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Sykes-Picot, garante de Oriente Próximo, muere a los cien años

BERLÍN – El 16 de mayo de 1916, en medio de la Primera Guerra Mundial, Gran Bretaña y Francia firmaron en Londres un pacto secreto. El convenio, cuyo nombre oficial era Acuerdo sobre Asia Menor y fue negociado por los diplomáticos Mark Sykes y François Georges-Picot, ha decidido el destino y el orden político de Oriente Próximo desde entonces. Pero no por mucho tiempo más.

Hace un siglo, las potencias europeas, futuras vencedoras en la guerra y preocupadas en dividir la región (que entonces era parte del Imperio Otomano), trazaron una “línea en la arena” (así la denominó el autor James Barr) desde el puerto de Acre en la costa del Mediterráneo en el norte de Palestina hasta Kirkuk en el norte de Irak, sobre la frontera con Irán. Los territorios al norte de esa línea, en particular Líbano y Siria, serían para Francia. Los territorios al sur (Palestina, Transjordania e Irak) serían para Gran Bretaña, que buscaba ante todo proteger sus intereses a lo largo del Canal de Suez, principal ruta marítima hacia la India británica.

Pero al mismo tiempo, el Reino Unido negociaba con los árabes que se habían alzado contra el dominio otomano y estaban del lado de británicos y franceses; y sobre todo con Hussein bin Ali, jerife de la Meca, a quien se le había prometido Siria en caso de victoria sobre los turcos. Pero según el acuerdo Sykes-Picot, Siria le correspondía a Francia. Así que o los franceses o los árabes se iban a quedar sin su parte del botín, y siempre estuvo claro cuál era el lado más débil: los independentistas árabes.

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