“The strong forces drew the borders, but now they are essentially destroyed and the time has come that this current reality has to be admitted and accepted,” Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said yesterday. “We should admit that the concept of citizenship did not come forth, and the borders have no meaning anymore. It means Sykes-Picot is over.” The Kurdish leader also added: “Kurdistan is ripe for independence.”
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the Sykes-Picot agreement redrew the borders of the Middle East 100 years ago. The borders the French and British drew had more to do with their interests than any relevancy to natural tribal boundaries. Similarly to Africa, the colonial powers often times forced bitter enemies or culturally competitive societies to live together. By doing this, they created conflicts still unresolved today. It also allowed for Arabists to push migration of disenfranchised Arabs into the Mandate of Palestine as well as traditional Kurdish lands. This artificially created an Arab presence in these areas, where historically it was very small.
With Western strength receding in the region, indigenous peoples, like the Kurds, Jews, and Druze are beginning to push back on the artificial boundaries placed on their traditional lands. Barzani’s statement is a serious step in truly creating a new Middle Eastern order.