David Siddhartha Patel

David Siddhartha Patel

Research Fellow at the Crown Center and lecturer in Politics at Brandeis University


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Repartitioning the Sykes-Picot Middle East? Debunking Three Myths

David Siddhartha Patel
Middle East Brief 103, November 2016


ISIS's territorial ambitions and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria have led to speculation among various analysts as to whether we are witnessing the end of Sykes-Picot and the emergence of newer and "less artificial" borders in the Middle East. In this Brief, David Patel identifies three myths underlying these assessments and systematically dismantles them: first, the notion that the Sykes-Picot Agreement is the moment when Europeans drew artificial states and borders on a blank map of the Middle East; second, that ISIS's expansion and control of territory in both Iraq and Syria is an unprecedented challenge to this regional state system; and third, that a collapse of colonial-era states would result in smaller and more peaceful polities defined by relatively homogenous ethnic or sectarian identity groups. The Brief ultimately challenges the current narrative in the West of ethnic partition as a solution to the crises in the Middle East.

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