Paris Peace Conf. 181.9102/3: Telegram

Mr. C. R. Crane and Mr. H. C. King to the Commission to Negotiate Peace

Commission has now covered strategic point[s] from Beersheba to Baalbek and from Mediterranean Sea to Amman. Every facility has been given Commission by various military governors, though inevitable some steering. Heartily welcomed everywhere. No doubt of great interest of people, some Bedouin delegates riding 30 hours to meet Commission. Gratitude to you and Americans constantly and warmly expressed. Popular program developed [developing] in range and definiteness showing considering [considerable] political insight. Much to indicate our inquiries greatly worthwhile and freer expression of opinion to American section than could have been made to mixed commission. Certain points are unmistakable. Intense desire for unity of all Syria and Palestine and for as early independence as possible. Unexpected[ly] strong expressions of national feeling. Singular[ly] determined repulsion to becoming a mere colony of any power and against any kind of French mandate. Only marked exceptions to this statement are found in strong parties of Lebanese who demand complete separation of Lebanon with French collaboration. In our judgement proclamation of French mandate for all Syria would precipitate warfare between Arabs and French, and force Great Britain to dangerous alternative. America genuinely first choice of most for mandatary because believed have no territorial ambition. General demand that essentially, same condition should hold for Iraq as for Syria. Both British Government and French officers share conviction that unity of whole of Syria and Palestine is most desirable. They feel that constant friction and danger to peace are otherwise inevitable between British subjects, French and Arabs. But there is little clear evidence that either British Government or French Government are willing entirely to withdraw. Subsequent experience only confirms earlier dispatch concerning Zionism. Syria National Congress composed of 69 regularly elected representatives Moslem[s] and Christians from Syria including Palestine and Lebanon met at Damascus July 2nd. Formulated program acceptable to all Moslem[s] and many Christians, except that Christians preferring strong mandatary power for their protection. Congress asks immediate complete political independence for united Syria. Government a civil, constitutionalist, federal monarchy, safely guarding right of minority under Prince Feisal as king. Affirm Article 22 of Covenant does not apply to Syria. Mandate interpreted to mean economy and technical assistance limited [Page 750] in time. Asking this earnestly from America. Should America refuse then England. Deny all rights and refuse all assistance of France. Vigorously oppose Zionistic plan and Jewish immigration. Asking complete independence of Mesopotamia. Protesting against Sykes-Picot Agreement8 and Balfour Declaration.9 Concluding request that political rights be not stood [less than] under Turkey.

Whole situation here involves elements of world-wide importance. Solution proposed in Paris putting Syria under France would not strengthen friendly relations of France with England but the contrary. Arabs would certainly resist by every means. England would be obliged to choose between Arabs and French with Egypt and India in background. Moslem world undoubtedly be happy at seeing its last independent state disappear. Reduction of Turkey accepted as necessary political measure, but if followed [by] resistance to formation of Arab state invariably [interpretation] will be hostile [hostility] to Moslem world, an attitude neither England nor France can afford. But important move can be made greatly strengthen position of both. Emir Feisal despite limitation of education has become unique outstanding figure capable of rendering greatest service for world peace. He is heart of Moslem world, with enormous prestige and popularity, confirmed believer in Anglo-Saxon race; real[ly] great lover of Christians [Christianity], Could do more than any other to reconcile Christians [Christianity] and Islam and longs to do so. Even talks seriously of American college for women at Mecca. Most important Feisal be encouraged, support[ed] and given opportunity to work out his plan. Given proper sympathy and surroundings no danger of his getting adrift or taking big step without Anglo-Saxon approval. Every doctrine and policy concerning Syria[n] state should take this intimate [into] consideration.

We are sending by courier important documents showing general conviction of people.

  • Crane
  • King
  1. Agreement reached after discussions between Sir Mark Sykes and M. F. Georges Picot, regarding the eventual partition of Ottoman territories between Great Britain, France, and Russia.

    For notes exchanged on May 9 and 16, 1916, between Sir Edward Grey and M. Paul Cambon defining British and French claims in the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire, see G. Fr. de Martens, Nouveau recueil general de traités et autres actes relatifs aux rapports de droit international (106), 3 sér., tome x, pp. 350 ff.

  2. Declaration contained in Mr. Balfour’s letter of November 2, 1917, to Lord Rothschild. See London Times, November 9, 1917, p. 7.