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Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

About history of Kurdistan and middle east and the world.

Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun May 08, 2016 2:05 pm

Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East

The Sykes-Picot agreement is a secret understanding concluded in May 1916, during World War One, between Great Britain and France, with the assent of Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire

The agreement led to the division of Turkish-held Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine into various French and British-administered areas. The agreement took its name from its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France.


A map marked with crude chinagraph-pencil in the second decade of the 20th Century shows the ambition - and folly - of the 100-year old British-French plan that helped create the modern-day Middle East.

Straight lines make uncomplicated borders. Most probably that was the reason why most of the lines that Mark Sykes, representing the British government, and Francois Georges-Picot, from the French government, agreed upon in 1916 were straight ones.

Sykes and Picot were quintessential "empire men". Both were aristocrats, seasoned in colonial administration, and crucially believers in the notion that the people of the region would be better off under the European empires.

Both men also had intimate knowledge of the Middle East.

The key tenets of the agreement they had negotiated in relative haste amidst the turmoil of the World War One continue to influence the region to this day. But while Sykes-Picot's straight lines had proved significantly helpful to Britain and France in the first half of the twentieth century, their impact on the region's peoples was quite different.

The map that the two men drew divided the land that had been under Ottoman rule since the early 16th Century into new countries - and relegated these political entities to two spheres of influence:

Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine under British influence
Syria and Lebanon under French influence

The two men were not mandated to redraw the borders of the Arab countries in North Africa, but the division of influence existed there as well, with Egypt under British rule, and France controlling the Maghreb.

A secret deal

Please click on image to enlarge
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But there were three problems with the geo-political order that emerged from the Sykes-Picot agreement.

First, it was secret without any Arabic knowledge, and it negated the main promise that Britain had made to the Arabs in the 1910s - that if they rebelled against the Ottomans, the fall of that empire would bring them independence.

When that independence did not materialise after World War One, and as these colonial powers, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, continued to exert immense influence over the Arab world, the thrust of Arab politics - in North Africa and in the eastern Mediterranean - gradually but decisively shifted from building liberal constitutional governance systems (as Egypt, Syria, and Iraq had witnessed in the early decades of the 20th Century) to assertive nationalism whose main objective was getting rid of the colonialists and the ruling systems that worked with them.

This was a key factor behind the rise of the militarist regimes that had come to dominate many Arab countries from the 1950s until the 2011 Arab uprisings.

Tribal lines

The second problem lay in the tendency to draw straight lines.

Sykes-Picot intended to divide the Levant on a sectarian basis:

Lebanon was envisioned as a haven for Christians (especially Maronites) and Druze
Palestine with a sizable Jewish community
the Bekaa valley, on the border between the two countries, effectively left to Shia Muslims
Syria with the region's largest sectarian demographic, Sunni Muslims

Geography helped.

For the period from the end of the Crusades up until the arrival of the European powers in the 19th Century, and despite the region's vibrant trading culture, the different sects effectively lived separately from each other.

But the thinking behind Sykes-Picot did not translate into practice. That meant the newly created borders did not correspond to the actual sectarian, tribal, or ethnic distinctions on the ground.

These differences were buried, first under the Arabs' struggle to eject the European powers, and later by the sweeping wave of Arab nationalism.

Brutality

In the period from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, and especially during the heydays of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser (from the Suez Crisis in 1956 to the end of the 1960s) Arab nationalism gave immense momentum to the idea that a united Arab world would dilute the socio-demographic differences between its populations.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Arab world's strong men - for example, Hafez Assad and Saddam Hussein in the Levant and Col Muammar Gaddafi in North Africa - suppressed the differences, often using immense brutality.

But the tensions and aspirations that these differences gave rise to neither disappeared nor were diluted. When cracks started to appear in these countries - first by the gradual disappearance of these strong men, later by several Arab republics gradually becoming hereditary fiefdoms controlled by small groups of economic interests, and most recently after the 2011 uprisings - the old frictions, frustrations, and hopes that had been concealed for decades, came to the fore.

Identity struggle

The third problem was that the state system that was created after the World War One has exacerbated the Arabs' failure to address the crucial dilemma they have faced over the past century and half - the identity struggle between, on one hand nationalism and secularism, and on the other, Islamism (and in some cases Christianism).

The founders of the Arab liberal age - from the late 19th Century to the 1940s - created state institutions (for example a secular constitution in Tunisia in 1861 and the beginnings of a liberal democracy in Egypt in the inter-war period), and put forward a narrative that many social groups (especially in the middle classes) supported - but failed to weave the piousness, conservatism, and religious frame of reference of their societies into the ambitious social modernisation they had led.

And despite major advancements in industrialisation, the dramatic inequity between the upper middle classes and the vast majority of the populations continued. The strong men of Arab nationalism championed - with immense popular support - a different (socialist, and at times militarist) narrative, but at the expense of civil and political freedoms.

And for the past four decades, the Arab world has lacked any national project or serious attempt at confronting the contradictions in its social fabric.

The new generation

That state structure was poised for explosion, and the changing demographics proved to be the trigger. Over the past four decades, the Arab world has doubled its population, to over 330 million people, two-thirds of them are under 35 years old.

This is a generation that has inherited acute socio-economic and political problems that it did not contribute to, and yet has been living its consequences - from education quality, job availability, economic prospects, to the perception of the future.

At core, the wave of Arab uprisings that commenced in 2011 is this generation's attempt at changing the consequences of the state order that began in the aftermath of World War One.

This currently unfolding transformation entails the promise of a new generation searching for a better future, and the peril of a wave of chaos that could engulf the region for several years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25299553
Last edited by Anthea on Sat May 14, 2016 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

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Re: Mark Sykes (British) Francois Georges-Picot (French)

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu May 12, 2016 10:32 pm

Sykes-Picot and the Kurds' 100-Year Itch

What's all this buzz about Sykes-Picot, and why are we hearing about it now - 100 years after the fact?

The Sykes-Picot agreement was a secret document signed by Britain and France - with a wink and a nod from czarist Russia - that basically carved up the Ottoman Empire and placed most of the Middle East under British and French administration.

Brokered during World War I, Sykes-Picot was a backroom deal, not a publicly debated diplomatic treaty. When its terms were leaked to the media in 1917 by Russia's new Bolshevik government, a major international scandal erupted.

