In 1916, during World War I, France and Britain secretly ratified what came to be called the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which allowed for the post-war partitioning of Arab lands held by the Ottoman Empire.
The outcome of the Great War (World War I) had not even been determined yet when Great Britain, France, and Russia secretly debated and decided how they would carve up the Middle East into "spheres of influence" once World War I was finished. At this point in the war, Germany and the Central Powers were far from beaten. In fact, Russia would be out of the war in just over seven months.
The Ottoman Empire, however, had been on the decline for over two hundred years before the war. They were referred to as “the sick man of Europe.” Like vultures, the European powers were circling and were ready to carve up the vast spoils of the Empire’s body, once the Ottomans fell to the Allies. Britain and France already had already gained significant interests in the region between Turkey and the Persian Gulf, but the defeat of the Ottoman Turks offered a great deal more. Russia wanted a chunk for themselves.
From November 1915 to March 1916, representatives of Britain and France negotiated their secret agreement, with Russia hat-in-hand to accept whatever was thrown to them. This secret treaty, now known as the Sykes–Picot Agreement, was named after its lead negotiators, the aristocrats Sir Mark Sykes of England and François Georges-Picot of France. In a letter from British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey to Paul Cambon, France's ambassador to Great Britain, on May 16, 1916 the terms of the agreement were spelled out in detail.
A color-coded partition map and text stated that Britain would be given control over the areas known today as Jordan, southern Iraq and the port of Haifa in Israel. France, on the other hand, would obtain the area that covers modern-day Syria, Lebanon, northern Iraq, including the great city of Mosul, and southeastern Turkey, including Kurdistan. Another area that included Palestine, excluding Haifa and Acre, would become subject to international administration, "the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other allies, and the representatives of Sayyid Hussein bin Ali, sharif of Mecca."
Besides carving the region into British and French "spheres of influence," the arrangement specified specific “commercial relations” and other understandings between them for the Arab lands. Sounds like Dick Cheney and Haliburton Industries, doesn’t it?
The Sykes-Picot Agreement initiated a nine-year process—along with other deals, declarations, and treaties—that created the modern Middle East states out of the Ottoman Empire’s remains. The new borders eventually looked very little like the original Sykes-Picot map but that original map is still viewed as the root cause of much that has happened since.
Russia suffered its own upheaval with the November Revolution and the seizure of power by Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks which created the U.S.S.R. This removed them as partners in the agreement. After all, the terms had been negotiated with Tsarist Russia, not Communist Russia.
The plundering Bolsheviks, however, had discovered the documents of the original agreement in the governmental archives in 1917 and they revealed everything. The British were embarrassed because T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) had been in negotiations with the Arabs. The deal was that the Arabs would be given sovereignty over their own lands in exchange for supporting Britain and the Allies during the war.
In fact, the treaty set aside the establishment of an independent Arab state or confederation of Arab states, contrary to what Lawrence had promised, giving France and Britain the rights to set boundaries within their new spheres of influence, "as they may think fit."
After the successful conclusion of the war, the terms of the agreement were confirmed by the San Remo Conference of 1920 and ratified by the newly-formed League of Nations in 1922. Although Sykes-Picot was intended to draw new borders according to sectarian lines, the simple stupidity and blindness of its straight lines dreadfully failed to understand the actual tribal and ethnic configurations in such a deeply divided region. To put Kurds and Sunnis under the same flag was idiocy.
The Arabs do not hate the West because of religion. Too simplistic. They hate the West because we imposed our will and greed on their lives. And nothing has changed.