists CIA. First, Morris said that Saddam Hussein was first recruited by the CIA in 1958 - "There's no question - It was there in Cairo that (Saddam) and others were first contacted by the agency." In 1968, Morris says, the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Baath party elements led by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who would turn over the reins of power to Hussein in 1979. "It's a regime that was unquestionably midwived by the United States, and the (CIA's) involvement there was really primary," Morris says.

King Hussein of Jordan attributed the success of the Iraqi Baath Party in the late 60s entirely to the support it received from the CIA, at the time heavily involved in fighting communism on all fronts - especially in the Arab world.

Iraq's Deputy Chief of Army Intelligence Col. Abdel Razaq Al Nayyef later said, "for the 1968 coup you must look to Washington." Looking at the wider picture for why the CIA helped the Baathists to power Anthony LoBaido observed:

"Working with Saddam made sense to the CIA on two important levels. Number one, he was not an Islamic fundamentalist along the lines of the Iranian ayatollahs. Secondly, he was not a communist and perhaps was an anti-communist."

There can be no doubt that the CIA and Baathists shared common aims - and the evidence seems pretty conclusive that the CIA were involved in the 1963 and 1968 coups. After backing Iraq during the war against Iran (1980-88) - whilst also secretly supplying Iran with arms what became know as the Iran Contra affair - the U.S. would finally fall out with Hussein following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. In 2003, after waging a relentess air war on Iraq - and a brutal sanctions regime - the U.S. and the U.K. invaded Iraq - and captured Hussein later that year - on the run, just like he had been in the 1950's and 60's. 

Coup in Iran in 1953:

"The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government," reads a previously excised section of an internal CIA history titled The Battle for Iran.

The previously classified US documents include telegrams from Kermit Roosevelt, the senior CIA officer on the ground in Iran during the coup. Others, including a draft in-house CIA history by Scott Kock titled Zendebad, Shah! (Viva, Shah!), say that according to Monty Woodhouse, MI6's station chief in Tehran at the time, Britain needed US support for a coup. Eden agreed. "Woodhouse took his words as tantamount to permission to pursue the idea" with the US, Kock wrote.

Mosaddeq's overthrow, still given as a reason for the Iranian mistrust of British and American politicians, consolidated the Shah's rule for the next 26 years until the 1979 Islamic revolution. It was aimed at making sure the Iranian monarchy would safeguard the west's oil interests in the country.

All the coups & revolutions engineered by USA were part of Covert Foreign Policy Operations to install regimes that were favourable to in the cold war era, first by Coup it installed a puppet dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq and simultaneously Shah of Iran till 1979 meant that two big oil & gas rich nations were with USA in the Cold war Era & Soviets were deprived of Warm Water Port or an Oil Rich Area into the Gulf. The same model is being applied till date in Arab Spring, Ukraine and other theatres of conflicts, chaos.

The Colonization of Middle East

The Fall of the Ottoman Empire was the turning point at the end of World War-1. While the Arabian tribes were being armed & backed by the colonial power for objectives to bring down the Ottoman Empire the last caliphate simultaneously they were executing the plot to control the vast oil ridden gulf region with manufactured consent from the tribal elders. This marked the Colonization of West Asia or Middle east & the seeds of long ethnic/sectarian battle were sown. 

Behind the scenes, imperial politics were at work. In 1915 and 1916, Sir Mark Sykes, a key British adviser on the Middle East, and French diplomat Fran├žois Georges Picot secretly negotiated apportioning the region after the war. Under terms of the resulting Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916, Britain was to control Mesopotamia, Transjordan (Jordan), and Palestine. The French would rule Lebanon, Syria, and Cilicia, while the Russians would receive Kurdish and Armenian lands to the northeast. An international body would govern Jerusalem. Arabia was, in the words of historian David Murphy, to receive only "a certain level of independence."

