Origins of the Middle East Conflict - The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence

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McMahon–Hussein Correspondence

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The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, or the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, was a protracted exchange of letters (July 14, 1915 to January 30, 1916)[1] during World War I, between the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn bin Ali, and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concerning the future political status of the lands under the Ottoman Empire. The Arab side was already looking toward a large revolt (which did not eventuate) against the Ottoman Empire and the British encouraged the Arabs to revolt and thus hamper the Ottoman Empire, which had become a German ally in the War after November 1914.[2]

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Origins and ramifications

[edit] The Damascus Protocol

Emir Faisal's party at Versailles, during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. At the center, from left to right: Rustum Haidar, Nuri as-Said, Prince Faisal, Captain Pisani (behind Faisal) T. E. Lawrence, Faisal's slave (name unknown), Captain Tahsin Qadri.

On his return journey from Istanbul in 1914, where he had confronted the Grand Vizier with evidence of an Ottoman plot to depose his father, Faisal bin Hussein visited Damascus to resume talks with the Arab secret societies al-Fatat and Al-'Ahd
that he had met in March/April. On this occasion Faisal joined their
revolutionary movement. It was during this visit that he was presented
with the document that became known as the 'Damascus Protocol'. The
document declared that the Arabs would revolt in alliance with the United Kingdom in return for recognition of Arab independence in an area running from the 37th parallel near the Taurus Mountains on the southern border of Turkey, to be bounded in the east by Persia and the Persian Gulf, in the west by the Mediterranean Sea and in the south by the Arabian Sea.[3][4]

Early in April 1914 Abdullah
asked the British High Commissioner in Cairo, what would be the British
attitude if the Arab Ottomans revolted. The British response, based on
its traditional policy of preserving "the integrity of the Ottoman
Empire" was negative. However, the entry of the Ottomans on Germany's
side in World War I on November 11, 1914, brought about an abrupt shift
in British political interests concerning an Arab revolt against the
Ottomans.[2]

Following deliberations at Ta'if between Hussein and his sons in June 1915, during which Faisal counselled caution, Ali argued against rebellion and Abdullah
advocated action, the Sharif set a tentative date for armed revolt for
June 1916 and commenced negotiations with the British High Commissioner
in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon.[3]

[edit] The territorial reservations

Administrative units in Near East under Ottoman Empire, to c. 1918

The letter from McMahon to Hussein dated 24 October 1915 declared
Britain's willingness to recognise the independence of the Arabs subject
to certain exemptions:

The districts of Mersina and Alexandretta, and portions of Syria
lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo,
cannot be said to be purely Arab, and must on that account be excepted
from the proposed limits and boundaries.
With the above
modification and without prejudice to our existing treaties concluded
with Arab Chiefs, we accept these limits and boundaries, and in regard
to the territories therein in which Great Britain is free to act without
detriment to interests of her ally France, I am empowered in the name
of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurance and
make the following reply to your letter:
Subject to the above
modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the
independence of the Arabs within the territories in the limits and
boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca.
[5]

Declassified British Cabinet Papers include a telegram dated 19
October 1915 from Sir Henry McMahon to the Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, Lord Grey, requesting instructions.[6]
McMahon said the clause had been suggested by a man named al Faroqi, a
member of the Abd party, to satisfy the demands of the Syrian
Nationalists for the independence of Arabia. Faroqi had said that the
Arabs would fight if the French attempted to occupy the cities of
Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, but he thought they would accept some
modification of the North-Western boundaries proposed by the Sherif of
Mecca. Faroqi suggested the language: "In so far as Britain was free to
act without detriment to the interests of her present Allies,
Great Britain accepts the principle of the independence of Arabia within
limits propounded by the Sherif of Mecca." Lord Grey authorized McMahon
to pledge the areas requested by the Sherif subject to the reserve for
the Allies.

