9
Dec

Will drawing new borders create and sustain peace?

Could we be facing the prospect of boundaries in the Middle East being redrawn, or seeing states reconstituted out of all recognition? In the past week, two experts have suggested this is the only viable solution to the civil wars in Iraq and Syria and to defeating ISIL.

Anatol Lieven, a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and a former chair of international relations and terrorism studies at King’s College, London, advocates “the creation of fully autonomous areas in Sunni northern Iraq and eastern Syria, along similar lines to the present Kurdish region of Iraq and with full control over their internal affairs”.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, the scholar Barak Mendelsohn goes further. American “attachment to the artificial Sykes-Picot borders demarcated by France and Britain a century ago no longer makes sense”, he argues, adding that Syria and Iraq are finished as unitary states. He proposes “an independent Sunni state that would link Sunni-dominated territories on both sides of the border”.

This sounds remarkably radical, but US vice president Joe Biden, for one, can feel somewhat justified after the fact. He had suggested tripartite autonomy in Iraq nearly 10 years ago – “giving each ethno-religious group – Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab – room to run its own affairs”. He may not have included the Sunni areas of Syria at that point, but then that was before Bashar Al Assad declared war on his own people, and before the rise of ISIL and the effective disappearance of the border with Iraq. Read more…

Published on Dec. 8th, 2015, http://www.thenational.ae/

By Sholto Byrnes

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