A century on: Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot The borders of the...

Natifnatal Says...

A century on:
Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot
The borders of the Middle East were drawn during World War I by a Briton, Mark Sykes, and a Frenchman, Francois Picot.

The two diplomats' pencils divided the map of one of the most volatile regions in the world into states that cut through ethnic and religious communities.

Later dubbed the Sykes-Picot treaty, the secret agreement was signed by Paris and London on May 16, 1916, to become the basis on which the Levant region was shaped for years to come.

A century on, the Middle East continues to bear the consequences of the treaty, and many Arabs across the region continue to blame the subsequent violence in the Middle East, from the occupation of Palestine to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on the Sykes-Picot treaty.

In this piece, we revisit the circumstances that led to the signing of this critical agreement and the events that unfolded afterwards.

Ottoman Arab provinces
The Ottoman Empire (1516-1924), in the last few decades before its collapse, lost control over many of its territories to the growing powers of colonial countries.

France took control of Algeria (1830) and Tunisia (1881), Italy took over Libya (1911), while Britain gained control of Aden protectorate (1939), Oman (1861), Arabian Gulf chiefdoms (1820) and Kuwait (1899).

On the other hand, Muhammad Ali, a powerful Ottoman leader, unilaterally ruled Egypt, and his sons succeeded him, until the country fell into British custody in 1882. Sudan fell under British control in 1899.

Meanwhile, according to Iraqi historian Sayyar al Jamil, the Ottomans' strongholds in the Levant and Iraq, during the empire's latter years, included the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Raqqa, Basra and Baghdad.

Ottoman empire 1914
As World War I erupted in July 1914, the weakening Ottoman Empire allied with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to confront Britain and France.

It was then that the political regimes and the region's ma

Posted January 2 2024 at 3:38 PM

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