What is needed is a new Sykes-Picot Agreement

During World War I, (May 1916), Britain and France entered the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was a secret convention, with the assent of imperial Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.

They agreed that

1) Russia would acquire Armenian provinces and some Kurdish territory,

2) France would acquire Lebanon and much of present day Syria and

3) Great Britain would get southern Mesopotamia, including Bagdad and the Mediterranean ports of Haifa and Akko (Acre)

4) Between the French and British acquisitions there would be a confederation of Arab states or a single independent Arab state divided into British and French spheres of influence,

5) Alexandretta should be a free port and

6) Palestine, because of its holy places, should be under an international regime.

Sykes Picot Agreement Map signed 8 May 1916

Subsequently, Great Britain published the Balfour Declaration in 1917 in which they declared they favored the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Finally, in 1919 the San Remo Resolution made additional changes which paved the way for Mandates to be set up for Lebanon/Syria, Palestine, and for what became Iraq and what became Saudi Arabia.

But the tinkering wasn’t done yet. Just before signing the Palestine Mandate in 1922, they removed Trans-Jordan from the potential Jewish home.

It is generally acknowledged that they were guided by the wrong criteria in dividing the Ottoman Empire. Here we are 100 years later and the chickens have come home to roost. The former Ottoman Empire is falling apart.

After 8 years of war in Syria, and over 500,000 deaths, and 100 years of war in Israel, the US has the opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past which affect Syria, Iraq and Israel. The US  can undo all the mistakes made in the Palestine Mandate and return to its original intent. That would involve, recognizing Israel sovereignty over all lands to the west of the Jordan River and recognizing Arab Palestinian sovereignty in Jordan.

As for Syria, Trump had to enforce his red line. This doesn’t mean he should have bombed the hell out of Assad’s military.  But bomb he did. Perhaps the US could now punish them by dictating to them a US preferred solution for Syria.  It should do or propose the following:

1. The US should remain in the territory it now controls namely all lands to the east of the Euphrates and some to the west namely around Manji. This amounts to 30% of Syria and contains 70% of her oil reserves.

2. While there, she should assist the inhabitants, mainly Kurds and other minorities, to develop governing institutions and an army for self-defense.

3. They should accept the same for the Alawites in the territories they control in Western Syria to the Mediterranean. Assad can continue to lead them and Russia can keep their port and airbase so long as Assad agrees -- which he no doubt will.

4.  As for the remaining 50% of Syria, it should be reserved for the Sunnis. In order to stabilize it and suppress the re-emergence of ISIS, Saudi Arabia should be put in charge with the assistance of Jordan and Egypt.

5. In effect, Syria would be divided into three Mandates in which the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia respectively are the Mandate powers. These powers would be responsible to provide the money needed to rebuild their mandated lands. Over time these Mandates could become independent and federalize if they so choose.

6. Iran and Turkey must be removed from Syria and Hezb’allah must be restricted to the Alawite Mandate.

7. Iraq could also join such a federation to enable it to escape the clutches of Iran. This is so even though Iraq is 60% Shiite. For greater stability Iraq could become a federated state in which the Kurds continue with their autonomy and with the Sunnis being granted a similar autonomy. The oil wealth should be shared on a per capita basis.

8. Finally, Hezbollah should be disarmed so they can’t threaten Israel or Lebanon again.

Under American leadership, the mistakes made by Britain and France in the disposition of the Ottoman territories after WWI could be corrected for the good of all.

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