Naturally, this deal was not revealed to the Arabs. But in November 1917, the Arabs found other cause for concern in a letter from Lord Arthur James Balfour, Britain's foreign secretary, to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, a leader of the Zionist Federation, which was published in the Times of London.

What became known as the Balfour Declaration stated: "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."

Moreover, in the 1918 Declaration to the Seven (a document Henry McMahon created in response to demands by a group of prominent Syrian nationalists), the British agreed that Arabs should govern lands that had been free before the war as well as lands they had liberated, and that the government "would be based principally on consent of those governed."

Thus, the great powers, particularly Britain, were making contradictory promises to their erstwhile allies and surreptitiously carving up lands they had not even conquered—deals that went against the promises McMahon made to Hussein in their 1915–1916 correspondence.

After the Russian Revolution in November 1917, the tsar's secret treaties, including the Sykes-Picot Agreement, were published, sparking tension and mistrust between the Arabs and their allies. Lawrence became reckless in his bravery, as if to expunge his feelings of guilt. "I vowed to make the Arab Revolt the engine of its own success" he wrote, "to lead it so madly in the final victory that expedience should counsel to the Powers a fair settlement of the Arabs' moral claims."

The once distant dream of taking Damascus was now reality. Two Australian cavalry divisions raced north of the Sea of Galilee, other units hooking up with the Arab Northern Army at Deraa. The Australians neared the city while roughly 1,500 Arab irregulars supported by the Regular Arab Army and British cavalry destroyed the remnants of the Ottoman Fourth Army. At long last, on October 1 Feisal and his tribesmen, with Lawrence driving Blue Mist, his Rolls-Royce, entered Damascus, along with sections of British cavalry. "Damascus went mad with joy," Lawrence recalled. "The men tossed up their tarbushes to cheer, the women tore off their veils. Householders threw flowers, hangings, carpets into the road before us: their wives leaned, screaming with laughter, through the lattices and splashed us with bath-dippers of scent." For the first time in centuries, the Arabs were free of Ottoman rule.

Ottoman administrative control essentially collapsed. Arabs everywhere were in open revolt. By mid-September, 75,000 enemy soldiers—including 3,400 Austrians and Germans—were taken prisoner. Indeed, by now the revolt had produced 15,000 Ottoman casualties (including those caused by illness) and had tied down between 23,000 and 30,000 enemy troops. In May alone, Arab raids had destroyed 25 bridges. As the Ottoman forces reeled back to their Turkish homeland, Aleppo in northern Syria fell to Arab and British forces. On October 30 the Ottoman Empire was granted an end to hostilities, its ally Germany following suit on November 11. Fakhri Pasha, however, did not surrender the Medina garrison until January 1919, the last holdout of a lost empire.

France, Great Britain, the United States, and Italy dominated negotiations. The French, who had suffered grievously in the war, wanted to punish Germany and the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. The British acquiesced in this. All three empires disappeared, and soon the conquerors had sown the seeds of modern discontent. Feisal's claims were brushed aside. The French and British resented Wilsonian idealism about the end of imperialism. "I have returned," gloated British prime minister Lloyd George with flippant arrogance after signing the Treaty of Versailles, "with a pocket full of sovereigns in the shape of the German Colonies, Mesopotamia, etc.," giving little thought to future world security or peace.

Division Of Arabia into Mandates or Colonies

At the San Remo Conference in 1920, France and Britain sliced up the Middle East, drawing sometimes ruler-straight borders, disregarding ethnic, linguistic, and religious affiliations as they conjured up new countries. They called these states "mandates" instead of what they really were: colonies.                 


After World War -1, the British and the French divided up the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The French had Lebanon and part of Syria and the British had the rest. The British redrew the map in a way that ensured that no Muslim state would be able to pose a threat to their world empire. They drew the boundaries in a way that would ensure political instability. They created Kuwait to prevent Iraq from having an outlet to the sea. The area that was made into Kuwait was part of the Satrapy (state or province) of Basra for over 400 years prior to and under the Ottomans. When Iraq was created, the town of Basra was included but not the hinterland that it traditionally controlled.

