Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon’s Precedent

by George Friedman

    Lebanon was created out of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This agreement between Britain and France reshaped the collapsed Ottoman Empire south of Turkey into the states we know today — Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and to some extent the Arabian Peninsula as well. For nearly 100 years, Sykes-Picot defined the region. A strong case can be made that the nation-states Sykes-Picot created are now defunct, and that what is occurring in Syria and Iraq represents the emergence of post-British/French maps that will replace those the United States has been trying to maintain since the collapse of Franco-British power.

The Invention of Middle East Nation-States

   Sykes-Picot, named for French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and his British counterpart, Sir Mark Sykes, did two things. First, it created a British-dominated Iraq. Second, it divided the Ottoman province of Syria on a line from the Mediterranean Sea east through Mount Hermon. Everything north of this line was French. Everything south of this line was British. The French, who had been involved in the Levant since the 19th century, had allies among the region’s Christians. They carved out part of Syria and created a country for them. Lacking a better name, they called it Lebanon, after the nearby mountain of the same name.

   The British named the area to the west of the Jordan River after the Ottoman administrative district of Filistina, which turned into Palestine on the English tongue. However, the British had a problem. During World War I, while the British were fighting the Ottoman Turks, they had allied with a number of Arabian tribes seeking to expel the Turks. Two major tribes, hostile to each other, were the major British allies. The British had promised postwar power to both. It gave the victorious Sauds the right to rule Arabia — hence Saudi Arabia. The other tribe, the Hashemites, had already been given the newly invented Iraqi monarchy and, outside of Arabia, a narrow strip of arable ground to the east of the Jordan River. For lack of a better name, it was called Trans-Jordan, or the other side of the Jordan. In due course the “trans” was dropped and it became Jordan.

    And thus, along with Syria, five entities were created between the Mediterranean and Tigris, and between Turkey and the new nation of Saudi Arabia. This five became six after the United Nations voted to create Israel in 1947. The Sykes-Picot agreement suited European models and gave the Europeans a framework for managing the region that conformed to European administrative principles. The most important interest, the oil in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, was protected from the upheaval in their periphery as Turkey and Persia were undergoing upheaval. This gave the Europeans what they wanted.

    What it did not do was create a framework that made a great deal of sense to the Arabs living in this region. The European model of individual rights expressed to the nation-states did not fit their cultural model. For the Arabs, the family — not the individual — was the fundamental unit of society. Families belonged to clans and clans to tribes, not nations. The Europeans used the concept of the nation-state to express divisions between “us” and “them.” To the Arabs, this was an alien framework, which to this day still competes with religious and tribal identities.

   The states the Europeans created were arbitrary, the inhabitants did not give their primary loyalty to them, and the tensions within states always went over the border to neighboring states. The British and French imposed ruling structures before the war, and then a wave of coups overthrew them after World War II. Syria and Iraq became pro-Soviet states while Israel, Jordan and the Arabians became pro-American, and monarchies and dictatorships ruled over most of the Arab countries. These authoritarian regimes held the countries together.

Reality Overcomes Cartography

It was Lebanon that came apart first. Lebanon was a pure invention carved out of Syria. As long as the Christians for whom Paris created Lebanon remained the dominant group, it worked, although the Christians themselves were divided into warring clans. But after World War II, the demographics changed, and the Shiite population increased. Compounding this was the movement of Palestinians into Lebanon in 1948. Lebanon thus became a container for competing clans. Although the clans were of different religions, this did not define the situation. Multiple clans in many of these religious groupings fought each other and allied with other religions.

    Moreover, Lebanon’s issues were not confined to Lebanon. The line dividing Lebanon from Syria was an arbitrary boundary drawn by the French. Syria and Lebanon were not one country, but the newly created Lebanon was not one country, either. In 1976 Syria — or more precisely, the Alawite dictatorship in Damascus — invaded Lebanon. Its intent was to destroy the Palestinians, and their main ally was a Christian clan. The Syrian invasion set off a civil war that was already flaring up and that lasted until 1990.

    Lebanon was divided into various areas controlled by various clans. The clans evolved. The dominant Shiite clan was built around Nabi Berri. Later, Iran sponsored another faction, Hezbollah. Each religious faction had multiple clans, and within the clans there were multiple competitors for power. From the outside it appeared to be strictly a religious war, but that was an incomplete view. It was a competition among clans for money, security, revenge and power. And religion played a role, but alliances crossed religious lines frequently.