In the areas with Maronite, Orthodox, and Druze populations the Great
Powers were still bound by an international agreement regarding
non-intervention, the Reglement Organique Agreements
of June 1861 and September 1864. During a War Cabinet meeting on policy
regarding Syria and Palestine held on 5 December 1918, it was stated
that Palestine had been included in the areas the United Kingdom had
pledged would be Arab and independent in the future. The Chair, Lord Curzon, also noted that the rights that had been granted to the French under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement violated the provisions of the Reglement Organique Agreements and the war aims of the other Allies.[7] (The publication of the Sykes-Picot Agreement caused the resignation of Sir Henry McMahon.[8])

In a Cabinet analysis of diplomatic developments prepared in May 1917, W. Ormsby-Gore argued that:

French intentions in Syria are surely incompatible with the war aims
of the Allies as defined to the Russian Government. If the
self-determination of nationalities is to be the principle, the
interference of France in the selection of advisers by the Arab
Government and the suggestion by France of the Emirs to be selected by
the Arabs in Mosul, Aleppo, and Damascus would seem utterly incompatible
with our ideas of liberating the Arab nation and of establishing a free
and independent Arab State. The British Government, in authorising the
letters despatched to King Hussein before the outbreak of the revolt by
Sir Henry McMahon, would seem to raise a doubt as to whether our pledges
to King Hussein as head of the Arab nation are consistent with French
intentions to make not only Syria but Upper Mesopotamia another Tunis.
If our support of King Hussein and the other Arabian leaders of less
distinguished origin and prestige means anything it means that we are
prepared to recognise the full sovereign independence of the Arabs of
Arabia and Syria. It would seem time to acquaint the French Government
with our detailed pledges to King Hussein, and to make it clear to the
latter whether he or someone else is to be the ruler of Damascus, which
is the one possible capital for an Arab State, which could command the
obedience of the other Arabian Emirs.[9]

In subsequent decades the British government maintained that the Balfour Declaration
was not inconsistent with the McMahon pledges. This position was based
an examination of the correspondence made in 1920 by Major Hubert Young.
He noted that in the original Arabic text (the correspondence was
conducted in Arabic on both sides), the word translated as "districts"
in English was "vilayets", a vilayet being the largest class of
administrative district into which the Ottoman Empire was divided. He
concluded that "district of Damascus", i.e., "vilayet of Damascus", must
have referred to the vilayet of which Damascus was the capital, the Vilayet of Syria. This vilayet extended southward to the Gulf of Aqaba,
but excluded most of Palestine. The weak points of the government's
interpretation were nevertheless acknowledged in a memorandum by the
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Halifax, in 1939[5]:

  • (i) the fact that the word "district" is applied not only to
    Damascus, &c., where the reading of vilayet is at least arguable,
    but also immediately previously to Mersina and Alexandretta. No vilayets
    of these names exist...and it would be difficult to argue that the word
    "districts" can have two completely different meanings in the space of a
    few lines.
  • (ii) the fact that Horns and Hama were not the capitals of vilayets, but were both within the Vilayet of Syria.
  • (iii) the fact that the real title of the "Vilayet of Damascus" was "Vilayet of Syria."
  • (iv) the fact that there is no land lying west of the Vilayet of Aleppo.

The Foreign Secretary's analysis concluded "It may be possible to
produce arguments designed to explain away some of these difficulties
individually (although even this does not apply in the case of (iv)),
but it is hardly possible to explain them away collectively. His
Majesty's Government need not on this account abjure altogether the
counter-argument based on the meaning of the word "district," which have
been used publicly for many years, and the more obvious defects in
which do not seem to have been noticed as yet by Arab critics."

