As of the writing of this post, over 120 people were gunned down or were killed in explosions across Paris. Apparently, this dastardly deed was done by members who are sympathetic to the ISIS group which has occupied vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq as well as small portions of the Mediterranean coast in Libya. Little is known about the men themselves, but it is clear that events that led to this event have developed over many years dating back to the unwise actions of the United States in Iraq beginning in 1990 and interventions from other nations dating to the end of the First World War.
Ever since the end of the First World War, the Middle East has been a cauldron of instability with either leaders ousted in violent coups (Iraq and Syria) or emirs and their decedents holding power for decades (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain). Some good books to read on the early years of this transition from Ottoman rule to countries ruled by strongmen are John Hulsman’s fine book “To Begin the World Over Again: Lawrence of Arabia from Damascus to Baghdad” which is a short book that explains how we got to this tragic situation and “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations” by Georgina Howell. The West’s refusal to heed the counsel of Gertrude Bell and Lawrence of Arabia with regards to post-Ottoman rule has led to unnecessary interventions by the West to stabilize that part of the world. There is much more to this story on how events of a century ago led to the shootings in Paris, but suffice to say, it all began with the Sykes-Picot treaty which is mentioned in Hulsman’s book.