Marco Longari/Getty Images

Sykes-Picot, Middle East Underwriter, Dead at 100

In 1916, in the middle of World War I, Great Britain and France signed a secret pact in London, negotiated by the diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot, that has determined the fate and political order of the Middle East ever since. But not for much longer.

BERLIN – On May 16, 1916, in the middle of World War I, Great Britain and France signed a secret pact in London. Officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, the deal, negotiated by the diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot, has determined the fate and political order of the Middle East ever since. But not for much longer.

A century ago, Europe’s soon-to-be-victorious powers, concerned with dividing the region (then part of the Ottoman Empire), drew a “line in the sand” (as the author James Barr called it) stretching from the Mediterranean port of Acre in northern Palestine to Kirkuk in northern Iraq, on the border with Iran. All territories north of that line, in particular Lebanon and Syria, would go to France. Territories to its south – Palestine, Transjordan, and Iraq – would go to Great Britain, which mainly sought to protect British interests along the Suez Canal, the main naval route to British India.

Simultaneously, however, the United Kingdom was negotiating with Arabs who had sided with the British and French in an uprising against Ottoman rule – first and foremost with Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca. Hussein had been promised Syria in the event of a military victory over the Turks. But under the Sykes-Picot agreement, Syria had been awarded to France. So one of the two sides was certain to be cheated out of the spoils of its victory, and it was clear from the beginning which side was weaker, namely the Arabs striving for independence.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/oaj29Yh;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.