James Barr, Christopher Sykes, Robert F. Worth, Bernard A. Haykel and Tarun Khanna in conversation with Vedica Kant

 

In the middle of World War I, two men — a naive British politician named Mark Sykes, the other, veteran French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot — secretly agreed to divide the Middle East. Post-war, Britain gained mandates in newly created Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq; France in Lebanon and Syria. For the next 30 years, this divide would make uneasy neighbours of two great powers and irreparably shape the Middle East. In A Line in the Sand, James Barr combs recently declassified French and British government archives and unearths a shocking secret war and its powerful effect on the local Arabs and Jews. He follows politicians, diplomats and spies through intrigue and espionage to show us T. E. Lawrence’s stealth guerrilla terror campaigns and he journeys behind closed doors to discover why Britain, and then France, courted the Zionist movement. Barr discusses his conclusions with Mark Sykes’ descendant Christopher Sykes, Middle East specialist Robert Worth and Tarun Khanna, the director of Harvard University’s South Asia Institute which housed the Indian Partition Project, in a discussion chaired by writer Vedica Kant.