Last night I talked about 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles. As we discussed, it created nation-states where there had historically been none. But what does all of this mean for us now?
Well first, let us look at the easiest example, the Kurds. The Kurdish people are probably the largest ethnic group in the world with no nation-state homeland. They inhabit much of northern Iraq, parts of Syria, Iran, and Turkey. They have always been a very powerful group since they straddled the historical trade routes.
At the Treaty of Versailles they were hopeful they would finally achieve a homeland with the fall and demise of the Ottoman Empire. This was not to be though. After speeches by President Wilson their hopes were again raised by the Treaty of Sevres. But, again, they were denied a nation-state of their own relegating them to a sub-ethnic group of a variety of nations created by the European powers.
The outcome has been a long standing feeling of grievances by the Kurds against the nations that they are inhabits of. In the case of Iraq this was compounded by outright violence and persecution at the hands of Saddam Hussein. Not until the establishment of the no-fly zones, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the later granting of semi-autonomous status to their provinces in Iraq have they felt that these grievances have been addressed.
In addition to the Kurds, the other newly formed nation-states such as Saudi Arabia and Trans-Jordan were based upon completely imaginary boundaries. Some of the arguments that Saddam Hussein used in his invasion of Kuwait date back to these boundaries that were established.
The problem is that nations are usually formed over years and years of identity consolidation as a people. In the Middle East, this was not allowed to happen. We, the Western Powers, basically forced nations and countries to mirror what we told them to be. Historically and from the examples just in this article we can see this does not work out to well.
Now, take a step back from what we just talked about, and remember the issues that we discussed and we will pick this up tomorrow night with Afghanistan. There are many similarities.
God Bless America
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