During the first years of the twentieth century the great powers divided the Arab world into areas of competence among. On the table prepared by the Frenchman François Georges-Picot and the Briton Mark Sykes there was a primitive RISK game, at the center of which stood out the image of the Middle East. Thus, after the Ottoman empire had been defeated during the first world war, there was an attempt to define the scenario: France and the United Kingdom were ready to recognize and protect an independent Arab State or a confederation of Arab States under the sovereignty of an Arabic head and Russia was interested in defining its own sphere of influence. This situation gave origin to a chessboard on which gradually multiplied national States.
Today, that “plan” has become unrecognizable, even if all of the three powers cited above have not abandoned the intention to handle – directly or indirectly – those territories. According to Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Institute at the University of Tel Aviv, one of the leading experts in the Middle East, “there are no more nation-states such as Iraq, Syria or Libya, nor will they ever exist again. To continue to think in terms of maps which are still hanging on our walls or in terms of boundaries traced by the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1921 is wrong”.
Abput Rabi is of Iranian-Iraqi origins. He is fluent in Farsi and Arabic languages, as well as Hebrew, English, and a number of other languages. He is also a fine connoisseur of the region, in which – he says – there are States that have their own cohesion, such as Egypt or Tunisia, and others that have disappeared, a fact of which western politicians should take note. “If I look at the map of Iraq, I see three different entities that, in passing, already existed before the English and the French divided the remains of the Ottoman Empire. That is to say, the Shiite region, Kurdistan and the Sunni area”.
“If I look at Syria, I see an ‘alawitestan’, that is, a zone under the control of Assad’s alawites, currently defended by the Russians and the Iranians and which is likely to become the small Syria, then a drusistan (land of the druzis)which will be bordering with Israel, a Kurdistan and Christian areas in the north, and an area in the hands of ISIS which expands also in Iraq and incorporate Mosul”. Prof. abput Rabi believes that ISIS is a reality that is destined to last and to threaten the world, considering that a unitary coalition to combat the fundamentalists of the Caliphate does not exist. “Every neighbouring country has its own agenda, other priorities, although ISIS is feared by everyone”. The Caliphate – which opposes the state authority and national identity by definition because it recognizes only the value of the Koran in an interpretation dating back to the seventh century and spread through the social media of the twenty-first century – is strengthening and preparing to new expansions. “Jordan is the nation that is most at risk, and to defend it there are the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt”.
“But the same is true for Israel and Palestine – has added the scholar – which should reach an agreement, because there is a tangible risk that the West Bank may end up being swallowed by ISIS”. Is ISIS an invincible reality in the medium term? “No – answers the professor – but it would require some conditions which are missing: a very expensive ten-year plan, which would bring together the sincere commitment of all the actors in the region; an economic war to “cut away the hands” of those who buy oil and other goods from ISIS; a propaganda war, especially on social networks; to send special forces who speak Arabic and are able to obtain the support of the local Sunni tribes; and, finally, constant plying about an imminent conventional war”.