The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916

SYKES PICOT AGREEMENT MAY 1916
The Ottoman Empire at its Greatest Extent, 1863 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sykes-Picot Agreements of 1916 (Britannica) (see Sykes-Picot Agreement, Wikipedia), was a secret agreement between England and France, concluded with the assent of Imperial Russia. Its authors drew a map of Asia Minor protecting their “spheres of influence” in the Middle East in the event theOttoman Empire collapsed, which was expected, as a result of World War I.

Its authors, Mark Sykes for Britain and François Georges-Picot, for France, were in fact partitioning a fallen Ottoman Empire, before its defeat. That would beavant la lettre. As for the map of Asia Minor they drew, it was reflected in the apportioning of protectorates created by the League of Nations (LN), Société des Nations, SdN). The Ottoman Empire was defeated during W.W. I and, given the Bolshevik Revolution (the Russian Revolution) that began in 1917, Asia Minor could not be partitioned taking Imperial Russia’s assent into consideration.

According to Britannica’s entry on the Sykes-Picot Agreements of 1916, it was agreed, that the partition of the Empire would be as follows:

  1. Russia should acquire the Armenian provinces of Erzurum, Trebizond (Trabzon), Van, and Bitlis, with some Kurdish territory to the southeast;
  2. France should acquire Lebanon and the Syrian littoral, Adana, Cilicia, and the hinterland adjacent to Russia’s share, that hinterland including Aintab, Urfa,Mardin, Diyarbakır, and Mosul;
  3. Great Britain should acquire southern Mesopotamia, including Baghdad, and also the Mediterranean ports of Haifa and ʿAkko (Acre);
  4. between the French and the British acquisitions there should be a confederation of Arab states or a single independent Arab state, divided into French and British spheres of influence;
  5.  Alexandretta (İskenderun) should be a free port; and
  6.  Palestine, because of the holy places, should be under an international regime.
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