A few days ago there was the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Marc Sykes and Francois Georges Picot were diplomats from Britain and France, respectively, who agreed on a secret plan to partition the collapsing Ottoman Empire. The result after a few more years of imperialist machinations was the creation of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. We see today the results of it, the bloody chaos of the modern Middle East. The Great Powers UK and France drew 100 years ago lines on the map without paying attention to ethnic and religious coexistence of people the forced to live together in one nation, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other smaller ethnic groups, that had been at war with each other for centuries.
One day the so called Islamic State will be defeated militarily. Will the problems be solved then? Surely not, but then a gigantic task will to be solved. Sustainable peacemaking and nationbuilding. If this fails and the mistakes of Sykes and Picot are repeated, new groups will gain power, be it Al Quaeda, Al Nusra or Al Whatsoever.
What can be the solution? Should the West keep out of this process? Some think so. They say Mr.Sykes and Mr.Picot and their colonializing descendants up to Georges W. Bush have caused enough damage. But what would happen in this case. Others would play their game of power, as Russia and regional powers as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Prospects for peace would be bleak. The Kurds are a people of more 20 mio in this region without a state of their own or any comparable state structure. Turkey and Iran want to prevent this, because they understand such a development as a threat for themselves.
I feel the West has no chance to keep out. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not advocating an intervention with ground troops. But I think the West has to face its responsibility. Perhaps an UN trusteeship like those that managed several pieces of postwar Yugoslavia. This will of course not be possible without some kind of cooperation with Russia. And the structure of Syria and Iraq will have to change, at a minimum they should become loose federations. I know outside the present Washington federation very few people, who think Syria and Iraq will survive in their present form. I hope their will be no kludge but structures that give a sustainable peace a chance.
But who will be able to tackle this huge task. On whom put our hope? I know many will disagree, because US foreign policy has caused much damage in the past. But should we expect any good from Russia, China or even Saudi Arabia? I still hope and pray the next US Government will have enough diplomacy and wisdom to bring a reasonable solution on the way. If not, the entire Middle East will sink into a disastrous chaos.
Let’s hope for wisdom an peace.