Tuesday 26 April 2016

asia-minor or turkish delight

The middle of next month (16 May 2016) marks the centenary of the signing secret pact known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement that carved up the Middle East in an arbitrary fashion, drawing the modern borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Palestine. Covert negotiations went on for the previous five months, in anticipation of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the Triple Entente, Britain, France and the assenting third party, Imperial Russia, but pivotal battles of the Great War were yet to be fought.
The outcome on the fields of Amiens, Ancre, Marne and Megiddo did not negatively diminish the apportioned claims of the UK for Jordan, Palestine and strategic points along the Mediterranean and for France, the Levant, represented by the eponymous ambassadors—however, Imperial Russia, who had been promised Constantinople, the straits of the Bosporus and Armenia (but consulted in matters as much as the Arabs or the Persians were) lost their territory due to the intervening destabilising of the Bolshevik Revolution that transpired in November of the following year. This forfeiture allowed the other powers to proceed with a second wave of colonialism and though the resulting architecture has fuelled overwhelming sectarian strife but did also engender a framework of protections, tolerance for minorities in the region. This imperfect and shaky geopolitical architecture endured as a legacy for nearly a century and though the formal lines in the sand still exist, what precious little about the Agreement that was sheltering and steadying was dismantled with violence and prejudice by the Cosplay Caliphate. The Agreement only came to light thanks to a leak from the Bolshevik brokers to the newspaper Pravda, in retaliation for having their claim denied, and later picked up by the Manchester Guardian. The revelation led to massive uprisings in the Middle East as World War I itself drew to a close, which was countered with damage-control measures that were not more flattering than the secret partitioning , the buzzards circling, to begin with.