The British Embassy to the Department of State


In the opinion of His Majesty’s Government one of the principal causes of uneasiness in Syria and the Lebanon has been the failure of the Free French to implement their promises of independence. This and the Free French persistence in keeping in office governments with little local support have affected the security of the British forces in the Levant and the situation was consequently considered by the Middle East War Council on the 20th April, who made the following recommendations:

that the Syrian and Lebanese Presidents should shortly announce that in both countries elections will take place before the end [Page 592] of 1942, and that they should add that measures to improve the economic situation are being taken;
that the Free French Administration should be converted to a purely advisory role by:
The transfer to the State Governments of the legislative and executive powers to the greatest possible extent compatible with military security; General Catroux would still have the right to propose particular legislation but would no longer issue administrative decrees;
The reduction of the numbers of French officials in the Departments of the State Governments and the limitation of their functions to the giving of advice;
the abolition of the title of “délégué”; the functions of the délégué to both State Governments and of the local governments would become purely advisory and would be exercised preferably by civilians.

These recommendations have been accepted by His Majesty’s Government and in view of the importance of the questions involved the Acting Minister of State has been asked to arrange with the Commander-in-Chief Middle East for them to see General Catroux together and put their recommendations to him.