Fast forward to June 10, 2014. As ISIS terrorists breached the international border between Iraq and Syria, they broadcast photos and video under the Twitter hashtag #SykesPicotOver. From that moment, noted The Guardian, references to the Sykes-Picot agreement became "a kind of convenient shorthand for western double-dealing and perfidy."

What's in a name? Or in this case, two names?

The Sykes-Picot Agreement was named after two diplomats who served as its primary negotiators: Sir Mark Sykes, a British Conservative Party politician; and François Georges-Picot, a French attorney.

Although it would be a stretch to describe Sir Sykes as a Kurdologist by today's academic standards, it's worth noting that he traveled through Kurdistan and even published an ethnographic study of the Kurds in 1908. The rather puzzling map that he created during his travels can be seen here.

What was the U.S. position on the Sykes-Picot agreement?

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson objected not only to the agreement's imperialist tone, but also to the underhanded manner in which it had been negotiated. In 1918, he began his famous Fourteen Points speech with these words: "The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world."

Despite Wilson's many statements about the virtue of national self-determination, in 1919 he dispatched an American team to analyze how the post-war Middle East should be structured and governed. The Americans drew a new map of the region and proposed arbitrary national boundaries, concluding--similarly to Sykes and Picot--that foreign administration was necessary to manage local ethnic and tribal tensions.

What bearing does the Sykes-Picot agreement have on The Kurdish Question and the geopolitics of the modern Middle East?

Although the national boundaries that were negotiated by Sykes and Picot differ from what we see on modern maps today, many policy experts attribute the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as the Syrian Civil War and the rise of ISIS, to the artificial national borders that the Sykes-Picot agreement blueprinted.

The fact that the Sykes-Picot agreement effectively created new countries - including the modern states of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria - without the consent or participation of anyone living in the region, is both morally problematic and completely contrary to today's international relations norms, which are governed - or at least should be governed - by international law.

100 years later, what's next for the Kurds?

Right now, conditions on the ground in Iraq and Syria bear a striking resemblance to those that pre-dated the break-ups of India, Yugoslavia and Sudan. "We don't know the fate of the people in this region," former KRG Prime Minister Barham Ahmed Salih explained in a recent interview, "But, for sure, this time - unlike a hundred years ago, when Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot drew the lines in the sand - the people of the region will have much to do with shaping the new order."

Now that central governance from Baghdad has become a fiction, the territorial integrity of Iraq is in play. One paradigm is a federalized nation, which would give greater autonomy to Kurds in the far north, Sunni Arabs in the west and Shia Arabs in the south. A second option is a fully independent Kurdistan.

In one of his most explicit statements about Kurdish independence to date, on January 22, 2016, KRG President Barzani said, "[world leaders] have come to this conclusion that the era of Sykes-Picot is over... It's illogical to continue or insist on repeating a wrong experiment that was repeated for 100 years and is leading nowhere...I think it [independence] is now much closer than at any other time."

E.A. Nolan is an international writer/producer with a longstanding interest in Kurdish issues, global health and human rights. This article was originally written for The Kurdish Project's BeyondBorders campaign, which is raising awareness about the human consequences of the Sykes-Picot legacy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth ... 72324.html
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Re: Mark Sykes (British) Francois Georges-Picot (French)

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 13, 2016 11:48 am

Press Release May 6, 2016

The Task of the Kurdistan people in the Hundredth Anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement (16th of May 1916)

Kurdistan is a rich and a fertile land. Therefore, it has been subjected to aggressions and occupations. The richness of Kurdistan has always attracted both neighboring countries and other countries far away in a colonial-interest manner. They all have exploited Kurdistan and have tried to continue their dominance and occupation against the will of the Kurdistan people. These aggressors have always harmed the people of Kurdistan and have caused them bloodshed and suffering. Thus, Kurdistan has been a battlefield and a field for imposing the hegemony of outsiders. Kurdistan lost its national unity for the first time in history due to the Qesri Shirin Agreement in 1639. The agreement was a result of war between the Ottomans and the Safavids. In the aftermath of the Qesri Shirin agreement, Kurdistan was divided into two parts. This condition continued to the beginning of the 19th century.

The 19th century was a century of war and inconvenience for Kurdish and Kurdistan people. First, it was the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, and then the Sévres Agreement (10 August 1920) and the last agreement, which harmed Kurdish national unity to destruction, was the Lausanne Agreement (24 July 1923). Kurdistan was no longer two parts, but rather became four parts. Establishing barbaric, exploitative and manipulative colonial system on the soil of Kurdistan became an imposed reality.

In the beginning of the Sykes-Picot agreement Kurdistan was under the mandate of powerful regional empire of the Ottomans and Safavids, but soon went to be under the mandate of more powerful emperors from far away, as Great Britain and France. Great Britain and France arbitrary made artificial Arabic countries and gave a part of Kurdistan to the Arabs too. Now the Arabs became a part of the colonial rule too in Kurdistan. The Russians exploited the political situation of that time and came from the north part of Kurdistan occupying the area between the Caucasus to the Hakkari area.

In very premature stages of the Sykes-Picot it was clear that the agreement will not survive long, specifically in the conditions of the First World War. The Sykes-Picot agreement was a political design that some powerful western states had to use it as a tool to implement its political interests in the area for the forthcoming 20th century. The United States of America then was still a young country. The Great Britain was the main political actor behind the design and the implementation of the agreement. France had its colonial-disagreements with Great Britain. In the end; France and Great Britain chose to divide the area between them as they had agreed behind closed curtains, far from indigenous people of the area. Even though the USA was not a part of this agreement, it was nevertheless in support for France and Great Britain.

However, the Sykes-Picot agreement by Sir Mark Sykes of England and Francois Georges-Picot of France did not continue as they had thought. Directly after the end of the WW1 and the birth of the Soviet Union, the Russians retreated. The agreement became in practice a political project of France and Great Britain. The Turks at that time succeeded to press Great Britain, France and their allies, with the assistance of the Soviet Union, and obviously by cheating and misleading Kurds, to make a package deal. After these concessions neither Sykes-Picot nor Sévres or other agreements became that deal which Great Britain and France was at first hopping for. Thus, their political mandate on the area became shorter lived. But Great Britain and France became the winner both in destroying the Ottoman Empire and also in establishing new Arabic entities. As the Lausanne Agreement in 1923 became a factor, Kurdistan´s divisions became a reality as it became a part of four different countries of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. Hence, these new artificial states became the new colonialists of Kurdistan.

