The Consul General at Beirut ( Marriner ) to the Secretary of State

No. 291

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 278 of September 13, 1937, transmitting copies of the Franco-Turkish exchange of notes dated May 29, 1937, which effect an extension for one year of the [Page 933] period during which former Ottoman subjects of Syrian or Lebanese origin may opt for Syrian or Lebanese citizenship, and to report that M. Nairn Antaki, Syrian Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, recently called and left, for the information of the Consulate General, a French translation of a notice which the Syrian Government intends to bring to the attention of persons of Syrian origin residing abroad. A copy of this statement, with English translation,13 is enclosed.

The subject matter of chief interest to the Department is that contained in the fifth section of the proclamation, which concerns itself specifically with American citizens of Syrian origin. As an additional inducement to such persons to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire Syrian citizenship, it is pointed out that, although under the terms of the Gouraud-Knabenshue Agreement the American citizenship of persons of Syrian origin naturalized in the United States is recognized by the Syrian Government, there is no legal obligation upon other States to extend like recognition. The especial implication is that such persons, if visiting or residing in Turkey, would probably be considered as Turkish subjects, whereas the Turkish Government would be obligated, under the recent agreement, to recognize them as Syrian citizens provided they had exercised their right of option.

Inasmuch as the Gouraud-Knabenshue Agreement is of course not binding on other succession States of the Ottoman Empire, the Syrians feel that their reasoning is legally sound; and, as stated on page 3 of my despatch No. 278, referred to above, I presume that the Department will not desire to take any official notice of the matter. In fact, it is hardly probable that American citizens of Syrian origin will be inclined to take any steps to acquire Syrian citizenship, except in instances where, due to prolonged residence abroad, the Department no longer recognizes their right to the protection of the American Government.

Respectfully yours,

Theodore Marriner
  1. Not printed.