When I hear the words Sykes-Picot I more often than not feel like punching an Englishman or a Frog — any Englishman, any Frog — in the mouth, but then I think of François Georges-Picot’s granddaughter Olga, and my pugilistic thoughts turn to romantic mush. More about those two arrogant and ignorant fools later, but first Olga. I was 22 and she was 19 or 20 and we met in New York where she was studying acting and I was studying girls. It was love at first sight and we swore we’d never ever look at anyone else ever but then the summer ended and we never saw each other again. Well, I did see her but she was 20 feet tall and in Technicolor.
Twelve years after we first met, I went to see Freddie Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal in a cinema in Leicester Square, starring the wonderful Edward Fox as the paid assassin, and suddenly there was Olga falling off her horse on purpose in the Bois de Boulogne with her intended victim immediately coming to her aid. I was with a couple of karate buddies and I started hyperventilating and yelling, ‘My Olga, my Olga,’ but no one paid any attention and some wise guy behind me told me to be quiet. Olga was perfect in the part. She gets the old fool minister to pillow talk, and warns the Organisation armée secrète (OAS). I’ve always been pro-OAS and always believed De Gaulle to have betrayed the army and those who brought him to power in 1958, but it was so long ago, the only thing I can think about now is Olga. Who must be an old lady, unless I got old and she didn’t.
Her grandfather and his equally arrogant to the point of blindness partner Mark Sykes carved up the Ottoman empire back in 1916, not unlike a butcher slicing up slabs of meat fresh out of the freezer. The Sultan had wisely divided the Middle East into provinces along ethnic lines. The Anglo–French duo in 1916 proved as ignorant as George W. Bush was to be 87 years later. Had they never heard of the Sunni–Shia divide? The 1990 wars over Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, the Gulf War of 1991 and the disastrous Iraq war of 2003, as well as the Israeli–Palestinian tragedy can all be traced directly to the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1920 and those two fools carving up the Middle East while their minds were obviously elsewhere. (Most likely trying to figure out whose family was older and richer.) Winston Churchill doesn’t come out of it very well either. He actually created Iraq, or Mesopotamia as it was then called, and by the time he was thrown out of office in 1922 his folly had become Iraq as it is today. He created the artificial monarchy that ended so badly in 1958, thinking he was dealing with sleepy Bedouins who would genuflect in front of Faisal, whose family realm in Saudi Arabia had been usurped by some camel drivers who had never used an indoor loo.
Which brings me to the usurpers whose ambassador to London wrote an article in last week’s Daily Telegraph that was obviously inspired by Baron Münchhausen’s memoirs. ‘We oppose all foreign intervention and interference,’ writes the Saudi envoy, and as diplomats are supposed to go abroad and lie non-stop, there is nothing anyone can do about that false statement, except list it along with the other two biggest lies, money means nothing to me, and let me put it in just a little bit.
The Saudis first and then the even more horrible Qataris privately empowered and financed the jihadists that morphed into ISIS after the war in Syria began. An old Arab proverb, one based on the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Taki, asks what one gets when a camel is crossed with a mule. A Saudi prince, is the answer. The Saudis finance schools all over the Middle East and the Far East that teach only the Koran and to hate the infidel — us — and the Shiites in Iran. The massive blunder of Iraq still has my head spinning 11 years later.
When Pat Buchanan and I started the American Conservative just before the invasion we were called all sorts of names by scumbags such as William Kristol, David Frum and other low-life neocons eager to see Anglo–American boys fighting a proxy war for Israel and Big Oil. But Pat and I knew that the Sunni–Shia struggle set in motion by the invasion would become the vortex of a violent political struggle stretching from South Asia to the Gulf. What amazes me to this day is the number of people who voted for the war, la Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden and, of course, the war criminal himself, Tony Blair. The 9/11 outrage has been tainted by the attack that was deceitfully carried out in its name against Iraq, a country that was not involved and had no weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq was the biggest blunder of them all and we frivolously sleepwalked into it while the neocons played us like harmonicas. Now there will be Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite republics emerging from the rubble that the war against the pro-Christian Assad created, and after close to 100 years the Sykes-Picot plan will have come full circle. And one day soon, I hope, people will wake up and tell the Kuwaitis, Saudis and Qataris to stop funding hate preachers and terrorists or no more hookers or western goodies.