About me

In 2010 I made the decision to follow a career path dedicated to peace building and conflict resolution, resulting in enlistment at the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2012. Currently, I am specializing into conflict resolution at Radboud University's Center for International Conflict -  Analyses and Managment. Since July 2015 I have been working part time at Radboud University as faculty advisor for the course United Nations and Multilateral Diplomacy and currently as a research assistant at the Center for International Conflict -  Analyses and Managment. In February 2016 I started my own consultancy and training bureau "Pantheon". Focussing on teaching skills needed to act within the international setting (Public Speaking, Negotiation, Etiquette, Protocol) as well as offering consultation on maritime and defense issues.

Geopolitics of the Mandate A: History & Future of Borders in the Levant region

By G.L.J. Jacobs on 2015-11-28 in Papers,

The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on Jan. 31, 1923, which marked the beginning of the partition of the former Ottoman Empire and the creation of the British Mandate of Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria. [1]  


During the last century the Middle-East proved to be a playfield for a lot of (international) geopolitical activities and violent conflicts. Especially the Levant region has a long and recent history of (border) conflicts. Although debated, this region mostly comprises a large area in the eastern Mediterranean including modern states as Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Not only in the past has this region been part of much unrest and conflict, even today the Syrian and Iraqi civil war, the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Threat of Islamic State (IS) pose huge challenges for the actors involved, including the international community. When focussing on the current (conflicting) borders of this region, it all started with most territory – then part of the Ottoman Empire – being mandated by France and Great-Britain under the banners of the League of Nations after the First World War. This was aimed at developing the mandated states and prepare them for sovereignty and self-determination.

In this essay, we use the Mandate System of the League of Nations as a historical and geopolitical perspective to analyze the border conflicts in the Levant region. We primarily argue that, in this respect, through the processes of ordering, Othering and the continuing colonial (paternalistic) presence of the ‘West’ in this region, multiple border conflicts emerged throughout the last century. Moreover, when focusing on the Mandate System, we found that there is a broader border conflict visible between Europe and the Levant region.  Therefore, we not only focus on border conflicts between two nations or within a nation state, but instead chose to aim primarily at the border conflict between Europe - and in a broader way the 'West' - and the former mandated regions in the Levant region. However, meanwhile it is worth mentioning some interstate and intrastate border conflicts later on, as they originating from the mandate period and underline the instability afterwards.

The essay is split into three sections. First, we elaborate the theoretical geopolitical foundations of the Mandate System by mainly focussing on Eurocentric paternalism originated out of Othering, Orientalism and the post-colonial thought. In essence, this is an answer to the question how the border conflict between Europe and the Levant region emerged. Second, we describe the Mandate System and Mandate A in more detail. Third, we discuss the current state of the border conflicts and analyze why it is still there. Due to the abstract level of analysis, we restricted us to three important reasons for the survival of the border conflicts, mainly focussing on the Europe-Levant border conflict. In the conclusion, we explain our argument and pose some questions and interesting points for the future.

Sykes-Picot: Carving Up The Near-Orient

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, (Fromkin, 1989) with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiations conducted by Mark Sykes and George Picot, representing Britain and France respectively of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916. (Sicker, 2001)

In this paper, we will discuss the geopolitical consequences of the (secret) agreement and the League of Nations' Mandate A of French Syria and British Palestine that came in existence after the defeat of the Ottomans trough treaties such as the Treaty of Lausanne[2]. While using the word the Orient, we put our focus to the Levant region, that is to say, the combined territory of the French and British Mandates. Even though the Mandate A was the least strict of the League's Mandates established (Matz, 2005), both France and the United Kingdom - and with that to an extent all of Europe - are unquestionably bound to the Orient, and the Orientalist approaches that developed out of Orientalism (Barnett, 2015).

Orientalism and Postcolonialism

Orientalism, according to the Palestinian Arab born founding father of Post-Colonialism, Edward W. Said's  is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between a "binary social relation" of "the Orient; them; the East; the Other and (most of the time) "the Occident"; the west; the Us. (Said, 1978). Orientalism is not exclusively, of a British and French cultural enterprise, a project whose dimensions take in such disparate realms of the imagination itself. The other, and in particular, the European other has been a focus of Foucault's writings on how the European image constructed "the self - as the sane, the rational, the normal - through the proliferation of spacings" (Gregory, 2004, p. 3). Much of Foucault's work can be traced to the ordering of space. The production of such space for the European identity that set off against exterior "others", that is not Europe, illustrates what van Houtem and Naerssen refer to as Othering/ordering (2002). One of the most important "Others" for the European identity, in particular for the past two centuries, has been the Orient.