In a similar way, the Second World War brought about new political era. The balance of power in the Middle East was changed and reshaped. From the WW1 there was first Russia and then Soviet Union. The Soviets did support the Kurdistan Democratic Republic in the aftermath of WW2, but they withdrew when it was no longer in their interest. The Russians left the Kurds alone. Unfortunately, the Kurdistan Democratic Republic did not survive under the enmity that was facing.

History must not be repeated in the same manner. The political actors who played major roll at the 18th century´s political reshape of the Middle East area are much or less the same actors who now have the desire to reshape the area and are playing the old game. The only actual change that has taken place is the fact the USA and Great Britain has changed places. Then it was Great Britain, today is the US.

Obviously the Great Britain playing the same role now as the USA was playing then. The Russians have made a comeback, showing muscles and engages in practical military operations with a clear role in the process. The Western world continues, under the leadership of the USA, making efforts to defend their interest in the area and to have a major saying in redesigning the Middle East. The rearranging of the political map is much harder today than it was then. The dynamics of the Middle East societies has changed significantly and therefore the balance of political power has changed too.

In the past, the Kurds and Kurdistan people were not active players; they were not organized and did lock of power. The people of Kurdistan today is organized, have political tools and power and therefore playing an active role. They represent the struggle for freedom, social- and gender equality, democracy, pluralism and progress.

In the process of liberating and rebuilding of Iraq, the people of Kurdistan has played an active and a constructive role and contributed to giving Iraq a federal democratic model and itself enjoys a federal status. Now the people of Kurdistan are playing the same active and constructive role in Rojava and Syria. They have showed great administration and protection skills and have gained international acknowledgement and is an international partner against terrorism and dictatorship. The building and the protection of the Cantons-system required great sacrifices, but succeeded. With announcing the “Federal status of Rojava and Northern Syria”, the people of Kurdistan have taken an even a greater step forward toward a system of pluralistic and peaceful coexistence.

There is not only the Western world, but also Turkey, Iran and Russia and other players in the Syrian conflict. There is a lot that goes on and every player fighting for own specific interests which has to do with the reshaping of Syria. In this framework; we are witnessing that those states which are having Kurdistan as a colony, using all of their military, political and diplomatic power, and that in very hostile manner, against people of Kurdistan. They try hard to keep the current status-quo as it has been and to keep Kurdistan as suppressed and as colonized as before.

Their aim is to have Kurdistan to be remained under their own national hegemony. Baghdad is still, despite all positive efforts by the Kurds, not in favor of a federal Iraqi system and not seeing Kurds as equal to Arabs. Damascus shows much anger in seeing the people of Rojava making progress in building workable pluralistic and democratic system. Ankara and Tehran has loosed political tolerance since the very beginning of the liberating process and doing everything they can to bring the progress to halt. They both have strong national interests to stop any Kurdish progress might happen and rather have a dream for rebuilding own old empires. Their main aim though, by attacking Rojava and Bashur, is to stop Kurdish people in Turkey and in Iran to get same national and democratic rights and political status. The people of Kurdistan are not accepting such a dominance and hegemony as it has refused it before and will resist it in future too. It must get its national-, democratic- and human rights.

The Kurdish people are now powerful, enjoying great will of resistance and self-confidence. It struggles everywhere in the area and on international level to make their voice be heard and to represent interests of Kurdistan. Due to the current situation reflected by dictatorship, totalitarianism and authoritarianism and ultra-nationalistic governance of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria and due to the Kurdish political gains and also the will of Kurdistan people in Rojhelat (Iranian) and in Bakur (Turkey) to struggle for peace and democracy, despite the hardship, the level of the liberation struggle have arisen to the peak. This great versatile struggle has stopped against this Sykes-Picot agreement and will leave it weak-willed, apathetic and functionless. In the eve of this bad omen the people of Kurdistan believe in a free will, sisterhood, peace and love.

Unfortunately, there are weak links among Kurdish people. In this very moment which requires great awareness, togetherness and conciliation, we are not as united as we should be. We need to be united. In this very conflicts, in the middle of political- and religious confusion and uncivilized behaviors; the colonial states and other dark forces can see our weaknesses and discord and they will use it against us. In the eve of this curse of Sykes-Picot which caused Kurdistan into division, as it loose its legitimacy and enforcement, the new form of the Middle East must grant the people of Kurdistan the national and democratic rights it deserves. It is otherwise impossible for the Kurds to accept it.

The people of Kurdistan are very determined to struggle for her indigenous rights and will never compromise. At the same time there are always those who think rational and try to solve the issues by dialogs and give the other side the right to be a part of a political and peaceful negotiation according to the political issues which matters today. These efforts must be respected and gives an opportunity. The Kurds can absolutely, with the support and solidarity of other suppressed nations in Kurdistan, decide on it is own destiny and the right of self-determination. The most important thing is that the people of Kurdistan have the right to choose their own destiny by practicing the right of self-determination and have the right to call it anything it finds suitable.

In the hundredth anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the main task on our shoulder is to strengthen fraternity at any coast. We, the people of Kurdistan, must find a political form which is best suitable for our national unity. Every step towards national unity is a step forward to confront the will of the colonialists. It is the step which in the end stops colonial policies against Kurdish people. At the same time, it shortens the way to our liberation and to realize our values.
Not only the Sykes-Picot but also the Lausanne agreement too must be discarded. There is a great opportunity ahead of us to establish a genuine national unity which we have already started.

The existence of two different political statuses in Iraq and Syria based on federal system, make a physical platform available for our national unity. Through internal peaceful dialogs and discussion, the process of national unity that we need happens easier. The people of Kurdistan must put the internal dialogue on the agenda.

In the hundredth anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which has become a meaningless and a source of disgust to the people, the Kurdistan National Congress sees strengthening the national unity as the main and as the most priority task. This national unity will with no doubt effect the course of the developments. The Kurds and other nationalities in Kurdistan have gained awareness of national and patriotic that they will not let themselves down and will struggle to the end.

