Sykes-Picot Agreement

   A World War I understanding between Great Britain and France to divide into spheres of control and influence areas of the Middle East held by the Ottoman Empire. The agreement, negotiated for Great Britain by Sir Mark Sykes and for France by Francois-Georges Picot, was completed in January 1916 and ratified in May 1916 in an exchange of letters between British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey and France's ambassador to London Paul Cambon. The agreement defined areas of British and French control as well as spheres of influence. Britain's authority was to extend in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq) and from the Egyptian border to Iraq (this area was to be identified as a "red zone"). In addition, the Mediterranean ports of Acre and Haifa were to be under British control. The French sphere of influence (the "blue zone") was to include a coastal strip of Syria and Lebanon as well as a portion of Palestine west of the Jordan River. Most of Palestine, including Jerusalem, was to be part of an area that was to be administered internationally (the "brown zone"). The agreement superseded commitments made by Great Britain to Arab nationalism earlier in World War I (in the form of an exchange of letters between Britain's high commissioner in Cairo Sir Henry McMahon and Hussein, the Sherif of Mecca, in October 1915). With only minor adjustments, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was the basis of the mandates in the former Turkish areas accorded to Great Britain and to France by the League of Nations at the San Remo Conference of April 1920.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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