Today in Middle Eastern history: Sykes-Picot is signed (1916)

Today is the anniversary of ISIS’s least-favorite arbitrarily-drawn line on a map, the Iraq-Syria boundary delineated by the Sykes-Picot agreement. Al-Jazeera has a pretty handy explainer on the agreement, though I think the headline oversells the content a little bit. Here’s another explainer over at Juan Cole’s Informed Comment that is pretty good. Or you can read my long-ago look … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Sykes-Picot is signed (1916)

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Getting Sykes-Picot sort of right but also kind of wrong

Jennifer Thea Gordon at National Interest has an important corrective (it's a little old; I found it via this Lawfare piece) to the recent spate of "Sykes-Picot is meaningless" chatter (something I've delved into here in the past), but she unfortunately beats up the history of the Syrian-Iraqi desert to get there: ISIS is not … Continue reading Getting Sykes-Picot sort of right but also kind of wrong

Badly-drawn colonial borders are still a problem

WARNING: VERY LONG At a time when the world seems to be confronted by challenges that are uniquely modern, like the threat posed by climate change* (which for my money is our greatest looming crisis), or globalized Islamic extremism, or America's massive worldwide surveillance network, we shouldn't lose sight of old problems that still cause … Continue reading Badly-drawn colonial borders are still a problem