The MCMAHON–HUSSEIN CORRESPONDENCE, or the HUSSEIN–MCMAHON
CORRESPONDENCE, was a series of ten letters exchanged from July 1915
to March 1916, during
World War I
Following the publication of the November 1917
In January 1923 unofficial excerpts were published by Joseph N. M.
The Daily Mail and copies of the various letters
circulated in the Arab press. Excerpts were published in the 1937
* 1 Background
* 1.1 Initial discussions
* 2 Letters, July 1915 to March 1916
* 2.1 Legal status
* 3 Arab Revolt, June 1916 to October 1918
* 4 Related commitments, May 1916 to November 1918
* 5 Post-War negotiations, 1919 to 1921
* 5.1 Paris Peace Conference
* 5.2 Independent Kingdom of
* 6 Territorial reservations
* 6.1 Debate about Palestine
* 6.1.1 Translation * 6.1.2 Debated sentences
* 6.2 Arab interpretation
* 6.3 British interpretation
* 6.3.1 List of British interpretations over time
* 6.4 Interpretations of French intentions
* 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 Additional References * 11 External links
Sir Henry McMahon and Sharif Hussein bin Ali
The first documented discussions between the British and the
Sherifian family took place in February 1914, five months prior to the
World War I
“...guarantee the independence, rights and privileges of the Sharifate against all foreign external foreign aggression, in particular that of the Ottomans”
The Sharif indicated that he could not break with the Ottomans
immediately. However, the entry of the Ottomans on Germany's side in
World War I
On his return journey from
LETTERS, JULY 1915 TO MARCH 1916
Following deliberations at Ta\'if between Hussein and his sons in June 1915, during which Faisal counselled caution, Sherif Husayn bin Ali argued against rebellion and Abdullah advocated action and encouraged his father to enter into correspondence with Sir Henry McMahon ; over the period July 14, 1915 to March 10, 1916, a total of ten letters, five from each side, were exchanged between Sir Henry McMahon and Sherif Hussein.
An oft-quoted excerpt from a private letter sent by McMahon halfway through the eight-month period of the correspondence, on 4 December 1915, has been used by historians as evidence of possible British duplicity:
the idea of a future strong united independent Arab State... too
seriously... the conditions of
The ten letters are summarised in the table below, from the letters published in full in 1939 as Cmd. 5957:
NO. FROM, TO, DATE SUMMARY
Hussein to McMahon,
14 Jul 1915 BOUNDARIES: Consistent with the
CALIPHATE: Requested England to "approve of the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam." OTHER: In return, England to have economic preference in Arab countries, with other foreign privileges in Arab countries being abolished. Both sides to agree to a mutual defense pact and to remain neutral should the other party begin a conflict of aggression.
McMahon to Hussein,
30 Aug 1915 Confirmed British "desire for the independence of
3. Hussein to McMahon, 9 Sep 1915 Reiterated the importance of agreeing the "limits and boundaries", such that the negotiations "are dependent only on your refusal or acceptance of the question of the limits and on your declaration of safeguarding their religion first and then the rest of rights from any harm or danger."
McMahon to Hussein,
24 Oct 1915 BOUNDARIES: Acknowledged the importance of agreeing
limits, stating "The two districts of
OTHER: Promised to protect the Holy Places, provide advice and assistance on government, with an understanding that only Britain will play such a role. Stipulated an exception for the vilayets of Bagdad and Basra allowing "special administrative arrangements" for Britain.
5. Hussein to McMahon, 5 Nov 1915 "VILAYETS OF MERSINA AND ADANA": "we renounce our insistence on the inclusion"
"WO VILAYETS OF ALEPPO AND BEIRUT AND THEIR SEACOASTS": refusing the exclusion since they "are purely Arab Vilayets, and there is no difference between a Moslem and a Christian Arab" "IRAQI VILAYETS": noted that "we might agree to leave under the British troops ... against a suitable sum paid as compensation to the Arab Kingdom for the period of occupation." OTHER: The remainder of the letter discusses Arab apprehension over the speed of any revolt, in the context of the risk that the allies were to sue for peace with the Ottomans.
