By Meltem Bulur, Ayşe Sarıoğlu, and Nazlı Yüzbaşıoğlu
ANKARA (AA) – Academics are speaking out to mark the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot deal, signed on May 16, 1916, which secretly planned to divide the Middle East following World War I.
The agreement drawing the borders of Iraq and Syria, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret deal between the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France with the consent of the Russian Empire as well. Negotiations for the treaty started in 1915 and concluded in 1916.
Tayyar Ari, a professor of international relations at Turkey’s Uludag University, said in an interview with Anadolu Agency, “Sykes-Picot proposed a division of Middle East even before World War I ended. The agreement dismissed the interest of the people of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, giving authority to Britain and France to lead locals who were easily manageable to govern the Middle East.”
Ari, linking the troubles of today to the past, said, “As [former] Ottoman land was subjected to be divided into tiny parts, today the area has a potential to be divided along the lines of ethnic identity as well”.
Zekeriya Kursun, head of the Association of Researchers on the Middle East and Africa (ORDAF), said, “The agreement was aimed at creating spheres of influence for Britain and France, and [has a lineage that] dates back 300 years.”
“Sykes-Picot did not define borders, it was an effort to create influence which continues even today,” he stressed.
Mehmet Celik, a professor from Anka University of Technology, said, “The reasons behind the interests of Britain and France today are the same as before. They are planning to remake the region in league with the U.S., Russia, Iran, and Israel.”
Anadolu Agency Correspondent Ahmet Sait Akcay contributed to the story.