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Sykes–Picot Agreement

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Sykes–Picot Agreement

Sykes–Picot Agreement
Sykes Picot Agreement Map. It was an enclosure in Paul Cambon's letter to Sir Edward Grey, 9 May 1916.
Created May 1916
Author(s) François Georges-Picot
Signatories Edward Grey and Paul Cambon
Purpose Defining proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire
Excerpt from the Manchester Guardian, Monday, November 26, 1917, This was the first English-language reference to what became known as the Sykes Picot Agreement.

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.[2] The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.[3]

The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.[4] An "international administration" was proposed for Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes–Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, "the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted."[6]

Contents

  • Territorial allocations 1
  • British–Zionist discussions during the negotiations 2
  • Conflicting promises 3
  • Events after public disclosure of the plan 4
  • Release of classified records 5
  • Lloyd George's explanation 6
  • Consequences of the agreement 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10

Territorial allocations

Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean.[7] France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.[7] Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenian vilayets.[7] The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas.[7] Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.[7]

British–Zionist discussions during the negotiations

Following the outbreak of [8][11] Samuel then outlined the Zionist position more fully in a conversation with Foreign Secretary Edward Grey. He spoke of Zionist aspirations for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state, and of the importance of its geographical position to the British Empire. Samuel's memoirs state: "I mentioned that two things would be essential—that the state should be neutralized, since it could not be large enough to defend itself, and that the free access of Christian pilgrims should be guaranteed. ... I also said it would be a great advantage if the remainder of Syria were annexed by France, as it would be far better for the state to have a European power as neighbour than the Turk"[8][12] The same evening, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith announced that the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire had become a war aim in a speech for the Lord Mayor's Banquet at the Mansion House, "It is the Ottoman Government, and not we who have rung the death knell of Ottoman dominion not only in Europe but in Asia."[13]

In January 1915, Samuel submitted a Zionist memorandum entitled The Future of Palestine to the Cabinet after discussions with Weizmann and Lloyd George. On 5 February 1915, Samuel had another discussion with Grey: "When I asked him what his solution was he said it might be possible to neutralize the country under international guarantee ... and to vest the government of the country in some kind of Council to be established by the Jews"[14][15] After further conversations with Lloyd George and Grey, Samuel circulated a revised text to the Cabinet in mid-March 1915.

Zionism or the Jewish question were not considered by the report of the De Bunsen Committee, prepared to determine British wartime policy toward the Ottoman Empire, submitted in June 1915.[11]

Prior to Sykes's departure to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov in Petrograd on 27 February 1916, Sykes was approached with a plan by Samuel. The plan Samuel put forward was in the form of a memorandum which Sykes thought prudent to commit to memory and then destroy. Commenting on it, Sykes wrote to Samuel suggesting that if Belgium should assume the administration of Palestine it might be more acceptable to France as an alternative to the international administration which she wanted and the Zionists did not. Of the boundaries marked on a map attached to the memorandum he wrote:[8]

"By excluding Hebron and the East of the Jordan there is less to discuss with the Moslems, as the Mosque of Omar then becomes the only matter of vital importance to discuss with them and further does away with any contact with the bedouins, who never cross the river except on business. I imagine that the principal object of Zionism is the realization of the ideal of an existing centre of nationality rather than boundaries or extent of territory. The moment I return I will let you know how things stand at Pd."[16]

Conflicting promises

Lord Curzon said the Great Powers were still committed to the Maronite, Orthodox Christian, Druze, and Muslim communities.

