The Year of Living Dangerously
Was 2014 a Watershed?
Business in a Changing World
Stewarding the Future
The Return of Geopolitics
The Revenge of the Revisionist Powers
The Illusion of Geopolitics
The Enduring Power of the Liberal Order
How to Respond to a Disordered World
What the Kremlin Is Thinking
Putin’s Vision for Eurasia
Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault
The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin
Who Started the Ukraine Crisis?
A Broken Promise?
What the West Really Told Moscow About NATO Expansion
Why the Kremlin Is Betting on Escalation and Isolation
China's Imperial President
Xi Jinping Tightens His Grip
Keep Hope Alive
How to Prevent U.S.-Chinese Relations From Blowing Up
Asia for the Asians
Why Chinese-Russian Friendship Is Here To Stay
A Meeting of the Minds
Did Japan and China Just Press Reset?
The End of Realist Politics in the Middle East
The Middle East's Durable Map
Rumors of Sykes-Picot's Death are Greatly Exaggerated
Staying Out of Syria
Why the United States Shouldn't Enter the Civil War—But Why It Might Anyway
The Hollow Coalition
Washington's Timid European Allies
This is What Détente Looks Like
The United States and Iran Join Forces Against ISIS
Measuring the Threat from Returning Jihadists
Welcome to the Revolution
Why Shale Is the Next Shale
New World Order
Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy
The Strategic Logic of Trade
New Rules of the Road for the Global Market
Just as hysteria about the demise of Sykes-Picot was starting to die down, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has revived it by declaring its intention to revive the caliphate at least over what is now Iraqi and Syrian territory. The news arrived in two separate ISIS videos, one featuring a Chechen militant presiding over the dismantling of an outpost on the Syrian-Iraqi border and the other showcasing an English-speaking Chilean jihadist.
Amid the post–Arab Spring everything-has-changed anxiety, fears that Syria’s dismemberment would lead to the unraveling of all the hard work that Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot did back in 1916–17 have loomed large. The civil war in Syria seemed to presage the breakup of the state and the rejiggering of its borders to serve Iraqi Sunni, Israeli, Lebanese, Kurdish, and Turkish purposes. Ankara, for example, had threatened to seize the Syrian city of Idlib if refugee flows out of the country exceeded a very low threshold, which has long since been crossed. Syria’s Kurds, meanwhile, were expected to cordon off their part of Syria from the rest of the country and then join Iraqi Kurdistan in declaring independence. Along the Lebanese-Syrian border, Hezbollah was expected to expand its territory at Syria’s expense to preserve lines of communication to a coastal Alawite enclave if Assad lost control of the rest of the country. And, if Israel felt threatened by radical Sunnis in Syria, the thinking went, it might want to push its existing boundaries in the Golan Heights eastward to establish a kind of buffer zone between the interior and Israeli towns on the escarpment. Above all, there was a fear that the Iraqi-Syrian border would crumble, as it eventually did. Indeed, anxiety about Sykes-Picot seemed to raise the stakes of the civil war in Syria, intensifying dread about a broader Middle East meltdown.
Thus far, however, the parade of horrors emanating from Syria has not included the demise of Sykes-Picot borders. The
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