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Islamic State only the latest group to fill vacuum left by long Ba'athist retreat in Syria

Black-clad fighters, suffering refugees and Western warplanes overhead – these are the mainstays of Iraq and Syria coverage as the Islamic State (IS) continues its campaign. Notably absent from debates is how today’s Iraq and Syria emerged from their own national histories, and not just out of foreign meddling – from Sykes-Picot to Bush and Blair.

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