[edit] The Arab Revolt

McMahon's promises were seen by the Arabs as a formal agreement
between them and the United Kingdom. Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour
represented the agreement as a treaty during the post war deliberations
of the Council of Four. On this understanding the Arabs established a military force under the command of Hussein's son Faisal which fought, with inspiration from 'Lawrence of Arabia', against the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt.[4] In an intelligence memo written in January 1916 Lawrence described the Arab Revolt as

beneficial to us, because it marches with our immediate aims, the
break up of the Islamic 'bloc' and the defeat and disruption of the
Ottoman Empire, and because the states [Sharif Hussein] would set up to succeed the Turks would be … harmless to ourselves … The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If
properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a
tissue of small jealous principalities incapable of cohesion
(emphasis in original).[10]

The Arab Revolt began in June 1916, when an Arab army of around
70,000 men moved against Ottoman forces. They participated in the
capture of Aqabah and the severing of the Hejaz railway, a vital strategic link through the Arab peninsula which ran from Damascus to Medina. This enabled the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under the command of General Allenby to advance into the Ottoman territories of Palestine and Syria.[11]

The British advance culminated in the Battle of Megiddo in September 1918 and the capitulation of Turkey on 31 October 1918.

[edit] The Hogarth Message

In January 1918 Commander David Hogarth, head of the Arab Bureau in Cairo, was dispatched to Jeddah to deliver a letter written by Sir Mark Sykes on behalf of the British Government to Hussein (now King of Hejaz). The message assured Hussein that

The Entente Powers are determined that the Arab race shall be given
full opportunity of once again forming a nation in the world. This can
only be achieved by the Arabs themselves uniting, and Great Britain and
her Allies will pursue a policy with this ultimate unity in view.[12]

and with respect to Palestine and in the light of the Balfour Declaration that

Since the Jewish opinion of the world is in favour of a return of
Jews to Palestine and in as much as this opinion must remain a constant
factor, and further as His Majesty's Government view with favour the
realisation of this aspiration, His Majesty's Government are determined
that insofar as is compatible with the freedom of the existing
population both economic and political, no obstacle should be put in the
way of the realisation of this ideal.[12]

The meaning of the Hogarth message, and in particular whether it
modified the commitments made in the Balfour Declaration is still
debated,[13][14]
although Hogarth reported that Hussein "would not accept an independent
Jewish State in Palestine, nor was I instructed to warn him that such a
state was contemplated by Great Britain".[15]

The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement
did not call for Arab sovereignty, but the French and British agreement
did call for 'suzerainty of an Arab chief' and 'an 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 the sheriff of mecca.[16] Under the terms of that agreement, the Zionist Organization needed to secure an agreement along the lines of the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement with the Sharif of Mecca.

[edit] Declaration to the Seven

In light of the existing McMahon–Hussein correspondence, but in the wake of the seemingly competing Balfour Declaration for the Zionists, as well as the publication weeks later by the Bolsheviks of the older and previously secret Sykes-Picot Agreement with the Russians and French, seven Syrian notables in Cairo, from the newly-formed Party of Syrian Unity,
issued a memorandum requesting some clarification from the British
Government, including a "guarantee of the ultimate independence of Arabia".
In response, issued on 16 June 1918, the Declaration to the Seven,
stated the British policy that the future government of the regions of
the Ottoman Empire occupied by Allied forces in World War I should be based on the consent of the governed.[17][18]

[edit] Allenby's assurance to Faisal

On 19 October 1918, General Allenby reported to the British Government that he had given Faisal,

official assurance that whatever measures might be taken during the
period of military administration they were purely provisional and could
not be allowed to prejudice the final settlement by the peace
conference, at which no doubt the Arabs would have a representative. I
added that the instructions to the military governors would preclude
their mixing in political affairs, and that I should remove them if I
found any of them contravening these orders. I reminded the Amir Faisal
that the Allies were in honour bound to endeavour to reach a settlement
in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned and urged him to
place his trust whole-heartedly in their good faith.[19]

[edit] Anglo-French Declaration of 1918

In the Anglo-French Declaration of 7 November 1918 the two governments stated that

The object aimed at by France and the United Kingdom in prosecuting
in the East the War let loose by the ambition of Germany is the complete
and definite emancipation of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks
and the establishment of national governments and administrations
deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the
indigenous populations.[20]

According to civil servant Eyre Crowe
who saw the original draft of the Declaration, "we had issued a
definite statement against annexation in order (1) to quiet the Arabs
and (2) to prevent the French annexing any part of Syria".[21]