6. McMahon to Hussein, 14 Dec 1915 "VILAYETS OF MERSINA AND ADANA": Acknowledged agreement.
"VILAYETS OF ALEPPO AND BEIRUT": "as the interests of our ally, France, are involved in them both, the question will require careful consideration and a further communication on the subject will be addressed to you in due course." "VILAYET OF BAGDAD": Proposed to postpone discussion OTHER: Responds to apprehension on timing with confirmation that Britain "has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition."
7. Hussein to McMahon, 1 Jan 1916 "IRAQ": proposes to agree compensation after the war
"HE NORTHERN PARTS AND THEIR COASTS": refuses further modifications, stating "it is impossible to allow any derogation that gives France, or any other Power, a span of land in those regions."
8. McMahon to Hussein, 25 Jan 1916 Acknowledged Hussein's prior points.
9. Hussein to McMahon, 18 Feb 1916 Discussed initial preparations for the revolt. Appealed to McMahon for £50,000 in gold plus weapons, ammunition and food claiming that Feisal was awaiting the arrival of ‘not less than 100,000 people’ for the planned revolt.
10. McMahon to Hussein, 10 Mar 1916 Discussed initial preparations for the revolt. Confirmed British agreement to the requests and concluded the ten letters of the correspondence. The Sharif set a tentative date for armed revolt for June 1916 and commenced tactical discussions with the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon.
Minutes of the Paris Peace Conference 1919. The correspondence
was described by
David Lloyd George
Elie Kedourie says that the letter was not a treaty, and even if it were considered to be a treaty, Hussein completely failed to fulfill his promises from his 18 February 1916 letter. Arguing to the contrary, Victor Kattan firstly describes the correspondence as a “secret treaty” and references The Secret Treaties of History that includes the correspondence. He further argues that Her Majesty’s Government considered it to be a treaty during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference negotiations with the French over the disposition of Ottoman territory.
ARAB REVOLT, JUNE 1916 TO OCTOBER 1918
McMahon's promises were seen by the Arabs as a formal agreement
between them and the United Kingdom. Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour
represented the agreement as a treaty during the post war
deliberations of the Council of Four . On this understanding the
Arabs established a military force under the command of Hussein's son
Faisal which fought, with inspiration from 'Lawrence of
beneficial to us, because it marches with our immediate aims, the break up of the Islamic 'bloc' and the defeat and disruption of the Ottoman Empire, and because the states would set up to succeed the Turks would be … harmless to ourselves … The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities incapable of cohesion (emphasis in original).
The British advance culminated in the Battle of Megiddo in September
1918 and the capitulation of
The Arab revolt is seen by historians as the first organized movement
of Arab nationalism. It brought together different Arab groups for the
first time with the common goal to fight for independence from the
Ottoman Empire. Much of the history of Arabic independence stemmed
from the revolt beginning with the kingdom founded by Hussein. After
the war was over, the Arab revolt had implications. Groups of people
were put into classes based on if they had fought in the revolt or not
and what their rank was. In Iraq, a group of Sharifian Officers from
RELATED COMMITMENTS, MAY 1916 TO NOVEMBER 1918
In 1917 Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
Main article: Hogarth message
Hussein asked for an explanation of the
DECLARATION TO THE SEVEN
Main article: Declaration to the Seven
In light of the existing McMahon–Hussein correspondence, but in the
wake of the seemingly competing
ALLENBY\'S ASSURANCE TO FAISAL
On 19 October 1918, General Allenby reported to the British Government that he had given Faisal,
official assurance that whatever measures might be taken during the period of military administration they were purely provisional and could not be allowed to prejudice the final settlement by the peace conference, at which no doubt the Arabs would have a representative. I added that the instructions to the military governors would preclude their mixing in political affairs, and that I should remove them if I found any of them contravening these orders. I reminded the Amir Faisal that the Allies were in honour bound to endeavour to reach a settlement in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned and urged him to place his trust whole-heartedly in their good faith.
ANGLO-FRENCH DECLARATION OF 1918
The object aimed at by France and the United Kingdom in prosecuting in the East the War let loose by the ambition of Germany is the complete and definite emancipation of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks and the establishment of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the indigenous populations.
