RT France, May 18, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter
The Sykes-Picot accords, whose centennial was celebrated on May 16, are primarily responsible for the conflicts that devastate the Middle East today, said analyst Bassam Tahhan. He envisions the possibility of a new Sykes-Picot agreement.
[Bassam Tahhan is a Franco-syrian political scientist specializing in international issues and professor of Arab Letters]
RT France: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in Moscow, said that France, because of its historical role in the region, was partly responsible for the current chaos in the Middle East. Do you agree with his vision?
Bassam Tahhan (T. B.) The statements of Lavrov accusing France of events that rend the Middle East on the basis that it is the impact of Sykes-Picot agreements are perfectly justified historically. Besides, it is no coincidence, back then, that the Arab world to discover these secret agreements that are in fact a conspiracy, after the Russian Revolution by an employee of an embassy of a European country .
In these Sykes-Picot agreements, there was first a breach of promises made by the French and the English to the Arab world, represented at the time by the Sharif of Mecca Hussein Ben Ali. They promised a grand Arab state or a great caliphate. Finally, it ended in betrayal, because in secret during World War I, the French and the English agreed to divide up the Middle East. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of the time already contained the idea of creating a national homeland for Jews worldwide which later became the state of Israel. When we see how all this has done, it is disgraceful because they kept it all secret from the Arabs.
“What the Americans are doing today with the Saudis, by encouraging Salafist jihadists, is to try to take the territories occupied by Daesh and turn them into a new Sunni state and conduct a partitioning of Syria”
RT France: What went wrong in these agreements?
BT: The great error of France, which has claimed to defend the interests of the Eastern Christians and minorities since François I, is when, long after the end of of their mandate in 1938, she went and ceded Antioch and Alexandretta to Turkey. The aim of the French was to misalign Turkey from Germany on the eve of World War II, and so, France has only divided and sundered Syria.Then they obviously had the expansion of Lebanon. In the first division, the Bekaa was part of Syria, before being subsequently attached to the so-called Greater Lebanon. In addition, given the failure of English in this matter, this led to the creation of Jordan as a buffer state with a view to the future national homeland of the Jews.
“What’s playing out today before our eyes is a new set of Sykes-Picot agreements”
The Sykes-Picot accords bequeathed us the current borders between Iraq and Syria, between Jordan and Syria, Greater Lebanon, Syria’s loss of the entire northern region that is rich in water, which will obviously complicate the situation of the Turks because it’s the Kurds who will occupy large portions of the Syrian territories: Arab, Muslim, Christian, Alawite. These agreements will also create a problem within Turkey because, due to the fact that France has emptied all the Christians, especially Armenias, from the territories it ceded, they found refuge in Aleppo and throughout Syria. Obviously there is a Palestinian drama, but there is also a Syrian drama. What’s playing out today before our eyes is a new set of Sykes-Picot agreements.
“We can’t understand why you have to break up Syria and the Arab world and while still closing our eyes to the Kurdish problem or the Armenian problem”
RT France: In what sense?
BT: If the Sykes-Picot agreements were the betrayal of the peoples in the region including Syria, what the Americans are doing today with the Saudis, by encouraging Salafist jihadists, is to try to take the territories occupied by Daesh into a new Sunni state and proceed with a breakup of Syria.
But do not forget that after the Sykes-Picot, the world simply dropped many issues depriving peoples like the Armenians, the right to self-determination. In the Sèvres agreements, Armenians were entitled to a part of territory which is now in Turkey, east of Lake Van, and this treaty also assigned territory to the Kurds. So we do not understand why you have to break up Syria and the Arab world and close our eyes to the Kurdish or Armenian problem. All because Turkey is part of NATO. This is where we see that Sergei Lavrov is a good connoisseur of the region’s history.
His thought and criticism are very subtle because up to now France has done nothing but commit crimes against the Syrian people. The most recent crime, is letting itself be pushed into recognizing some machiavellian adventurers, a puppet opposition in the pay of the Americans and the West, as sole representatives of the Syrian people. This is where we see that France was wrong, mounting a bad horse. After five years of fighting, the opposition did not arrive anywhere, except five-star hotels in Turkey, paid through Saudi Arabia, and another government of puppets in Gaziantep, which in fact is the city of Antep, alike paid for by Saudi Arabia.
“Between France and Syria, there is a very heavy dispute.”
It will have to come to pass one day that these French officials go before the International Criminal Court. We can not forgive the politicians for their lying. When, for example Jean-Marc Ayrault and Hollande claimed bold as brass that they didn’t deliver any weapons except non-lethal ones, then they tell the truth last February in a book of interviews with President Hollande, who acknowledges providing lethal weapons. Nor can we forgive Laurent Fabius saying Al Nosra doing “a good job” in that Marrakech meeting of so-called Friends of Syria. Between France and Syria, there is a very heavy dispute.
RT France: The borders stemming from the Sykes-Picot, were they justified?
T. B. No, they are entirely artificial. They took a ruler and drew the borders for Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, pencilling along a straightedge. And so the French and the English discussed about the issue of Mosul, which was to remain attached to Syria. That’s why we can connect what is happening today, if our memory isn’t short, to the artificial appearance of borders determined in the Sykes-Picot agreements.
Their goal was to break up the region because when the French went bombing Damascus to install their mandate, it was actually a war to implement the Sykes-Picot agreements. This agreement will create more states in Syria, the Alawite State, the State of Aleppo, the state of the Druze, that is to say, to banish the notion of the nation state in order to create states by religion and prepare the creation of Israel as the country of the Jews. Even when we know that a lot of Jews in the world who do not want a religious state.
I do not see why the Kurds of Turkey should submit to this Turkish colonization
RT France: Could a new Sykes-Picot agreement overcome the present chaos in the Middle East?
B. T.: I am against the breakup of the country. On the contrary, we need more union. But these countries in their current borders did not exist 60 years ago. If you talk about the historic Syria, perhaps this is one of the oldest states in the world. That’s why the ideology of the Syrian People’s Party talked about the fertile crescent, believing more in a Syrian nationalism than an Arab one. Its leader, Antoun Saadeh, was beheaded in Lebanon. He had called for revolt against France. I think that we must first give a homeland for the Kurds, I do not see why the Kurds of Turkey should undergo the Turkish colonization. They do not call themselves Turks, they call themselves Kurds, and there are nearly 24 million of them. Syria has always been a mosaic of ethnicities and cultures. Why not instead go back to the notion of the nation state and respect the will of people who want to live together.
We are facing a Sykes-Picot Agreement II
I said it two years ago, we are facing a Sykes-Picot II. The West wants to reshape the Arab world. Syria was the weakest link of this axis of resistance, that is why they have attacked Syria. I think Vladimir Putin, being a subtle analyst of the world has understood this. This is why he has committed with force. He could already see where Westerners wanted to go. And these battles, like it or not, affect NATO since Turkey is taking part.