The Sykes-Picot Agreement was the result of secret deliberations between British civil servant Mark Sykes and French diplomat François Georges-Picot.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement created the modern Middle East. It represents one of the first installments in a long line of modern European – and subsequent American – meddling in the region.
The promise of recently explored oilfields dictated British interest in Mesopotamia (roughly, modern-day Iraq) during the Sykes-Picot Agreement negotiations.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement delivered the spoils of war to Britain and France, and deferred the dreams of Arab nationalists.
The century since the first world war is littered with the broken promises of Muslim rulers to bring about a transition to more representative forms of government.
The rise of Islamic State and its declaration of the caliphate can be read as part of a wider story that has unfolded since the formation of modern nation states in the Muslim world.
Map of the Sykes–Picot Agreement showing Eastern Turkey in Asia, Syria and Western Persia, and areas of control and influence agreed between the British and the French in May 1916.
Royal Geographical Society via Wikimedia Commons
The leaders of Islamic State do not see their caliphate as an exercise in theocracy for its own sake, but as an attempt at post-colonial emancipation.
It is hard to imagine what a partitioned Syria would look like.
There is no guarantee that a partitioned Syria would create a more stable environment. Many Syrians would reject partition and would attempt to reverse it.
Prince Faisal and his party (including T E Lawrence) at Versailles, 1919.
The sweeping advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has given rise to a lively debate about who should bear ultimate responsibility for the disintegration of Iraq and Syria. On one hand…