Yasir Qadhi: Sykes-Picot is main reason for Middle East chaos

A map of the Sykes-Picot agreement

yasirqadhiDr Yasir Qadhi is an American Muslim theologian and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute. You can follow him on Twitter here


One hundred years ago, on May 16, 1916, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was finalized, in which European powers secretly carved out the Ottoman Empire and effectively created the modern nation-states in the Middle East.

While it is overly simplistic to blame all of the chaos and problems in the Middle East on the Sykes-Picot agreement, and Muslims and Arabs also share a large part of the blame, there is no question that the PRIMARY cause of the destabilization of that region is due to this agreement.

Firstly, the entire debacle of the Palestinian conflict and the creation of the state of Israel goes back to this treaty, as England effectively and arrogantly “gifted” what it considered “its land” (i.e., Palestine) to European Zionists. This “gift” was secretly communicated in the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Had it not been for Sykes-Picot, quite frankly Israel would never have been created.

And it is undeniable that the single greatest tension in the Middle East, and the primary cause for the hostility and anger (and yes, terrorism) against Western powers is the pathetic plight of the Palestinian peoples and the blind support for the Apartheid State that continues to trample on the rights of an entire people for over 70 years.

Francois Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes
Francois Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes

Secondly, the importation of the concept of nation-state and the drawing out of imaginary, and quite frankly arbitrary lines, between peoples of one background, one religion, one language, and even at times of one ethnicity and tribe, has led to numerous conflicts and wars. Muslims had no notion of the nation-state, and its European construct had no reason to be forcefully imposed by an illegitimate outside force.

But that is exactly what Sykes-Picot did, and in fact almost all initial rulers put in charge of those nations were direct puppets of the British (the Sharif clan of Makkah had three brothers ruling over three nation-states at one time).

And lastly, the proxy war that was played out (and continues to play out) between Western superpowers on the one hand, and the Soviets on the other, that has been taking place since the end of WW 2, and continues to this day in places like Syria, where the nation states, created by the Sykes-Picot agreement, have been used as pawns in a far more vicious game in which the real players sit in palaces and white houses in lands far away, and the people whose blood is spilled and who resources are drained are all in the Middle East.

So, no, Sykes-Picot is not the only source of the problems of the Muslim world, and there is no doubt that incompetence, and greed, and lust for power, and religious ignorance and fanaticism, and a host of other factors, are also at fault. But let not Western colonizers pass the buck and ignore the first domino that directly caused and immediately facilitated all of these other factors to come into play and wreak havoc in the Ummah.

Out of all of the factors that we blame our current failures on, the first one in my mind is without a doubt the Sykes-Picot Agreement, plotted by European colonizers one hundred years ago.

This is an abridged version of a status that Dr Qadhi wrote on his Facebook page

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