The Orient, from the perspective of France and the United Kingdom, was a Frontier, it was exotic, it was different, and above all it was not Europe. Paradoxically the identity of the Britisch and French colonial empires and more contemporary the European Self need the Orient in order to exist in the first place. These images of the Other could be negative and derogatory, or just as often perhaps, positive and even romanticized (Barnett, 2015). 

The French and British have a long tradition of what Said coined Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient's special place in European Western experience. Geographically speaking, "the orient is not only adjacent to Europe" (Said, 1978, p. 2) (or as portrayed in the Orbis Terrarum[3] part of Europe); "it is also the place of Europe's greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source if its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other.

In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience." (Ibid. p. 3). Frankly speaking, the Europe as we know today could not have existed without the Orient, thus linking both European history, present and future to the region of the Levant. On the note of it its colonial history and the present and future, many scholars argue for the existence of a post-colonialistic presence of Europe (and to an extent of "The West" in the region. (Thomas, 1994; Gregory, 1995). In his book "The Colonial Present" (2004) Gregory remarks that it 

should be said about the French philosopher Foucault, who's later writings and lectures that these were by no means indifferent to colonial power. However, according to Gregory, Foucault never developed these ideas in any systematic fashion, a point that Said (1978) has consistently sharpened[4]. As Gregory remarks, "there are many critical histories of colonialism" as well as critical litrature to be found on the topic of both scholars focussing on the (post) colonial presence, as well as those who disclose its viral presence and ignore it as a contributing factor to the current geopolitical situation in the Levant and other former colonial regions that were part of both the British and the French empire, but these are also true for other dominated regions by colonial powers such as the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch. Thus is the question raised: "What to make of postcolonialism?". According to Gregory, "postcolonialism is usually distinguished from these projects by its central interest in the relations between culture and power. In fact, this is precisely how Said seeks to recover the past in the present." (Gregory, 2004, pp. 7-8). Gregory refers to the Australian anthropologist Nicholas Thomas to further explain this relation between culture, power and colonialism, quoting:

"Colonialism is not best understood primarily as a political or economic relationship that is legitimized or justified through ideologies of racism or progress. Rather, colonialism has always, equally importantly and deeply, been a cultural process; its discoveries and trespasses are imagined and energized through signs, metaphors and narratives; even what would seem its purest moments of profit and violence have been mediated and enframed by structures of meaning. Colonial cultures are not simply ideologies that mask, mystify or rationalize forms of oppression that are external to them; they are also expressive and constitutive of colonial relationships in themselves." (Thomas, 1994, p. 2 in Gregory, 2004, p. 8)

More than economic exploitation and political subordination; colonialism also involved the exercise of cultural power over subordinated populations. Culture as a weapon, wielded by colonialist powers to denigrate the practices of non-western cultures, and to celebrate the superiority of particular version of chauvinist western culture. (Barnett, 2015). As such culture seems a powerful weapon in Othering and is an important part of post-colonialism. Here we can make the link again with Orientalism and the relation between the European Self and the Orient Other. What Orientalism shows is that European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self. Said argued Orientalism amounted to a stock of knowledge that continued to provide resources to be mobilised in support of contemporary western geopolitical strategies, an argument elaborated trough the idea that we still live in 'the colonial present'.

In sum, both Said and Gregory make the connection between the binary social relation between the Orient and the Occident and connect the contemporary geopolitical events in the modern day Levant to the colonial powers acting in the region and the (post-colonial) British and French mandate. "Postcolonialism revisits the colonial past in order to recover the dead weight of colonialism: to retrieve its shapes, like the chalk outlines at a crime scene, and to recall the living bodies they so imperfectly summon to presence. But it is also an act of opposition. Postcolonialism reveals the continuing impositions and exactions of colonialism in order to subvert them: to examine them, disavow them, and dispel them."[5] (Gregory, 2004, p. 9)

