Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations is glad to introduce Dr. Sa‘id al-Hajj intervention on “The Turkish Vision for the Future of the Region and the Division Plans.”
This intervention was introduced in the Panel Discussion: “One Hundred Years After Sykes-Picot, New Maps are Being Drawn,” which was conducted by Al-Zaytouna Centre, in Beirut on 26/5/2016.
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Intervention: The Turkish Vision for the Future of the Region and the Division Plans
Dr. Sa‘id al-Hajj
After one hundred years of its signature, the Sykes-Picot agreement returns to be at the heart of discussions and analyses related to the Arab region and its future. This is because this agreement, not only did it draw the geographical borders between the region’s countries, directly and indirectly impacting political-bilateral and multilateral-relations between the peoples and countries of the region, thus contributing to today’s state of failure prevailing in many of those countries, but rather, because the region is on the verge of new partition scenarios yet again. This is according to many policy-makers in the region and the world, as well as many writings by researchers and strategic analysts in different research centres.
However, before we get to the core of this subject, which is “The Turkish Vision for the Future of the Region and the Projects for Partition,” we need to emphasise two fundamental points concerning such scenarios:
First, the Sykes-Picot agreement deserves the bigger share of popular and elitist blame with regard to drawing the region’s maps and dividing its countries on a colonial basis, paving the way for differences and confrontations in subsequent periods between these produced states and statelets. However, the historical facts clearly state that the region’s maps were not drawn in their final form when the agreement was concluded between the British, French and Russians. Several subsequent factors, most importantly the outcome of the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and then the “Turkish War of Independence,” all contributed to substantial changes to the initial agreement, underscoring the importance of the specific role of local players in steering the course of events despite international and regional agreements.
Second, there has been a new term in the air as of late: “A new Sykes-Picot” for the region given the rapid developments in both Syria and Iraq; however, that is not necessarily accurate in the literal sense of the word. Although agreements similar to the original Sykes-Picot might have been already concluded between the international actors, particularly the USA and Russia, scenarios involving geographical partition, creating new states, or redrawing borders between existing states might be difficult to implement. A more realistic probability would be, given latest developments, maintaining current borders between states and activating scenarios of “internal” fragmentation along ethnic and sectarian lines, given such scenarios are ready for implementation. It is very likely that there will be political, not geographical, partition among states and sub-state actors, or a partition of “influence”, in the region between global and regional actors… Read More
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 26/10/2016