Churchill and his staff renamed Mesopotamia as Iraq, apparently based on what some Arab tribes called this region, derived from Uruk, the name of an ancient Sumerian city. Ignoring the orderly Ottoman system's divisions, they crammed Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and Kurdish groups into Iraq's artificial borders. Moreover, its tip was snipped off, made into Kuwait, and the tribe most willing to work with the British found itself elevated to kings. The British then rigged Iraqi "elections" and Feisal was proclaimed king. To his credit, Feisal pressured his British overlords for independence, behavior they found ungrateful.

The British promised the Kurds if they would revolt against the Turks they would give them their own state, Kurdistan, but then they double-crossed the Kurds and divided the map in a way that put Kurds in Turkey, Armenia, Iraq, and Iran.        

The French similarly drew the boundaries of Lebanon in a way that put Christians, Druze and Moslems together in a state that would be chronically unstable - which ultimately led to a war from 1975 to 1990 that devastated the country.

Through manipulation, including political assassination, the British (and American Oil companies) maneuvered the house of Saud into power in what is now Saudi Arabia. A move to guarantee the flow of oil unimpeded to Europe and the US but, put an arch-conservative, Wahabbite government in control of the region.

Many of the problems in the region today are a legacy of the European colonial occupation of the realm. The maps were drawn for a variety of reasons and represent a number of compromises. But those reasons were for the benefit of the colonial powers and did not take into consideration the needs of the people in the occupied territories. The maps were drawn in such a way as to guarantee continuing conflict between ethnic and religious groups.

For the most part, the US had no role in drawing the map. However, in the post colonial world, the US did take on the role of preserving the status quo. So the US has perpetuated all of the injustices of colonialism. The war in Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war which killed over 1.5 Million and the Gulf War were an outgrowth of the cynical way in which the maps were drawn after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

The British controlled what is now Israel, Jordan and Egypt. The area that is now Israel and Jordan was called Palestine.
The occupation of Constantinople and Izmir led to the establishment of a Turkish National Movement, which won the Turkish war on Independence (199-22) under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha later known as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The sultanate was abolished on 1st November 1922 and the last sultan, Mehmed VI left the country on 17th November 1922. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey Declared the Republic of Turkey on 29th October 1923. The caliphate was abolished on 3rd March 1924.

Unsurprisingly, throughout the 1920s and '30s Middle Easterners rebelled. As the cost of this fighting rose, the British and French hastily gave their mandates independence, although with treaties highly favorable to their own interests. These states have known cycles of war, revolution, political repression, and social conflict ever since. Although Abdullah's descendants still rule in Jordan, Feisal's line was extinguished in a coup after his death.

Lawrence's deeds were transformed, with his help, into the legend of "Lawrence of Arabia." He used his fame to launch a press campaign to compel Britain to honor its wartime pledges. "Our government [in Iraq]," he charged in a letter to the Sunday Times, "is worse than the old Turkish system." These barbs hit home but Lawrence spent the rest of his life trying to escape the media monster he had created to achieve his political aims. The psychic cost to him was immense, producing name changes, bouts of depression, and ritual beatings administered by others to exorcise, perhaps, "some of the evil of my tale," as he wrote.

In military terms, the Arab Revolt was a harbinger of modern warfare, particularly in the Middle East: operations combining air, land, and sea forces; fast-moving armor supported by mobile troops; and targeted strikes focusing not just on destroying the enemy but also on immobilizing him by severing communication and supply lines, often utilizing powerful improvised explosives.

War in the desert, like war at sea, takes place over a vast, often inhospitable landscape, where flanks can be turned indefinitely; intelligence and agility are essential. Furthermore, in modern warfare as in the revolt, leaders must have military and political skills. Perhaps most important, as successive invaders have learned, while it is relatively easy to enter Middle Eastern countries, tribes and other groups will rise up and fight smart and hard until the enemy withdraws, licking his bloody wounds. Thus, it is of paramount importance to win over the tribes, for they hold the keys to ultimate victory.

