Forbes Online - 23.6.2014
In 1915 a couple of minor diplomats, the Englishman Sir Mark Sykes and the Frenchman François George-Picot, began negotiating to divide the Ottoman Empire, which had entered the Great War on the side of Germany.
In 1916 the Sykes-Picot agreement was signed by France, Britain and Russia. By the end of the war, Russia was out of the game, following the Bolshevik Revolution, and Atatürk was busy saving the Turkish speaking remnant of the Ottoman Empire. Britain and France had a free hand to divide the Arab lands between them. They drew weird boundary lines supposedly corresponding to the 'nations' of the region. They even appointed sovereigns to some of them, drawing on a bank of Arab pretenders among whom the Hashemite tribe were prominent. And they administered these territories under a 'mandate' granted by the League of Nations.
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