In order to analyze the relation between France and the United Kingdom with their respective mandated territory, and the decolonized states that are in place today we will discuss two time frames, split apart by the second world war. First we will look at the first half of the XXth century. What are the differences between the Franco and British approaches? How did they govern their mandate? Are there any major differences (and outcomes today) of their decisions? Furthermore, we briefly touch upon the various violent conflicts in the interbellum and how the levant served as a theatre in the second world war. In the second part of this paper we will discuss the appearance of a new developments that influenced the near-Orient, the involvement of a new actor: the United States of America, the creation of the state Israel in the levant, and the transition from the League of Nations to the United Nations and with that the transfer from mandate to independent state. Finally we would briefly touch upon the contemporary crisis and the future borders of the near-Orient. As such we seek to deconstruct the physical borders between Europe and the Levant and in particular focus on what Houtem and Naerssen (2002). refer to as the non-physical border.

A Sacred Trust of Civilization

The following paragraph will take a historic step back to the early XXth century to understand the creation of the French and British mandates. It is not the goal to give a historical overview, but rather briefly highlighting the political situation at the end of the first World War. How was the creation of the Mandate System by the League of Nations enabled? And how did the French and British governments of the time establish and operate a system of governance to deal with the former Ottoman territory? It is important to realize that "the lodestar of this process was the sacred trust of civilization proclaimed in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations"[6] (Dugard, 2014). The first twenty-six articles of the Versailles Treaty of 28 June 1919 contained the Covenant of the League of Nations. It contained the international machinery for the enforcement of the terms of the treaty. Article 22 established a system of Mandates to administer former colonies and territories. The article was written two months before the signing of the peace treaty, before it was known what communities, peoples, or territories were related to sub-paragraphs 4, 5, and 6. The treaty was signed, and the peace conference had been adjourned before a formal decision was made. The mandates were arrangements guaranteed by, or arising out of the general treaty which stipulated that mandates were to be exercised on behalf of the League. The treaty contained no provision for the mandates to be allocated on the basis of decisions taken by four members of the League acting in the name of the so-called "Principal Allied and Associated Powers".

The decisions taken at the conferences of the Council of Four were not made on the basis of consultation or League unanimity as stipulated by the Covenant. As a result, the actions of the conferees were viewed by some as having no legitimacy. In testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations a former US State Department official who had been a member of the American Commission at Paris, testified that the United Kingdom and France had simply gone ahead and arranged the world to suit themselves, one could easily figure out the earlier bilateral arrangement made by Mark Sykes and George Picot served as a starting point for the Mandate A. The League of Nations could do nothing to alter their arrangements, since the League could only act by unanimous consent of its members - including the United Kingdom and France, to which, themselves being colonial powers, the former territories of Germany and the Ottoman Empire were perceived as "the spoils of war to be shared among the victors" (Matz, 2005, p. 52). However colonial gain and spoils were not used in the rhetoric and argumentation of the mandate system, but rather the need to provide governance and guidance "in order to inter alia prevent destabilization of the territories that were liberated" (Ibid, p. 54). Furthermore in line with the view of the Orient in the binary social relationship, there were many who believed the mandate system were indeed liberating. It should be a rememinder that in the zeitgeist of this era the Orient was seen as barbaric, uncivilized and required a protectorate. Even with the American and French revolutions, that resulted "in the liberal theories of government deriving their legitimacy only from the consent of the governed and the supreme authority of the people"(Ibid, p. 59), the colonies were still regarded as benefiting from the imperial rule. (Toussaint, 1956)

The mandate system was based on two elements. The first, the principle of non-annexation of the territory on one hand, and second, the "sacred trust of civilization" on the other. The principle of administration as a “sacred trust of civilization” was designed to prevent imperial exploitation. The spreading of 'Western civilization' was considered a benefit for the "uncivilized" peoples in the mandated territories. This general understanding by colonial powers gradually made room for a different perception of humanity. Whereas earlier the claim of superiority resulted in the understanding that exploitation of territory was morally justified, the notion changed towards the idea of a (sacred) duty of the civilized nations to assist and protect. This development can be traced back to today in for example the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine that prevails in contemporary interventions by western powers in the Levant. 