According to civil servant Eyre Crowe who saw the original draft of the Declaration, "we had issued a definite statement against annexation in order (1) to quiet the Arabs and (2) to prevent the French annexing any part of Syria".
POST-WAR NEGOTIATIONS, 1919 TO 1921
PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE
Following World War I, the Paris Peace Conference was held in 1919 between the allies to agree territorial divisions. It was a well known fact that France wanted a Syrian protectorate. At the conference, Prince Faisal, speaking on behalf of King Hussein, did not ask for immediate Arab independence. He recommended an Arab State under a British Mandate.
INDEPENDENT KINGDOM OF SYRIA
On 6 January 1920 Prince Faisal initialed an agreement with French
Prime Minister Clemenceau which acknowledged 'the right of the Syrians
to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation'. A Pan-Syrian
Congress , meeting in Damascus, declared an independent state of Syria
on 8 March 1920. The new state included portions of Syria, Palestine,
France had decided to govern
LEAGUE OF NATIONS MANDATES
After the war, France and Britain continued to provide assurances of Arab independence, while planning to place the entire region under their own administration.
United States Secretary of State
Robert Lansing was a member of the
American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris in 1919. He explained
that the system of mandates was simply a device created by the Great
Powers to conceal their division of the spoils of war, under the color
of international law. If the territories had been ceded directly, the
value of the former German and Ottoman territories would have been
applied to offset the Allies claims for war reparations. He also
The 3 January 1919
At the same conference, US Secretary of State Lansing had asked Dr. Weizmann if the Jewish national home meant the establishment of an autonomous Jewish government. The head of the Zionist delegation had replied in the negative.
At the Conference of London and the
San Remo conference
LAWRENCE\'S POST-WAR ADVOCACY
Lawrence became increasingly guilt-ridden by the knowledge that
Britain did not intend to abide by the commitments made to the Sharif,
but still managed to convince Faisal that it would be to the Arabs'
advantage to go on fighting the Ottomans. At the Versailles peace
conference in 1919 and the Cairo conference in 1921 Lawrence lobbied
for Arab independence, but his belated attempts to maintain the
territorial integrity of Arab lands, which he had promised to Hussein
and Faisal, and in limiting France's influence in what later became
"Districts" according to the McMahon letter and their
administrative category in the
The letter from McMahon to Hussein dated 24 October 1915 declared Britain's willingness to recognize the independence of the Arabs subject to certain exemptions. Note that the original correspondence was conducted in both English and Arabic, such that various slightly differing English translations are extant.
The districts of
Mersina and Alexandretta, and portions of Syria
lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs,
With the above modification and without prejudice to our existing treaties concluded with Arab Chiefs, we accept these limits and boundaries, and in regard to the territories therein in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to interests of her ally France, I am empowered in the name of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurance and make the following reply to your letter:
Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca.
Declassified British Cabinet Papers include a telegram dated 19
October 1915 from
Sir Henry McMahon to the Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, Lord Grey , requesting instructions. McMahon said
the clause had been suggested by a man named Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi
, a member of the Abd party, to satisfy the demands of the Syrian
Nationalists for the independence of Arabia. Faroqi had said that the
Arabs would fight if the French attempted to occupy the cities of
DEBATE ABOUT PALESTINE
The correspondence was written first in English before being translated to Arabic and vice versa. Who wrote and translated it is unclear. Kedourie and others have assumed that the likeliest candidate for primary author was Ronald Storrs. In his memoirs, Storrs says that correspondence was prepared by Husayn Ruhi and then checked by himself.
The Arab delegations to the 1939 Conference had objected to certain translations of Arabic to English and the Committee arranged for mutually agreeable translations that would render the English text “free from actual error”.
