Memorandum by Mr. Foy D. Kohler of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs 15

We had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Syria and Lebanon with Mr. Casey, British Minister of State in the Middle East, during his recent visit to Washington, and found ourselves in agreement with his views regarding the desirability of the progressive [Page 961] implementation of the proclaimed independence of these states by the establishment of elective governments and the transfer of real power thereto. We shared his disapproval of the Fighting French regime’s obvious efforts to retain complete mandatory control in denial of its promises of independence to the local populations.

In view of our consistent policy regarding equality of opportunity, we are unable to agree with the British recognition of a “preeminent and privileged position for France among European powers” in Syria and Lebanon, given in the Lyttleton–De Gaulle agreement of July [August] 1941.16 We made this clear to Mr. Casey, who expressed his own regret that such a commitment had been made.

  1. Forwarded to the Secretary of State; attached was a memorandum dated March 16 which read: “Syria and Lebanon. 1. How does the British Government reconcile its recognition of the independence of Syria and Lebanon with its commitment to De Gaulle recognizing a continuing ‘preeminent and privileged position of France’ in those States?” Mr. Kohler noted that “Above question put to Mr. Strang of the British Foreign Office by Mr. Wallace Murray.” William Strang, Acting Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was in Washington as a member of the party accompanying British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden on talks with the Secretary of State; for correspondence relating to the Eden visit, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  2. Exchange of letters of August 7, 1941, British Cmd. 6600, Syria No. 1 (1945), pp. 3–4.