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Sykes Picot Agreement

Sykes Picot

In 1916, during World War I, Britain and France made a secret deal known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot were the key players. After the war, this agreement split up the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire between the British and the French. This division had a lasting impact on Middle Eastern politics, and its effects are still causing tensions today.

What is the Sykes Picot Agreement?

During World War I in 1916, Great Britain, France, and imperial Russia secretly made a deal called the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The goal was to divide up the Ottoman Empire, assuming the Triple Entente (Allies) would win the war against the Ottoman Empire. The negotiators were Sir Mark Sykes, François Georges-Picot, and Sergey Dimitriyevich Sazonov. They discussed and created the agreement from November 1915 to January 1916, and it was officially approved by their respective governments in May 1916. This agreement assigned different regions, like Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, to be controlled by either Britain or France, forming what’s known as the Sykes-Picot line.

Highlights Of Sykes Picot Agreement

Founded3 January 1916
Ratification9 May 1916 -16 May 1916
FoundersMark Sykes
Francois Georges Picot
SignatoriesEdward Grey
Paul Cambon
ObjectiveIn the event that the Triple Entente is successful in overthrowing the Ottoman Empire, defining potential zones of influence and control in the Middle East.


  • In the early 1900s, as World War I unfolded, there were behind-the-scenes discussions among the Russian, French, and British Empires about how they would divide the territories of their adversaries. At the same time, the British were making deals with Arab nationalists, promising them independence in exchange for their support in rebelling against the Ottoman Empire.
  • The Sykes-Picot Agreement was born out of these discussions. Between November 23, 1915, and January 3, 1916, British ambassador Mark Sykes and French diplomat François Georges-Picot had key conversations that led to the agreement. During this time, they drafted a memorandum outlining the plan. In May 1916, the respective governments of these nations ratified the agreement.
  • So, what did the Sykes-Picot Agreement do? It effectively carved up the Ottoman provinces outside the Arabian Peninsula into zones controlled by the French and the British. The United Kingdom gained control over port cities like Haifa and Acre, as well as modern-day southern Israel, Jordan, and southern Iraq. On the other hand, France received territories such as Syria, Lebanon, northern Iraq, and the southeast of Turkey.

Consequences of Sykes-Picot Agreement

The agreement is often seen as a significant moment in the relationship between the West and the Arab world. It involved the UK breaking promises made to the Arabs, who had supported the British in fighting against the Ottoman Empire. The promises were related to the creation of a national Arab homeland in Greater Syria.

  • In the Gulf coast area, the first group made it all the way down to Kuwait and Baghdad, and the British were fully in charge of it.
  • The second group covered Sinai, plus parts of northern Iraq, Jordan, and the Negev desert, and the British had some influence there.
  • Moving along the coast from southern Lebanon to Mersin, Iskenderun, and Adana in the north, the third group was directly under French control, reaching into the interior of Anatolia.The Syrian Desert was the fourth zone, and it had a touch of French influence.
  • The fifth area included the northern part of historic Palestine, the Ottoman Jerusalem sanjak. It was declared an international zone due to its religious importance, but Acre and Haifa were given to Britain.
  • Regarding Russia, the agreement stated that the tsar would keep control over Istanbul, the areas around the Bosphorus, and four provinces in eastern Anatolia near the Russian border.
  • Greece got the western shores of Turkey.
  • Italy took charge of southwest Turkey.


Many people think that the Sykes-Picot agreement, which happened a while back, made kind of random borders in the Middle East. Like, they didn’t really think about the different groups of people living there and just drew lines on the map. This caused a lot of problems because it put groups that didn’t get along in the same areas. But some folks argue about how much the Sykes-Picot thing really influenced the borders we see in the Middle East today.

Read Also: Opium Wars in China

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