Map That Changed Middle East: Sykes-Picot Deal and Century of Resentment

It has been 104 years since the ratification of the Sykes-Picot agreement, a pact that divided the Middle East between the victorious allies of the First World War after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Signed by the diplomats of Britain and France and okayed by Russia and Italy, the deal, inked in 1916, granted London control over today’s Israel, the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Jordan. The French were given access to Syria and Lebanon, whereas Russia was set to get western Armenia, Constantinople and the Turkish Straits. Italy was to receive southern Anatolia.

Root of All Evil?

Often referred to as the “root of all evil” in Middle East’s modern history, the pact is still being debated by experts who are trying to answer the question, whether the deal was legitimate and Dr. Mordechai Kedar, one of Israel’s leading Middle East experts, says the answer to that is widely disputed.

One such interest was the desire to keep controlling the Suez Canal that shortened the western vessels’ routes to India bypassing the dangers of Africa, while the other was the colonialists’ urge for oil.

After scrapping the use of coal and replacing it with oil, the British navy was looking for steady supplies of crude and the Middle East, rich in this resource, presented them with such an opportunity.

To make sure their interests were maintained, the colonial powers placed stooges in the areas they came to control and implemented a “divide and conquer” policy, dispersing some ethnic…

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