    The state became far less powerful than the clans. Beirut, the capital, became a battleground for the clans. The Israelis invaded in order to crush the Palestinian Liberation Organization, with Syria’s blessing, and at one point the United States intervened, partly to block the Israelis. When Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing hundreds of Marines, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, realizing the amount of power it would take to even try to stabilize Lebanon, withdrew all troops. He determined that the fate of Lebanon was not a fundamental U.S. interest, even if there was a Cold War under way.

   The complexity of Lebanon goes far beyond this description, and the external meddling from Israel, Syria, Iran and the United States is even more complicated. The point is that the clans became the reality of Lebanon, and the Lebanese government became irrelevant. An agreement was reached between the factions and their patrons in 1989 that ended the internal fighting — for the most part — and strengthened the state. But in the end, the state existed at the forbearance of the clans. The map may show a nation, but it is really a country of microscopic clans engaged in a microscopic geopolitical struggle for security and power. Lebanon remains a country in which the warlords have become national politicians, but there is little doubt that their power comes from being warlords and that, under pressure, the clans will reassert themselves.

Repeats in Syria and Iraq

    A similar process has taken place in Syria. The arbitrary nation-state has become a region of competing clans. The Alawite clan, led by Bashar al Assad (who has played the roles of warlord and president), had ruled the country. An uprising supported by various countries threw the Alawites into retreat. The insurgents were also divided along multiple lines. Now, Syria resembles Lebanon. There is one large clan, but it cannot destroy the smaller ones, and the smaller ones cannot destroy the large clan. There is a permanent stalemate, and even if the Alawites are destroyed, their enemies are so divided that it is difficult to see how Syria can go back to being a country, except as a historical curiosity. Countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States might support various clans, but in the end, the clans survive.

   Something very similar happened in Iraq. As the Americans departed, the government that was created was dominated by Shia, who were fragmented. To a great degree, the government excluded the Sunnis, who saw themselves in danger of marginalization. The Sunnis consisted of various tribes and clans (some containing Shiites) and politico-religious movements like the Islamic State. They rose up in alliance and have now left Baghdad floundering, the Iraqi army seeking balance and the Kurds scrambling to secure their territory.

   It is a three-way war, but in some ways it is a three-way war with more than 20 clans involved in temporary alliances. No one group is strong enough to destroy the others on the broader level. Sunni, Shiite and Kurd have their own territories. On the level of the tribes and clans, some could be destroyed, but the most likely outcome is what happened in Lebanon: the permanent power of the sub-national groups, with perhaps some agreement later on that creates a state in which power stays with the smaller groups, because that is where loyalty lies.

    The boundary between Lebanon and Syria was always uncertain. The border between Syria and Iraq is now equally uncertain. But then these borders were never native to the region. The Europeans imposed them for European reasons. Therefore, the idea of maintaining a united Iraq misses the point. There was never a united Iraq — only the illusion of one created by invented kings and self-appointed dictators. The war does not have to continue, but as in Lebanon, it will take the exhaustion of the clans and factions to negotiate an end.

   The idea that Shia, Sunnis and Kurds can live together is not a fantasy. The fantasy is that the United States has the power or interest to re-create a Franco-British invention crafted out of the debris of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, even if it had an interest, it is doubtful that the United States has the power to pacify Iraq and Syria. It could not impose calm in Lebanon. The triumph of the Islamic State would represent a serious problem for the United States, but no more than it would for the Shia, Kurds and other Sunnis. As in Lebanon, the multiplicity of factions creates a countervailing force that cripples those who reach too far.

   There are two issues here. The first is how far the disintegration of nation-states will go in the Arab world. It seems to be under way in Libya, but it has not yet taken root elsewhere. It may be a political formation in the Sykes-Picot areas. Watching the Saudi peninsula will be most interesting. But the second issue is what regional powers will do about this process. Turkey, Iran, Israel and the Saudis cannot be comfortable with either this degree of fragmentation or the spread of more exotic groups. The rise of a Kurdish clan in Iraq would send tremors to the Turks and Iranians.

   The historical precedent, of course, would be the rise of a new Ottoman attitude in Turkey that would inspire the Turks to move south and impose an acceptable order on the region. It is hard to see how Turkey would have the power to do this, plus if it created unity among the Arabs it would likely be because the memories of Turkish occupation still sting the Arab mind.

