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Fathom Highlight | The Past and Present of the Middle East / July 11 / 2016

The Chilcot report has revived the debate about western intervention in the Middle East. This week’s Fathom highlight offers two expert insights. Professor Asher Susser argues that the assumption of the Sykes-Picot intervention after World War One – that Western-style secular nationalism would override sectarian identities – was the biggest mistake in Western thinking about the Middle East in the 20th century, and this assumption continues to shape Western thinking. Jonathan Spyer builds upon Susser’s critique in a detailed mapping of the complex and bloody state of the sectarian conflict in a collapsing-Syria.

Our voice of the week is Oded Eran, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, joined by Merav Michaeli, member of the Israeli Knesset for the Zionist Union and Michael Oren, Kulanu Party representative in the Israeli Knesset, to discuss the growing efforts to internationalise the peace process and what the Israeli government can and should do to respond.

Our image of the week is filmmaker Quentin Tarantino receiving an award from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at the opening night of the Jerusalem Film Festival, 7 July 2016.

Sykes and Picot ignored the sectarianism of the Middle East, and we are still paying the price

by Asher Susser

It is 100 years since the signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement – the division of the territory of the Ottoman Empire into states overseen by Britain and France. What is the legacy of the agreement for today’s Middle East? Fathom’s editorial assistant Simon Smith spoke with Professor Asher Susser, the Stanley and Ilene Gold Senior Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University. Susser believes that the underlying assumption of Sykes-Picot, that Western-style secular...

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‘Where is Syria going? A Round Table with Jonathan Spyer
by Jonathan Spyer

The Fathom editors hold a monthly invite-only round table discussion in our London office between a policy expert and a group of opinion-formers. In May,...

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