Jordan Pix/Getty Images

Concilier Sykes-Picot avec notre époque

NEW YORK – Ce mois-ci a lieu le centenaire de l’accord Sykes-Picot, entente secrète conclue entre Britanniques et Français, qui amorça une dizaine d’années d’ajustements des frontières au sein du Moyen-Orient post-ottoman. La plupart des commentaires formulés autour de ce centenaire se révèlent négatifs, suggérant que l’accord constituerait une cause majeure de la fréquence et de la persistance des conflits dans la région.

Cette interprétation est néanmoins caricaturale. Mark Sykes et François George-Picot entendent à l’époque élaborer un plan permettant à la Grande-Bretagne et à la France de s’éviter une ruineuse rivalité au Moyen-Orient. Leur démarche se révélera en grande partie une réussite : la structure établie permettra d’éviter que les deux grandes puissances européennes ne se disputent des territoires dans la région, et parviendra à survivre pendant un siècle.

Certes, nombre des frontières fixées par Sykes-Picot sont davantage le reflet d’ententes conclues en Europe que de réalités démographiques ou historiques locales. Mais cela ne fait pas du Moyen-Orient une région à part : aux quatre coins du monde, la plupart des frontières sont moins le fruit d’une conception réfléchie, ou d’un choix populaire, que d’un mélange de violence, d’ambition, de géographie et d’aléa.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now