WASHINGTON – Claiming its goal is to smash the “partitioning of Muslim lands by crusader powers,” the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has set out its goal of redrawing the map of the Middle East.
This goal is outlined in an article from its latest weekly web magazine, The Islamic State Report, a professionally designed mouthpiece meant to recruit would-be jihadist fighters from the West.
ISIS’ web magazine began in June and has just published its fifth issue. Its fourth issue talks about redrawing the map of the Middle East, and on its cover shows ISIS fighters crossing between Syria and Iraq without any sign of a demarcation between the two countries. The web magazine is published every Saturday.
The article seeks to justify creation of an Islamic caliphate to re-establish the Middle East region before it was carved up by the British and French following World War I.
In outlining how it is reshaping the Middle East map, ISIS in said its goal is to correct an injustice that goes back to a secret arrangement between the British and French, known as the 1916 Sykes-Picot Treaty. That treaty created the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan and later contributed to Israel’s creation.
Middle East experts say some of these nation-states won’t survive in their present form, and while some will, the bottom line is the United States won’t be able to stop a process that is well underway.
Before the treaty, which went into effect following the end of World War I, those countries didn’t exist but were part of the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with Germany. The Empire went out of existence once WWI ended, closing out its reign from 1299 to 1923.
The British got territory divided into Palestine and Transjordan, from which Iraq emerged. France got Greater Syria and coastal state lands that included modern-day Lebanon and Syria.
Muslims refer to the Sykes-Picot Treaty as the source of their troubles, leading to sectarian and ethnic divisions. In creating the state of Iraq, the treaty delineated non-Arab Sunni Kurds in the north, Sunni Arab Muslims in the western and central portions of the country and Shi’ite Muslim Arabs to the south.
At the time, the British also created the modern state of Jordan out of the Transjordan region and promised the Jews a homeland and state within a state under the Balfour Declaration.
In Lebanon, the French gave the Christian Maronites status and carved out borders that gave them a majority over Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Syria similarly was divided, giving the Alawites and the Druze their own portions of the country and the Sunni Muslims Damascus and Aleppo. Syria, however, didn’t become a united country until World War II.
Since that time, turmoil has reined from revolts, riots and civil wars, with the various sectarian factions fighting among each other.
ISIS claims it is out to rectify these past events. However, the jihadist group still has a challenge in showing it can govern the caliphate it seeks to create, even though it has become a rallying point and sparked the imagination of disgruntled, unemployed young people to become jihadists with its dramatic military successes.
ISIS’ success also has shown just how limited U.S. influence now is in that region, as these sectarian and ethnic groups within these countries try to sort out things for themselves.
F. Michael Maloof, senior staff writer for WND / G2Bulletin, is a former security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at [email protected].