Friday, June 4, 2021

The Sykes-Picot Agreement to Divide the Ottoman Empire

After capturing power in Russia, the Bolshevik government led by Lenin and Trotsky went to extraordinary lengths to discredit the policies of the deposed government of Tsar Nicholas II. Trotsky, then People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs, published dirty secrets of the Tsar’s regime in the Soviet newspaper Izvestia. In late November 1917, he published documents related to the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Russia, England, France, and Italy to partition the territory controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The agreement signed on May 16, 1916, was based on the premise that these four nations would defeat the Ottoman Empire in the First World War.  

The Sykes-Picot Agreement stipulated that the Ottoman territory outside the Arabian Peninsula would be divided along the Sykes-Picot line into areas of British and French dominance. Britain would get the areas where today southern Israel and Palestine, Jordan and southern Iraq are located—they would get the ports of Haifa and Acre to enable them to have direct access to the Mediterranean. The areas where southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are located today was to be France’s share. Russia was to get Western Armenia in addition to Constantinople (which was of great importance to the Orthodox Tsarist regime for religious and historical reasons) and the Turkish Straits. Italy was to receive southern Anatolia.  

Under the secret Constantinople Agreement (also known as the Straits Agreement), ratified by Russia, England, and France in 1915, the territories of Constantinople and the Dardanelles had already been promised to Russia in the event of their victory in the First World War. The leaking of the Sykes-Picot Agreement caused a major political scandal in Europe, Asia, and the USA.

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