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the Ottoman Mosaic

LONDON – The roots of the Middle          over competing French and British          Carl Bildt was Sweden’s
East’s many conflicts lie in the          interests. The Greeks made an ill-         foreign minister from 2006
unraveling of the Ottoman Empire          fated attempt to conquer western           to October 2014 and Prime
at the beginning of the twentieth         Anatolia – eventually triggering the       Minister from 1991 to 1994,
century and the failure since then        revolution that led to the creation of     when he negotiated Sweden’s
to forge a stable regional order. As      modern Turkey. And the 1917 Balfour        EU accession. A renowned
the international community works         Declaration – a British pledge to          international diplomat, he
toward securing a durable peace in        establish a Jewish state in Palestine –    served as EU Special Envoy to
the region, its leaders would be wise     laid the groundwork for the creation of    the Former Yugoslavia, High
to remember the lessons of history.       Israel in 1948, followed by decades of     Representative for Bosnia
                                          conflict and negotiations.                 and Herzegovina, UN Special
The Ottoman Empire – which once                                                      Envoy to the Balkans, and Co-
         stretched from Bihać in today’s  Finding a home for the Ottoman             Chairman of the Dayton Peace
         Bosnia to Basra in Iraq – was a  province of Mosul proved to be             Conference. He is Chair of the
rich mosaic of intermingled cultures,     a particularly tricky part of the          Global Commission on Internet
traditions, and languages under the       game, as it was claimed by the new         Governance and a member of
ultimate authority of the Sultan in       governments in both Turkey and             the World Economic Forum’s
Istanbul. It was remarkably stable,       Iraq. A commission set up by the           Global Agenda Council on
providing the region with a peaceful      League of Nations and headed by a          Europe.
foundation for hundreds of years. But     Swedish diplomat crisscrossed the
as it started to come apart, it did so    region in search of a fair solution, but
violently.                                ultimately failed to find a neat dividing
                                          line. Eventually, the commission
It was in the Balkans that the process    recommended that the province be
of carving out nation-states from the     given to Iraq, but only because Iraq
Ottoman mosaic began. And it was a        was supposed to remain under a
process that kicked off two decades       League mandate for decades. n
of devastating wars – the first at the
beginning of the twentieth century, the   Click here to read more.
second in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, in Mesopotamia and             Courtesy of Project Syndicate
the Levant, a new crop of countries
emerged as outside powers redrew
the Ottoman map. Syria and Iraq
were the outcome of negotiations

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