The Sykes-Picot Agreement Explained: A Brief Overview

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the United Kingdom and France during World War I that outlined their planned territorial divisions and spheres of influence in the Middle East.


During WWI, the Ottoman Empire was a major player in the conflict, and the UK and France were determined to weaken it. Both countries had their own strategic interests in the region, including access to oil and trade routes.

The Agreement

In May 1916, representatives from the UK and France met in secret to negotiate the division of the Ottoman Empire`s territories in the Middle East. The agreement was named after the two men who negotiated it: Sir Mark Sykes of the UK and Francois Georges-Picot of France.

The agreement divided the Ottoman Empire into several zones of influence. France would have control over modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and parts of Turkey. The UK would have control over modern-day Iraq, Jordan, and the Arabian Peninsula.

The Impact

The Sykes-Picot Agreement has been widely criticized for its role in creating the modern-day borders of the Middle East. The agreement completely disregarded the existing ethnic and religious divisions in the region, resulting in arbitrary borders that created conflicts that continue to this day.

Additionally, the agreement caused resentment among Arabs, who had been promised independence in exchange for their support during WWI. Instead, the agreement placed most of the Middle East under the control of foreign powers, leading to the rise of nationalist movements and anti-colonialism movements.


The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a historic moment in the Middle East, with far-reaching consequences that are still felt today. While it achieved its immediate goal of weakening the Ottoman Empire, it ultimately created borders and divisions that have caused significant socio-political issues. Understanding its historical context is crucial to understanding the modern-day Middle East.