   All of this aside, the point is that it is time to stop thinking about stabilizing Syria and Iraq and start thinking of a new dynamic outside of the artificial states that no longer function. To do this, we need to go back to Lebanon, the first state that disintegrated and the first place where clans took control of their own destiny because they had to. We are seeing the Lebanese model spread eastward. It will be interesting to see where else its spreads.


“<a href=””>Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon&#039;s Precedent</a> is republished with permission of Stratfor.”


Influenta educatiei asupra securitatii nationale

La baza cladirii unei societati, unei tari puternice, sta populatia. Iar cladirea unei tari puternice se face doar prin educatia. O tara construita pe valori, competente, patriotism, integritate si viziune strategica este o tara care poate garanta statul de drept, siguranta si securitatea nationala. O populatie educata care are o cultura de securitate nu va fi niciodata usor de manipulat, nu va închide ochii la derapajele statului de drept si îsi va exercita drepturile si responsabilitatile ce-i revin din statul de cetatean al statului Roman.

Incompetenta, distrugerea valorilor nationale, absenta culturii de securitate în randul populatiei si absenta unei viziuni strategice nu asigura decat imposibilitatea consolidarii democratiei, a unor institutii solide, creand o vulnerabilitate greu de manageriat în interiorul statului.

Securitatea nationala si nivelul educatiei sunt într-o relatie directa. Astazi, puterea unui stat este data de întreaga sa structura, nu doar de dimensiunea militara. Intr-un proces profund de globalizare, societatile cu un nivel de educatie ridicat creaza state puternice. Nu întamplator, Joseph S. Nye, unul dintre cei mai renumiti teoreticieni contemporani ai Relatiilor Internationale, Profesor la Universitatea Harvard, schimba paradigma de gandire a relatiilor internationale introducand un concept nou – „smart power” care se compune din „hard power” si „soft power”. Ceea ce ne intereseaza în mod special este conceptul de soft power care spune ca puterea unui stat consta în abilitatea acestuia de a-i influenta pe ceilalti actori fara a folosi forta. Promovarea valorilor astfel încat sa devina atractive pentru ceilalti reprezinta o arma mai puternica în multe cazuri decat cea militara. Astfel, observam ca teroreticianul a încadrat valorile universitatilor americane în categoria U.S. soft power argumentand ca „seductia este mult mai eficienta decat coercitia, iar promovarea unor valori seducatoare precum democratia sau drepturile omului reprezinta instrumente eficiente si putin costisitoare.”i

Potrivit Strategiei de Securitate a Romaniei, „securitatea si prosperitatea sunt termenii inseparabili ai aceleiasi ecuatii – progresul, prosperitatea si securitatea nationala ale Romaniei nu pot fi decat rezultanta majora a unui proces complex de promovare si garantare a valorilor si intereselor nationale.” ii Toate acestea, spune Strategia, se pot atinge prin îndeplinirea unor contitii precum: „integrarea reala si deplina în Uniunea Europeana; asumarea responsabila a calitatii de membru al Aliantei Nord- Atlantice; mentinerea integritatii, unitatii, suveranitatii, independentei si indivizibilitatii statului roman, în conditiile specifice ale participarii la constructia europeana; dezvoltarea unei economii de piata competitive, dinamice si performante; modernizarea radicala a sistemului de educatie si valorificarea eficienta a potentialului uman, stiintific si tehnologic; cresterea bunastarii cetatenilor, a nivelului de trai si de sanatate ale populatiei; afirmarea si protejarea culturii, identitatii nationale si vietii spirituale ale romanilor”iii

Observam ca progresul, prosperitatea si securitatea nationala a Romaniei sunt într-o relatie directa cu capitalul uman al tarii. Valorificarea potentialului uman reprezenta, în opinia mea, esenta dezvoltarii societatii astfel încat poti atinge dezvoltarea unei economii de piata competitive, cresterea bunastarii cetatenilor si un nivel de trai ridicat. Efectele sistemului de educatie au implicatii asupra întregii societati, facant indiscutabil subiectul unei strategii de securitate în acest moment al istoriei.

Dupa cum cum vedem si în Strategia de securitate, „dezvoltarea economica accelerata – ca premisa a bunastarii si securitatii – depinde în mod hotarator de gradul de competitivitate a natiunii.” Competitivitatea natiunii este o consecinta a gradului de educatie al populatiei. Una dintre cele mai importante resurse ale unei tari este însasi populatia acestea. Investitiile în domeniul educatiei, cercetarii si dezvoltarii asigura pe de o parte o forta de munca bine pregatita si flexibila, iar pe de alta parte succesul integrarii europene si al valorificarii oportunitatilor oferite de globalizare avand capabilitatile necesare unei lumi aflate într-o permanenta schimbare.

