The Arab world is in chaos, so much so that artificial borders drawn carefully by Western imperialists a hundred years ago have today become meaningless. Colonial powers like Britain and France are now beginning to taste the unwelcome fruits of those ruler-straight lines mapped out in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. You reap what you sow.
They and other European powers, along with America and Russia, are bombing the region to try to get rid of an enemy which has evolved and thrived from the mass of discontent caused directly by constant Western meddling.
Not surprisingly, the Arab people are on the move in their millions; many displaced by war, some wanting to escape the tyranny of despots parachuted into power long ago by the West, while others fear with justification the brutality and subjugation of the rapidly-growing Daesh roadshow. In short, Arabs no longer recognise their historic homelands.
Little wonder that hundreds of thousands are heading towards Europe after decades of tyranny, war and oppression have robbed them of hope or a future for themselves and the generations yet to be born. The latest Middle East exodus should come as no surprise because these are people who have been robbed of their identities and sense of belonging. It is no coincidence that refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Arabian Peninsula and beyond share the same surnames despite the vast geographic differences in their places of birth. They come from the Arab world where movement was once unhindered and the land was free of dictatorship and tyranny.
The eruption of the Arab Spring was, in hindsight, unsurprising, but what the majority of people wanted arguably wasn’t democracy but the restoration of a unity which defined them, regardless of faith, not by nationality but as Arabs. It was undermined by surviving dictatorships elsewhere in the region; it was also a missed opportunity for Western powers to put things right after so much destructive meddling over the decades.
The clock cannot be turned back, just as the refugees and asylum seekers from across the old Arab world will probably not be convinced to go back, for the simple reason that they no longer know where home is. It’s been blitzed by Western bombs, attacked by Daesh and brutalised by tyrants. Ask yourself this: what would make you want to stay in the region?
While the West tried to force the Arab world to live behind colonial borders created without consultation, it is ironic that the only state now which operates without defined borders is Israel. That’s another Western creation which has grabbed land in Syria and Lebanon as well as Palestine, of course, making it impossible for any cartographer to draw an accurate map of where the Zionist State begins and ends.
And so it squats there, in the middle of Arab lands, like a festering, running sore which its Arab neighbours have been told to accept or endure in silence. What the region needs is justice and not more bombs; you’d think that the fourth consecutive US president to blitz Iraq would have learnt that lesson, but Barak Obama appears to be as gung-ho as his predecessors.
European leaders are no better, equally bereft of ideas and panicking now as their morally vile military invasions are coming back to haunt them and us, their citizens. The Paris killings, Madrid bombings, 7/7, 9/11, the downing of passenger planes and ramped-up security so that our streets look like war zones are all a direct consequence of reckless western meddling overseas. The heart-breaking arrival of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers is now threatening to divide Europe and has caused inter-state squabbling.
We are six months away from the centenary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, by which the British and French carved-up Ottoman territory even before they had any hold over it. It was an obscene deal cut by Britain and France with the backing of Russia. The anniversary presents Western governments with a challenge to put things right and unpick the damage caused 100 years ago when they dismembered the Arab world with made-up frontiers, invented nations and cooked-up kingdoms.
Only by unpicking the damage caused by the past can we hope to give a future to the Arab people and ourselves. If that all sounds a little insane, just think back two years, when British Prime Minister David Cameron’s solution for peace in the region was to bomb President Bashar Al-Assad and his forces; today he wants to bomb Daesh with the backing of Assad and his allies.
There are many problems in the Middle East today, of which Daesh is, without doubt, a major example. The even bigger problem, though, is that on the evidence available so far, the West has proved that it can never be, or provide, the solution.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.