Britain's and France's conflicting promises and supercilious fabrication of "states" created deep mistrust and cynicism in Middle Easterners that persist to this day. For modern would-be state builders, the aftermath of the Arab Revolt clearly illustrates the impossibility of outsiders attempting to create or even "fix" inorganic states. As long as these artificial, colonial-created borders remain, there will be instability in the Middle East.
That legacy bodes ill for global security concerns as radicalized leaders—secular or religious, governmental or terrorist—seek ways to right historical wrongs. Indeed, the struggle has already set the stage for conflict in the 21st century, and poses one of the greatest security challenges of our time. Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, as monstrous as it was, had historical grounds. More chilling, Osama bin Laden has specifically blamed the Sykes-Picot Agreement for breaking "the Islamic world into fragments

Whether it’s the Colonization of Middle East in the way of mandates by Colonial Power or the Creation of Israel or even India-Pakistan after the end of world war 2; all were based one policy of Divide & Rule. These Colonial Powers played upon religious & sectarian divided be it Shia Sunnis or Hindus & Muslims, or Jews & Muslims and sowed the seeds of never ending conflicts that we see even today. That is why to understand modern day chaos we need to reflect back into history as to who created the mess the world is in today. The saga continued even after World War 2, the next part would be on creation of Israel-Palestine dispute; and Western Foreign Policy in Al-Sham & Levant.

The Fall of the Ottoman's

THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AT ITS PEAK IN 17TH CENTURY AD
Every event in History has a cause or a genesis, which lead to the happening of that event. The current crisis in Syria/Iraq though stems from 2010 Arab Spring Revolt in Syria & the event in Iraq can be traced back to 1991 to Gulf War 1 & then subsequently Gulf War 2. But that is myopic view of west asia or middle east as we call it. To understand that chaos that has emanated from Middle Eastern countries we need step back and look in time to era just at the end of World War 1. 

The Fall Of the Mighty Ottoman Empire at the end of World War 1 in the Region of Al Sham & Levant was starting point of religious and sectarian divide in the Modern Era as we see it today. Though the sectarian divides between the Shias & the Sunnis in west asia have been long dated back to Battle of Karbala in Mesopotamia (Modern Day Iraq) which battle for the legacy and leadership of Prophet Mohammad who founded Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. But that technically an ethinic or sectarian battle but the turn of Arab Tribes toward Armed Militias for Supremacy & Establishment of Kingdoms happened during fall of the Last Caliphate – The Ottoman Empire at the end of World War 1. 

The Ottoman Empire was the one of the largest and longest lasting Empires in history. It was an empire inspired and sustained by Islam, and Islamic institutions. It was the Last Caliphate. The Ottoman Empire reached its height under Suleiman the Magnificent (reigned 1520-66), when it expanded to cover the Balkans and Hungary, and reached the gates of Vienna.

The Empire began to decline after being defeated at the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and losing almost its entire navy. It declined further during the next centuries, and was effectively finished off by the First World War and the Balkan Wars.

The Arab revolt, one of the most dramatic episodes of the 20th century, was a seminal moment in the history of the modern Middle East, the touchstone of all future regional conflicts. Advised by liaison officer T. E. Lawrence—"Lawrence of Arabia"—Arab troops would play a vital role in the Allied victory over the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The Arab Revolt of 1916–1918 also saw the development of guerrilla tactics and strategies of modern desert warfare. And the political intrigues surrounding the revolt and its aftermath were as significant as the fighting, for Great Britain and France's myopic attempts at nation building planted the seeds of the troubles that plague the region to this day: wars, authoritarian governments, coups, the rise of militant Islam, and the enduring conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

None of today's states in the region existed until the 1920s. Before that, the Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire, which included Slavs, Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Berbers, Kurds, and Armenians, as well as Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Like all great empires, the Ottoman Empire was successful because for the most part its leaders let their subjects live as they chose.

