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Policy Analysis

Policy Focus 151

The Lines That Bind: 100 Years of Sykes-Picot

Andrew J. Tabler, Editor

Also available in العربية

December 2016


A century after diplomats Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France drew up a secret agreement to divide the Ottoman lands of the Middle East, a look at the modern map indicates the resulting states have largely stood the test of time -- at least thus far. Most of these states are now under considerable demographic, economic, and political stress, which has led some analysts to predict eventual collapse of at least some of them.

In this Policy Focus, Andrew J. Tabler has compiled essays addressing the past, present, and future of the modern countries carved out by Sykes-Picot, including Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, as well as communities aspiring to statehood such as the Kurds and the Palestinians. Written by Institute scholars and outside experts, the essays are the product of a 2016 workshop that addressed a number of key issues: the sinews of state failure; keys to success of states resulting from Sykes-Picot; the challenges facing these states today; and what the United States and its allies can do to help these countries with problems of governance, control of territory, and human development.


contents

  • ANDREW J. TABLER | Introduction
  • FABRICE BALANCHE | The Levant: Fragmentation and Remapping
  • MICHAEL KNIGHTS | Iraq: Identifying a Steady State
  • DAVID POLLOCK | Ending a Century of Subjugation: Sykes-Picot’s Kurdish Legacy
  • DAVID SCHENKER | Jordan: Resilience and Stability amid Persistent Challenges
  • SAM MENASSA | Lebanon, Sykes-Picot, and U.S. Foreign Policy
  • SONER CAGAPTAY | Turkey Faces Its Toughest Tests
  • GHAITH AL-OMARI | Palestine: State Institutions Before State Lines
  • DAVID MAKOVSKY | Israel’s Enduring Struggle over Land
  • BRIGITTE CURMI | The Arab World in 2016: Bringing the State Back In
  • MARTIN KRAMER | Repairing Sykes-Picot

the Editor

ANDREW J. TABLER is the Martin J. Gross Fellow at The Washington Institute, where he focuses on Syria and U.S. policy in the Levant. During fourteen years' residence in the Middle East, Mr. Tabler served as cofounder and editor-in-chief of Syria Today, Syria's first private-sector English-language magazine; as a consultant on U.S.-Syria relations for the International Crisis Group; and as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, writing on Syria. Lebanon, and the Middle East. His articles and opinion pieces have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs. He has also appeared in interviews with CNN, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, and the BBC.