Sykes–Picot Agreement (1916)
SYKES–PICOT AGREEMENT (1916)
The Sykes–Picot Agreement was one of the pivotal diplomatic documents of World War I concerning the Middle East. It was negotiated in secret at the end of 1915 by Sir Mark Sykes of Great Britain and Georges François Picot of France, with full knowledge by their respective foreign ministries. It provided for a partition of the Middle East into French and British spheres.
The French were to have direct control of Syria, Lebanon, and Cilicia plus a zone of influence extending east from Damascus and Aleppo through Mosul. The British were granted direct control of the Mesopotamian provinces (now Iraq) of Baghdad and Basra as well as a zone of influence extending from Basra to Palestine. Palestine was itself to be placed under international administration.
Under the subsequent Anglo–Russian–French Agreement of 1916, the Russians adhered to Sykes– Picot after extensive discussions between Sykes and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Sazanov. In return for their support, the Russians were granted direct control over much of eastern Anatolia. In a successful attempt at embarrassing the coalition, the terms of the Anglo–Russian–French Agreement were made public by the Bolsheviks in the spring of 1918. The Arabs claimed that Sykes–Picot contradicted promises made to them by the Hussein–McMahon Correspondence, and the Jews claimed that it contravened the Balfour Declaration. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson wished to annul Sykes–Picot, and even Sykes soon repudiated the agreement. Nonetheless, though the French renounced their claim to Mosul and Britain won control of Palestine, the Middle East treaties framed at the Paris Peace Settlements after World War I closely mirrored the Sykes–Picot Agreement.
see also balfour declaration (1917); husayn–mcmahon correspondence (1915–1916); paris peace settlements (1918–1923); sykes, mark; wilson, woodrow.
Khalidi, Rashid. British Policy towards Syria and Palestine, 1906–1914: A Study of the Antecedents of the Hussein–the [sic] McMahon Correspondence, the Sykes–Picot Agreement, and the Balfour Declaration. London: Ithaca Press, 1980.
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