"The consequences of interpreting McMahon's 'wilayahs' as meaning 'Ottoman provinces' are so disconcerting that it was - and, to my mind, still is - difficult to believe that McMahon was intending to use the word in this sense in his letter. This interpretation would force on us a choice between the two following alternative conclusions:
(i) First alternative: McMahon was completely ignorant of Ottoman
administrative geography. He did not know that the Ottoman vilayet of
The debate regarding Palestine derived from the fact that it is not
explicitly mentioned in the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, but is
included within the boundaries that were initially proposed by
Hussein. McMahon accepted the boundaries of Hussein "subject to
modification", and suggested the modification that "portions of Syria
lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs,
Jonathan Schneer provides an analogy to explain the central dispute over the meaning:
Presume a line extending from the districts of New York, New Haven,
New London, and Boston, excluding territory west from an imaginary
coastal kingdom. If by districts one means "vicinity" or "environs,"
that is one thing with regard to the land excluded, but if one means
"vilayets" or "provinces," or in the American instance "states," it is
another altogether. There are no states of Boston, New London, or New
Haven, just as there were no provinces of
In the letter of 24 October, the English version is as follows:
“...,we accept those limits and boundaries; and in regard to those portions of the territories therein in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to the interests of her ally France”
At a meeting in Whitehall in December 1920 the English and Arabic texts of McMahon’s correspondence with Sharif Husein were compared. As one official, who was present, put it,
In the Arabic version sent to King Husain this is so translated as to make it appear that Gt Britain is free to act without detriment to France in the whole of the limits mentioned. This passage of course had been our sheet anchor: it enabled us to tell the French that we had reserved their rights, and the Arabs that there were regions in which they wd have eventually to come to terms with the French. It is extremely awkward to have this piece of solid ground cut from under our feet. I think that HMG will probably jump at the opportunity of making a sort of amende by sending Feisal to Mesopotamia.
Barr argues that although McMahon had intended to reserve the French interests, he became a victim of his own cleverness since the translator Ruhi lost the qualifying sense of the sentence in the Arabic version.
The Arab position was that they could not refer to Palestine since
that lay well to the south of the named places. In particular, the
Arabs argued that the vilayet (province) of
Supporters of this interpretation also note that during the war, thousands of proclamations were dropped in all parts of Palestine, carrying a message from the Sharif Hussein on one side and a message from the British Command on the other, to the effect 'that an Anglo-Arab agreement had been arrived at securing the independence of the Arabs.'
The left hand page is from CAB 24/68/86, November 1918, whilst
the right hand page is from the
Churchill White Paper
The undated memorandum, GT 6185 (from CAB 24/68/86 as seen at left)
of November 1918 was prepared by the renowned British historian
Arnold Toynbee in 1918, while working as a temporary Foreign Office
clerk in the Political Intelligence Department . Crowe , then The
Permanent Under-Secretary, ordered them put in the Foreign Office
dossier for the Peace Conference. After arriving in Paris, General Jan
Smuts required that the memoranda be summarized and Toynbee produced
the document GT 6506 (maps illustrating it are GT6506A ). These
two last were circulated as E.C.2201 and considered at a meeting of
the Eastern Committee (No.41) of the Cabinet on 5 December 1918
chaired by Curzon (General
The Eastern Committee met nine times in November and December to draft a set of resolutions on British policy for the benefit of the negotiators. On 21 October, the War Cabinet asked Smuts to prepare the peace brief in summary form and he asked Erle Richards to carry out this task. Toynbee’s GT6506 and the resolutions of the Eastern Committee were distilled by Richards into a “P-memo” (P-49) for use by the Peace Conference delegates.