In May 1917, W. Ormsby-Gore wrote

"French intentions in Syria are surely incompatible with the war aims of the Allies as defined to the Russian Government. If the self-determination of nationalities is to be the principle, the interference of France in the selection of advisers by the Arab Government and the suggestion by France of the Emirs to be selected by the Arabs in Mosul, Aleppo, and Damascus would seem utterly incompatible with our ideas of liberating the Arab nation and of establishing a free and independent Arab State. The British Government, in authorising the letters despatched to King Hussein [Sharif of Mecca] before the outbreak of the revolt by Sir Henry McMahon, would seem to raise a doubt as to whether our pledges to King Hussein as head of the Arab nation are consistent with French intentions to make not only Syria but Upper Mesopotamia another Tunis. If our support of King Hussein and the other Arabian leaders of less distinguished origin and prestige means anything it means that we are prepared to recognise the full sovereign independence of the Arabs of Arabia and Syria. It would seem time to acquaint the French Government with our detailed pledges to King Hussein, and to make it clear to the latter whether he or someone else is to be the ruler of Damascus, which is the one possible capital for an Arab State, which could command the obedience of the other Arabian Emirs."[18]

Many sources report that this agreement conflicted with the

  • The Sykes–Picot Agreement. 
  • Sykes–Picot agreement – text at UNISPAL. 
  • Sykes-Picot from Yale. 
  • Mid East Author. 
  • Erik Jan Zürcher (2004). Turkey: A Modern History. I.B.Tauris. pp. 143–145.  
  • Isaiah Friedman (1992). The Question of Palestine. Transaction Publishers. pp. 97–118.  
  • James Barr (2012). A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle That Shaped the Middle East. Simon & Schuster.  

Further reading

  1. ^  
  2. ^ The Middle East in the twentieth century, Martin Sicker
  3. ^ http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p. 8.
  4. ^ Peter Mansfield, British Empire magazine, Time-Life Books, no 75, p. 2078
  5. ^ Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans, p.286
  6. ^ Peter Mansfield, The British Empire magazine, no. 75, Time-Life Books, 1973
  7. ^ a b c d e Text of the Sykes–Picot Agreement at the WWI Document Archive
  8. ^ a b c d Grooves Of Change: A Book Of Memoirs, Herbert Samuel
  9. ^ Britain's Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956, Elizabeth Monroe, p26
  10. ^ Conservative Party attitudes to Jews, 1900–1950, Harry Defries
  11. ^ a b A Broken Trust: Sir Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians, Sarah Huneidi, p261
  12. ^ Samuel, Grooves of Change, p174
  13. ^ J Schneers, "Balfour Declaration" (London 2012)
  14. ^ Samuel, Grooves of Change, p176
  15. ^ In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth, Elie Kedourie
  16. ^ The high walls of Jerusalem: a history of the Balfour Declaration and the birth of the British mandate for Palestine, 1984, p346
  17. ^ CAB 27/24, E.C. 41 War Cabinet Eastern Committee Minutes, December 5, 1918
  18. ^ See UK National Archives CAB/24/143, Eastern Report, No. XVIII, May 31, 1917
  19. ^ See CAB 24/271, Cabinet Paper 203(37)
  20. ^ see paragraph 1 of The Sykes–Picot Agreement
  21. ^ Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917–1919, Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, pages 122–124
  22. ^ Isaiah Friedman, Palestine, a Twice-promised Land?: The British, the Arabs & Zionism, 1915–1920 (Transaction Publishers 2000), ISBN 1-56000-391-X, p.166
  23. ^ Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918. Supplement 1, The World War Volume I, Part I: The continuation and conclusion of the war—participation of the United States, p.243
  24. ^ Document 242, Memorandum by Mr.Balfour (Paris) respecting Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, 11 August 1919, in E.L.Woodward and Rohan Butler, Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939. (London: HM Stationery Office, 1952), ISBN 0-11-591554-0, p.340–348, [2]
  25. ^ New Statesman Interview – Jack Straw
  26. ^ http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p. 9.
  27. ^ See Allenby and General Strategy in the Middle East, 1917–1919, By Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, 113-118
  28. ^ Jordan: Living in the Crossfire, Alan George, Zed Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84277-471-9, page 6
  29. ^ Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920–1925, by Timothy J. Paris, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-7146-5451-5, page 69
  30. ^ see for example International Law, Papers of Hersch Lauterpacht, edited by Elihu Lauterpacht, CUP Archive, 1970, ISBN 0-521-21207-3, page 116 and Statehood and the Law of Self-determination, D. Raič, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2002, ISBN 90-411-1890-X, page 95
  31. ^ Report of a Committee Set Up To Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir Henry McMahon and The Sharif of Mecca
  32. ^ cited in "Palestine Papers, 1917–1922", Doreen Ingrams, page 48 from the UK Archive files PRO CAB 27/24.
  33. ^ "Light on Britain's Palestine Promise". The Times. April 17, 1964. pp. 15–16. 
  34. ^  
  35. ^ A Line in the Sand, James Barr, p.12
  36. ^ 'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 1'
  37. ^ 'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 6'
  38. ^ The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 7
  39. ^ The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 8
  40. ^ Hawes, Director James (21 October 2003). Lawrence of Arabia: The Battle for the Arab World. PBS Home Video.  Interview with Kamal Abu Jaber, former Foreign Minister of Jordan.
  41. ^ "This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," a jihadist from ...]". www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  42. ^ "Watch this English-speaking ISIS fighter explain how a 98-year-old colonial map created today’s conflict". LA Daily News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  43. ^ Phillips, David L. "Extremists in Iraq need a history lesson". CNBC. 
  44. ^ Tran, Mark and Weaver, Matthew (30 June 2014). "Isis announces Islamic caliphate in area straddling Iraq and Syria".  
  45. ^ "Exclusive: First Appearance of ISIS Caliph in Iraq Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi (English Subtitles)". LiveLeak.com. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  46. ^ Zen, Eretz. "Is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the Man in the Recent ISIL Video?". YouTube.com. We have now trespassed the borders that were drawn by the malicious hands in lands of Islam in order to limit our movements and confine us inside them. And we are working, Allah permitting, to eliminate them (borders). And this blessed advance will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy.(transl.) 
  47. ^ "Bientôt le souvenir de l’église catholique chaldéenne et des églises syriaques (orthodoxes & catholiques) sera plus qu’un souffle de vent chaud dans le désert (In French)". paysages in LeMonde.fr. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Yazidis d’Irak – le cri d’angoisse d’une députée du parlement irakien (In French)". paysages in LeMonde.fr. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  49. ^ Ne laissons pas le Moyen-Orient à la barbarie ! " par Dominique de Villepin (In French)""". LeMonde.fr. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 

