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What about the treaties of Sevres 1920 and Lausanne 1923 and the League of Nations mandates?

Reader comment on item: The "Shocking Document" that Shaped the Middle East Turns 100

Submitted by Daniel Bamford (United Kingdom), May 9, 2016 at 10:52

...

Of course the Sykes-Picot agreement was secret!

It was a wartime agreement about future occupation zones of enemy territory: If it had been publically announced, then this would have helped the Ottomans and the Central Powers to counter likely Entente troop movements.

It only became a template for more long-term plans with the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which also made provision for a large independent Armenia (as marked on the map in yellow) and a plebiscite for Kurdish self-rule in the eastern half of Zone A.

In the light of subsequent events, do they sound like bad ideas?

Of course, the Treaty of Sevres was never implemented because of the Turkish nationalist victories of Kemal Mustafa 'Attaturk', whose new Turkish Republic was granted large concessions under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. So there was no Armenian or Kurdish independence after that.

The Hussain-McMahon correspondence related to Zone A and Zone B on the map, but never received French agreement - hence the French expulsion of the Hashemites from Damascus.

The Balfour declaration did not say anything about a sovereign independent state, so it was compatible with the orange zone of Holy Land on the map under direct British administration.

Remember, that in the 1890s the Zionist Council had tried to negotiate an autonomous province within the Ottoman Empire, while the Israelis later tried to join the British Commonwealth.

As for Lebanon, it was only thanks to the French that an independent Lebanon was established at all. The envy and resentment of subsequent Syrian government with their imperialistic plans for a 'Greater Syria' played a major part in stirring up the Lebanese civil war.

So, would it really have been better for Lebanese Christians to remain within a larger Syrian state? I think the Syrian refugees now fleeing to Lebanon would think otherwise.

As for Syria and Iraq, the French and British did not even bother formalising the border until the 1930s, when they left it to a League of Nations committee. So the line between Zone A and Zone B was never such a big deal.

Syria and Iraq have been rival power-bases since the times of the Babylonians and the Assyrians, while the more recent conflicts have more to do with interference by Iran, Turkey, the Gulf Arabs and the good old USA than with a one hundred year old agreement between the British and the French.

The only worthwhile remark in this whole article fails to clarify the matter:

'Winston Churchill one fine afternoon conjured up the country now known as Jordan'.

Well yes, that was a British consolation prize for their Hashemite friends after the French expelled them from Damascus.

The creation of the Emirate of Trans-Jordan was in direct breach of Britain's League of Nations Palestine Mandate of which the territory in question was a part.

So, even before the seizure of the territory on the west bank of the River Jordan in 1948, the Emirate of Jordan was a Palestinian Arab state, as the 1936 Peel Commission had recognised when it recommended that Arab self rule on the west bank of the Jordan should be within confederation with the emirate on the east bank of the Jordan.

I'm of the opinion that the 1936 Jordan option remains the only geographically, economically and politically viable option for Palestinian Arab self-rule.

So, how about the 'Washington Times' paying me for offering more fresh and informative insights ... ?

P.S.

I got most of my information from reading Elie Kedouire (who was hardly an admirer of British policy in Iraq!) and Efraim Karsh, as well as standard general textbooks by M. E. Yapp and Peter Mansfield.


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Reader comments (39) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
In the words of David Ben Gurion when he appeared before the British Peel Commission in Palestine in 1937: [229 words]YJ DraimanAug 15, 2017 01:45240475
It does not get much worse than this! [96 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Stuart SchoenbergerDec 16, 2016 13:05234705
Hilarious [168 words]EvaJun 9, 2016 01:02229895
Nationalism vs. Imperialism [436 words]There is NO Santa ClausMay 17, 2016 08:39229499
1ENOUGH [4 words]1776partIIMay 13, 2016 19:15229454
3This sound like Left-wing Utopianism [384 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Michael SMay 12, 2016 18:46229423
3There is no acknowledged standard for how and by whom borders should be set. [583 words]Michael S.May 13, 2016 14:35229423
Borders are Drawn by Armies [85 words]SAKOVKTMay 16, 2016 13:33229423
I don't advocate any "better" way [292 words]Michael SMay 20, 2016 03:41229423
Creating space for ME Christians [176 words]DaveSMay 12, 2016 10:58229422
advice to the EU [25 words]mythMay 12, 2016 09:35229421
1The Moral of Sykes Pikot [163 words]SuchindranathAiyerSMay 12, 2016 00:48229415
A sane and mature choice [46 words]Michael JacobsMay 11, 2016 04:01229404
1Political and economic sickness is endemic to Islam [111 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Michael SMay 10, 2016 17:43229398
Indeed, you will be dealing with a people who worship God, Fire and the Devil. [323 words]Michael SMay 13, 2016 03:15229398
Thank you for a Breath of Fresh Air and some uncommon colmmon sense on this subject [243 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Phebe AdamsMay 10, 2016 16:09229397
hurrah no one else remmebered sykes picot ... [145 words]oded yinonMay 10, 2016 10:19229392
Adults? You mean Israel? [85 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Fran├žois GravelMay 10, 2016 06:31229390
racist? .. no .. [184 words]Anne JulienneMay 13, 2016 00:25229390
'Perfidity"? [381 words]SAKOVKTMay 10, 2016 06:25229389
Berlin Conference 1884 [264 words]SAKOVKTMay 13, 2016 11:48229389
I agree, so does ISIS [50 words]MikeMay 10, 2016 03:01229388
McMahon letters [191 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Avinoam Ben DorMay 10, 2016 02:13229387
and your point? [80 words]Anne JulienneMay 13, 2016 00:09229387
6You mean the Muslims weren't paranoid before it? [614 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
UNCLE VLADDIMay 9, 2016 23:57229386
1Correction [93 words]DajjalMay 13, 2016 19:11229386
why not work together? [250 words]Anne JulienneMay 9, 2016 22:31229384
Israel [49 words]ConradMay 9, 2016 14:23229378
Blame Local Hatred, Not Sykes-Picot [253 words]DaveMay 9, 2016 14:02229377
A short synopsis of Jewish History and the Arab Israeli conflict r6 [1320 words]YJ DraimanMay 9, 2016 12:43229375
The sick region [52 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PezDispenserMay 9, 2016 12:13229374
Don't allow a torch in an anthill [99 words]PhiliorMay 9, 2016 11:50229373
The Sykes-Picot Myth [260 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Gideon RemezMay 9, 2016 11:21229372
Sykes-Picot [241 words]Martin SchaffelMay 9, 2016 11:17229371
What about the treaties of Sevres 1920 and Lausanne 1923 and the League of Nations mandates? [609 words]Daniel BamfordMay 9, 2016 10:52229369
The Faisal Weizmann Agreement of January 3, 1919 [64 words]YJ DraimanMay 13, 2016 16:32229369
1A Deeper Cause [272 words]Ron ThompsonMay 9, 2016 10:05229367
Off topic [79 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
ECAWMay 9, 2016 08:54229366
1SO, SUBJECTIVE OPINIONS TRUMP OBJECTIVE FACTS?! [21 words]UNCLE VLADDIMay 13, 2016 18:05229366

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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