The modern Middle East was created nearly 100 years ago by the French and British through an opaque agreement called Sykes-Picot. This agreement divided the Middle East after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I into zones and countries that promoted French and British interests. While these borders suited French and British needs, they created countries that could only be held together by force due to their made up of diverse clans, ethnic groups, and religions that had/have no natural cohesion.
Prior to World War II the colonial powers, the French and British, ruled the Middle East through military power. World War II sapped both countries of their strength and America became the dominant Western force in the Middle East.
With the Cold War, the Middle East was divided into countries that became proxies of either the United States or USSR. The Arab countries were ruled by dictators who kept a lid on the feuds between clans and different religions. With the Arab Spring, as well as the US toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Middle East as created by the French and British under Sykes-Picot unraveled and led to ongoing crisis in various countries.
George Friedman of stratfor.com published an article below titled Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon’s Precedent that offers a concise history of the Middle East during the past 100 years. It should be required reading for the US State Department and American presidents. Instead, our diplomats continue the failed policies of the past 50 years attempting to maintain the unmaintainable created by Sykes-Picot. And yes, peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not undo the errors of Sykes-Picot.
“Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon’s Precedent is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon’s Precedent, By George Friedman
Lebanon was created out of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This agreement between Britain and France reshaped the collapsed Ottoman Empire south of Turkey into the states we know today — Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and to some extent the Arabian Peninsula as well. For nearly 100 years, Sykes-Picot defined the region. A strong case can be made that the nation-states Sykes-Picot created are now defunct, and that what is occurring in Syria and Iraq represents the emergence of those post-British/French maps that the United States has been trying to maintain since the collapse of Franco-British power.
The Invention of Middle East Nation-States
Sykes-Picot, named for French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and his British counterpart, Sir Mark Sykes, did two things. First, it created a British-dominated Iraq. Second, it divided the Ottoman province of Syria on a line from the Mediterranean Sea east through Mount Hermon. Everything north of this line was French. Everything south of this line was British. The French, who had been involved in the Levant since the 19th century, had allies among the region’s Christians. They carved out part of Syria and created a country for them. Lacking a better name, they called it Lebanon, after the nearby mountain of the same name. Read the rest of this entry »