In the public arena, Balfour had come under criticism in the House of
Commons, when the Liberals and Labor Socialists moved a resolution
'That secret treaties with the allied governments should be revised,
since, in their present form, they are inconsistent with the object
for which this country entered the war and are, therefore, a barrier
to a democratic peace.' In response to growing criticism arising from
the seemingly contradictory commitments undertaken by the United
Kingdom in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence, the Sykes–Picot
Agreement and the Balfour declaration the 1922 Churchill White Paper
, took the position that Palestine had always been excluded from the
Arab area. Although this directly contradicted numerous previous
government documents, those documents were not known to the public at
the time. As part of preparing this White Paper, Sir John Shuckburgh
of the British
While the British Government have held that the intent of the McMahon
Correspondence was not to promise Palestine to Hussein, it has
occasionally acknowledged the flaws in the legal terminology of the
A committee established by the British in 1939 to clarify the various
arguments observed that many commitments had been made during and
after the war - and that all of them would have to be studied
together. The Arab representatives submitted a statement to the
committee from Sir
Michael McDonnell which explained that whatever
McMahon had intended to mean was of no legal consequence, since it was
his actual statements that constituted the pledge from His Majesty's
Government. The Arab representatives also pointed out that McMahon had
been acting as an intermediary for the Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs, Lord Grey. Speaking in the
House of Lords
List Of British Interpretations Over Time
A list of interpretations by British politicians and civil servants is below, showing the evolution of the debate between 1916 and 1939:
SOURCE CONTEXT QUOTATION
26 October 1915 Dispatch to British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey
"I have been definite in stating that Great Britain will recognise
the principle of Arab independence in purely Arab territory... but
have been equally definite in excluding Mersina,
ARAB BUREAU FOR HENRY MCMAHON
19 April 1916 Memorandum sent by
ARAB BUREAU 29 November 1916 Summary of Historical Documents: Hedjaz Rising Narrative Included the memorandum of April 1916
ARNOLD J. TOYNBEE , FOREIGN OFFICE POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT November 1918 and 21 November 1918 War Cabinet Memorandum on British Commitments to King Husein
War Cabinet Memorandum Respecting Settlement of
"Palestine (west of Jordan).... (a.) We are pledged to King Husein that this territory shall be "Arab" and "independent.""
5 Dec 1918 Chairing the Eastern Committee of the British War
"First, as regards the facts of the case. The various pledges are
given in the Foreign Office paper which has been circulated, and I
need only refer to them in the briefest possible words. In their
H. ERLE RICHARDS January 1919 Peace Conference: Memorandum Respecting Palestine, for the Eastern Committee of the British War Cabinet , ahead of the Paris Peace Conference "A general pledge was given to Husein in October, 1915, that Great Britain was prepared (with certain exceptions) to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs with the territories included in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca; and Palestine was within those territories. This pledge was restricted to those portions of the territories in which Great Britain was free to act without detriment to the interests of her Ally, France."
19 August 1919 Memorandum by Mr. Balfour respecting Syria,
Palestine, and Mesopotamia
"In 1915 we promised the Arabs independence; and the promise was
unqualified, except in respect of certain territorial reservations...
In 1915 it was the
Sherif of Mecca
HUBERT YOUNG , OF THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE
29 November 1920 Memorandum on Palestine Negotiations with the
Hedjaz, written prior to the arrival of Faisal bin Hussein in London
on 1 December 1920.
Interpreted the Arabic translation to be referring to the Vilayet of
ERIC FORBES ADAM October 1921 Letter to John Evelyn Shuckburgh "On the wording of the letter alone, I think either interpretation is possible, but I personally think the context of that particular McMahon letter shows that McMahon (a) was not thinking in terms of vilayet boundaries etc., and (b) meant, as Hogarth says, merely to refer to the Syrian area where French interests were likely to be predominant and this did not come south of the Lebanon. ... Toynbee, who went into the papers, was quite sure his interpretation of the letter was right and I think his view was more or less accepted until Young wrote his memorandum."
DAVID GEORGE HOGARTH 1921 A talk delivered in 1921 "...that Palestine was part of the area in respect to which we undertook to recognise the independence of the Arabs"
T. E. LAWRENCE (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA)
(first published 1926) Autobiography:
Seven Pillars of Wisdom ,
12 March 1922
22 July 1937 Letter to John Evelyn Shuckburgh, in preparation for the
Churchill White Paper
"I feel it my duty to state, and I do so definitely and emphatically, that it was not intended by me in giving this pledge to King Hussein to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised. I also had every reason to believe at the time that the fact that Palestine was not included in my pledge was well understood by King Hussein."
House of Commons response "In the first place, it is not the case,
as has been represented by the Arab Delegation, that during the war
His Majesty's Government gave an undertaking that an independent
national government should be at once established in Palestine. This
representation mainly rests upon a letter dated 24 October 1915, from
Sir Henry McMahon, then His Majesty's High Commissioner in Egypt, to
the Sharif of Mecca, now King Hussein of the Kingdom of the Hejaz.