In the years before World War I, however, the empire had shrunk to what is now known as Turkey, the Middle East, and much of the Arabian coastline. The Ottomans abandoned their successful multicultural formula and instituted a "Turkification" policy that made Turkish the official language in schools, the army, and government. The Arabs—who made up about 60 percent of the empire's roughly 25 million subjects—and other non-Turkish-speaking groups were furious. The Arabs formed secret nationalist societies and contacted Sherif (a title bestowed on descendants of the prophet Muhammad) Hussein ibn Ali, emir (prince) of Mecca in the Hejaz, the western strip of the Arabian Peninsula. Hussein sent one of his four sons, Abdullah, to link up with Arab nationalists in Syria, and then to Cairo to determine whether the British might aid an Arab uprising.

Britain was reluctant to step in, but when World War I broke out in August 1914, it changed its tune. The Ottomans had military and economic ties with Germany and joined the Central powers hoping to regain provinces lost earlier to Britain, France, and Russia. With Ottoman armies marching toward the Suez Canal in the British protectorate of Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, the British high commissioner based in Cairo, wrote to Hussein and asked him to start a rebellion. McMahon ambiguously promised Hussein that Britain would provide arms and money to the revolt and assist in the creation of independent Arab states in the Fertile Crescent (present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine) and the Arabian Peninsula. Hussein didn't trust the British, but when the Ottomans executed 21 Arab nationalists in 1916, he saw an Allied-supported revolt as the Arabs' only option.

He did not make the decision lightly: Ottoman forces were on the march. They had defeated the Allies on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915, unsuccessfully attacked the British-held Suez Canal, and the next year forced an Anglo-Indian army at Kut in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) to surrender. Meanwhile, on the Western Front, Allied attempts to break the Germans had degraded into a bloody stalemate while the Germans smashed Russian forces to the east. To many observers it appeared that Germany and the Ottoman Empire were ascendant. The British needed a rebellion in the Ottoman rear.

The revolt began in 1916 with an estimated 30,000 Bedouins and other tribesmen. To assemble this army, Hussein made deals with various families, clans, and tribes such as the Howeitat and Ruwalla. Many of these irregulars would only fight close to home; all had to be paid. Some tribes would not fight alongside others because of feuds. Most were capricious warriors, battling furiously when the looting was good and the enemy weak, drifting back to their villages when they became bored.

Later, these tribesmen were organized into formations commanded by Hussein's three oldest sons: the Arab Northern Army, led by Feisal, with around 6,000 fighters; the 9,000-strong Arab Eastern Army, under the command of Abdullah, made up of camel troops, some artillery, and a cavalry squadron; and Ali's 9,000-man Arab Southern Army of four artillery batteries, mounted infantry, and other units. By 1918, the British were paying their Arab allies £220,000 a month in gold to fight.

Attached to Feisal's force was the 2,000-strong Regular Arab Army, or Sherifian Army, whose ranks included men from the Levant and Mesopotamia, POWs, and Ottoman army deserters. They were disciplined soldiers, bolstered by around 1,500 Egyptian regulars provided by Britain. The Arab army boasted artillery and machine-gun units as well as mule and camel corps.

The Ottomans initially viewed the Arab Revolt as a tribal uprising they could easily crush. Strategically, their plan was simple: Hold all major towns; maintain telephone and telegraph communications; and keep the 700-mile-Hejaz Railway, running from Medina to Istanbul, open for transporting supplies and reinforcements. Well-armed garrisons in the important towns of Medina and Mecca provided additional protection. More troops were stationed in Ta'if to the southeast.

The Arab plan was even simpler: kick the Ottomans out of Arabia. More-visionary Arabian leaders dreamed of leading their armies north to take Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Damascus, returning these cities to Arab rule. But without a regular army and heavy artillery, the Arab forces could not take the powerful Ottomans head-on.

