Arabic Language Blog

This Day in History: Sykes-Picot Agreement اتفاقية سايكس بيكو Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Arabic Language, Culture

“To give what you don’t own to whom it doesn’t belong; This is how you plant Hatred ..!!”

      The Sykes-Picot Agreement, concluded on 16 May 1916, was a secret agreement between the governments of the UK and France with the consent of Imperial Russia. According to the agreement, UK and France defined their regions of control in Western Asia after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire during the World War I. It divided the Arab provinces outside the Arabian Peninsula into areas of future British and French control. Britain was allocated Jordan, Southern Iraq and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre. France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Russia was to get the Turkish Straits and some Ottoman Armenian lands. The Agreement was named after the two diplomats who negotiated its terms. The controlling powers were left free to decide on the state boundaries within these areas. Palestine was to be under International Administration.

       On November 2nd 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued. Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour made a formal letter saying the British government “.. view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best edeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, …”   

      After the Russian (Bolshevik) Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks rejected their colonial share of the Arab land and they released copies of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and copies of other treaties. The Manchester Guardian published the full texts on November 26th 1917 As a result, the British were embarrassed, the Arabs were disappointed and the Turks were happy.

        On May 14th 1948, The British left Palestine and on the following day Israel was announced as an Independent State on the Palestinian land. Since then, the Arab-Israeli Conflict have started and is not likely to come to an end soon.      

         Many people see the agreement as a turning point in Western/Arab relations. It negated the promises made to Arabs through T. E. Lawrence for a national Arab homeland in the areas of Greater Syria, in exchange for their siding with the British forces against the Ottoman Empire.

        In a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw observed A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past. .. .. The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis – again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one.

The article is translated and adapted from wikipedia.

The map is also from wikipedia.


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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. Shaun:

    As a Briton I say, without reserve, a shameful act by my beloved country – and my country has also done many great things.
    The Jewish State must return the land it stole from the Palestinians.

  2. Fisal:

    Yes, Shaun. I agree. They must give back what they don’t own. One more thing, It is not the country that should be blamed, but rather the men of interest who were running it at that time. One’s country is always a beloved one.

  3. canullia:

    The Russians leaked the parts that served them but not the parts that were developed via policies lobbied in the american congress via Dr Martin Lewis who is somewhat equally important as Dr Samuel Huntington who invented the term “clash of civilizations. These two visualize the Arab Gulf Area with the disappearance of states like Bahrain, Qatar, Emirates, and Kuwait by replacing them with 4 mini states for Syria, 8 for Lebanon, 4 for Iraq and 3 bigger states to encompass the rest of the Gulf with two sunni states in Najad and Hijaz and a mini state for Shiyas in the Ihsaa area. All this was done to prolong the appearance of their great fear the Suffiani because that will mean the final Armageddon. For further readings put together Martin Lewis’s work with the Talmud of Immanuel, the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, and the Hadeeth scriptures in Islam.