Border Conflicts and the Legacy of Mandate A

The following paragraph focuses on the contemporary state of the border conflict in the Levant region from a perspective of the League of Nations Mandate. It picks up where the mandates ended in 1946 and continues until the current crises in the region, e.g. the Syrian civil war and the threat of Islamic State (IS). The central questions are: Why are the border conflicts still there? And, why has this region become one of the most violent and unstable ones in regard to challenges for the international community? First of all, it is worth mentioning the complexity of the border conflicts that are present in this area. In essence, there are three types of border conflicts when focussing on the Levant region as a whole (i.e. Palestine, Syria and with less attention Iraq). First, there is a border conflict between Europe and the Levant region, which - as we argue - is highly ideologically. In fact, the conflict is then very much based on orientalism, Othering and civilizing attempts. Then, one might argue that the conflict could be extended from Europe to the civilized narrative of the 'West', although it in fact originated due to European exploration and colonialism. Second, one could distinguish several border conflicts between the nation states in the Levant region, with the existence of Israel as a major trigger for interstate conflicts since the Second World War. At last, there are several intra-state border conflicts in the Levant region. These conflicts show how the historic borders that were created during the mandate of the League of Nations could be deconstructed due to the various ethnic and ideological groups that live there. For example, the struggle of the Kurds, cross-border terrorism and the expansion of IS and Israeli settlements in Palestine territory.  

A first important reason why the border conflicts are still there has something to do with the extent to which the Western World is able to intervene in the Levant region under constraints of international law. In essence, this implies the issues of sovereignty and self-determination. Since the arise of the nation state, a crucial element in the survival of this entity has been the monopoly over the use of physical violence by the state through military and policing functions (Weber, 1980). Moreover, this implies three things: 1) states are sovereign and 2) sovereignty is territorial and therefore must have a certain known extent (i.e. state boundaries) and 3) within these boundaries states bind together an area and people, which live under one sovereign government and law (Kristof, 1959). This definition sets a certain area aside from being a frontier (i.e. a lawlessness and uncontrolled territory) (ibid.), thus preventing rash intervention or contestation/occupation of territory. This obviously poses major constraints for the international community. During the mandates it was already an issue, but the international context is slightly changed after the Second World War. Matz describes the implications for the future use of mandates: 

At the creation of the League of Nations the issue of sovereignty was an issue of concern, both because a Eurocentric understanding of international law aimed at the exclusion of “uncivilized” nations from the definition of a sovereign state and because it was unclear who held sovereignty over a mandated territory. Today the issue is problematic, because political trusteeship may be contradictory to state sovereignty, despite the latter’s flexibility and modifiable understanding. (Matz, 2005, p. 91) So, during the mandate, sovereignty wasn't the big issue it is today. This is mostly related to the weak and ambiguous international law at that time. Subsequently, the argument is twofold.

First, the mandatory's intervened in the region, promoted western institutions and created borders. Their goal was to assist them in their development as a sacred trust of civilization (Matz, 2005) Nevertheless, since the mandated countries became independent there has been much conflict and instability. Thus, in a way, the mandate has failed and the UN - the League of Nations' successor - currently has to deal with this in a changed international context. Due to the constraint of sovereignty and the issue of self-determination, it is almost impossible to intervene and further develop these states as during the mandate. As a result, one might argue that the narrative of 'them' being underdeveloped or uncivilized still remains hidden in 'our' thinking. Second, although the inability to adequately develop the former mandates, the 'West' still has a major interest in the region.

Take for example the war in Iraq, the backing of Syrian opposition, and the fight against IS. In essence, this could be described as 'half interventions', as it is more of a symptom treatment. Actually addressing the root causes, the institutional arrangement and the (de)construction of borders still gets little attention, mainly because the sovereignty of a nation-state. This interference, which aims to create a 'good enough' stability, may reinforce the border conflicts. For example, the indirect intervention in Syria and the bombings of IS targets only fuels violence and prolongs instability. As a result, it creates a long-term refugee crises for Europe and reinforces internal border conflicts. So, is there a fundamental flux in the international law that should be addressed? 

