The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 29—11:30 a.m.]
381. My 376, September 22, 9 a.m.42 The first President of independent Syria Sheik Taj-ed-Din el Hassani, was yesterday inaugurated at Damascus. General Catroux43 read a proclamation from which I summarize the following points.
- Syria to exercise at once all rights and prerogatives of an independent and sovereign state, limited only by the exigencies of the war and the security of its territory.
- Its position as ally of Free France and of Great Britain requires close conformity of its policy with that of the Allies.
- “By assuming independent international life Syria assumes of course the rights and obligations heretofore subscribed to in its name.”
- Syria has the right to appoint diplomatic representatives wherever it considers it necessary. Elsewhere Free France will use its good offices to protect Syrian interests and nationals.
- Great Britain having already undertaken to recognize Syrian independence Free France will immediately approach other friendly or Allied Powers to obtain recognition from them too.
- Free France favors closer ties between the different parts of Syria and will therefore modify the special status of certain regions [Page 787] so as to put them politically under a central Syrian government while maintaining their financial and administrative autonomy (this obviously refers to the Jebel Druze and the Alaouites).
- It is understood that all guarantees under public law in favor of individuals and religious communities will be respected.
- Free France will assist in establishing better economic collaboration between Syria and the Lebanon.
- For the duration of the war the Allies will take charge of the defense of the country. To that end the Syrian national forces will cooperate and place at the disposal of the Allies all communications, landing fields and ports. Gendarmerie and police will collaborate with the Free French in protecting Syria against internal enemies.
- Syria being included in the war zone and in the economic and financial system of the Allies the closest collaboration is also necessary regarding all measures of economic warfare. Syria having entered the sterling bloc will accord the greatest possible freedom of trade with the countries of that bloc and will adopt the necessary economic, financial and exchange measures in harmony with the pledging of the sterling bloc.
- The above stipulations are inspired by the sole thought of winning the war and thereby assuring to Syria the future of a free people. Despite the war Free France did not wish to delay the fulfillment of Syrian national aspirations but it is necessary that as soon as possible a Franco-Syrian treaty definitely consecrate the independence of the country.