[edit] British Cabinet Eastern Committee

Years later, historians and scholars searching through the
declassified files in the National Archives discovered evidence that
Palestine had been pledged to Hussein. The Eastern Committee of the
Cabinet, previously known as the Middle Eastern Committee, had met on 5
December 1918 to discuss the government's commitments regarding
Palestine. Lord Curzon chaired the meeting. General Jan Smuts, Lord
Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the
Imperial General Staff, and representatives of the Foreign Office, the
India Office, the Admiralty, the Wax Office, and the Treasury were
present. T. E. Lawrence also attended. According to the minutes Lord
Curzon explained:

"The Palestine position is this. If we deal with our commitments,
there is first the general pledge to Hussein in October 1915, under
which Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain
pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future

. . . the United Kingdom and France - Italy subsequently agreeing -
committed themselves to an international administration of Palestine in
consultation with Russia, who was an ally at that time . . . A new
feature was brought into the case in November 1917, when Mr Balfour,
with the authority of the War Cabinet, issued his famous declaration to
the Zionists that Palestine 'should be the national home of the Jewish
people, but that nothing should be done - and this, of course, was a
most important proviso - to prejudice the civil and religious rights of
the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Those, as far as I
know, are the only actual engagements into which we entered with regard
to Palestine."[22]

[edit] Following World War I

During the war, thousands of proclamations were dropped in all parts
of Palestine, which carried a message from the Sharif Hussein on one
side and a message from the British Command on the other, to the effect
'that an Anglo-Arab agreement had been arrived at securing the
independence of the Arabs.'[23]

It was a well known fact that France wanted a Syrian protectorate. At
the Peace Conference in 1919, Prince Faisal, speaking on behalf of King
Hussein, did not ask for immediate Arab independence. He recommended an
Arab State under a British Mandate.[24]

[edit] The Council of Four

Zones of French and British influence and control established by the Sykes-Picot Agreement

The British Notes from the Council of Four Conference Held in the
Prime Minister's Flat at 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Thursday, March 20,
1919, at 3 p.m indicated that Lloyd George considered the
McMahon-Hussein Agreement a treaty, and that it had been the basis for
the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. Lord Balfour was also present.[25]

The notes revealed that:

  • '[T]he blue area in which France was "allowed to establish such
    direct or indirect administration or control as they may desire and as
    they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of
    Arab States" did not include Damascus, Homs, Hama, or Aleppo. In area A. France had been "prepared to recognize and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States'.[26]
  • Since the Sykes-Pichot Agreement of 1916, the whole mandatory system
    had been adopted. If a mandate were granted by the League of Nations
    over these territories, all that France asked was that France should
    have that part put aside for her.
  • Lloyd George said that he could not do that. The League of Nations could not be used for putting aside our bargain with King Hussein. He asked if M. Pichon intended to occupy Damascus with French troops? If he did, it would clearly be a violation of the Treaty with the Arabs.
    M. Pichon said that France had no convention with King Hussein. Lloyd
    George said that the whole of the agreement of 1916 (Sykes-Picot), was
    based on a letter from Sir Henry McMahon' to King Hussein.[27]
  • Lloyd George, continuing, said that it was on the basis of the above
    quoted letter that King Hussein had put all his resources into the
    field which had helped us most materially to win the victory. France had
    for practical purposes accepted our undertaking to King Hussein in
    signing the 1916 agreement. This had not been M. Pichon, but his
    predecessors. He was bound to say that if the British Government now
    agreed that Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo should be included in the
    sphere of direct French influence, they would be breaking faith with the
    Arabs, and they could not face this.