That letter is quoted as conveying the promise to the Sherif of Mecca
to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs within the
territories proposed by him. But this promise was given subject to a
reservation made in the same letter, which excluded from its scope,
among other territories, the portions of
"His Majesty's Government have always regarded and continue to regard Palestine as excluded by these provisos from the scope of their undertaking. This is clear from the fact, to which the hon. Member refers, that in the following year they concluded an agreement with the French and Russian Governments under which Palestine was to receive special treatment... it would not be in the public interest to publish one or all of the documents comprising the long and inconclusive correspondence that took place with the Sheriff of Mecca in 1915–16."
DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE \'S COLONIAL OFFICE 17 February 1923 British Cabinet Memorandum regarding Policy in Palestine "The question is: Did the excluded area cover Palestine or not? The late Government maintained that it did and that the intention to exclude Palestine was clearly under stood, both by His Majesty's Government and by the Sherif, at the time that the correspondence took place. Their view is supported by the fact that in the following year (1916) we concluded an agreement with the French and Russian Governments under which Palestine was to receive special treatment-on an international basis. The weak point in the argument is that, on the strict wording of Sir H. McMahon's letter, the natural meaning of the phrase "west of the district of Damascus" has to be somewhat strained in order to cover an area lying considerably to the south, as well as to the west, of the City of Damascus."
DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE 27 March 1923 Diary of 9th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth MSS “Expect we shall have to publish papers about pledges to Arabs. They are quite inconsistent, but luckily they were given by our predecessors.”
27 March 1923 Debate in the
House of Lords
27 March 1923 Debate in the
House of Lords
27 March 1923 Debate in the
House of Lords
GILBERT CLAYTON 12 April 1923 An unofficial note given to Herbert Samuel , described by Samuel in 1937, eight years after Clayton's death "I can bear out the statement that it was never the intention that Palestine should be included in the general pledge given to the Sharif; the introductory words of Sir Henry’s letter were thought at that time—perhaps erroneously—clearly to cover that point."
11 March 1919 Memorandum, 11.3.1919. Lloyd George papers F/205/3/9.
House of Lords.
"We are committed to three distinct policies in
A. We are bound by the principles of the Anglo-French Agreement of 1916 , wherein we renounced any claim to predominant influence in Syria. B. Our agreements with King Hussein... have pledged us to support the establishment of an Arab state, or confederation of states, from which we cannot exclude the purely Arab portions of Syria and Palestine. C. We have definitely given our support to the principle of a Jewish home in Palestine and, although the initial outlines of the Zionist programme have been greatly exceeded by the proposals now laid before the Peace Congress, we are still committed to a large measure of support to Zionism.
The experience of the last few months has made it clear that these three policies are incompatible ... "
LORD PASSFIELD , SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES 25 July 1930 Memorandum to Cabinet: "Palestine: McMahon Correspondence" “The question whether Palestine was included within the boundaries of the proposed Arab State is in itself extremely complicated. From an examination of Mr. Childs’s able arguments, I have formed the judgement that there is a fair case for saying that Sir H. McMahon did not commit His Majesty’s Government in this sense. But I also have come to the conclusion that there is much to be said on both sides and that the matter is one for the eventual judgement of the historian, and not one in which a simple, plain and convincing statement can be made.”
DRUMMOND SHIELS , UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES 1 August 1930 House of Commons debate His Majesty's Government have been impressed by the feeling shown in the House of Commons on various occasions, and especially in the debate on the Adjournment on the 7th May, with regard to the correspondence which took place in 1915–16 between Sir Henry McMahon and the Sherif Husein of Mecca. They have, therefore, thought it necessary to re-examine this correspondence fully in the light of the history of the period and the interpretations which have been put upon it. There are still valid reasons, entirely unconnected with the question of Palestine, which render it in the highest degree undesirable in the public interest to publish the correspondence. These reasons may be expected to retain their force for many years to come. There are not sufficient grounds for holding that by this correspondence His Majesty's Government intended to pledge themselves, or did, in fact, pledge themselves, to the inclusion of Palestine in the projected Arab State. Sir H. McMahon has himself denied that this was his intention. The ambiguous and inconclusive nature of the correspondence may well, however, have left an impression among those who were aware of the correspondence that His Majesty's Government had such an intention.
