Today in history: Sykes-Picot Accords

In 1916, the Sykes-Picot Accords were signed between Britain and France.

The First World War spread to the Middle East with the joining of the Ottoman Empire alongside the Central Powers in late 1914. Britain and France saw this as an opportunity for colonial expansion into the southern territories of the empire. At the same time, during 1915, Henry McMahon, British Commissioner in Egypt, promised Hashemite Sheriff Hussein of Mecca that if he started an Arab revolt in cooperation with the British, he would be able to lead a pan-Arab state in all the Arab territories, including the Ottoman ones. The Arabs started a revolt, but France was not happy with this concession of imperial territory that had been made without consultation. Therefore, Britain and France sent representatives from their foreign ministries, Mark Sykes and Charles Francois Picot, to negotiate the future of the territories, which ended in May 1916 with a secret agreement that divided ‘the Fertile Crescent’ into various spheres of influence, and defined the future of Palestine as subject to international arbitration. Later in the war, Britain also promised the Land of Israel to the Jews in the Balfour Declaration, so it was distributed in 3 contradictory statements to various parties. Eventually, after the surrender of the Ottoman Empire, the Sykes-Picot agreements were the main guiding line, according to which mandates were established – and so is the modern border in northern Israel and southeast Syria.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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