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Q. Sykes–Picot Agreement: In the backdrop of centenary of Sykes–Picot Pact, Discuss the pact and its impact on the west-Asia.
May 18, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-1 and 2

Ans :

Introduction-

The Sykes–Picot fact which is officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, signed in 1916 was a secret agreement between the Britain and France, with the assent from the Russia. The agreement defined their proposed spheres of influence and control in South-western Asia. The agreement was based on the premise that the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

(Note- The pact was prepared by diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot)

Sykes–Picot Pact-

  • Britain and France signed the pact to divide the huge land mass of the Ottoman Empire between themselves, their primary concern was to retain their colonial interests.

  • According to the pact Britain got the control of areas roughly comprised the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq etc.

  • France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

  • Russia got Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and Armenia.

It’s Impact-

  • The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas. These colonial powers ignored local identities, leaving several ethnic and social contradictions unaddressed.

  • Actual boundaries were identified after the World War I, as per their colonial interests without considering the political preferences of the people.

  • Over the years the most powerful political ideologies that emerged from the region directly or indirectly challenged the Sykes-Picot system.

  • The various political parties like Nasserism, Baathism etc sought to transcend the territorial nationalist boundaries and wants to end the Sykes-Picot pact.

Issues-

  • Since from the colonial times foreign involvement in the region continues till today like in carving-up the region, Iraq war, fight against the Islamic State(IS) etc and often it exacerbates the crises rather than solving them

  • Over the years the leaders of west-Asia resisted reform and ran largely oppressive systems rooted in social conservatism and patronage and showed no interest in tackling the problems the Sykes-Picot pact or demands of Kurds etc.
  • Their authoritarianism simply sharpened the social contradictions in their states, while intra-regional rivalries made peace elusive. All these factors lead to rise of IS.

Contemporary status-

  • The contemporary map of the region may not bear any great resemblance to the original lines drawn by Sykes and Picot and the regional map is fractured in many ways.

  • Parts of the border between Iraq and Syria have been virtually erased by the Islamic State.

  • Syria itself is divided among multiple groups. Iraq’s government has no control over at least a fourth of its territory.

  • Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region, has demanded freedom from Baghdad. The Syrian Kurdistan region is being run by the Kurds themselves for the first time in several decades.

Conclusion-

Today West-Asian countries are divided in many ways and the division is still continues. The various internal and external factors in West-Asia resulted into rise of Islamic state in that region. IS has created havoc in the region by to its ruthless terror activities. Unless these external and internal issues are not addressed the ghost created by the Sykes-Picot pact will continue to haunt West Asia.


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