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Verzoening met Sykes-Picot

NEW YORK – Deze maand markeert de honderdste verjaardag van het Sykes-Picotverdrag, het geheime Brits-Franse akkoord dat een decennium van aanpassingen aan de grenzen van het post-Ottomaanse Midden-Oosten lanceerde. De meeste commentaren op deze verjaardag laten zich negatief uit, en suggereren dat de overeenkomst voor een aanzienlijk gedeelte schuld draagt aan de frequentie en langdurigheid van de conflicten in de regio.

Die interpretatie echter grenst aan een karikatuur. Mark Sykes en François Picot hadden tot doel een plan te ontwerpen dat Groot-Brittannië en Frankrijk in staat zou stellen een ruïneuze rivaliteit in het Midden-Oosten te vermijden. Ze slaagden hier grotendeels in: hun ontwerp zorgde ervoor dat de regio niet tussen de twee Europese machten in kwam te staan, en wist een eeuw te overleven.

Het is een feit dat veel van de Sykes-Picot grenzen handjeklap in Europa reflecteerden, in plaats van lokale demografische of historische realiteiten. Maar dat maakt het Midden-Oosten bepaald niet uniek: de meeste grenzen op de wereld danken hun erfenis veel minder aan een bedachtzaam ontwerp of keuze van het volk dan aan enige mengeling van geweld, ambitie, geografie, en het lot.

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