Lloyd George was particularly anxious for M. Clemenceau to follow
this. The agreement of 1916 had been signed subsequent to the letter to
King Hussein. In the following extract from the agreement of 1916 France
recognised Arab independence: "It is accordingly understood between the
French and British Governments.-(1) That France and the United Kingdom
are prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or
Confederation of Arab States in the areas A. and B. marked on the
annexed map under the suzerainty of an Arab Chief." Hence France, by
this act, practically recognized our agreement with King Hussein by
excluding Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo from the blue zone of direct
administration, for the map attached to the agreement showed that
Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo were included, not in the zone of direct
administration, but in the independent Arab State. M. Pichon said that
this had never been contested, but how could France be bound by an
agreement the very existence of which was unknown to her at the time
when the 1916 agreement was signed? In the 1916 agreement France had not
in any way recognised the Hedjaz. She had undertaken to uphold "an
independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States", but not the
King of the Hedjaz. If France was promised a mandate for Syria, she
would undertake to do nothing except in agreement with the Arab State or
Confederation of States. This is the role which France demanded in
Syria. If Great Britain would only promise her good offices, he believed
that France could reach an understanding with Feisal.'[28]

The Zionist Organization also asked for a British mandate, and asserted the 'historic title of the Jewish people to Palestine'.[29]

A Confidential Appendix to the report of the King-Crane Commission
observed that 'The Jews are distinctly for Britain as mandatory power,
because of the Balfour declaration' and that the French 'resent the
payment by the English to the Emir Feisal of a large monthly subsidy,
which they claim covers a multitude of bribes, and enables the British
to stand off and show clean hands while Arab agents do dirty work in
their interest.'[30] The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement
called for British mediation of any disputes. It also called for the
establishment of borders, after the Peace Conference, along the lines of
a map the Zionist Organization had submitted at Versailles. The area
east of the Hedjaz Railway, including most of Transjordan, was not
included in the territory that the Zionists had originally requested for
the establishment of the Jewish National Home. see facsimile of the Zionist Map, at the mideastweb

The Zionist Organization's claim of title and their request for a
strictly British mandate undermined the plans of the French and Italian
delegations. They had aimed to establish their own control over
Palestine under the justification of the pre-War Protectorate and the
Holy See [31] and the French Religious Protectorate of Jerusalem.[32]

[edit] Independent Kingdom of Syria

On 6 January 1920 Prince Faisal initialed an agreement with French
Prime Minister Clemenceau which acknowledged 'the right of the Syrians
to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation'.[33] A Pan-Syrian Congress,
meeting in Damascus, declared an independent state of Syria on the 8th
of March 1920. The new state included portions of Syria, Palestine, and
northern Mesopotamia which had been set aside under the Sykes-Picot Agreement for an independent Arab state, or confederation of states. King Faisal
was declared the head of State. The San Remo conference was hastily
convened, and the United Kingdom and France both agreed to recognize the
provisional independence of Syria and Mesopotamia, while 'reluctantly'
claiming mandates to assist in their administration. Provisional
recognition of Palestinian independence was not mentioned, despite the
fact that it was designated a Class A Mandate.

France had decided to govern Syria directly, and took action to enforce the French Mandate of Syria before the terms had been accepted by the Council of the League of Nations. The French intervened militarily at the Battle of Maysalun in June 1920. They deposed the indigenous Arab government, and removed King Faisal from Damascus in August 1920.[34] The United Kingdom also appointed a High Commissioner
and established their own mandatory regime in Palestine, without first
obtaining approval from the Council of the League of Nations.

[edit] The League of Nations Mandates

The Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain, France and Russia of May 1916 (made public by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution)
pre-dated the establishment of the League of Nations Mandate system.
After the war, France and Britain continued to provide assurances of
Arab independence, while planning to place the entire region under their
own administration.[35][36]

United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing
was a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris in
1919. He explained that the system of mandates was simply a device
created by the Great Powers to conceal their division of the spoils of
war, under the color of international law. If the territories had been
ceded directly, the value of the former German and Ottoman territories
would have been applied to offset the Allies claims for war reparations.
He also explained that Jan Smuts had been the author of the original concept.[37]

At the Paris Peace Conference, US Secretary of State Lansing had
asked Dr. Weizmann if the Jewish national home meant the establishment
of an autonomous Jewish government. The head of the Zionist delegation
had replied in the negative.[38]

