Understanding The Sykes-Picot Agreement

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During World War I, Europeans considered the Ottoman Empire the “sick man” of Europe, so the Allied powers wanted to take advantage of this and gain control over key land areas. In the May of 1916, Great Britain and France met to negotiate the division of the Ottoman Empire. Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Gorges Picot of France were the negotiators for this agreement, so the countries named the Sykes-Picot Agreement accordingly. The understanding also originally required acceptance from Russia, but the country left after the Bolshevik Revolution. Essentially the Sykes-Picot would divide Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine into areas under either direct control or influence from Great Britain or France. This document is important in understanding…show more content…
The document outlines what France and Britain can and cannot do with their new areas. It begins by discussing how the two countries are protectors of the existing Arab states, but they have “priority of right of enterprise and local loans” in the respective areas. They also can set up “direct or indirect control as they desire.” The document is careful to state that France and Great Britain have to arrange all of this with the Arab states. One small section of the document discusses the brown area on the map and that the Allies would establish an international administration here after meeting with Russia. The Sykes-Picot then goes into detail about the specific ports it assigns to either Britain or France, and the economics of the ports. The ports will be open to all British or French goods respectively without charges. Next, the agreement discusses trade through railway. The writers of the document treat railways similar to ports in that “there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect.” The rules outlined about railways are more specific because they have ending and beginning points that are explicitly stated. Towards the end, the document states, “There shall be no interior customs barriers between any of the above-mentioned areas.” This sentence sums up most of the agreement by showing that France and Great Britain both want to be able to trade freely and cheaply in the

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