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Sykes-Picot Agreement

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 16 May 1916 was a secret understanding between the governments of Britain and France defining their respective areas of post-World War I influence and control in the Middle East.

The agreement was negotiated in November 1915 by the French diplomat Georges Picot and British Mark Sykes. Picot was far more experienced and managed to get far more than he was expecting for France.

was allocated control of areas roughly comprising Jordan, Iraq and a small area around Haifa. France was allocated control of South-eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas.

The area which subsequently came to be called Palestine was for international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers. This area, subject to significant subsequent controversy, had the following borders:

Maps at and illustrate the areas more clearly than words.

This agreement is viewed by many as conflicting with the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence of 1915-1916. The conflicting agreements are the result of changing progress during the war, switching in the earlier correspondence from needing Arab help to subsequently trying to enlist the help of Jews in the US in getting the US to join the First World War, in conjunction with the Balfour Declaration, 1917. Sykes was also not a affiliated with the Cairo office that had been corresponding with Husayn, and was not fully aware of what had been promised the Arabs.

The agreement was later expanded to include Italy and Russia. Russia was to receive Armenia and parts of Kurdistan while the Italians would get certain Agean islands and a sphere of influence around Izmir in southwest Anatolia. The Italian pressence in Anatolia as well as the division of the Arab lands was later formalized in teh Treaty of Sevres in 1920.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 lead to Russia being denied its claims in the Ottoman Empire. At the same time Lenin released a copy of the confidential Sykes-Picot Agreement as well as other treaties causing great embarrassment among the allies and growing distrust among the Arabs.

Attempts to resolve the conflict were made at the San Remo conference and in the Churchill White Paper, 1922, which stated the British position that Palestine was part of the excluded areas of "Syria lying to the west of the District of Damascus".

The agreement's principal terms were reaffirmed by the inter-Allied San Remo conference of 19-26 April 1920 and the ratification of the resulting League of Nations mandates by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922.

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