The events of the past decade in the Middle East have upended the states in the region. What will the future hold?
Flag of Kurdistan on military uniform.
Despite many attempts, the Kurds have never won and kept their own nation – though, after World War I, they came close.
Arthur James Balfour.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema via Wikimedia Commons
With just 67 words, a British foreign secretary kicked off a hundred years of conflict and displacement.
An over-crowded graveyard in Aleppo.
The international community seems totally incapable of stopping the bloodshed in Syria. But we can express our outrage.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement was the result of secret deliberations between British civil servant Mark Sykes and French diplomat François Georges-Picot.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement created the modern Middle East. It represents one of the first installments in a long line of modern European – and subsequent American – meddling in the region.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement divided up the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire into zones of direct and indirect British and French control.
By Royal Geographical Society via Wikimedia Commons
Over the years the words Sykes-Picot have taken on two meanings – one significant, the other less so.
The promise of recently explored oilfields dictated British interest in Mesopotamia (roughly, modern-day Iraq) during the Sykes-Picot Agreement negotiations.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement delivered the spoils of war to Britain and France, and deferred the dreams of Arab nationalists.
In seeking to understand the roots of Islamic State, we’ve tried to spread the net wide, but make no claim to being comprehensive or having the final word.
Reuters/Stringer; David Wise/Flickr; Reuters/Stringer; EPA/Sanjeev Gupta; Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad; Royal Geographical Society/Wikimedia Commons; Reuters/Stringer; AAP/Asmaa Abdelatif; Reuters/Stringer
Our series on understanding Islamic State attempts to catalogue many of the forces and events that can arguably have played a part in creating the conditions necessary for these jihadists to emerge.
The century since the first world war is littered with the broken promises of Muslim rulers to bring about a transition to more representative forms of government.
The rise of Islamic State and its declaration of the caliphate can be read as part of a wider story that has unfolded since the formation of modern nation states in the Muslim world.
Map of the Sykes–Picot Agreement showing Eastern Turkey in Asia, Syria and Western Persia, and areas of control and influence agreed between the British and the French in May 1916.
Royal Geographical Society via Wikimedia Commons
The leaders of Islamic State do not see their caliphate as an exercise in theocracy for its own sake, but as an attempt at post-colonial emancipation.
It is hard to imagine what a partitioned Syria would look like.
There is no guarantee that a partitioned Syria would create a more stable environment. Many Syrians would reject partition and would attempt to reverse it.
‘The sorest stroke any Cavalry Regiment has suffered at one day’s fighting since the memory of man.’
Scotland forever! – Elizabeth Thompson
From Belgium to Moscow to Helmland: how one battle helped shape how we think of war.
A military campaign against Islamic State forces will offer no long-term resolution to Iraq’s extremist problem.
To explain the disaster befalling Iraq, as well as the rise of Islamic State (IS), you have to go back a century – before modern Iraq even existed. That’s not to discount the shared culpability of Iraq’s…
Nasser’s attempt was short-lived.
A specter continues to haunt the Arab world – the specter of regionalism. The idea that illogical national boundaries, drawn by colonial overlords divided what should have been a pan-Arab region has been…
Kurdish Peshmerga forces now control their long dreamt-of capital, Kirkut, but the euphoria at the prospect of independence ignores the real practical challenges of statehood.
Iraqi Kurds are in a unique position to declare independence in defiance of a seemingly powerless central government in Baghdad following the rapid disintegration of Iraq in the face of the Islamic State…
Prince Faisal and his party (including T E Lawrence) at Versailles, 1919.
The sweeping advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has given rise to a lively debate about who should bear ultimate responsibility for the disintegration of Iraq and Syria. On one hand…