May 17, 2024 15:45 UTC
  • To understand roots of conflicts in West Asia, look to the Sykes-Picot Agreement

Pars Today - To gain a deeper understanding of the current crises in West Asia, it is necessary to take a closer look at the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was signed between France and Britain on May 16, 1916. This agreement had a profound impact on the future of West Asia and prepared the ground for many of the region's current problems.

During World War I and after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, three main colonial powers - France, Britain, and Russia - decided to divide the Ottoman territories. This division was based on their colonial interests, not on the geographical, cultural, and ethnic realities of the region. 

Mark Sykes from Britain and François Georges-Picot from France were the architects of this division, and the agreement was named after them.

This agreement led to the creation of new and artificial borders in West Asia, which did not take into account the will and desires of the people in these regions. 

Following the end of World War I in November 1918 and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, hopes for the independence of Arab countries were not realized. Instead, Britain and France were able to strengthen their influence in the region through the Mandate Plan in January 1919. This plan did not allow Arab countries in West Asia to gain independence and placed them under British and French control.

This division not only led to political and social instability in the region but also exacerbated religious and sectarian differences. Regions such as Palestine, Jordan, southern Iraq, and parts of Syria and Lebanon came under direct British and French control. These artificial divisions prepared the ground for numerous wars and conflicts in the decades that followed.

Mohammad Reza Hajian, an expert on West Asian affairs, believes that one of the main problems with the Sykes-Picot Agreement was the intentional disregard for regional realities by colonial powers. He notes that the most important part of this agreement was the occupation of Palestine and the disregard for the rights of the people of this land, which paved the way for British dominance over Palestine.

Currently, many countries in the region are still suffering from the consequences of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. For example, in recent years, we have witnessed border disputes between Turkey and Iraq, which are a result of the artificial divisions created by Sykes-Picot.

Mahdi Shakibaei, the Secretary-General of Society for the Defence of Palestinian Nation, also believes that the Sykes-Picot Agreement was the first step towards the formation of Israel in the region. According to him, Britain's goal in establishing Israel was to use the region's oil reserves and Palestine. This goal was operationalized in the form of the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. 

Britain, from 1920 to 1948, facilitated the immigration of Jews to Palestine, increasing the Jewish population in the region significantly. In 1917, Jews made up only 6% of the population of Palestine, but by 1948, when Israel declared its fake establishment, the Jewish population had reached 600,000, and around 800,000 Palestinians were displaced.

In 2016, Palestine issued a statement holding Britain responsible for all the catastrophes that had occurred and demanded that the British government apologize for its actions. However, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister at the time, responded to this request by stating that the British government takes pride in the Balfour Declaration.


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