I read to you A line in the sand (a line in the sand) James BARR

desertFor those who wish to understand the Middle East, the book of James Barr seems to me entirely appropriate. We discover that the imbroglio politico-religious today mine this area of the world largely stems from the ancient rivalry between French and British, who, since the nineteenth century, these territories jealously vying to expand, each of them hand their empire.

This rivalry will materialize in 1916 by the famous line in the sand , a line drawn on a map by Staff Major SYKES (in pencil) and diplomat PICOT (in ink) to separate zones of influence : France, Syria and Lebanon, the United Kingdoms of Iraq and Palestine. This line will decide future wars, until today …

A line in the sand (a line in the sand) James BARR

The origin of the conflict Should we go back to Napoleon? James Barr did not hesitate. For the revolutionary page (1789-1793) barely closed, the conflict between:

  • firstly, the French , eager to maintain the gains of the Revolution
  • on the other, the British , best friends crowned heads;

extended over the entire European continent, prior to project into the Egyptian sands. Why General Bonaparte he has landed a revolutionary army so far from the motherland? To cut the route to India from the English. It was a failure (KLEBER was abandoned by BONAPARTE), but this expedition marked the starting point for the Franco-British rivalry for control of the Middle East.

occasional allies

In 1914, French and English are this time allies in their common desire to land the German ogre. France, of course, puts most of its war effort in the defense of the national territory. The British Empire is, in turn, threatened the Middle East. The OTTOMAN Empire, an ally of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria), has just made a call to jihad to 100 million Muslims who populate the various British possessions. Clearly on the defensive, the English, who risk losing their empire, have two objectives:

  • raise the Arab tribes, who for four centuries undergo the Ottoman yoke; is Lawrence of Arabia who supported;
  • involve France in the Middle East; it is the mission entrusted to Lieutenant Colonel SYKES. In 1916, he approaches the French diplomat PICOT. He offers, in return for French support, a sharing of influence. Sykes-Picot secret agreements were born, to the detriment of the aforementioned Arab tribes who will remember. Détente with the French ally also explains this agreement: in fact, the French public blames the British for their lack of involvement on the ground. London, for these concessions, has she sought to prevent future grudges?

Syria and Lebanon return to the French; Has thus wanted to ensure continuity with the Franc kingdom born of the Crusades? The British, of course, claim Palestine as on the eastern part of the Suez Canal they occupy since 1882, on the strategic route to India.

A cut to the « slapdash »

Legend has it that we have traced this « line in the sand » between between E ACRE (in Syria) and K KIRKUK Iraq. It is indeed a line that ignores the reliefs, population, religions (including the respective influence between Sunnis and Shiites), and history. The tribes torn will remember …

The case of Palestine is special: the French protectorate seeking (as historical guardians of the Holy Places). But the British can not let go of this piece of barren land that protect the eastern flank of Egypt. They decided (for strategic reasons) to promote the idea of a Jewish state: Zionism, the principle was established by Theodor Herzl in the preceding century on the occasion of the Dreyfus affair, now has a ally of choice. The formalization of the support will be made by Lord British Barfour (Foreign Minister) in 1920 in his famous namesake statement (recognition of a state for the Jews in Palestine). Palestinian Arabs will remember.

That agreements do not address

  1. US President (Wilson) is furious to learn of the existence of these agreements seem to extend the imperialist policy of the old continent;
  2. The Arabs , of course, feel betrayed by the British, they ensured the success in the Middle East in the Ottoman Empire out of the war; they do not get the promised independence; the English still installed on the throne of Iraq King Faisal (the French do not want to Syria). In fact, they hope to get their hands on the oil recently discovered in Mosul (British Petroleum (BP) will be born of this initiative); The French on their side crush nationalist impulses in Syria (including Druze); this negation of the Arab identity gave birth in 1953 to the Arab national movement under the leadership of the Egyptian General tempestuous Gamal Abdel Nasser who seek to unify the Arab world.
  3. The Jews still have no state; Despite good British intentions, there are still stateless people;
  4. The Franco-British rivalry , far from being buried by the agreements, will intensify. The French, at first, the British suspect of secretly supporting the Druze nationalists are rising in Syria; General GOURAUD escaped an assassination (instigated by the British?); same Palestinian side, where the French support Arab uprisings against the English;
  5. Turkish nationalism , catalyzed by General Mustafa Kemal , later President Atatürk , led to the expulsion (1921) of the French Cicilie ;
  6. the Armenian question (and Kurdish) is still not resolved and hundreds of thousands of deaths are yet to come. Here we can blame James Barr not having pursued this issue in his book, as if the Armenian genocide was an epiphenomenon.

The unrest in Palestine

The English thus play the Jews against the Arabs, hoping for a lift back. The French, for their part, played by Arabs against Jews (and therefore English). Arab leaders are greeted in Damascus same! In 1936, the great Arab revolt stirs Palestine. Its instigator, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, joins the French who, despite everything, the stop, but not delivered to the English, to avoid irritating the Arabs more. We later find him in Germany where he met Hitler for the Führer support against the Jews of Palestine! Once digested the defeat, the Middle East is becoming a critical issue for the government of Vichy. English and French faithful to Vichy then fighting a real war.

Jews began fleeing Nazi Europe and naturally go to Palestine. The British are aware that this new wave of immigration is likely to throw oil on the fire Arabic. They decided to slow the influx of course incomprehensible decision by the diaspora in full holocaust! The English and lose their last ally, without conquering Arab opinion.

France and the Jewish question

Vichy jumps at the chance to support the group (terrorist) Jewish STERN against the English (note that Vichy, in French territory, collaborating in the Holocaust and on Palestinian land provides financial support to Jewish resistance to the British). After the German surrender, the French sympathy towards Jews reinforcing; Indeed, the French-Jews actively participated in the resistance networks. Moreover, the French carry on their shoulders the burden of a certain responsibility in the deportation. In short, support for networks of Jewish Palestine not fading (especially STERN group). France became the major departure point for Jews who escaped the Holocaust to the promised land. This support will be formalized by Georges Bidault who lives in the Jewish cause (creation of the State of Israel) a means of maintaining the Arab uprisings in the Maghreb under control.


The terrorists of the Islamic State demanding the end of Sykes-Picot agreements. They want you erase that line in the sand drawn by foreign empires which had only defend their interests, and dissociate herself from nations regarded as negligible amounts.

Israel does not end up paying the note left by the British. Ben Gurion proclaims, from the end of the war, the establishment of the State of Israel; supported in this initiative by the British. The next day, Arab armies declared war on the new state.

The book of James Barr is remarkable details. It lets take a comprehensive and fresh look at the Middle East conflict born of secret agreements Sykes-Picot and particularly the Anglo-French rivalry.

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