Saturday, April 30, 2016

The New Yorker

How the Curse of Sykes-Picot
Still Haunts the Middle East 
By Robin Wright
In the Middle East, few men are pilloried these days as much as Sir Mark Sykes and Fran├žois Georges-Picot. Sykes, a British diplomat, travelled the same turf as T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia), served in the Boer War, inherited a baronetcy, and won a Conservative seat in Parliament. He died young, at thirty-nine, during the 1919 flu epidemic. Picot was a French lawyer and diplomat who led a long but obscure life, mainly in backwater posts, until his death, in 1950. But the two men live on in the secret agreement they were assigned to draft, during the First World War, to divide the Ottoman Empire’s vast land mass into British and French spheres of influence. The Sykes-Picot Agreement launched a nine-year process—and other deals, declarations, and treaties—that created the modern Middle East states out of the Ottoman carcass. The new borders ultimately bore little resemblance to the original Sykes-Picot map, but their map is still viewed as the root cause of much that has happened ever since.
May 16th will mark the agreement’s hundredth anniversary, amid questions over whether its borders can survive the region’s current furies. “The system in place for the past one hundred years has collapsed,” Barham Salih, a former deputy prime minister of Iraq, declared at the Sulaimani Forum,  in Iraqi Kurdistan, in March. “It’s not clear what new system will take its place."
Read on....
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-the-curse-of-sykes-picot-still-haunts-the-middle-east

Monday, April 25, 2016

The New Yorker

Zarif on Fraying Nuclear Deal, 
U.S. Relations & Holocaust Cartoons
By Robin Wright 
Three months after Iran dismantled large parts of its nuclear program, in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the international nuclear deal—the country’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, declared last week in New York that the United States is falling seriously short of its commitments. Iran’s Central Bank chief, Valiollah Seif, delivered a similar message during his first meeting with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, on April 14th, and he told the Council on Foreign Relations, “Nothing has happened.” In an interview, Zarif discussed sticking points in relations between Washington and Tehran. 
Read on....
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/irans-javad-zarif-on-the-fraying-nuclear-deal-u-s-relations-and-holocaust-cartoons





Thursday, April 14, 2016

The New Yorker

Iran's Daring Dissident Cleric
Pleads to be Put on Trial
By Robin Wright 

     In a melancholy yet defiant open letter, from one revolutionary to another, Mehdi Karroubi pleaded over the weekend to be put on trial in Iran. His dissent could no longer be silenced, he wrote in his letter to President Hassan Rouhani, a former colleague, and he declared, “We must stand up against the idea of a regime with one single voice, made so through monopolizing an unaccountable power.”
     But a trial could also mean the death sentence for a man who was twice a presidential candidate and who served for eight years as Speaker of Parliament. A man who was jailed nine times under the shah is now viewed as a "seditionist" by his own revolution.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The New Yorker

The Pigeon Boy
And Other Fugitives from ISIS
By Robin Wright 
Mohammed Hussein, a six-year-old Iraqi boy, was born with a condition known as glanular hypospadias, in which the opening for the urethra is not in its usual place at the tip of the penis. When his father, Saad Hussein, pulled the child’s trousers down to show me, his mother and five sisters seemed unsurprised. Need had long ago superseded modesty. We were clustered together on the floor of a small tent in Baharka, a camp outside Erbil, in northern Iraq, for people who have fled ISIS but who haven’t left the country. The family has been quartered there for almost two years.

The camp holds some four thousand Internally Displaced People (I.D.P.s), as they’re officially known. Legally, they aren’t refugees—they remain in their home country—but they are often worse off than refugees, who can hope for aid from the countries that take them in, or from the international community. I.D.P.s remain at the mercy of governments at war, receiving limited aid and enduring all the inherent dangers of war zones.
“Access to safety without delay is the major problem faced by I.D.P.s in Iraq, due to constantly shifting warfronts and the need for security screening to prevent infiltration by ISIS,” Bruno Geddo, the representative in Iraq of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told me. “A related problem is restrictions to freedom of movement and family separation on security grounds.” I.D.P.s are frequently limited in where they are allowed to go; sometimes, they aren’t even allowed to leave the camps. The displaced often become the forgotten people.
Read on....
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-pigeon-boy-and-other-forgotten-fugitives-from-isis