The landscape for this conflict was majestically harsh: seas of drifting sand cresting into yellow dunes; vast expanses of razor-sharp flint; thornbushes dotting the plains; deep valleys gashing the earth; and jagged, pink-hued rock towers soaring 400 feet high. This bleak beauty was dappled by sudden shimmering spots of green—high grasslands and lush oases packed with date trees whose fronds draped over wells of delicious spring water. But everything baked under the omnipresent blistering sun; temperatures often reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

British equipment included howitzers, mountain guns, Lewis machine guns, explosives, and 4,000 rifles. Later the British would supply Stokes mortars and Ford, Rolls-Royce, and Talbot armored cars, each Talbot sporting a 10-pounder gun. In the air, the Royal Flying Corps initially sent B.E.2 two-seaters and later the superb Bristol F.2B fighter-bomber and a Handley Page bomber. The Royal Navy would also play vital transport and offensive roles. The British mission operated closely with Feisal's Northern Army. Officers enthusiastically led raiding parties and provided demolition expertise. Chief among them was Capt. Thomas Edward Lawrence.

An Oxford-educated historian, Lawrence had traveled throughout the Middle East before the war. He spoke Arabic, loved the Arab people, and passionately embraced their dreams of freedom. When the revolt broke out, Lawrence was a staff officer in the Military Intelligence Department in Cairo. In October 1916, he was sent to Arabia to evaluate the revolt's progress and leadership, which was principally Sherif Hussein's four sons. As Lawrence later wrote in his remarkable account of the campaign, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, "I found Abdulla too clever, Ali too clean, Zeid too cool." Then he met the 31-year-old Feisal, who was "the leader with the necessary fire." It was the beginning of a long friendship based on trust, warmth, and a shared vision to lead the revolt into Syria. Assigned as Feisal's liaison officer, Lawrence would blossom into an intrepid guerrilla fighter, operational tactician, and strategic visionary. So closely did he empathize with the Arabs that Feisal soon presented him with the silken robes of a Bedouin leader, which had the advantage of being more comfortable than a British uniform for camel riding and desert fighting.

While hit-and-run tactics were traditional for the Bedouins, Lawrence formalized them into a theory of guerrilla warfare. "Ours should be a war of detachment," he reasoned. "We were to contain the enemy by the silent threat of a vast unknown desert, not disclosing ourselves till we attacked…and develop a habit of never engaging the enemy." Firefights often followed the explosion, as Arabs sniped at the Ottomans on the trains from rock ledges or sand dunes. Sometimes the trains contained high-ranking officers or money-laden safes.

The revolt's leaders remained focused on the larger strategic goal: push north and link up with tribes and leaders in Syria and Mesopotamia. This, however, would require a new operational port. While feverish from dysentery, Lawrence conceived a scheme to take the Red Sea port of Aqaba, which is today part of Jordan. He declined to attack from the water, where Aqaba was defended by heavy guns. Rather, his bold plan called for a force to emerge from the Nefudh Desert, which the Ottomans would never expect. The initial party of Lawrence and 17 Agayl warriors set out from Wejh on May 10, 1917. The men had £20,000 to recruit new tribesmen, and along the way, their numbers swelled to about 700 fighters.

This was the gist of the Arab Revolt during World War 1, which lead to dis integration of the Ottoman Empire the Last Caliphate in Modern Era having Islamic Law. The fall of the Ottoman empire was craftly devised by the Colonial Powers like Britain, France in the west using the Arab Tribes training them as Militias, arming them & using Guerilla warfare tactics exploiting the ethnicity of various tribes in region of Arabia to weaken the Ottoman’s. The Treachery of the Colonial Powers didn’t end here what was to follow was even more astonishing i.e. the Colonization of The Middle East that fuelled the divisions further in the region. 

In next part we will deal with Treachery of Colonial Powers & the Colonization of west Asia.