Middle East Turmoil

The present day turmoil in the Middle East & North Africa has it's roots in the European Colonial era?

voted YES
voted NO

About this debate:

After almost four years since the ‘Arab Spring’ took off in Tunisia, the region of Middle East & North Africa is far from peaceful. Multiple waves of democratisation throughout the region have resulted in millions of lives being lost and an ongoing complicated civil war in Syria, Iraq as well as Libya to which an end often looks pessimistic.

However, this debate brings to you an attempt to find out, by productive argumentation, whether the present day turmoil in the Middle East & North Africa has it's roots in the European Colonial era of 19th and 20th Centuries. That whether the "borders in the sand" drawn by the Colonial Powers via the then secret Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 bear responsibility for the ongoing tensions in the Levant? Or is it something that has been brought upon by the errors of commission or omission by the rulers of the Middle Eastern and North African states themselves? Are political ideologies from within the region or with deep vested interests from outside the region such as nationalism, Arabism, socialism, Islamism, communism or capitalism responsible for the present strife and the ongoing conflicts in this strategic resources area?

Voting in 20 days

Debaters' latest statements


Defending the

Dr. Mark N. Katz

Professor of Government & Politics - George Mason University, USA


Against the

Mr. Tarek Fatah

Writer, Broadcaster & Columnist - The Toronto Sun, Canada

In Mr. Fatah’s rebuttal statement, he writes that “not a single Arab State in the region has questioned its neighbouring Arab State over the borders drawn up by departing European colonial powers.”  He then goes on to acknowledge that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was indeed such an instance, but that “the entire Arab World joined hands with Europe and America to reset the border to how it was drawn by the departing Britain.”

I am sorry to have to point out that both of these statements are incorrect.[1]  The... Read more

I write my closing arguments in the shadow of a horrifying tragedy that has hit the country of my birth, Pakistan. A suicide bomber from a splinter group of the Taliban blew himself up on Sunday at the country’s border crossing with India, killing over 50 people, including women and children and injuring scores more. 

He did so in the name of Islam and the worldwide jihad against the infidels who Islamists believe are responsible for their real or imagined grievances. A feeling nurtured by the constant drumbeat of victimhood played into our ears by various shades of the jihadist organizations and well-meaning, yet naive liberals in the West who believe it is the West that is responsible... Read more

Guests' latest statements



Ambassador Richard W. Murphy

Former US Ambassador to Syria & Saudi Arabia

It is an overstatement to say that western ambitions and related conspiracies in region have been the only cause of its turmoil. The present day turmoil in the region has many roots, including Islamic history and the practices of Ottoman colonial rule as well as those of the European colonial powers. Older patterns of conflict are still present. History is a continuum where the stronger, whether in military, economic or ideological terms, has continued to impose its ways on the weaker.

The original caliphate was a new institution in its time. It spawned a series of dynastic empires that rose and fell in the region over ensuing centuries. The gradual decay in the authority of the Ottoman... Read more



Mr. Frank Ledwidge

Barrister, Author & Former Military Intelligence Officer, UK

It is a great privilege to be invited to be involved in this debate.  I do so with some trepidation, given the eminence of my fellow-participants. 

It seems to one relatively impartial observer, that a question like this is dependent on determining when your history begins.  If one is of the view that about 1798 is the date, the western powers will loom large on ones list of guilty parties. If you are of a more recent bent, the shenanigans of Messrs Sykes and Picot are responsible with a significant contribution from Arthur Balfour, for a great deal bad that is happening today.  This seems to be the central thread woven into the beguilingly compelling arguments of Professor Katz.  Contemporary... Read more

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