References

See also

The Franco-German geographer Christophe Neff wrote that the geopolitical architecture founded by the Sykes–Picot Agreement has disappeared in July 2014 and with it the relative protection of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East.[47] He claims furthermore that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has in some way restructured the geopolitical structure of the Middle East in summer 2014, particularly in Syria and Iraq.[48] The former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has presented a similar geopolitical analysis in an editorial contribution for the French newspaper Le Monde.[49]

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claims one of the goals of its insurgency is to reverse the effects of the Sykes–Picot Agreement.[41][42][43] "This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," a jihadist from the ISIL warned in the video called End of Sykes-Picot.[44] ISIL's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a July 2014 speech at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul vowed that "this blessed advance will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes–Picot conspiracy".[45][46]

The agreement's principal terms were reaffirmed by the inter-Allied San Remo Conference of 19–26 April 1920 and the ratification of the resulting League of Nations mandates by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922.

The agreement is seen by many as a turning point in WesternArab relations. It negated the promises made to Arabs[40] through Colonel T. E. Lawrence for a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria, in exchange for their siding with British forces against the Ottoman Empire.

Consequences of the agreement

Lloyd George was particularly anxious for M. Clemenceau to follow this. The agreement of 1916 had been signed subsequent to the letter to King Hussein. In the following extract from the agreement of 1916 France recognised Arab independence: "It is accordingly understood between the French and British Governments.-(1) That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States in the areas A. and B. marked on the annexed map under the suzerainty of an Arab Chief." Hence France, by this act, practically recognised our agreement with King Hussein by excluding Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo from the blue zone of direct administration, for the map attached to the agreement showed that Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo were included, not in the zone of direct administration, but in the independent Arab State. M. Pichon said that this had never been contested, but how could France be bound by an agreement the very existence of which was unknown to her at the time when the 1916 agreement was signed? In the 1916 agreement France had not in any way recognised the Hejaz. She had undertaken to uphold "an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States", but not the Kingdom of Hejaz. If France was promised a mandate for Syria, she would undertake to do nothing except in agreement with the Arab State or Confederation of States. This is the role which France demanded in Syria. If Great Britain would only promise her good offices, he believed that France could reach an understanding with Feisal.'[39]

