The Italian Ambassador ( Macchi di Cellere ) to the Counselor for the Department of State ( Polk )

My Dear Mr. Polk: In connection with our conversation of yesterday, I take pleasure in transmitting to you a memorandum regarding the situation in Tripoli arising out of the violation of the armistice by Turkey,2 and the necessity of putting an end to it. I shall appreciate it if the American Government will approach the British Government with the view of having Turkey keep faith to her engagements.

With appreciation [etc.]

Macchi di Cellere

The Italian Embassy to the Department of State


In connection with the fulfillment of the clauses of the armistice granted to Turkey, the Italian Government learns that the opinion is being spread in Lybia that it is optional with the Turkish officers to remain there under the orders of Ahmed, the former sheriff. It is also reported that there recently arrived in Lybia a Turkish personage and that there are reasons to suspect that he might be the famous Enver Pasha.3 It is at any rate positive that a Turkish superior officer landed at Tripoli and that he is endeavoring to organize civilians and military men. He has offered the government of the Ghebel to a Turkish general.

The Italian Government, moreover, is without any news as to the Italian prisoners at Misurata. And a telegram addressed November 12th by the Governor of Tripoli to the Italian Government states that the enemy, who had been inactive for a long time, in the afternoon of the 11th, subjected the Fort of Belal (which is one of the defenses of the city of Tripoli) to an artillery fire with 37 millimeter guns for 45 minutes, which was followed in the evening by rifle fire and caused the Italians the loss of one dead and one wounded. It is to be remarked in this connection that, as it is well known, the artillery in Tripoli is directed by Turkish officers.

It is obvious that such an attack is a flagrant violation of the terms of the armistice granted to Turkey. It is also obvious that [Page 274] the landing of a Turkish superior officer is a violation of the terms of the armistice.

Sections 15 and 16 of the armistice, not to mention other ones, read in fact as follows:

  • Sec. 15: “Surrender of all Turkish officers in Tripoli and Cyrenaiea to the nearest Italian garrison.”
  • Sec. 16: “Surrender of all occupied ports in Tripoli and Cyrenaiea, including Misurata, to the nearest Allied representative.”

And it is inconceivable that, while the whole world is being restored to peace, fighting should continue in Tripoli.

The Italian Government has called the attention of the Allied Governments to this unbearable situation, asking them, especially the British Government, to take proper steps through their representatives at Constantinople to put an end to it.

In view of the fact that the United States Government has not at present its own representative at Constantinople, the Italian Embassy suggests, and shall appreciate it if the State Department will approach the British Government, pointing out to it the necessity for Turkey to keep faith to her engagements, thus doing away with a state of affairs which manifestly works to the prejudice of the Italian Nation, but could also be freighted with dangers for the general peace.

  1. For terms of the Anglo-Turkish armistice, see undated telegram No. 32 from Colonel House, Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 441.
  2. Turkish Minister of War, Jan. 1914 to Oct. 1918.