Today in Middle Eastern history: the Turkish War of Independence begins (1919)

There’s a kind of symmetry in the fact that the Turkish War of Independence began around three years to the date after Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot agreement on how to divide up the Arab world. Sykes-Picot, for better or worse, has become the symbol for all of the plans the Allies had for the Ottoman Empire once World War I ended, and this war was mostly about undoing those plans. The October 1918 Armistice of Mudros, otherwise known as the Ottoman Empire’s surrender, made no specific mention of partitioning the empire or seizing its territory, but of course we know that the Allies had been preparing to do just that.

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