Sykes-Picot agreement
Sykes-Picot agreementWikimedia Commons

According to Britain's Prince Charles, climate change is responsible for the rise of terrorism in the Middle East. He said there was evidence to show that a severe drought gave rise to the Syrian war, and by extension Islamic terror network Isis.

"There's very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land."

The prince should have known better given that his country had a clear role in the way the region shaped up politically in recent centuries. To say that his country's actions in the colonial era created the rifts in the region that manifest in the current chaos would be a stretch -- schism, strife and conflict were endemic to the region.

But to be entirely oblivious of the close part Britain played in the region and to say that Iraq and Syria became a terror incubator because of the extreme heat there is naive.

Your country had been down this path in the Levant, Arabia and North Africa far too many times to forget about -- carving up nations at will as also erasing nation states from the face of earth.

Having been there all those times -- and done all those imperial stuff -- was it merely climate change Your Majesty?

Surely more recent history was easier to recollect? The British invasion of Basra in 2003? The cluster bombs, depleted uranium, detainee torture and the fleeing of the Red Cross from the region? Images of British tanks riding through the Basra central prison to free two undercover agents in 2005?

Or what about events about a hundred years past? When you wanted to defeat the Ottomans and also to scuttle the rise of German influence in the region in the initial decades of the last century. Those days too you needed so much oil-- then to maintain a world dominating naval fleet.

That's how you started the Basra offensive in 1914. Yet another one was coming, in 1941. As part of the Anglo-Iraq war and the re-occupation of Baghdad by Britain. At the peak of the Second World War, British tanks rode through Basra, Habbaniyeh, Fallujah and Baghdad. And they would repeat this march 63 years later in the company of the Unite States.

Would Charles also say the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 was a product of extreme climate in the region? Surely he would say the failure to keep the promise of a united Arab land after the defeat of the Ottomans was a weather phenomenon? And wasn't it you who 'offered' the kingdoms of Jordan and Iraq to Abdullah and Faisal, the sons of the Hashemite satrap in Mecca?

And what about the pound sterling, weapons and ammunition offered to prop up Ibn Saud as he emerged from the highlands of Nejd to create Saudi Arabia based on a pretty radical interpretation of Islam by that day's standards?

It would be uncharitable to ask the good old prince to admit his country's actions sowed the seminal seeds of chaos in the Middle East -- given the bloody fractious and sectarian rivalries in the region, one would doubt if it would have been less chaotic even if western powers hadn't set foot there.

But you've been there. Spent enough time to realise it's not climate change that's happening there.

PS-

"What do you mean to give exactly?" --Balfour

"I should like to draw a line from the "e" in Acre to the last "k" in Kirkuk." -- Mark Sykes