By Kamran Bokhari
While the international community seeks to find a solution to the conflicts raging in the Middle East, Syria and Iraq have – for all practical purposes – effectively dissolved as nation-states. These two countries – conceived after the implosion of the Ottoman Empire following World War I – are not simply casualties of the rise of the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed caliphate. Rather, they have collapsed under the weight of a complex and interlocking set of dynamics involving transnational jihadism, geopolitical sectarian struggles and the meltdown of autocracy in the Arab world. Even if the Islamic State is defeated and Turkey and Iran – the two major Muslim powers with the greatest stake in Syria and Iraq – are able to reach an understanding, the Levantine-Mesopotamian land mass will still be divided between multiple Sunni emirates, Kurdish enclaves and Shiite dominions.
Defending the Integrity of Nation-States
Over the past several we