The Ghosts of Sykes-Picot

  • September 01, 2014
  • Colonel Mitchell H. Fridley

The European imperialism after WWI embodied in the Sykes-Picot agreement and exacerbated by the French mandate rule reinforced and made worse the geographical, social, religious and societal divisions within Syria and the Levant. In addition to laying the foundations for political and sectarian conflict seen today in the Levant, Sykes-Picot and the French mandate policies paved the way for the rise of the Baathist party and the Assad Regime. This paper starts with a look at the historical divisions in the Levant that existed during the Ottoman Empire, then focuses on the period of the Sykes-Picot negotiations and the French Mandate period. The author argues that the divisions imposed by the French during this period had profound and lasting effects on the region leading up to the 2011 uprisings against the Assad regime. In conclusion, this paper considers some forward-thinking conflict resolution ideas involving a remapping of the Middle East. This author does not agree that a ‘partition solution’ can be foist upon the region to solve the seemingly intractable regional sectarian problems orbiting around the Syrian civil war, but that eventual solution may be the only way to bring a modicum of lasting peace to the region.