In the beginning of this agreement some international powers gave a specific shape to the Middle East in which the people of Kurdistan, not only were excluded, but sadly got divided too. Today, with the beginning of the 21st century, while there are efforts to reshape the area again, the people of Kurdistan must get its fair share that satisfies. We, as the people of Kurdistan, have much to say about this. There is an alternative to the yesterday’s colonial agreements as Sykes-Pico, Sévres and Lausanne. We have to abolish these agreements and their practical meanings.

The people of Kurdistan have the ability to stand against regional and international aggressors and put their own demands on the agenda. This is the way to abrogate this harmful and pernicious agreement which has coast our people much pain and loss. We can make our gains bigger and the same time protect them. Today, probably for the first time in the history, we see democratic political conditions on the international level that can be in the favor of our just cause. We have to seize this opportunity. We as the people of Kurdistan must do more than ever and to perform our best and show the world that we stay put and demand our just rights.

The geographical lines between Iraq and Syria have already disappeared. The geographical lines between the Bashur (Iraqi Kurdistan) and Rojava (Kurdistan of Syria) no longer exist. There is a de facto of two Kurdish federal entities on both sides. We are not obliged and not in debt and for sure not bound to protect these lines of fake territories for others. We do not have to accept them. We as the people of Kurdistan must in practice abolish these colonial territories between Bashur and Rojava. In this way we unite two parts of Kurdistan. In the hundredth anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, the Kurdistan National Congress, first and foremost, call on the administrations of the Bashur and Rojava and on every organization and political parties in Kurdistan, to put working towards abolishing of Sykes-Picot agreement on the top of their agenda. We all together have to discard this agreement to the dustbin of history. This is our first and top priority, a priority that must be everywhere we find us!

(The Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress/ KNK)

http://www.kongrakurdistan.net/en/the-t ... -may-1916/
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Re: Mark Sykes (British) Francois Georges-Picot (French)

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat May 14, 2016 8:18 pm

A century on, don't blame Sykes-Picot for the Middle East's troubles

Image

Exactly a century ago, an Englishman and a Frenchman unrolled a map of the Middle East and drew an improbably straight line across the desert. With one pen-stroke, Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot created the modern states of the region and carelessly lit the fuse of a thousand conflicts that blaze even today.

By drawing a line from contemporary Iraq to the Mediterranean, they ignored explosive ethnic and religious divides. In this way, Britain and France carved up the Middle East after the First World War, jointly committing the original sin that lurks behind today’s tragedies.

So runs the folklore version of the Sykes-Picot agreement, whose centenary falls on Monday. This critique has gained such power that it has entered popular culture, largely because of David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia.

But even the most impassioned condemnation can be mistaken. In truth, the popular version of Sykes-Picot misunderstands almost every aspect of the agreement. After the passage of 100 years, the Middle East’s bloodshed can no longer be blamed on a map drawn by the Conservative MP for Hull Central (Sykes) and a relatively junior French diplomat (Picot).

True enough, their line sliced through ethnic and religious communities. But how could it have done otherwise? No borders, however ingenious, were going to create homogeneous countries out of a singularly diverse region of the Middle East. The crescent stretching from the Tigris to the Mediterranean - then and now - is intermingled with Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shias, Christians, Druze and Alawites.

The new countries that would emerge from the Ottoman Empire after the First World War were always going to be multi-ethnic and multi-confessional. That much was preordained.

The critique of Sykes-Picot implicitly assumes that there was an answer to the problem of how to govern a post-Ottoman Middle East. The truth may be worse: perhaps there was no solution and conflict was inevitable.

As it happens, today’s map of the region differs substantially from what Sykes and Picot envisaged. Large sections of their agreement were quickly abandoned. Under their formula, Mosul – today the second city of Iraq – would never have been in Iraq at all. They were going to place Mosul in Syria, thereby excluding a large number of Sunni Arabs and Kurds from Iraq and, as it happens, making the country more homogeneous - and the task of a Baghdad government slightly less onerous - than it is today.

When the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) destroyed a border post near Mosul in 2014, they claimed credit for obliterating the Sykes-Picot boundary. In fact, Sykes had died of Spanish flu by the time that section of the frontier between Iraq and Syria was fixed at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

At root, however, the critique of Sykes-Picot does not rest on the idea that the border was in the wrong place or that it failed to take account of ethnic complexities. Instead, the central criticism is that Britain and France had no business imposing frontiers on the Middle East at all.

This condemnation gathers force from the fact that Sykes-Picot was a secret arrangement; moreover, its terms supposedly betrayed earlier promises made by Britain to the Arabs.

But even this aspect of the indictment is less powerful than you might think. Was Sykes-Picot kept secret? Yes, but only for a year. Historians often write that Russia disclosed the agreement after the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917.

In fact, Sykes and Picot travelled to Jeddah five months earlier, in May 1917, to meet Hussein, the Sharif of Mecca and leader of the Arab revolt, and brief him on their accord.

Perhaps surprisingly, Hussein raised no particular objections. His secretary, Fuad al-Khatib, later recalled that “Hussein had on that occasion been quite content with the terms of the agreement".

As for the idea that Sykes-Picot broke Britain’s earlier promises to the Arabs, these pledges were contained in the correspondence between Sharif Hussein and Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt.

One of the few historians to read all those exchanges, dating from 1915-16, was Elie Kedourie, the late professor of politics at London University. His painstaking book, aptly entitled In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth, comes to an emphatic conclusion: “The Sykes-Picot agreement was worded precisely so as not to conflict – rather so as exactly to fit in – with [Britain’s] pledges to the Arabs.”

The notion of Sykes-Picot as original sin is more legend than reality. A century on, the Arab world should look elsewhere to explain its

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05 ... s-trouble/
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Re: Mark Sykes (British) Francois Georges-Picot (French)

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat May 14, 2016 9:02 pm

Resentment over Sykes-Picot deal still drives Turkey foreign policy

Erdogan: 'We have always opposed Sykes-Picot because Sykes-Picot divided our region and alienated our cities from each other'

Image
Sir Mark Sykes (L) and Francois Georges-Picot (R)

Resentment remains over the Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France that carved up the Middle East from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago and continues to be a major factor in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's foreign policy.

