In 2016, as defeat loomed for the Ottoman Empire, the diplomats Sir Mark Sykes (1879-1919) (UK) and François Marie Denis Georges-Picot (1870–1951) (France) drafted an agreement between their governments of how to dispose of the Ottoman Empire after its approaching defeat in the First World War. The agreement, signed (secretly) in 1916, was a betrayal of promises made by Britain to Arabs during the Arab Revolt. The Agreement laid down that "France was to be pre-eminent in Syria (including Lebanon), southern Anatolia, and northern Mesopotamia (Mosul). Britain would establish protectorates in southern Mesopotamia (Baghdad and Basra), the Persian Gulf, Arabia and the Hejaz, Palestine, and the Jordan Valley. Thus Egypt would be linked with the British Indian Empire. Russia was to have a free hand in Armenia and northern Kurdistan" (Riches & Palmowski, 2019). To this, Wikipedia adds "an additional small area that included the ports of Haifa and Acre to allow access to the Mediterranean."
The Sykes-Picot agreement laid many of the foundation stones for what has become a difficult and war-torn area of the world. With the Balfour Declaration, it has proved a central plank in the argument that many of the problems of the Middle East can be ascribed to the imperialist instincts of 'the western powers'.
- The text of the Agreement may be read at [].
- It may be of interest to readers of Hull-AWE to know that Sir Mark Sykes (1879–1919; full name Tatton Benvenuto Mark Sykes) succeeded as the 6th Baronet in 1913, inheriting the family estates at Sledmere. His father, the fifth baronet, divided his time between racehorses and church-building, working on 17 churches in the East Riding (some now re-allocated by boundary changes to North Yorkshire). Sir Mark's mother, Jessica (née Cavendish-Bentinck), lived increasingly apart from his father; she was received into the Roman Catholic church in 1882, taking Mark with her.