Capitolul noua al Strategiei Nationale de Securitatea acorda o atentie sporita domeniului educational aducand în discutie mai multe elemente precum:

  • Dezvoltarea economica a tarii depinde în mod categoric de gradul de competitivitate a natiuniiiv
  • Asigurarea accesului la educatie a tuturor cetatenilor, atat din mediu urban, cat si din cel rural
  • Educatie de calitate pe tot parcursul vietii
  • Compatibilizarea cu sistemele europene de educatie si formare profesionala
  • Modernizarea rapida a învatamantului public si consolidarea institutiilor private de învatamant
  • Sustinerea, în maniera integrata, a educatiei, cercetarii si inovarii
  • Facilitarea accesului mediului privat la rezultatele cercetarii-dezvoltarii

Observam astfel, înca o data, interdependenta dintre doua domenii esentiale asigurarii securitatii unei tari – domeniul educational si domeniul economic. Însa, daca este sa continuam analiza, o sa vedem în continuare ca educatia are mai multe implicatii la nivelul unei tari.

Trecand în revista institutiile care au responsabilitati în domeniul securitatii nationale, Capitolul zece al Strategiei amintite intitulal Modernizarea institutiilor care au responsabilitati în domeniul securitatii nationale, mentioneaza o noua dimensiune esentiala a procesului educational – “modernizarea si diversificarea programelor de pregatire si dezvoltarea cercetarii avand ca obiectiv securitatea nationala.”

Un aspect deosebit de important, mentionat în cadrul strategiei, este acela de a dezvolta un tip de educatie complex, îndreptat catre nevoile reale ale societatii romanesti. Este mentionata necesitatea de a crea personal care sa beneficieze de un grad ridicat de expertiza pentru realizarea unui control democratic asupra institutiilor, personal capabil sa faca planificare si evaluare a politicii de securitate, oameni capabil sa elaborareze si implementeze noi conceptii privind rolul politicii de aparare în cadrul politicii de securitate pentru a face fata noilor provocari; oameni capabili sa puna bazele unei noi comunitatii nationale de informatii, si as completa aici, vizionari capabili sa proiecteze o noua viziune strategica pentru Romania.

Învatamântul superior conform Legii nr. 288 din 24 iunie 2004 privind organizarea studiilor universitare, are trei cicluri: studii universitare de licenta, studii universitare de masterat si studii universitare de doctorat. Potrivit aceleiasi Legi, începând cu 2004, România a trecut la sistemul de învatamânt superior Bologna racordându-se la Spatiul European al Invatamantului Superior.

Scriptic, învatamântul românesc este unul complex, care ofera solutii de educare si învâtare a unei profesii pentru toate tipurile umane. De exempu, pâna de curând scolile Profesionale erau o optiune pentru cei care nu doreau sa continue studiile superioare. Însa daca analizam situatia acestor scoli constatam o serie de deficiente:

1. scoala Profesionala, de maistrii, este profund desconsiderata. S-a creat o imagine falsa asupra acestui tip de învatamânt, considerându-se ca doar paria societatii ajunge în astfel de institutii. Ceea ce extrag eu de aici ca principala problema este devalorizarea muncii. Noi nu mai avem o cultura a munci, o apreciere justa fata de munca, iar atunci sistemul nostru de valori are carente.

2. O alta deficienta a acestor unitati de învatamânt consta în tipurile de meserii pe care elevii urmeaza sa le învete. Aceasta reprezinta o cauza a imaginii negative pe care aceste scoli o au în rândul populatiei, dar cel mai important, în randul tinerilor. Potrivit strategiei de securitate ar trebui construit un Sistem de învatamânt al scolii Profesionale adaptat cererilor piete pentru a forma o forta de munca competitiva. Iar mineritul nu reprezinta o provocare al erei informationale în care ne aflam în prezent.

Dupa schimbarea regimului din 1989, sistemul educational a cunoscut o serie de schimbari radicale în ceea ce priveste curicula scolara. Astazi ne aflam într-o noua etapa a evolutiei individului. Societatea cunoasterii presupune un alt tip de dezvoltare intelectuala al elevului. Traim într-o lume în care suntem sufocati de informatii, iar provocarea nu consta în a învata cum sa cauti informatii sau a retine o cantitate mare de informatii, ci mai degraba în procesul de selectie a informatiei si asamblare a informatiilor pentru a obtine o imagine reala si completa asupra unor fapte/evenimente. Individul are nevoie de instrumente prin care poate face acest proces de filtrarea a informatiilor, el are nevoie de metode de analiza si de întelegere a lumii.