The May 1916 accord was signed 100 years ago on Monday by two British and French diplomats and drafted as defeat began to loom in World War I for Germany and its allies. They sought to create spheres of influence in the Ottoman-ruled Middle East which to a large extent helped define the borders of modern states including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Israel.

After the founding of the Turkish Republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923, the state stepped back from Ottoman imperialism, focusing on building a strong nation within its own borders.

But since Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, it has pursued a more ambitious foreign policy, seeking to increase Turkish influence in formerly Ottoman-controlled regions from Bosnia to Saudi Arabia.

Turkey's leadership, accused of neo-Ottomanism by critics, has never hidden its scorn for the Sykes-Picot accord, which it says created artificial barriers between Muslim states and deprived Turkey of its natural influence in the region.

"We have always opposed Sykes-Picot because Sykes-Picot divided our region and alienated our cities from each other," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in March.

He said the turmoil of the Arab Spring was used to thwart Turkish plans to reverse the outcome of the Sykes-Picot accord, such as by creating a free economic zone with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Now Turkey's enemies are working to create a "new Sykes-Picot" by dividing up Iraq and Syria, he said, as Kurds in particular seek their own autonomous regions.

'Narrative of resentment'

Erdogan has repeatedly railed against Sykes-Picot as the cause of the troubles in the Middle East, saying that "every conflict in the region ... had been designed a century ago".

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He has also made a particular bete noire of TE Lawrence - the British officer better known as Lawrence of Arabia, who fought alongside Arabs in their uprising against Ottoman rule during World War I - calling him an "English spy disguised as an Arab".

"Sykes-Picot is influential as a narrative for resentment towards 'Western abuse' and 'reclaiming victory stolen by past injustices', in the rhetoric of the contemporary Turkish leadership," Sezin Oney, political scientist at Bilkent University in Ankara, told AFP.

"Ankara's leadership regards the borders as artificial, limiting or even 'stealing' what belongs to Turkey's historical heritage," Oney added.

With the succession of centenary anniversaries for World War I, Turkish authorities have shown a conspicuous readiness to fete Ottoman victories in a war that the empire lost, leading to its disintegration.

In 2015, Turkey staged huge commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, where Ottoman forces defeated invading Allied armies.

This year, Turkey's leaders put huge emphasis on the relatively minor Ottoman victory over a British-Indian force in the 1916 siege of Kut al-Amara (Kut in modern Iraq).

'Stinging defeat'

"One hundred years after Kut al-Amara, we say that its spirit will win out whatever happens and that Sykes-Picot will sustain a stinging defeat," said Davutoglu on the 29 April anniversary.

"With calculations that had nothing to do with reality, they separated the cities, the rivers, the valleys and above all the people" in the region, he said.

Turkey has shown the extent of its post-imperial ambition in the Syria conflict, seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad to have a major say in the post-war politics of the country. It has also used its military inside Iraq.

Erdogan has eyed reimposing Turkey's grip on parts of territory in northern Syria, floating the idea of a safe zone on the other side of the border that could accommodate some of the 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, or even a whole new city.

In many ways the ambition has backfired, with Assad still in power and Turkey itself now the target of the Islamic State group operating from Syria.

"Turkey aimed to step into Syria and Iraq's borders militarily, economically, in recent years with its assertive foreign policy, with quite disastrous results in the case of Syria," said Oney.

It remains to be seen if the shock announcement by Davutoglu - a former academic seen as the architect of Turkey's foreign policy - that he is stepping down as prime minister will change the country's diplomacy.

"Davutoglu's departure brings the prospect of change in foreign policy, but I see the chances as quite slim," Turkey's former ambassador to Washington Faruk Logoglu told AFP, adding that Erdogan had rubber-stamped foreign policy designed by Davutoglu.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/resen ... 1388324353
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Re: Mark Sykes (British) Francois Georges-Picot (French)

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat May 14, 2016 9:09 pm

Sykes-Picot agreement unravelling on its centenary

The Sykes-Picot deal is reviled across the Middle East as the epitome of imperial arrogance, but the alternatives are grim too

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Centenarians are seldom in ruddy health.

This is certainly true of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which celebrates its 100th birthday on Monday.

The secret deal to divide the Ottoman Empire’s vast land mass into British and French zones of influence precipitated the borders of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and much else in the Middle East that exist – at least nominally – to the present day.

That order is now threatened like never before. Iraq is coming unstuck; the Kurds run their own affairs up north. Syria’s civil war is so brutal that it is hard to imagine a unified nation emerging from the ashes of its barrel-bombed cities.

The Islamic State (IS) group wilfully defies any frontier blocking its route to an Islamic caliphate. According to Tarek Osman, author of Islamism, we are only part-way through a revolution with no clear endgame.

“Sykes-Picot was a pillar of a system in the Middle East that we are watching fall apart today, as something new is being formed. Right now, we’re in a fluid, chaotic phase and a new system will not emerge for a number of years,” Osman told Middle East Eye.

“I don’t know what that system will be. It could have a sectarian element, it might have some old features from the past 90 years, and it may see new nations created. But the system of which Sykes-Picot was a part is crumbling.”
Agreement largely reviled

There are few fans of the Sykes-Picot deal in the Middle East nowadays. It is reviled as the epitome of colonial Europe greedily pursuing its own interests while trampling over local desires for self-rule.

That’s a fair cop. Both Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot – respectively the British and French diplomats who brokered the deal – were unabashed aristocrats who thought Arabs and their neighbours were better off under the yoke of Europeans.

Indicative of imperial haughtiness, Sykes, speaking in No. 10 Downing Street in 1915, showed how he would “like to draw a line from the ‘E’ in Acre to the last ‘K’ in Kirkuk”, while sliding a finger across a map from the Mediterranean to northern Iraq.

Image

As the First World War raged, Sykes and Picot debated mostly-straight lines across the Middle East and in May 1916 inked a deal in which Iraq, Transjordan and Palestine went to Britain while the French got Syria and Lebanon.

To Arabs, it represents a broken oath. London had earlier promised Arab leaders that if they backed Britain and its allies by rebelling against the Ottoman foe, the fall of that empire would win them independence.

