chapter  4
22 Pages

Sir Mark Sykes: His Vision and Disillusionment

ByIsaiah Friedman

Like a great many British statesmen, Sir Mark Sykes was an ardent advocate of Zionism. Jewish national renaissance and their settlement on the land had a strong appeal for him. At the same time, he championed the Arab cause. He saw no inconsistency between his pro-Zionist and pro-Arab policies. His idea was that, on the ruins of the Ottoman regime in the Asiatic provinces, an entente between the Arabs, the Zionists, and the Armenians could be built under British and French patronage. Sykes's flexible and empirical mind could accommodate the interests of all parties concerned, but his extreme optimism blinded him to the pitfalls. His scheme presupposed a durable alliance with France, which at least in the Middle East proved an illusion. Sykes's greatest miscalculation, however, concerned the Arabs. The expectation that Pan-Arabism would form an antidote to Turco-German inspired Pan-Islamism proved to be false.