[edit] Lawrence's post-war advocacy

Lawrence became increasingly guilt-ridden by the knowledge that
Britain did not intend to abide by the commitments made to the Sharif,
but still managed to convince Faisal that it would be to the Arabs'
advantage to go on fighting the Ottomans. At the Versailles peace conference
in 1919 and the Cairo conference in 1921 Lawrence lobbied for Arab
independence, but his belated attempts to maintain the territorial
integrity of Arab lands, which he had promised to Hussein and Faisal,
and in limiting France's influence in what later became Syria and Lebanon
were fruitless. However, as Churchill's adviser on Arab affairs
(1921–2) Lawrence was able to lobby for a considerable degree of
autonomy for Mesopotamia and Transjordan.
The British placed Palestine, promised to the Zionist Federation in
1917, under mandate with a civilian administration headed by Herbert Samuel, and divided their remaining territory in the Middle East into the kingdoms of Iraq and Transjordan, assigning them to Faisal and his brother Abdullah, respectively.[10][39]

[edit] The Thrice-Promised Land

The debate regarding Palestine derived from the fact that it is not
explicitly mentioned in the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, but is
included within the boundaries that were proposed by Hussein. Whatever
McMahon had meant to say is irrelevant, because the actual terms used
contained the pledges. Under customary treaty law, binding obligations
are seldom supported by an Argument from silence.

The Arab position was that "portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo..." could not refer to Palestine since that lay well to the south of the named places. In particular, the Arabs argued that the vilayet (province) of Damascus did not exist and that the district (sanjak) of Damascus covered only the area surrounding the city itself and furthermore that Palestine was part of the vilayet of 'Syria A-Sham', which was not mentioned in the exchange of letters.[40]
The British position, which it held consistently at least from 1916,
was that Palestine was intended to be included in the phrase. Each side
produced supporting arguments for their positions based on fine details
of the wording and the historical circumstances of the correspondence.
For example, the Arab side argued that the phrase "cannot be said to be
purely Arab" did not apply to Palestine, while the British pointed to
the Jewish and Christian minorities in Palestine.

Balfour had come under criticism in the House of Commons, when the
Liberals and Labor Socialists moved a resolution 'That secret treaties
with the allied governments should be revised, since, in their present
form, they are inconsistent with the object for which this country
entered the war and are, therefore, a barrier to a democratic peace.'[41]

In response to growing criticism arising from the mutually
irreconcilable commitments undertaken by the United Kingdom in the
McMahon-Hussein correspondence, the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the
Balfour declaration[42] the 1922 Churchill White Paper stated that

it is not the case, as has been represented by the Arab Delegation,
that during the war His Majesty's Government gave an undertaking that an
independent national government should be at once established in
Palestine. This representation mainly rests upon a letter dated the 24th
October, 1915, from Sir Henry McMahon, then His Majesty's High
Commissioner in Egypt, to the Sharif of Mecca, now King Hussein of the
Kingdom of the Hejaz. That letter is quoted as conveying the promise to
the Sherif of Mecca to recognise and support the independence of the
Arabs within the territories proposed by him. But this promise was given
subject to a reservation made in the same letter, which excluded from
its scope, among other territories, the portions of Syria lying to the
west of the District of Damascus. This reservation has always been
regarded by His Majesty's Government as covering the vilayet of Beirut
and the independent Sanjak of Jerusalem. The whole of Palestine west of
the Jordan was thus excluded from Sir. Henry McMahon's pledge.[43]

In a 1922 letter to Sir John Shuckburgh of the British Colonial
Office, McMahon wrote the following: "It was my intention to exclude
Palestine from independent Arabia, and I hoped that I had so worded the
letter as to make this sufficiently clear for all practical purposes. My
reasons for restricting myself to specific mention of Damascus, Hama,
Homs and Aleppo in that connection in my letter were: 1) that these were
places to which the Arabs attached vital importance and 2) that there
was no place I could think of at the time of sufficient importance for
purposes of definition further South of the above. It was as fully my
intention to exclude Palestine as it was to exclude the more Northern
coastal tracts of Syria."[citation needed]

