World War I, 1914-1918, was called the war to end all wars. Alas, that was hardly the case. The Versailles Treaty turned the peace into pieces. It led directly to an even more destructive world war in 1939. The imperial cartographers of Britain and France drew lines in the sand and created new states and borders in the Middle East. In the backroom deals, betrayals and secret arrangements, people were sliced and diced and their aspirations snuffed. Seeds of distrust and enmity were planted. In particular, Armenia, Kurdistan and Palestine were victims of European and later U.S. machinations. The legacy of what happened a century ago is with us today. Many of the region’s current tensions and conflicts are rooted in the past and are likely to continue unless there is a just resolution of unresolved issues.
Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Chair of Arab Studies at Columbia University, where he directs the Middle East Institute. The Los Angeles Times calls him, “arguably the foremost U.S. historian of the modern Middle East.” He is the author of many books including Resurrecting Empire, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood and Brokers of Deceit.