Who Controlled The Middle East Before The Sykes-Picot Agreement

Prior to the centenary of Sykes-Picot in 2016, the media[109] and scientists[110] generated strong interest in the long-term effects of the agreement. The agreement is often cited as “artificial” borders in the Middle East, “without regard to ethnic or sectarian characteristics, which has led to endless conflicts.” [111] The question of the extent to which Sykes-Picot has really marked the borders of the modern Middle East is controversial. [112] [113] US President Woodrow Wilson rejected all secret agreements between allies and encouraged open diplomacy and ideas of self-determination. On November 22, 1917, Leon Trotsky sent a note to the petrograd ambassadors that “contained proposals for a ceasefire and democratic peace without annexation and without compensation based on the principle of nation independence and their right to determine the nature of their own development.” [68] Peace negotiations with the four-year Alliance – Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey – began a month later in Brest-Litovsk. On behalf of the Quadrennial Alliance, Count Czernin replied on 25 December that “the question of the nationality of national groups that do not have the independence of the state should be constitutionally resolved by any state and its peoples independently” and that “the right of minorities is an essential part of the constitutional right of peoples to self-determination”. [69] A century after Sykes-Picot, the double crises eliminated the veneer of the state imposed by the Europeans and unmasked the void below. Iraq was administered by Britain and Syria by France with a limited nation, before they were both independent. They waved new flags, built opulent palaces for their leaders, cheered on business elites and trained many men in uniform. But both had weak public institutions, young civil societies, dubious and disinterested economies and insignificant laws. Both countries have been rocked by coups and instability. Syria suffered 20 coups, some failed, but many succeeded, between 1949 and 1970, an average year, until the Assad dynasty took power – in another coup.

Increasingly, the glue that kept the two countries together was repressive domination and fear. The agreement gave a general understanding of the British and French spheres of influence in the Middle East. The aim was to divide the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire (excluding the Arabian Peninsula).


7th International Symposium
Soil Organic Matter

6 – 11 October 2019

Hilton Adelaide

Adelaide, South Australia


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