A committee established by the British in 1939 to clarify the various
arguments observed that many commitments had been made during and after
the war - and that all of them would have to be studied together. The
Arab representatives submitted a statement to the committee from Sir Michael McDonnell[44]
which explained that whatever McMahon had intended to mean was of no
legal consequence, since it was his actual statements that constituted
the pledge from His Majesty's Government. The Arab representatives also
pointed out that McMahon had been acting as an intermediary for the
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Grey. Speaking in the House
of Lords on the 27th March, 1923, Lord Grey had made it clear that, for
his part, he entertained serious doubts as to the validity of the
Churchill White Paper's interpretation of the pledges which he, as
Foreign Secretary, had caused to be given to the Sharif Husain in 1915.
The Arab representatives suggested that a search for evidence in the
files of the Foreign Office might throw light on the Secretary of
State's intentions. In a speech delivered in the House of Lords on the
27th March, 1923, late Lord Grey had said:

" A considerable number of these engagements, or some of them, which
have not been officially made public by the Government, have become
public through other sources. Whether all have become public I do not
know, but I seriously suggest to the Government that the best way of
clearing our honour in this matter is officially to publish the whole of
the engagements relating to the matter, which we entered into during
the war."[45]

The committee concluded:

'It is beyond the scope of the Committee to express an opinion upon
the proper interpretation of the various statements mentioned in
paragraph 19 and such an opinion could not in any case be properly
expressed unless consideration had also been given to a number of other
statements made during and after the war. In the opinion of the
Committee it is, however, evident from these statements that His
Majesty's Government were not free to dispose of Palestine without
regard for the wishes and interests of the inhabitants of Palestine, and
that these statements must all be taken into account in any attempt to
estimate the responsibilities which—upon any interpretation of the
Correspondence—His Majesty's Government have incurred towards those
inhabitants as a result of the Correspondence.
"[46]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p.8
  2. ^ a b http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p.7
  3. ^ a b Paris, 2003, p. 24.
  4. ^ a b Biger, 2004, p. 47.
  5. ^ a b
    English version quoted in "Palestine: Legal Arguments Likely to be
    Advanced by Arab Representatives", Memorandum by the Secretary of State
    for Foreign Affairs (Lord Halifax), January 1939, UK National Archives,
    CAB 24/282, CP 19 (39). The original correspondence was conducted in
    Arabic, and various slightly differing English translations are extant.
  6. ^ See UK National Archives CAB/24/214, CP 271 (30)
  7. ^ See UK National Archives CAB 27/24, EC-41
  8. ^ See CAB 24/271, Cabinet Paper 203(37)
  9. ^ See UK National Archives CAB/24/143, Eastern Report, No. XVIII, May 31, 1917
  10. ^ a b Waïl S. Hassan "Lawrence, T. E." The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. David Scott Kastan. Oxford University Press 2005.
  11. ^ "Arab Revolt" A Dictionary of Contemporary World History. Jan Palmowski. Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ a b Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL, Annex F.
  13. ^ Friedman, 2000, p. 328.
  14. ^ Kedourie, 2002, p. 257.
  15. ^ Huneidi, 2001, p. 66.
  16. ^ The Sykes-Picot Agreement : 1916, Avalon Project
  17. ^ Friedman, 2000, pp. 195-197.
  18. ^ Choueiri, 2000, p. 149.
  19. ^ Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL, Annex H.
  20. ^ Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL, Annex I.
  21. ^ Hughes, 1999, pp. 116-117.
  22. ^ Palestine Papers 1917-1922, Doreen Ingrams, page 48 and UK Archives PRO. CAB 27/24
  23. ^ Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL, Annex A, paragraph 19.
  24. ^ DESIRES OF HEDJAZ STIR PARIS CRITICS; Arab Kingdom's Aspirations Clash With French Aims in Asia Minor
  25. ^ 'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 1-8
  26. ^ 'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 6'
  27. ^ The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 7
  28. ^ The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 8
  29. ^ Statement of the Zionist Organization regarding Palestine, 3 February 1919
  30. ^ The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919 Confidential Appendix
  31. ^ The Vatican and Zionism: Conflict in the Holy Land, 1895-1925, by Sergio I. Minerbi, Oxford University Press, USA, 1990, ISBN 0195058925
  32. ^ The End of the French Religious Protectorate in Jerusalem (1918-1924)
  33. ^ [Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920-1925, by Timothy J. Paris, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0714654515, Page 69]
  34. ^ "Faisal I" A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press, 2000.
  35. ^ Federal Research Division, 2004, p. 41.
  36. ^ Milton-Edwards, 2006, p. 57.
  37. ^ Project
    Gutenberg: The Peace Negotiations by Robert Lansing, Boston and New
    York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1921, Chapter XIII 'THE SYSTEM OF
    MANDATES'