În timp ce din patru în patru ani se aduc modificari asupra modului în care se finalizeaza un ciclu de studii, ar trebui sa se acorde o mai mare atentie programei de studiu. Dezvoltarea unui capital uman bine pregatit si competitiv presupune un sistem educational conectat la realitatile pietei, una dintre cele mai abitioase cerinte ale Strategiei de Securitate Nationala, era aceea construi un sistem eductional modern. Cel mai recent exemplu este dat de Ordonanta de Urgenta 49/2014 care vizeaza schimbari de structura, dar nu de curricula.

Atat timp cât scoala nu raspunde nevoilor societatii, redefinindu-se în raport cu schimbarile accelerate care se produc în societate, atunci apar doua probleme majore as spune eu:

  • Tinerii care ies de pe bancile sscolii nu detin abilitati care sa le permita sa se adapteze la noile conditii sociale, de mediu, politice, economice si tehnologice care se afla într-o continua schimbare
  • Daca programa scolara nu se schimba, iar ceea ce tinerii învata în scoli este depasit, atunci acestia au deficiente grave în a se intergra pe piata muncii.

Facând o paralela între sistemul de învatamânt din spatiul occidental si cel românesc, la noi accentul cade pe procesul de memorare si nu pe cel de dezvoltare al capacitatilor intelectuale si creative ale elevului.

Consideratii finale

Romania se confrunta cu un abandon scolar ridicat, fiind a patra tara din Uniunea Europeana la gradul de analfabetism si abandon scolar. În aceste conditii cred ca programa scolara ar trebui adaptata astfel încât sa le poti oferi copiilor o întelegere cât mai completa asupra realitatii. Nu spun ca orele de limba româna, matematica sau istorie trebuiesc modificate. As sugera mai degraba o armonizare a acestor toate materii astfel încat fiecare sa fie o prelungire a celeilalte, fiecare sa ofere o viziune integrata asupra societatii si a lumii în ansamblu.

Mai mult decât atât, as îndrazni sa sugerez faptul ca o serie de discipline ar putea fi realizate prin formarea unor catedre comune care ar spori imaginea de ansamblu a elevului si chiar i-ar spori creativitatea si posibilitatea de a gândi multilateral lucrurile.

Strategia nationala de Securitate sustinea conectarea mediului de afaceri (spatiul privat) cu cel academic prin folosirea produselor de cercetare în cadrul societatii, avand ca scop dezvoltarea continua. Totusi, aceasta ambitie este de departe o fantezie în conditiile în care cercetarea si dezvoltarea nu reprezinta astazi o priopritate reala a bugetului Romaniei.

Totodata, problema esentiala pe care ar trebui sa o rezolve sistemul educational este legata de producerea elitelor. Este necesar ca Scoala sa formeze oamenii de care Statul are nevoie. Oameni care sa aiba o reala cunastere a valorilor nationale, a interesului national, care sa poata imagina viziuni strategice pentru Statul Român. Una din preocuparile constante ale Statului ar trebui sa tina de educarea acelor oamenilor capabili sa preia frâiele acestei tari. Statul trebuie sa intervina în sustinerea procesului de educare a celor care se remarca din multime si facilitarea accesului catre cunoastere.

Reiterez în final o idee de mai sus, si anume, faptul ca unele lucruri predate la scoala nu îsi mai gasesc aplicabilitatea în societatea contemporana. Faptul ca elevul se integreaza tot mai greu pe piata muncii este o problema ce cade, dupa parerea mea, în sarcina Ministerului Educatiei si nu a copilului.

i Iulian Toader: Conceptul de putere si Relatiile Internationale în secolul XXI, Sfera Politicii, volumul XXII, nr. 177, ian-feb 2014,
iiStrategia de Securitate Natonala a Romaniei, Bucuresti 2007,
iii idem
iv Competitivitatea, potrivit Strategiei Nationale de Securitate este data de o societate bine educata, orientata spre cunoastere, capabila sa valorifice optim resursele de inteligenta si creativitate
Autor: Ioana Roxana Dumitriu
Data: August 2014