Upon the advent of Arab national liberation movements in the region, Arab countries started to gain their freedom.
Following the emergence of the Arab national state and the withdrawal of French and British colonial powers from the occupied territories, the national rhetoric kept on remembering the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916.
According to the agreement, most of the Arab lands were to be divided into British and French spheres of influence. However, it was not just a matter of remembering, the rhetoric was also harshly criticising this colonial conspiracy, aimed at dividing the Arab world.
From that time on, no history book was void of denouncements of this colonial conspiracy and suspicious agreement. The terms of the agreement were negotiated by British Sir Mark Sykes and the French diplomat François Picot, and both belonged to the colonial school of thought in France and Britain.
Condemnations of Sykes-Picot in the historical and national rhetoric were based on the assumption that colonial powers concluded the agreement with bad intentions, namely to divide the Arab world. Critics of the agreement took into consideration that Arab countries could be united because of their geographical, geopolitical and cultural nature.
Additionally, these condemnations were closely related to practices and policies adopted by colonial powers. A major example of those policies is known as “divide and conquer” which, together with other practices, fueled sectarianism and isolationism in many countries.
It is true that the core aim of Sykes-Picot agreement is colonial in the first place, thus, dividing the region and establishing borders between provinces and separated peoples. Still, it depended on some legal foundations in managing the countries which resulted from this division.
The mandate established public administrations, institutions and legislations which were an integral part of the institutional structure of a post-independence state, with the exception of Palestine, where the British mandate facilitated establishing the racist state of Israel on its territories.
When we compare the history of the Sykes-Picot era and the division that followed with the current period of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Daesh), controlling Iraqi cities and provinces, we will notice a curious paradox.
Thousands fled those cities in terror of this group which raises the black flag. The flag that indicates their affiliation to Al-Qaeda and shows their malice, hatred and contempt of human lives. This comparison will always be in favour of Sykes-Picot, even if Daesh managed to remove the borders established by colonial powers.
In the end those borders will seem like heaven compared to Daesh’s hell of terrorism. Daesh emerged out of communities that failed to preserve the national state and citizenship, and opened the door for sectarianism to safely enter the public domain.