The rising order of the Middle East

In the last few years a number of scholars have focused on the thesis of the end of the “Sykes-Picot order”, alluding to the secret deal between British diplomat Mark Sykes and his French counterpart François Georges-Picot in 1915-16. In truth, by the end of World War I the Sykes-Picot Agreement was already a dead letter and virtually all the issues (including the internationalisation of Jerusalem) discussed in 1915-16 had not being implemented, or are no longer relevant. What is still relevant, however, is the mindset through which British and French authorities approached the region particularly in the historical phase in which that agreement was signed. London and Paris defined local realities and dissent as expressions of primitive religious cleavages […]

Trump is fostering chaos in the Middle East

In his first “historical speech to the Islamic world” US President Donald Trump spoke about the “battle between good and evil”, noting that from Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, “Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region”. Chaos is indeed a major feature of the present-day Middle East. According to data provided by the US State Department, “incidents of terrorism” increased by 6,500 per cent since George W. Bush started the “War on Terror” in 2001. Half of these “incidents” have been registered in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US invasion of the latter in 2003 is still rightly or wrongly often perceived as “also a consequence of 9/11”. This is despite the fact that […]

Raqqa has little to do with the end of Daesh

The “fall” of Aleppo and the recent Berlin terror attack have triggered a wide number of articles mainly focused on Europe’s security and the future of the Syrian proxy war. Most of these publications contend that the terror threat to Europe won’t end until Raqqa – Daesh’s de facto capital – falls. As argued by French historian Jean-Pierre Filiu: “As long as Raqqa stands as the operational command center for ISIL [Daesh] terror attacks, Europe will be struck again and again”. Almost six years after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, symptoms, causes and solutions are still often conflated. Indeed, Daesh’s future can only be partially connected to Raqqa: its long-term features will likely be decided thousands of kilometres away from […]