They only found out when Russia’s new Soviet rulers outed the British and French in 1917.

For Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network, such deal-making in far-flung capitals left the Kurdish region – which encompasses modern-day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran and much else – “partitioned as if it were a cooked American thanksgiving turkey”.

“Eventually, the French and the Brits left the Middle East. But they left us to the tender mercies of folks like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Hafez al-Assad. I don’t need to repeat what they did to us,” Xulam told MEE.

“The demise of the Sykes-Picot agreement is, of course, good news for the Kurds. My only regret is that it received its first deadly blow from the Islamic State. I wish we had done that ourselves.”

The Sykes-Picot-era frontiers did not correspond to the sectarian, tribal or ethnic divisions on the ground, said Osman. But these differences were buried in the early 20th Century as Arabs struggled to eject the Europeans and build a pan-Arab identity.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Arab world’s strongmen – such as Hafez al-Assad, Saddam in the Levant and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in North Africa – suppressed these divisions, often with violence. They were vested in preserving their national borders.

The anti-autocrat Arab Spring uprisings re-opened ethnic splits – not least in Syria, where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rejected the map of the Middle East and sent Sunni Muslim soldiers to butcher Shia Muslims, Yezidis, Christians and others.

Addressing the world’s Muslims in July 2014, after IS had seized the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, al-Baghdadi said “this blessed advance will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy”.

Despite the desire of IS, other disaffected Sunnis, Kurds and other minorities, to re-define the region’s frontiers, they remain recognised in most Arab capitals, Iran, Turkey and by the UN and global powers.

'Imperialism 2.0'

Not only has the United States spent blood and treasure defending the borders of Iraq and Syria – Russia, Europeans and others have skin in the game. Despite talk of federalism, Kurdish autonomy and “Sunnistan,” the Sykes-Picot-era borders are the agreed ideal.

“With the rise of IS, some people say it’s time to redraw those borders. That’s essentially imperialism 2.0,” former Pentagon official Michael Rubin told MEE.

“Even if someone did it, would it resolve conflicts? The Middle East’s people don’t live in neat pockets, they’re spread out. New borders could not slice neatly between different groups. In the event of a re-draw, what would be the second- and third-order effects?”

Doubters warn that divorces are seldom amicable. The breakups of Sudan, Yugoslavia and India spawned huge migrations, cycles of ethnic violence and rival claims to resources and land, which in turn sparked whole new conflicts, some still unresolved years later.

And while the straight lines drawn by Sykes and Picot a century ago largely ignored ethnic realities, the states that emerged were not imaginary. Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Mt Lebanon all had a historic identity, even without agreed frontiers.

“It’s certainly in vogue to bash imperialism, colonialism, and the West’s legacy. But what is stylish is not necessarily right,” added Rubin, from the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank.

“Rather than lament Sykes-Picot, let’s recognise it for what it was: a mechanism born in imperial cynicism that nonetheless provided opportunities, often missed, for freedom and national aspiration.”

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sykes ... -498042268
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Re: Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

PostAuthor: Piling » Sun May 15, 2016 2:40 am

An alternative historical point of view about Sykes-Picot agreement can be read there :


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05 ... s-trouble/
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Re: Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun May 15, 2016 2:26 pm

Could Different Borders Have Saved the Middle East?

There probably aren’t many things that the Islamic State, Jon Stewart and the president of Iraqi Kurdistan agree on, but there is one: the pernicious influence of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret plan for dividing up the Middle East signed by France and Britain, 100 years ago this week. It has become conventional wisdom to argue, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently did, that the Middle East’s problems stem from “artificial lines, creating artificial states made up of totally distinct ethnic, religious, cultural groups.”

That Western imperialism had a malignant influence on the course of Middle Eastern history is without a doubt. But is Sykes-Picot the right target for this ire?

The borders that exist today — the ones the Islamic State claims to be erasing — actually emerged in 1920 and were modified over the following decades. They reflect not any one plan but a series of opportunistic proposals by competing strategists in Paris and London as well as local leaders in the Middle East. For whatever problems those schemes have caused, the alternative ideas for dividing up the region probably weren’t much better. Creating countries out of diverse territories is a violent, imperfect process.

Sykes and Picot Hatch Their Plan

In May 1916, Mark Sykes, a British diplomat, and François Georges-Picot, his French counterpart, drew up an agreement to ensure that once the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, their countries would get a fair share of the spoils.

Both countries awarded themselves direct control over areas in which they had particular strategic and economic interests. France had commercial ties to the Levant, and had long cultivated the region’s Christians. Britain intended to secure trade and communication routes to India through the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf.

To the extent the Sykes-Picot plan made an attempt to account for the local ethnic, religious or culutural groups, or their ideas about the future, it offered a vague promise to create one or several Arab states — under French and British influence, of course.

Faisal Dreams of a United Arab Kingdom

In March 1920, Faisal bin Hussein, who led the Arab armies in their British-supported revolt against the Ottomans during World War I, became the leader of the independent Arab Kingdom of Syria, based in Damascus. His ambitious borders stretched across modern-day Syria, Jordan, Israel and parts of Turkey. (But not Iraq.)

Would Faisal’s map have been an authentic alternative to the externally imposed borders that came in the end? We’ll never know. The French, who opposed his plan, defeated his army in July.

But even if they hadn’t, Faisal’s territorial claims would have put him in direct conflict with Maronite Christians pushing for independence in what is today Lebanon, with Jewish settlers who had begun their Zionist project in Palestine, and with Turkish nationalists who sought to unite Anatolia.

France Divides ‘Syria.’

When France took control of what is now Syria, the plan in Paris was to split up the region into smaller statelets under French control. These would have been divided roughly along ethnic, regional and sectarian lines: The French envisioned a state for Alawites, another for Druse, another for Turks and two more centered around Syria’s biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

This cynical divide-and-conquer strategy was intended to pre-empt Arab nationalists’ calls for a “greater Syria.” Today, five years into Syria’s civil war, a similar division of the country has been suggested as a more authentic alternative to the supposedly artificial Syrian state. But when the French tried to divide Syria almost a century ago, the region’s residents, inspired by ideas of Syrian or Arab unity, pushed by new nationalist leaders, resisted so strongly that France abandoned the plan.

Americans to the Rescue?