W. J. CHILDS, OF THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE 24 October 1930 Memorandum on the Exclusion of Palestine from the Area assigned for Arab Independence by McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1915-16 Interpreted Palestine as being excluded from the Arab area:
“...the interests of France so reserved in Palestine must be taken as represented by the origins French claim to possession of the whole of Palestine. And, therefore, that the general reservation of French interests is sufficient by itself to exclude Palestine from the Arab area.”
REGINALD COUPLAND , COMMISSIONER ON THE PALESTINE ROYAL COMMISSION 5 May 1937 Explanation to the Foreign Office regarding the Commission’s abstention "a reason why the Commission did not intend to pronounce upon Sir H. McMahon’s pledge was that in everything else their report was unanimous, but that upon this point they would be unlikely to prove unanimous."
GEORGE WILLIAM RENDEL , HEAD OF THE EASTERN DEPARTMENT OF THE FOREIGN OFFICE 26 July 1937 Minute commenting on McMahon’s 23 July 1937 letter "My own impression from reading the correspondence has always been that it is stretching the interpretation of our caveat almost to breaking point to say that we definitely did not include Palestine, and the short answer is that if we did not want to include Palestine, we might have said so in terms, instead of referring vaguely to areas west of Damascus, and to extremely shadowy arrangements with the French, which in any case ceased to be operative shortly afterwards... It would be far better to recognise and admit that H.M.G. made a mistake and gave flatly contradictory promises - which is of course the fact."
LORD HALIFAX , FOREIGN SECRETARY January 1939 Memorandum on Palestine: Legal Arguments Likely to be Advanced by Arab Representatives "...it is important to emphasise the weak points in His Majesty's Governments case, e.g. :—
* (i) the fact that the word "district" is applied not only to Damascus, border:solid #aaa 1px">
* Military history of the
* ^ William Mathew observed that "The issue remains a contentious
one in the historical literature (notably in the contrasting analyses
of Elie Kedourie, on the exculpatory side, and
* ^ Lansing wrote: If the advocates of the system intended to avoid
through its operation the appearance of taking enemy territory as the
spoils of war, it was a subterfuge which deceived no one. It seemed
obvious from the very first that the Powers, which under the old
practice would have obtained sovereignty over certain conquered
territories, would not be denied mandates over those territories. The
League of Nations might reserve in the mandate a right of supervision
of administration and even of revocation of authority, but that right
would be nominal and of little, if any, real value provided the
mandatory was one of the Great Powers as it undoubtedly would be. The
almost irresistible conclusion is that the protagonists of the theory
saw in it a means of clothing the League of Nations with an apparent
usefulness which justified the League by making it the guardian of
uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples and the international agent to
watch over and prevent any deviation from the principle of equality in
the commercial and industrial development of the mandated territories.
It may appear surprising that the Great Powers so readily gave their
support to the new method of obtaining an apparently limited control
over the conquered territories, and did not seek to obtain complete
sovereignty over them. It is not necessary to look far for a
sufficient and very practical reason. If the colonial possessions of
Germany had, under the old practice, been divided among the victorious
Powers and been ceded to them directly in full sovereignty, Germany
might justly have asked that the value of such territorial cessions be
applied on any war indemnities to which the Powers were entitled. On
the other hand, the League of Nations in the distribution of mandates
would presumably do so in the interests of the inhabitants of the
colonies and the mandates would be accepted by the Powers as a duty
and not to obtain new possessions. Thus under the mandatory system
Germany lost her territorial assets, which might have greatly reduced
her financial debt to the Allies, while the latter obtained the German
colonial possessions without the loss of any of their claims for
indemnity. In actual operation the apparent altruism of the mandatory
system worked in favor of the selfish and material interests of the
Powers which accepted the mandates. And the same may be said of the