Another interesting reason has to do with the creation of the borders.  In line with the idea of the nation-state, it is arguable that most people think of the world divided into nation states. This implies that there are no frontiers, only territories divided by borders. During the mandate and shortly after its termination the modern boundaries of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria became apparent, without taking the territorial gains of Israel as spoils of war in account. Before the mandate, the borders in this region had been determined through many different kingdoms and empires. Now there were modern nation states, but there are many different ethical communities living in the area. Of course, the Kurds in Syria are a good example of how the borders of Syria are in fact crossing the borders of Kurdistan. This implies that boundaries are subjective, as Kristof (1959) argues. The boundaries have (not yet) changed due to the prominence of the modern nation state in our thinking, but Barnes-Dacey (2015) argues that in reality deepening violence, geographical and sectarian fragmentation, the rise of not-state armed actors and transnational ideologies are currently laying the ground for a radical reshaping of the entire region. The expansion of Islamic State (IS) is in this regard a very visible example of this trend, but there are deeper shifts underway. There are also profound sectarian (border) conflicts as there are many different ethical populations as Shia, Sunni and Alawite people living in these countries. In fact, Syria is currently not even a real state as defined by Westphalian sovereignty as there are so many different groups (e.g. IS, different rebel groups, government forces, and Kurds) who control a part of the land. Therefore, borders are indeed subjective and maps of nation states misleading. 

Moreover, Daragahi (2014) argues that the crises in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are in fact merging into one single sectarian war and this is not just a spillover from the conflict in Syria. Consequently, this represents a dangerous breakdown of the nation states created in the Sykes-Picot agreement. Thus, the agreement can be highly criticized, as the region never had national identities or entities before the Sykes-Picot and the identities tend to be cross-border natured. Daragahi (ibid.) makes an interesting comparison with Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) in Europe that drastically changed the borders, but that currently no major power has an interest in redrawing the map of the Middle East in the way the Thirty Years' War drastically redefined Europe. Meanwhile, the current border conflicts could lead to a gradual degradation of the very ideas of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as national entities.  

At  last, a major geopolitical reason for the various border conflicts is the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. After getting the mandate over Palestine, Great Britain was quickly entrusted with the job of creating a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.  After the mandate was terminated, Israel became independent and fought many wars for its survival with the surrounding Arab states ever since.  During these events, Israel's territory has been doubled trough its successful military campaigns8, arguably backed by Western states, in particular, the United States of America. It is very paradoxical that the superpowers of the League of Nations were busy developing these mandates and in the meantime created a major conflicting factor in this region. More important, the creation of Israel not only led to physical border conflicts with her surrounding Arab states, it also reinforced religious and 'West-East' differences. For instance, it is likely that a lot of hatred towards the United States - and thus, the 'West' - is based on the support of United States for Israel.  

Moreover, it is an example of the paradox of borders (Houtem & Naerssen, 2002), as the creation of Israel in a way erased territorial ambiguity (i.e. holy land for both Jews and Arabs) and created a certain cohesive order, but also produced (violent) Othering with surrounding states. Thus, the creation of Israel enhanced Othering, led to the persistence of orientalism and a renewed colonial present (Barnett, 2015). This also implies an ideological border conflict between Europe and the Levant region. For example, if Israel was not created, one might argue that the Arab countries in the region would have a common cultural root that could have more stabilized the region or gave a peaceful context wherein the former mandates could have actually developed instead of fighting wars.  
In sum, three reasons regarding the mandate period are important in explaining the current existence of the border conflicts between the 'West' and the former mandate countries in the Levant region and which led to several inter- and intrastate border conflicts there. First, a shift in the international context - especially the importance that is given to sovereignty and self-determination in a nation-state - led to the reserve and inability of the international community to really address the border conflicts. Second, most people tend to stick with the borders as they were created after the mandate while on the ground things are more complex. Third, the creation of the state Israel have primarily led to the current existence of the border conflicts between the 'West' and the former mandate countries in the Levant region and have led to several other inter- and intrastate border conflicts there. So, how can these border conflicts be addressed? Should the borders be deconstructed and the Levant region be reshaped? How should we interpret the international law, or must it be changed? In what extent do we still think in a colonial way and how can we fully discard thinking in terms as the 'other' when dealing with this region?  We need to find alternative solutions. It is clear, however, that the mandate system could not be employed in future cases, due to the colonial context, the distinction between the civilized and the uncivilized and the corresponding lack of the right to self-determination that goes with it (Waltz, 2005).  


