No, Western Colonialism Didn’t Cause the Mess in the Middle East

So argues Efraim Karsh in his recent book, The Tail Wags the Dog. Against the view of most professional Middle East experts, the current American president, and many others, Karsh contends that forces and rulers indigenous to the region did far more than Western powers to shape its fate. Joshua Muravchik writes in his review:

Karsh challenges the received wisdom that the destinies of the core Middle Eastern polities—Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq—were largely shaped by Britain and France, who divided these spoils seized from Turkey in World War I. The driving force behind this aggrandizement, [according to Karsh], was neither Lloyd George nor Clemenceau but a local adventurer—[Sharif Hussein of Mecca]. . . .

Karsh defends the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, the secret bargain between London and Paris. In Karsh’s assessment, “the depiction of the Sykes-Picot agreement as the epitome of Western perfidy couldn’t be further from the truth.” Far from aiming at the subjugation of the Arabs, this deal “constituted the first-ever great-power recognition of an Arab right to self-determination.”

Rather than the Western Europeans, it was their fellow Muslims, the Ottomans, who were the main colonizers of the Arabs, and what caused the spoliation of the Ottoman empire was not the West’s avarice but its own.

Read more at Commentary

More about: History & Ideas, Middle East, Ottoman Empire, Postcolonialism, Sykes-Picot Agreement


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security