dismemberment of Turkey. It should not be a matter of surprise,
therefore, that the President found little opposition to the adoption
of his theory, or, to be more accurate, of the Smuts theory, on the
part of the European statesmen. * ^
* Allawi, Ali A. (2014). Faisal I of Iraq. Yale University Press. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-0-300-19936-9 . * Antonius, George (1938). The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement. Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 9780710306739 . * Biger, Gideon (2004). The Boundaries of Modern Palestine, 1840-1947. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-7146-5654-0 . * Choueiri, Youssef M. (2000). Arab Nationalism: A History. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21729-0 * Cleveland, William L. (2004). A History of the Modern Middle East. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-4048-9 (see pp. 157–160). * Federal Research Division (2004). Syria: A Country Study. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4191-5022-7 * Friedman, Isaiah (1973). The Question of Palestine: British-Jewish-Arab Relations, 1914–1918. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4128-3868-9 . * Friedman, Isaiah (2000). Palestine, a Twice-Promised Land: The British, the Arabs & Zionism : 1915–1920. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4128-3044-7 . * Hughes, Matthew (1999). Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917–1919. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-4920-1 * Huneidi, Sahar (2001). A Broken Trust: Sir Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians. I.B.Tauris. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-86064-172-5 . * Kedouri, Elie (2014). In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth: The McMahon-Husayn Correspondence and Its Interpretations 1914-1939. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-30842-1 . * Kattan, Victor (June 2009). From coexistence to conquest: international law and the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict, 1891–1949. Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-7453-2579-8 . * Mansfield, Peter (2004). A History of the Middle East. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-303433-2 (see pp. 154–155). * Milton-Edwards, Beverley (2006). Contemporary Politics in the Middle East. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-7456-3594-6 * Paris, Timothy J. (2003), Britain, the Hashemites, and Arab Rule, 1920-1925: The Sherifian Solution, Frank Cass, ISBN 978-0-7146-5451-5
* Schneer, Jonathan (2010). The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of
the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6532-5 .
* Toynbee, Arnold; Friedman, Isaiah (1970). "The McMahon-Hussein
Correspondence: Comments and a Reply" (PDF). Journal of Contemporary
History. 5 (4): 185–201.
* ^ A B Antonius 1938 , p. 169.
* ^ Kedouri 2014 , p. 3.
* ^ A B C Huneidi 2001 , p. 65.
* ^ Kattan 2009 , p. 101.
* ^ A B Huneidi 2001 , pp. 65–70.
* ^ Mathew 2011 , pp. 26–42.
* ^ Antonius 1938 , p. 180.
* ^ Peel 1937 , p. 16–22 (Chap. II.1).
* ^ A B C D Arab-British Committee 1939 .
* ^ Hurewitz 1979 , p. 46.
* ^ Yesilyurt 2006 , p. 106-107.
* ^ Yesilyurt 2006 , p. 107-108.
* ^ "IBS No. 94 - Jordan (JO) ">(PDF). p. 7–8. Retrieved
* ^ A B C Paris 2003 , p. 24.
* ^ Biger 2004 , p. 47.
* ^ Kedouri 2014 , p. 120.
* ^ Lieshout 2016 , p. 88.
* ^ Kedouri 2014 , p. 246.
* ^ A B Kattan 2009 , p. 98.
* ^ \'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24,
1919, page 7\'
* ^ A B Biger 2004 , p. 48.
* ^ A B Waïl S. Hassan "Lawrence, T. E." The Oxford Encyclopedia
of British Literature. David Scott Kastan. Oxford University Press
* ^ "Arab Revolt" A Dictionary of Contemporary World History. Jan
Palmowski. Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford Reference Online.
Oxford University Press.
* ^ Khalidi, Rashid (1991-01-01). The Origins of Arab Nationalism.
Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231074353 .
* ^ Khouri 1985 .
* ^ Friedman 2000 , p. 328.
* ^ Kedouri 2014 , p. 257.
* ^ Smith 1993 , p. 53-55.
* ^ A B Huneidi 2001 , p. 66.
* ^ Friedman 2000 , p. 195–197.
* ^ Choueiri, 2000, p. 149.
* ^ Arab-British Committee 1939 , p. Annex H.
* ^ Arab-British Committee 1939 , p. Annex I.
* ^ Hughes, 1999, pp. 116–117.
* ^ "DESIRES OF HEDJAZ STIR PARIS CRITICS; Arab Kingdom\'s
Aspirations Clash with French Aims in Asia Minor. PRINCE BEFORE
CONFERENCE Feisal\'s Presentation of His Case will Probably Be
Referred to a
* v * t * e
Key documents of Mandatory Palestine