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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.

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