    If the advocates of the system intended to avoid through its
    operation the appearance of taking enemy territory as the spoils of war,
    it was a subterfuge which deceived no one. It seemed obvious from the
    very first that the Powers, which under the old practice would have
    obtained sovereignty over certain conquered territories, would not be
    denied mandates over those territories. The League of Nations might
    reserve in the mandate a right of supervision of administration and even
    of revocation of authority, but that right would be nominal and of
    little, if any, real value provided the mandatory was one of the Great
    Powers as it undoubtedly would be. The almost irresistible conclusion is
    that the protagonists of the theory saw in it a means of clothing the
    League of Nations with an apparent usefulness which justified the League
    by making it the guardian of uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples and
    the international agent to watch over and prevent any deviation from
    the principle of equality in the commercial and industrial development
    of the mandated territories.

    It may appear surprising that the Great Powers so readily gave their
    support to the new method of obtaining an apparently limited control
    over the conquered territories, and did not seek to obtain complete
    sovereignty over them. It is not necessary to look far for a sufficient
    and very practical reason. If the colonial possessions of Germany had,
    under the old practice, been divided among the victorious Powers and
    been ceded to them directly in full sovereignty, Germany might justly
    have asked that the value of such territorial cessions be applied on any
    war indemnities to which the Powers were entitled. On the other hand,
    the League of Nations in the distribution of mandates would presumably
    do so in the interests of the inhabitants of the colonies and the
    mandates would be accepted by the Powers as a duty and not to obtain new
    possessions. Thus under the mandatory system Germany lost her
    territorial assets, which might have greatly reduced her financial debt
    to the Allies, while the latter obtained the German colonial possessions
    without the loss of any of their claims for indemnity. In actual
    operation the apparent altruism of the mandatory system worked in favor
    of the selfish and material interests of the Powers which accepted the
    mandates. And the same may be said of the dismemberment of Turkey. It
    should not be a matter of surprise, therefore, that the President found
    little opposition to the adoption of his theory, or, to be more
    accurate, of the Smuts theory, on the part of the European statesmen.

  38. ^ 'The
    Secretary's Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon's Room at the
    Quai d'Orsay, Paris, on Thursday, 27th February, 1919, at 3 p. m.',
    United States Department of State Papers relating to the foreign
    relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919: Volume
    IV (1919), The Council of Ten: minutes of meetings February 15 to June
    17, 1919, Page 169
  39. ^ "Lawrence, Thomas Edward, 'Lawrence of Arabia'" A Dictionary of Contemporary World History. Jan Palmowski. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  40. ^ Biger, 2004, p. 48.
  41. ^ No Peace Basis Yet, Balfour Asserts, 21 June 1918
  42. ^ Zachary Lockman "Balfour Declaration" The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World, 2e. Joel Krieger, ed. Oxford University Press Inc. 2001.
  43. ^ British White Paper of June 1922, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School.
  44. ^ Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL, Annex C.
  45. ^ Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL, enclosure to Annex A.
  46. ^ Report
    of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir
    Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916
    , UNISPAL