Sykes Picot Agreement Ww1

The Sykes-Picot Agreement: What it is and Why it Matters

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, is a historic document that was signed between the British and French governments during World War I. This agreement was signed in secret in 1916 and divided the Middle East into zones of influence between the two colonial powers. The agreement became a significant factor in shaping the modern Middle East and is still relevant today, more than a century later.


Before the Sykes-Picot Agreement was made, the Middle East was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, which had been in power for over six centuries. However, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was in decline, and its territories were being fought over by the British, French, and Russians.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed in secret between Britain and France on May 16, 1916. It was named after the two diplomats who negotiated the agreement: Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France. The agreement proposed to split the Ottoman Empire into zones of influence between the two colonial powers. The territories in question included modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.

Terms of the Agreement

According to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, France was to have control over the northern territories, including Syria, Lebanon, and the northern part of Iraq. The British, on the other hand, would have control over the southern territories, including Palestine, southern Iraq, and the region surrounding the Persian Gulf. The agreement also proposed that the holy places in Palestine would be under an international administration, ensuring access to all religious groups.

Impact of the Agreement

The Sykes-Picot Agreement had a significant impact on the Middle East and continues to influence the region today. The agreement effectively drew lines on a map without regard to ethnic or religious divides, leading to the creation of artificial states. This has resulted in ongoing conflict and instability in the region, as well as the rise of nationalism and sectarianism.

Additionally, the agreement`s aftermath saw the British and French colonial powers imposing their own political agendas on the region. This led to a lack of representation for the local populations, creating resentment and distrust towards the colonial powers.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement also set the stage for the creation of Israel, as it granted Britain control over Palestine. The subsequent establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 would not have been possible without the Sykes-Picot Agreement.


The Sykes-Picot Agreement is a historic document that has shaped the modern Middle East. The agreement`s impact can still be felt today, as the region continues to face conflict and political instability. The agreement also highlights the dangers of foreign powers imposing their own interests on other nations, without regard for local cultures and traditions. As such, the Sykes-Picot Agreement serves as a cautionary tale for modern foreign policy-makers.

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