Since the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 after the First World War, the Middle East has not stopped bleeding. When the Empire was divided into several states began a war, social, religious and political conflict that lasts until today, 96 years later, favored by the undermining of the great allied powers of the moment, which emerged victorious from the Great War. It all started with the Sykes-Picot agreement.

1. Decline of the Ottoman Empire. Source:

The Sykes-Picot agreement

Glimpsing the end of the war, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland along with France, raised the future distribution of the Ottoman territories in the Middle East. In this way, Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Sykes and diplomat François Georges-Picot, representing the United Kingdom and France, respectively, designed the pact that would eventually be known as the Sykes-Picot agreement.

This agreement was a secret distribution of the Middle East to control the region, as well as its resources. Thus, the Sykes-Picot line, drawn practically as a straight line from the city of Kirkuk in Iraq to the vicinity of Lake Tiberias and the Golan Heights, in present-day Israel, would define the British and French control areas.

The distribution of the booty

On the one hand, the United Kingdom would gain direct control of central and southern Mesopotamia, along with the ports of Haifa and Acre, on the Mediterranean coast, while the rest of the territory south of the Sykes-Picot line would be under its influence.

France would do the same to the north of this line, controlling directly the Syrian coast, most of what is now Lebanon, and eastern Anatolia. Likewise, an area of influence would be reserved in the rest of Syria and northern Mesopotamia.

2. Map of the distribution of the Middle East according to the Sykes-Picot agreement. Source: GeographicMind.

The Russian Empire finally joined the shaping of the pact, aspiring to dominate the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, along with Constantinople (now Istanbul), Armenia and Kurdistan, although their claims were frustrated by the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917.

The regions under the influence of the European powers would be administered by the Arab people, and Palestine would remain subject to international control.

Lawrence of Arabia and the betrayal of the Arab people

Aware of the instability of the Turkish Sultanate and worried about receiving an attack in Egypt, the UK sent British Army Officer Thomas E. Lawrence to contact the Arabs subjugated by the Ottoman Empire. Its objective was to organize a revolt within the Empire and thus eradicate the invading threats to the British colony of Egypt.

The Arab soldiers, led by Prince Fáysal ibn Husayn, lacked military training and weapons, so the British Army was responsible for equipping the insurgency troops, while Lawrence advised the prince on military issues and aligned his interests with those of United Kingdom.

3. Scene with the map of the invasion to Damascus. Source: Film “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962).

In this way, the Arab cause won the victory at the port of Aqaba and contributed to the British conquest of Jerusalem and Damascus. However, after the liberation of the Arabs and the end of the war, the aspirations of a great independent Arab state were never realised, as they clashed head-on with the secret Sykes-Picot agreement. On November 23, 1917, when the Bolsheviks made the agreement public from Russia, the whole world echoed the news and the Arab people felt deeply betrayed.

Divide and rule in the Middle East

The Sykes-Picot agreement did not prosper, but it laid the foundations for the future distribution and division of the Middle East. The colonialist mentality of the European powers has drawn fictitious borders for the creation of puppet states that, far from bringing peace, have disintegrated the cohabitation of the region.

The idea of ​​imposing a state model in places with a great ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity is simply ridiculous. To establish borders in the middle of the desert, leaving aside the geographical criteria and without trying to understand the sociocultural complexity, is doomed to failure.

Unless that is the objective: to create an unstable sociopolitical structure dependent on the help of other countries.

Aware of the energy wealth (oil and gas) and strategic of the Middle East, the interests of some countries are benefited by the government weakness of these new states, and use the conflict in their favor as an excuse to occupy and maintain control over the region, as well as to exploit its natural resources.

The Middle East claims

In this context, the insurgency is born. Beyond religious motives, the inhabitants of the Middle East claim their space, their autonomy and their self-determination.

This is the case of Kurdistan. The Kurdish people are present in several countries of the region, adding at least 30 million people. In northern Iraq they have already managed to delimit their borders, carry a flag, build an international airport, house a parliament, government, and army of their own.

4. Extension of the Kurdish people in the Middle East. Source:

However, these claims should not be confused with the terrorism used by organizations such as Daesh, which hides under the feeling of pan-Arabism to exert control over many territories and communities. On the contrary, we can not forget that this feeling of rejection is a clear consequence of the result of many years of occupation and subjugation of foreign powers.

The United Kingdom and France were the puppeteers at the beginning of the 20th century. After the Gulf War and now with the Syrian civil war, the United States (through NATO) and Russia are fighting for the right to intervene to protect their interests. The damages caused seem to be side effects under his point of view.

Redraw the map: the only solution?

The maps can show borders, administrative divisions and areas of influence, but the current reality in the Middle East tells us that everything is changing, almost always with the blood of the innocent.

The line drawn by Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot means nothing to the Arabs, be they Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Kurdish or Palestinian, because they do not follow the rules imposed by the West: they have their own vision of the world, with their own laws, and should have the right to write their own History.

Probably, if they were given a blank map of the Middle East, they would not draw a single line.

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