Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The 100-Year-Old Carve-Up Bleeding the Middle East Today - The Daily Beast



The 100-Year-Old Carve-Up Bleeding the Middle East Today

How two men, one British, one French, got together and drew a new map – betraying promises and inventing nations like Syria and Iraq. And left a mess that destroyed Tony Blair.

09.03.16 9:15 PM ET

Certain images will indelibly mark memories of this year and one will be the gut-wrenching video of a five-year-old pulled from rubble in Aleppo with the frozen stare of trauma, his face streaked with soot and blood. “Cease fires” come and go. Hell, it seems, has a special purchase on Syria. When, for heaven’s sake, can it end? No one can answer.

When did it begin? That, at least, we can explain. 

Rarely can one moment and one place be fixed as a trigger for events that unravel a whole part of the world for more than a century. But the blood-saturated disintegration of today’s Syria and much of the surrounding carnage and anomie have their origins 100 years ago, in the summer of 1916, and in British-ruled Cairo.

In this arrangement Britain was to have control of Egypt, Palestine, parts of Arabia and a new nation that became Iraq. France was to get Syria. And Russia would have control of Turkey, including of Constantinople and the Dardanelles—the channel from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean that Russia had sought since the days of Peter the Great to give it “warm water” naval power.

The Bolshevik Revolution rendered void the Russian slice of the cake—Ottoman Turkey was replaced by a secular Turkish state. But—fatefully—the rest of the deal was carried out.

The Sykes-Picot negotiations went on for many months and were handled in a way that defined two contrasting national approaches to foreign policy, embodied in the men themselves.

Picot was a professional diplomat who never stepped outside the protocols of his office. Sir Mark Sykes was a gifted amateur to whom life in the diplomatic corps would have been intolerable.