Sunni fighters have laid claim to their first official crossing on the Iraq-Syria border. It is the latest success in an offensive by the al-Qaeda inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

The group’s stated aim is to establish a caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to Iran. It is an ambition that would tear up a contentious colonial pact forged almost 100 years ago.

The Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 carved up the Ottoman empire between Britain and France, forming the basis for the modern Middle East. Critics say the arbitrary lines drawn in the sand give no thought to the ethnic groups they forced together, or the tribes they split apart.

Nearly a century later, Sunni fighters are disregarding those boundaries in pursuit of a mutual quest.

So, can ISIL tear up the map of the Middle East? Or can the leaders of Syria and Iraq preserve a hundred years of history?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Marwan Kabalan - a Syrian academic and writer, and associate analyst at Doha Institute's Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies. 

Taha Ozhan - president of the SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research.

Phyllis Bennis - a writer, analyst and activist on Middle East issues, and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Source: Al Jazeera