The Sykes Picot Agreement

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Written by Navya Jaiswal

The Sykes-Picot Agreement alternatively called as Asia Minor Agreement, was an undisclosed 1916 agreement between the United Kingdom and France which the Russian Empire affirmatively supported. The agreement in its condensed form was a treaty that defined the mutually agreed areas of territories for influence and control in South Western Asia. This agreement was based on the premise that the Triple Entente would succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War 1.

This particular agreement was the main incipient cause of the successive Balfour Declaration which paved ways for divisive control of the Middle East and Asia Minor by allocating to Britain control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, Jordan, Southern Iraq, and an additional small area that included the ports of Haifa and Acre to allow access to the Mediterranean region. France got control of South East Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and Armenia. The controlling powers regulated the division of the boundaries within their territory thereby to the split of Kurdistan in the north of Iraq. Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration in the “brown area”.

Sykes-Picot was a carefully designed plan and prelude to the Balfour Declaration. “The creation of Israel on Palestine land would not have been possible without the Sykes-Picot Agreement”, said a renowned Palestinian Professor of History. The agreement, according to a former Israeli Ambassador stated, “politically and materially contributed to the realization of the Zionist vision”. Sykes-Picot Agreement, Balfour Declaration, United Nations Partition Resolution of 1947 were milestones on the path to a Jewish State world.

The Sykes-Picot map, thus, constitutes the first partition plan for Palestine, into no fewer than 5 zones, for balance of power.

Following a few years, with digression from the Jewish leaders against the Sykes-Picot on having realized that it was against Zionist interests and for a Jewish state to flourish, it became undone when Britain received the exclusive mandate for all of Palestine. It was this excessive British Protectorate that eventually made Israel possible. Israel probably would never have been born, if the Sykes-Picot map had not been implemented. The Partition again became the solution for solving clashing interests in Palestine. The agreement is frequently cited as having created artificial borders in the Middle East, "without any regard to ethnic or sectarian characteristics, [which] has resulted in endless conflict."

The extent to which Sykes-Picot actually shaped the borders of the modern Middle East is disputed. The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) claims one of the goals of its insurgency is to reverse the effects of the Sykes–Picot Agreement. The agreement is seen by many as a turning point in Western and Arab relations. It negated the UK's promises to Arabs made for a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria, in exchange for supporting the British against the Ottoman Empire.

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