In this essay we looked at the Levant region from a historical and broader perspective of the Mandate System of the League of Nations and how it geopolitically shaped both the physical and the subjective borders. We argue that through the process of ordering, Othering and the continuing colonial presence of the ‘West’ in this region multiple border conflicts emerged throughout the last century. In this regard, we illustrated several interesting points. First, there are three types of border conflicts in the region, namely one between Europe and the Levant region, and in the region itself on the interstate level and on the intrastate level. Second, when using the Mandate System as a historical analytic perspective we see that it mostly encompasses an ideological border conflict between Europe – and after the independence from the mandates it shifted more towards the ‘West’ due to the increased participation of the United States – and the Levant region as a whole. Moreover, with the recent involvement of Russia in Syria, it even broadens more and become more ambivalent. What is clear though, is that the refugee crisis is mainly a physical border conflict with Europe itself. This brings us to the third points. In the past century we strongly thought in the narrative of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and the ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized' and we see a paradox that today we still have interests in this area, but on the other hand we deny the responsibility to actually help them and for example deal with the refugee crisis. Therefore, we deny the responsibility that was prevalent in the idea of Orientalism and can be seen during the mandate period. One might argue that we currently hide ‘ourselves’ behind the issues of sovereignty, self-determinism and the concept of the nation-state with fixed borders and meanwhile have more political interest in the area than developmental or humanitarian like in the past. It might even be questionable whether this was ever the case during the Mandate System, although they actively allege the concept of the “sacred trust of civilization” and did not see the territory as spoils of war or a colonial game.  

How do the mandates and the ideas of post-colonialism and Orientalism shape the geopolitical situation in the Levant? and how will they continue to do so in the near future? We see several interesting points or questions in this regard. Firstly, we see a full circle when it comes to western intervention. Whereas in the early XXth century meddling by external powers was justified trough "superiority" of Western Civilization, it is now the same Western 'Noblesse Oblige' of the Western / International Community that justifies intervention under the doctrine of 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P) (i.e. from the uncivilized). Moreover, the contemporary intervention by both Western and nonwestern states (e.g. Russia) and the clash between their different views of sovereignty should lead to rethinking of Orientalistic tendencies and ideas of stability and (b)ordering in the Levant. We should be aware of the vicious circle, where the narrative of the Other as something that needs to be cared for remains dominant in our perception of the Levant and our Western state of mind. Secondly this leads to an unsustainable and violent geopolitical situation where the actual geographic borders are rapidly becoming contested from the inside, they can no longer contain the near imploding pressure that is put on the region by both internal and external actors. To some extent we are accountable for the situation, and indeed it is then our obligation to provide assistance, on the other hand this only reinforces the Orientalistic thinking. The construction of borders and the solution to the instability may be better sought in bottom thinking. Calling for a bottom-up approach, as recent peacebuilding missions have revealed, is more easily said than done, and it should be questioned whether this is even possible without some paternalistic interference.  

The above described dilemma does not give answer to the future of the borders in the Levant, however does provide insight and understanding in the complex geopolitical situation in the former mandated territories. This understanding, or awareness of the 'mandate-mindset' is a first step in breaking away from the dominant approaches to the Levant going back to the former two centuries. This implies that we must break the cycle and be self-critical of the influence the West has on the Levant and vice versa.  


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[1] Photo: Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images. See e.g. Paul C. Helmreich, "From Paris to Sèvres: The Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference of 1919–1920" (1974) and Lord Kinross, “The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire,” (1979).

[2] The Treaty of Lausanne was a follow up on the Turkish rejected treaty of Sevres (1920) dealing with Turkey. Other relevant treaties for the partitioning of land after WO I are the treaties of Neuilly (1919), St. Germain (1919), Trianon (1920), and Versailles (1919).

[3] The Orbis Terrarum the image shows an example of the  O and T map, from the first printed version of Isidore's Etymologiae (n.d.), identifies the three known continents as populated by descendants of Sem (Shem), Iafeth (Japheth) and Cham (Ham).

[4] Gregory draws Terry Eagleton describes the two moments I have just identified - amnesia and nostalgia- as "the terrible twins": "the inability to remember and the incapacity to do anything else. (Eagleton, 1999). 

[5] See Gregory's Notes to Chapter 1: The Colonial Present in "The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq" (2004), see also the reference Gregory makes to Michael Foucault, "Society Must Be Defended": Lectures at the College de France 1975-1976 (New York: Picador, 2003), p. 103., and Derek Gregory, "Imaginative geographies," Progress in Human Geography 19 (1995), pp. 447-85.

[6] The establishment of the Mandate System can be classified as a cornerstone that marks the end of the second phase of the history of colonization, colonial rule and its gradual decline. See also Nele Matz "Civilization and the Mandate System under the League of Nations as Origin of Trusteeship" (2005)