NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
9th March, 1916 : Britain and France have begun planning the division of the postwar remnants of Turkey’s Near East empire into spheres of influence. Sir Mark Sykes and Georges Picot are the officials charged with the task of redrawing the map.
Britain will assume control over Palestine and Mesopotamia while the French will run Syria. Some areas will be allowed to pass directly into the hands of Arab people, though this is unlikely to satisfy their ambitions, or to allay suspicion about the motives of the Europeans.
The main concern of the Foreign Office is to contain the threat from Egypt, while the French are concerned with Syria. M. Georges Leygues, a prominent French diplomat, remarked: “We shall only achieve control of the Mediterranean if Syria comes under our influence”.
/ About hundred years later it seems that only Putin remembers that/
Russia, too, is closely involved in deciding the future of the Eastern Mediterranean. Sykes and Picot are apparently in agreement that Constantinople and the Straits are very important to Russia, a near neighbour of Turkey. The Petrograd Government insists that Russian interests are taken into account in the post-war settlement.
[ Unfortunately for Russia imperialist ambitions, Germany threw a spaner into the machinery by sending Lenin and his pseudo-pacifists in a sealed carriage to Russia]