  • '[T]he blue area in which France was "allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they may desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of Arab States" did not include Damascus, Homs, Hama, or Aleppo. In area A. France was "prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States'.[37]
  • Since the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916, the whole mandatory system had been adopted. If a mandate were granted by the League of Nations over these territories, all that France asked was that France should have that part put aside for her.
  • Lloyd George said that he could not do that. The League of Nations could not be used for putting aside our bargain with King Hussein. He asked if [38]
  • Lloyd George, continuing, said that it was on the basis of the above quoted letter that King Hussein had put all his resources into the field which had helped us most materially to win the victory. France had for practical purposes accepted our undertaking to King Hussein in signing the 1916 agreement. This had not been M. Pichon, but his predecessors. He was bound to say that if the British Government now agreed that Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo should be included in the sphere of direct French influence, they would be breaking faith with the Arabs, and they could not face this.

The British Notes taken during a 'Council of Four Conference Held in the Prime Minister's Flat at 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Thursday, March 20, 1919, at 3 p.m.'[36] shed further light on the matter. Lord Balfour was in attendance, when Lloyd George explained the history behind the agreements. The notes revealed that:

Zones of French (blue), British (red) and Russian (green) influence and control established by the Sykes–Picot Agreement. At a Downing Street meeting of 16 December 1915 Sykes had declared "I should like to draw a line from the e in Acre to the last k in Kirkuk."[35]

Lloyd George's explanation

"The whole of Palestine ... lies within the limits which H.M.G. have pledged themselves to Sherif Husain that they will recognize and uphold the independence of the Arabs."[33][34]

Another document, which was a draft statement for submission to the peace conference, but never submitted, noted:

"With regard to Palestine, H.M.G. are committed by Sir Henry McMahon's letter to the Sherif on October 24, 1915, to its inclusion in the boundaries of Arab independence ... but they have stated their policy regarding the Palestine Holy Place and Zionist colonization in their message to him of January 4, 1918."

On 17 April 1964, The Times of London published excerpts from a secret memorandum that had been prepared by the Political Intelligence Department of the British Foreign Office for the British delegation to the Paris peace conference. The reference to Palestine said:

"The Palestine position is this. If we deal with our commitments, there is first the general pledge to Hussein in October 1915, under which Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future ... Great Britain and France – Italy subsequently agreeing—committed themselves to an international administration of Palestine in consultation with Russia, who was an ally at that time ... A new feature was brought into the case in November 1917, when Mr Balfour, with the authority of the War Cabinet, issued his famous declaration to the Zionists that Palestine 'should be the national home of the Jewish people, but that nothing should be done—and this, of course, was a most important proviso—to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Those, as far as I know, are the only actual engagements into which we entered with regard to Palestine."[32]

Many of the relevant documents in the National Archives were later declassified and published. Among them were various assurances of Arab independence provided by Secretary of War, Lord Kitchener, the Viceroy of India, and others in the War Cabinet. The minutes of a Cabinet Eastern Committee meeting, chaired by Lord Curzon, held on 5 December 1918 to discuss the various Palestine undertakings makes it clear that Palestine had not been excluded from the agreement with Hussein. General Jan Smuts, Lord Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and representatives of the Foreign Office, the India Office, the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Treasury were present. T. E. Lawrence also attended. According to the minutes Lord Curzon explained:

Lord Grey had been the Foreign Secretary during the McMahon–Hussein negotiations. Speaking in the House of Lords on 27 March 1923, he made it clear that, for his part, he entertained serious doubts as to the validity of the British Government's (Churchill's) interpretation of the pledges which he, as Foreign Secretary, had caused to be given to the Sharif Hussein in 1915. He called for all of the secret engagements regarding Palestine to be made public.[31]

Release of classified records

Attempts to explain the conduct of the Allies were made at the San Remo conference and in the Churchill White Paper of 1922. The White Paper stated the British position that Palestine was part of the excluded areas of "Syria lying to the west of the District of Damascus".

