The time of the Sykes-Picot borders is over. As we “celebrate” the centennial anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War (WW1) it is clear that the Franco-British dissection of the Ottoman Empire’s southeastern marches has run its course.
As a whole the lines drawn on maps in far off Paris and London were irrational and created colonies and mandates irrespective of actual nations and cultures. If the Treaty of Versailles sowed the seeds of WW2, The Treaty of Sèvres, (the Ottoman Empire’s treaty of capitulation) laid the seed for World War 3. The State of Israel, Turkey and the Kingdom of Jordan are the only three states with national characters. (And Jordan is just barely so.)
The ONLY solution can be the re-drawing of national borders. A region with a Kurdish majority should be carved out of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. As we recall the Ottomans picked the wrong horse. Thus Turkey ought to have lost its Kurdish region after WW1. Syria is an artificial entity. Its Kurdish majority region ought be amalgamated with the rest of a new nation-state of Kurdistan. Perhaps the rest of Syria and Lebanon could be unified and made into a Federal state. Thus a Federal District of Damascus would house a congress with representatives from regions and city-states: Aleppo, Hama-Homs, Euphrates, and Damascus-Dara’a, as well as Beirut. The northern coastal region of Syria would be given to a Greater Kurdistan in exchange for gaining Lebanon. Thus Kurdistan will have an outlet to the sea. (See first map.) Or perhaps this region would be ceded to Turkey in exchange for its donation of Turkish Kurdistan.
Iraq is the most powerful and dysfunctional artificial state in the region. It is doomed. The solution is the erasure of the Sykes-Picot lines and the division of Iraq into its constituent nationalities.
A new nation-state of Kurdistan would encompass the areas with Kurdish majority in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, along with its Turkmen, Yazidi and Assyrian enclaves. Its capital if it is to be solely Iraqi-Kurdistan would be Irbil. If a greater Kurdistan incorporating Kurdish Syria and Turkey a more central capital would be picked.
Central Iraq would be an independent Sunni state, or perhaps combined with the “Euphrates State” of Federal Syria into a unitary state of بين الانهار. “Between The Rivers”, with Bagdad its capital.
Finally the new state of Shiite Basra would rule in the south.
These three new states: Kurdistan, Central Iraq and Basra would sign a treaty of Baghdad allowing for a free flow of commerce between them. The ex-Syrian State of Euphrates may also be made part of this Treaty.
By creating these new nation-states the hyper-nationalist and hyper-Islamic impulses would be channeled into constructive energy. Western Aid and investment can also be channeled more precisely into those new states that are becoming stable and humane. Each nation would be capable of self-defense, and as sovereign states would engage in alliance building with the other new states and with the wider world.
It is ludicrous that one of the products of the War to End All Wars contains the seeds of the War to End All Things! The Sykes-Picot lines are as anachronistic as the grass-covered trenches that still scar Belgium and France. These lines risk becoming new scars of destruction upon the landscape.
Historical forces are on the move in this region. The US as a content world superpower is reflexively invested in maintaining the status quo. We are unable to do so at a cost that anyone might justify. Therefore we must facilitate a new order in this region, or at least stand back and allow it. Maps: Left Kurdistan, Right Iraq ethnicities.