The Middle East continues to threaten global peace a century after British and French representatives, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot, signed the Sykes-Picot agreement named after them. This accord, concluded on May 19, 1916, divided the region extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean between the two colonial powers.
Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the first World War, the British and the French colonial masters created a variety of states whose borders were drawn with little regard for ethnic, tribal, religious or linguistic considerations.
Today, Daish (ISIS) militants are erasing the border between Iraq and Syria and pushing to get rid of all the region's frontiers created by Sykes-Picot. It is ironic that the Kurdish foes of ISIS share the goal of dismantling the borders that divide ethnic Kurds into several nations today.
The West's actions since Sykes-Picot have further exacerbated the wounds inflicted on the peoples of the region during the European Colonial rule of the Middle East. Examples include the CIA-supported restoration of the Shah of Iran to power, the creation and the unconditional support of the State of Israel, the Suez crisis and the US invasions of Iraq.
In an interview with Vice News, President Barack H. Obama acknowledged that the rise of ISIS was directly linked to the 2002 American invasion and occupation of Iraq during President George W. Bush's administration.
“Two things: One is, ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” Obama said in an interview with VICE News. “Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”
In an earlier testimony to the US Congress, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said very candidly that "the terrorists we are fighting today we funded 20 years ago".
I hope the Sykes-Picot centenary causes the West, particularly the United States as its leader, to introspect about the West's actions in the Middle East in the past and the dangerous consequences of such actions we together face today. I hope the leaders of the West will ponder the unintended consequences before starting more wars in the region.