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson sent a delegation to devise a better way to divide the region. Henry King, a theologian, and Charles Crane, an industrialist, conducted hundreds of interviews in order to prepare a map in accordance with the ideal of national self-determination.

Was this a missed opportunity to draw the region’s “real” borders? Doubtful. After careful study, King and Crane realized how difficult the task was: They split the difference between making Lebanon independent or making it part of Syria with a proposal for “limited autonomy.” They thought the Kurds might be best off incorporated into Iraq or even Turkey. And they were certain that Sunnis and Shiites belonged together in a unified Iraq. In the end, the French and British ignored the recommendations. If only they had listened, things might have turned out more or less the same.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016 ... p=cur&_r=0
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Re: Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon May 16, 2016 12:25 pm

Sykes-Picot and its aftermath - Unintended consequences

The Sykes-Picot carve-up led to a century of turbulence

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THE MODERN FRONTIERS of the Arab world only vaguely resemble the blue and red grease-pencil lines secretly drawn on a map of the Levant in May 1916, at the height of the first world war. Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot were appointed by the British and French governments respectively to decide how to apportion the lands of the Ottoman empire, which had entered the war on the side of Germany and the central powers. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Sazonov, was also involved. The war was not going well at the time. The British had withdrawn from Gallipoli in January 1916 and their forces had just surrendered at the siege of Kut in Mesopotamia in April.

Still, the Allies agreed that Russia would get Istanbul, the sea passages from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and Armenia; the British would get Basra and southern Mesopotamia; and the French a slice in the middle, including Lebanon, Syria and Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey). Palestine would be an international territory. In between the French- and British-ruled blocs, large swathes of territory, mostly desert, would be allocated to the two powers’ respective spheres of influence. Italian claims were added in 1917.

But after the defeat of the Ottomans in 1918 these lines changed markedly with the fortunes of war and diplomacy (see map). The Turks, under Kemal Pasha Ataturk, pushed foreign troops out of Anatolia. Mosul was at first apportioned to France, then claimed by Turkey and subsequently handed to Britain, which attached it to the future Iraq. One reason for the tussle was the presence of oil. Even before the war, several Arab territories—Egypt, north Africa and stretches of the Arabian Gulf—had already been parcelled off as colonies or protectorates.

Even so, Sykes-Picot has become a byword for imperial treachery. George Antonius, an Arab historian, called it a shocking document, the product of “greed allied to suspicion and so leading to stupidity”. It was, in fact, one of three separate and irreconcilable wartime commitments that Britain made to France, the Arabs and the Jews. The resulting contradictions have been causing grief ever since.

In the end the Arabs, who had been led to expect a great Hashemite kingdom ruled from Damascus, got several statelets instead. The Maronite Christians got greater Lebanon, but could not control it. The Kurds, who wanted a state for themselves, failed to get one and were split up among four countries. The Jews got a slice of Palestine.

The Hashemites, who had led an Arab revolt against the Ottomans with help from the British (notably T.E. Lawrence), were evicted from Syria by the French. They also lost their ancestral fief of the Hejaz, with its holy cities of Mecca and Medina, to Abdel Aziz bin Saud, a chieftain from the Nejd, who was backed by Britain. Together with his Wahhabi religious zealots, he founded Saudi Arabia. One branch of the Hashemites went on to rule Iraq, but the king, Faisal II, was murdered in 1958; another branch survives in a little kingdom called Transjordan, now plain Jordan, hurriedly partitioned off from Palestine by the British.

Israel, forged in war in 1948, fought and won more battles against Arab states in 1956, 1967 and 1973. But its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was a fiasco. The Palestinians, scattered across the Middle East, fought a civil war in Jordan in 1970 and helped start the one in Lebanon in 1975. Syria intervened in 1976 and did not leave Lebanon until forced out by an uprising in 2005. More than two decades of “peace process” between Israel and Palestine, starting with the Oslo accords of 1993, have produced an unhappy archipelago of autonomous areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Morocco marched into the western Sahara when the Spanish departed in 1975. The year after Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979, Iraq started a war that lasted eight years. It then invaded Kuwait in 1990, but was evicted by an American-led coalition.

The Suez Canal and vast oil reserves kept the region at the forefront of cold-war geopolitics. France and Britain colluded with Israel in the war against Egypt in 1956 but were forced back by America. Yet America soon became the predominant external power, acting as Israel’s main armourer and protector. After Egypt defected from the Soviet camp, America oversaw the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979. It intervened in Lebanon in 1958 and again in 1982. American warships protected oil tankers in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war. And having pushed Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991, America stayed on in Saudi Arabia to maintain no-fly zones over Iraq. In response to al-Qaeda’s attacks on Washington and New York in September 2001, America invaded Afghanistan in the same year and then Iraq in 2003.

“Lots of countries have strange borders,” says Rami Khouri of the American University of Beirut. “Yet for Arabs, Sykes-Picot is a symbol of a much deeper grievance against colonial tradition. It is about a whole century in which Western powers have played with us and were involved militarily.”

http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... nsequences
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Re: Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon May 16, 2016 5:44 pm

Sykes-Picot denied the Kurds a nation - there is still time to reverse that injustice

It was a different age and one that has gone, but our involuntary incorporation into what became Iraq has been a source of great misery for the Kurds.

You'll be hearing a lot this week about Sykes-Picot, a secret agreement signed by British and French diplomats 100 years ago. It aimed to carve up the collapsing Ottoman Empire between France and Britain but was overtaken by events. For us Kurds it has come to symbolise the decision to deny Kurds nationhood and to force us to be part of Iraq.

It was a different age and one that has gone. But our involuntary incorporation into what became Iraq has been a source of great misery for the Kurds. It may have looked like a good idea from afar for the Kurds to balance Shia and Sunni communities and for our more mountainous, water-rich and verdant geography to complement the hotter deserts of the south.

But the Kurds, who are not Arabs, were never really welcome as equals in the new Iraq. We were either neglected or repressed. That repression led to Saddam Hussein's genocide at the end of the 20th century and our successful eviction of the genocidal dictatorship from most of the Kurdistan Region in 1991.

We only survived the Baathist backlash because Britain and other great powers set up a no-fly zone under which we managed to begin building a new autonomous region. Yet when Iraq was liberated, as we see it, from Saddam Hussein we decided to throw in our lot with Iraq and seek to make it work.