France had decided to govern Syria directly, and took action to enforce the French Mandate of Syria before the terms had been accepted by the Council of the League of Nations. The French issued an ultimatum and intervened militarily at the Battle of Maysalun in June 1920. They deposed the indigenous Arab government, and removed King Faisal from Damascus in August 1920. Great Britain also appointed a High Commissioner and established their own mandatory regime in Palestine, without first obtaining approval from the Council of the League of Nations, or obtaining the formal cession of the territory from the former sovereign, Turkey.

The San Remo conference was hastily convened. Great Britain and France and Belgium all agreed to recognize the provisional independence of Syria and Mesopotamia, while claiming mandates for their administration. Palestine was composed of the Ottoman administrative districts of southern Syria. Under customary international law, premature recognition of its independence would be a gross affront to the government of the newly declared parent state. It could have been construed as a belligerent act of intervention due to the lack of any League of Nations sanction for the mandates.[30] In any event, its provisional independence was not mentioned, although it continued to be designated as a Class A Mandate.

On 30 September 1918, supporters of the Arab Revolt in Damascus declared a government loyal to the Sharif of Mecca. He had been declared 'King of the Arabs' by a handful of religious leaders and other notables in Mecca.[28] On 6 January 1920 Faisal initialed an agreement with Clemenceau which acknowledged 'the right of Syrians to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation'.[29] A Pan-Syrian Congress meeting in Damascus had declared an independent state of Syria on the 8th of March 1920. The new state included portions of Syria, Palestine, and northern Mesopotamia. King Faisal was declared the head of State. At the same time Prince Zeid, Faisal's brother, was declared Regent of Mesopotamia.

The Anglo-French Declaration of November 1918 pledged that Great Britain and France would "assist in the establishment of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia by "setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations". The French had reluctantly agreed to issue the declaration at the insistence of the British. Minutes of a British War Cabinet meeting reveal that the British had cited the laws of conquest and military occupation to avoid sharing the administration with the French under a civilian regime. The British stressed that the terms of the Anglo-French declaration had superseded the Sykes–Picot Agreement in order to justify fresh negotiations over the allocation of the territories of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine.[27]

Russian claims in the Ottoman Empire were denied following the Bolshevik Revolution and the Bolsheviks released a copy of the Sykes–Picot Agreement (as well as other treaties). They revealed full texts in Izvestia and Pravda on 23 November 1917; subsequently, the Manchester Guardian printed the texts on November 26, 1917.[26] This caused great embarrassment between the allies and growing distrust between them and the Arabs. The Zionists were similarly upset, with the Sykes–Picot Agreement becoming public only three weeks after the Balfour Declaration.

Events after public disclosure of the plan

Eighty-five years later, in a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw observed "A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past. ... The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis—again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one."[25]

The greatest source of conflict was the Balfour Declaration, 1917 Lord Balfour wrote a memorandum from the Paris Peace Conference in which he asserted Britain's rights suggested that other allies had implicitly rejected the Sykes–Picot agreement by adopting the system of mandates. It allowed for no annexations, trade preferences, or other advantages. He also stated that the Allies were committed to Zionism and had no intention of honoring their promises to the Arabs.[24]

[23] That same year he and a representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a public address to the Central Syrian Congress in Paris on the non-Turkish elements of the Ottoman Empire, including liberated Jerusalem. He stated that the accomplished fact of the independence of the Hejaz rendered it almost impossible that an effective and real autonomy should be refused to Syria.[22] in 1917 to discuss the agreement with Hussein.Hejaz, but Picot and Sykes visited the Sherif Hussein bin Ali office that had been corresponding with Cairo Sykes was not affiliated with the [21]

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