Ask any historian why the Middle East is so messed up right now, and there's a 90% chance you're in for a lengthy rant on the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement. In a nutshell, this shady deal consisted of three world powers—Great Britain, France, and Russia—secretly negotiating how to carve up the failing Ottoman Empire into spheres of European influence before World War I was even over.
Mark Sykes (left) and François Georges-Picot (right), via Wikimedia
Put in charge of figuring out where the boundary lines would be were two aristocrats, Mark Sykes of England and François Georges-Picot of France. Both had traveled extensively in the region, so you'd think they would have taken the complexity of the Middle East's ethnic and religious groups into account. That's... not exactly what's happened.
Through the magic of a fake text generator, HistoryBuff has gotten its hands on exclusive new evidence that sheds light on how Sykes and Picot approached this world-changing decision.
Okay, Sykes and Picot didn't really split up the Middle East over halfhearted text messages—but the real history unfortunately isn't much better. As we've learned all too well in the century since the clandestine agreement, a randomly drawn straight line that splits up some communities and throws other ones together with no regard for cultural, religious, and ethnic ties and old hatreds, all without the input of the people actually affected, isn't really the best way to secure lasting global security.