We helped put together functioning governments in Baghdad and Kurds supplied people for key posts such as Foreign Minister and President, as is still the case for a largely ceremonial position. We achieved a decent democratic and federal constitution in 2005 and it was endorsed by 80% of the people in a referendum. But it has been more like Stalin's Soviet constitution of 1936 - great in theory and ignored in practice. Time and time again, we have been denied our rights. We never received our share of the budget and arms and training were denied to our Peshmerga, although officially recognised as part of the Iraqi defence forces.

All our budget entitlements were halted in 2014 at the whim of the then Iraqi Prime Minister, who even denied Turkish ministers the right to visit our capital, Erbil on one occasion. We tried to get a revenue-sharing agreement back and the deal worked for a few weeks. We now rely on our own independent oil exports and are trying to diversify the economy so we are not so reliant on oil whose prices have plummeted.

A decade of broken promises by Baghdad has now been added to nearly a century of repression. It is also clear that Iraq fell apart in 2014 when Daesh suddenly captured a third of Iraq. We had been warning for many months of the rise of the extremist organisation in Mosul. We specifically warned the Iraqi Prime Minister that it was about to be taken but he told us to mind our own business.

We will help take back Mosul but how that is done will be very important in reassuring Sunnis that they will not once again be ignored or repressed by a Shia dominated government in Baghdad - the cause of disaffection which drove many Sunnis into thinking that Daesh was the least worse option than Baghdad.

We must be candid and realistic. We tried to make Iraq work but were spurned. We certainly want to be independent not just to fly a flag but because sovereignty will give us more ability to solve our basic problems. But we will still share a space with the rest of Iraq and insist that the divorce is amicable. It is time for Kurdistan Region and Federal Government to honestly start negotiating this issue, and we will need to enter into agreements with Baghdad on water, economics, security and much more.

We may even end up in some sort of confederation. We may well find that we get on better as neighbours rather than reluctant subjects. Anniversaries have a neatness in history but the reality is bound to be more complex. It will take time and we will ask our friends in Britain, Europe, America, Turkey and Iran to help us. But the game is up for the old Iraq as much as the days when diplomats could decide the fates of other peoples at the stroke of a pen.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/st ... -injustice
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Re: Mark Sykes Francois Georges-Picot Agreement

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon May 16, 2016 9:16 pm

President Barzani's Statement on 100th Anniversary of Sykes-Picot Agreement

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement. This agreement led to the carving up of the region following the First World War, disregarding the opinion of the peoples of the region and of the geographical reality in the region. It was a great injustice on the peoples of the region, especially the Kurds.

The consequences of this agreement were first and foremost detrimental to the people of Kurdistan in the state of Iraq. An Iraqi state that was originally established to be based on partnership between Kurds and Arabs, in fact decided to marginalize the Kurds. Successive Iraqi regimes have since denied Kurds their rights and have committed great tragedies against the Kurdish people. The share of the Kurdish people in this partnership has been the murder and deportation of 12,000 young Faili kurds, the murder of 8,000 Barzanis, the murder and disappearance of 182,000 Kurds in Garmiyan area and elsewhere, the chemical bombardment of Halabja, the destruction of 4,500 Kurdish villages, the Arabization of Kurdish areas, and countless other injustices.

After the uprising of 1991, the people of Kurdistan opted to open a new chapter with the state of Iraq, and refrained from retaliation against their perpetrators. But this too was futile as the then Iraqi government continued its oppressive policies against the Kurdish people.

After the fall of the Ba’ath regime in 2003, the people of Kurdistan decided to return to Baghdad and to help build a new Iraq by the drafting of new constitution that guaranteed the principles of genuine partnership, democracy, and federalism. Instead, Iraqi governments have since disregarded the constitution, reneged on their commitments, ignored partnership, and decided to cut the Kurdistan Region’s budget share.

War, tragedy, instability and extremism have been the results of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which forcibly folded the people of the region in artificial states, especially in Iraq. The peoples of Iraq, Kurdistan, and the region have not enjoyed peace and stability ever since the creation of these artificial boundaries.

For all intents and purposes, today Iraq is a divided country along sectarian lines. In Iraq, in Syria, and many other countries, Daesh has rendered borders meaningless, and new borders have been created. The people of Kurdistan are not responsible for this in Iraq. The responsibility lies with those who carved up the region one hundred years ago, and with the flawed policies of the rulers of the region who have wanted to maintain stability by the use of force, violence, and oppression. In this, they have failed.

In the last one hundred years, the people of Kurdistan have tried their best to protect the territorial integrity of a genuine state of Iraq, but to no avail. I would be thankful to anyone to come forward and tell us what more the Kurdish people could have done to protect the unity of Iraq. To prevent war, instability, and more tragedy, the Sykes-Picot agreement must be revised. The people of Iraq cannot any longer tolerate war, disagreement and extremism. We cannot continue with more tragedy and insist on a one-hundred-year-old arrangement that has demonstrably failed. The international community and regional countries must understand that in order to end the tragedies of Iraq, we must take into account the makeup of the country, and leave it to the peoples of Iraq to determine their political future. On the future of the Kurds in other parts, they must each seek their solutions through peace and dialogue, and based on their special circumstances.

We must acknowledge the new realities; citizenship has not been developed; borders and sovereignty have become meaningless, the Sykes-Picot agreement is over. The international community must shoulder this historical responsibility and instead of insisting on the continuation of the suffering of the people of Iraq, they must seek a real solution for Iraq and the region. Otherwise, we are destined for continued war, extremism, and tragedy, and international peace and security will be under threat.

In this difficult time, there is a historic opportunity for all of us to prevent tragedy, suffering, and the repetition of previous mistakes.

On this hundredth anniversary of Sykes-Picot agreement, I call for a serious dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to reach a new solution. If partnership cannot be achieved, let us be brothers and good neighbors.

If political parties in the Kurdistan Region, for whatever reasons, decide not to shoulder this historic responsibility to act, the people will make their decision, and the people’s decision will be stronger and more legitimate. I am confident that the people of Kurdistan will make the right decision.

http://www.presidency.krd/english/artic ... PfguLYul4=
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