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Introduction to Symposium on the Many Lives and Legacies of Sykes-Picot

  • Antony T. Anghie (a1)

Extract

Although their motivations varied, many senior British officials who were expert in imperial and Middle-Eastern matters condemned the Sykes-Picot treaty as a mistake almost as soon as it was signed. T.E. Lawrence wanted the British government to repudiate it and was assured by Gilbert Clayton, the head of the Arab Bureau in Cairo, in a letter he wrote to Lawrence in 1917, that “‘It is in fact dead and, if we wait quietly, this fact will soon be realized’.” Lord Curzon denounced the treaty as “not only obsolete ‘but absolutely impracticable,’” and further declared that only “gross ignorance” could account for the boundary lines in the treaty. Sir Mark Sykes was said to be ashamed of his involvement in the Treaty that was to bear his name. Despite these efforts, so soon after its birth, to announce the demise and irrelevance of Sykes-Picot, its complex, variegated, and evolving legacy has survived and is still very much with us.

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References

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1 For further information on the Sykes-Picot agreement, see The Sykes-Picot Agreement May 1916, Oxford Public International Law, and Umut Özsu, Sykes-Picot: the treaty that carved up the Middle East, OUPblog (May 9, 2016).

2 Cited in Fromkin, David, A Peace to End All Peace: the Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East 34243 (1989).

3 Id. at 343.

4 Id. at 344

5 Id. at 344

6 Sykes-Picot agreement art. 11.

7 Kattan, Viktor, Palestine and the Secret Treaties, 110 AJIL Unbound 109 (2016).

8 Bâli, Aslı, Sykes-Picot and “Artificial States”, 110 AJIL Unbound 115 (2016).

9 Loevy, Karin, The Sykes-Picot Agreement’s Regional Moment: Drawing Lines of Development in a New and Open Space, 110 AJIL Unbound 120 (2016).

10 Donaldson, Megan, Textual Settlements: The Sykes-Picot Agreement and Secret Treaty-Making, 110 AJIL Unbound 127 (2016).

11 Dodge, Toby, The Danger of Analogical Myths: Explaining the Power and Consequences of the Sykes-Picot Delusion, 110 AJIL Unbound 132 (2016).

* We are grateful to John Louth and Oxford University Press which has granted us permission to link this Symposium to materials on the Sykes-Picot Treaty made available on the superb OUP blog.

Introduction to Symposium on the Many Lives and Legacies of Sykes-Picot

  • Antony T. Anghie (a1)

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