THE LINES THAT BIND – 100 Years of Sykes-Picot – Andrew J. Tabler, Editor –  POLICY FOCUS 151 • DECEMBER 2016   

A century after diplomats Mark Sykes of Britain and Francois Georges-Picot of France drew up a secret agreement to divide the Ottoman lands of the Middle East, a look at the modern map indicates the resulting states have largely stood the test of time — at least thus far. Most of these states are now under considerable demographic, economic, and political stress, which has led some analysts to predict eventual collapse for at least some of them.

In this new Policy Focus, Andrew J. Tabler has compiled essays addressing the past, present, and future of the modern countries carved out by Sykes-Picot, including Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, as well as communities aspiring to statehood such as the Kurds and the Palestinians. Written by Institute scholars and outside experts, the essays are the product of a 2016 workshop that addressed a number of key issues: the sinews of state failure; the keys to success of states resulting from Sykes-Picot; the challenges facing these states today; and what the United States and its allies can do to help these countries with problems of governance, control of territory, and human development.


  • ANDREW J. TABLER | Introduction
  • FABRICE BALANCHE | The Levant: Fragmentation and Remapping
  • MICHAEL KNIGHTS | Iraq: Identifying a Steady State
  • DAVID POLLOCK | Ending a Century of Subjugation: Sykes-Picot’s Kurdish Legacy
  • DAVID SCHENKER | Jordan: Resilience and Stability amid Persistent Challenges
  • SAM MENASSA | Lebanon, Sykes-Picot, and U.S. Foreign Policy
  • SONER CAGAPTAY | Turkey Faces Its Toughest Tests
  • GHAITH AL-OMARI | Palestine: State Institutions Before State Lines
  • DAVID MAKOVSKY | Israel’s Enduring Struggle over Land
  • BRIGITTE CURMI | The Arab World in 2016: Bringing the State Back In
  • MARTIN KRAMER | Repairing Sykes-Picot

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