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complexity of the daily contacts between the British and French political and military authorities in the Levant States can in the near future be expected to become less acute.


740.0011 European War 1939/14203: Telegram

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

BEIRUT, August 20, 1941-6 p. m. [Received August 21-4: 03 p. m.] 336. My 332, August 15, 11 a. m. Following upon the exchange of letters the British turned over to the French such administrative control in Syria and Lebanon, including public security, intelligence service, censorship, et cetera, as they were still exercising. But what is more serious the British have now also given the French complete military control south of a line running roughly east from Latakia though excluding the Syrian desert.

No publicity has been given to these latest concessions but in discussing them with me a senior British officer said he was told in high quarters in Cairo a few days ago that they had been made "in deference to the wishes of the American Government". I said I felt quite sure my Government had never expressed any wishes in the matter and that it would be interesting to trace the statement to its source.

I consider the question of some importance because the concessions made to the French-especially intelligence service and military control of south Syria-are far wider than anticipated or believed necessary. Considering that a great many Vichy French are still in the country and may remain even in official positions without declaring themselves for Free France, not to mention doubtful or unfriendly native elements, the danger in an emergency becomes a very real one. A report, therefore, that the United States had induced the British Government to surrender rights which the British military believed necessary for their safety would be calculated to cause uneasiness among the British and may perhaps even be the result of local German propaganda which is still quite active. Repeated to Cairo.

740.0011 European War 1939/14323: Telegram


The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, August 23, 1941-8 p. m. [Received August 24-11:40 p. m.]

1218. Beirut's No. 336, August 20, 6 p. m., to the Department. An official of the British Embassy, who has been intimately connected

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with the elaboration of British policy in respect of Syria and who recently accompanied Lyttelton to Syria, states that the allegation of the senior officer mentioned in the telegram under reference has absolutely no basis in fact insofar as British policy in Syria is concerned, and furthermore that he knows of no circumstance which could have been so misconstrued as to give such an impression. He added he would look into the matter with a view to ascertaining if possible the source of this false report and to taking appropriate steps to check its propagation.

Repeated to Beirut.


740.0011 European War 1939/14800: Telegram

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

BEIRUT, September 8, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 1:45 p. m.]

354. I learn from an authoritative source that the arrangements between the British and the Free French referred to in the first paragraph of my 336, August 20, 6 p. m., provides that the French shall be paramount in all matters concerning civilian administration, with the support whenever necessary of the British military authorities, both in Syria and in the Lebanon.

However, north and east of a line running from Latakia to Aleppo, thence via Kariatine and Sababiar to the junction of the Iraq, Syria and trans-Jordan boundaries, the internal security will be the responsibility of the British military authorities although when possible the French administration will be used to implement such security measures as may be necessary.

I understand that in the above so-called frontier zone, the requirements of the British military commander will be considered paramount. But in order to maintain the closest possible liaison with the Free French, even he will work through the French civil administration. Should this fail he will make a demand and if the French authorities decline or are unable to implement his wishes, he will report to headquarters and immediate steps will be taken to have his orders enforced.

Repeated to London. Code texts by mail to Ankara, Baghdad, Cairo, Jerusalem.


IV. Refusal of the United States To Recognize New Regimes Established by the Free French in Syria and Lebanon; Reservation of American Treaty Rights

890D.01/420a Supplemental

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

No. 433

WASHINGTON, August 7, 1941. SIR: The Department has been informed that negotiations have been or are about to be initiated by the British authorities in Beirut, looking towards the establishment of independent governments in Syria and the Lebanon. In this connection, there is enclosed herewith a copy of an instruction which was sent to the American Ambassador at Paris on August 4, 1936,89 when treaty negotiations were in progress between the French Government and representatives of Syria and the Lebanon regarding the independence of those mandated territories. The American Government maintains the attitude set forth at that time concerning the necessity for the adequate safeguarding of existing American treaty rights in any arrangements which may be made for the independence of the areas concerned. 7

The Department has no reason to believe that the authorities now in control in Syria and Lebanon will fail to respect the full rights which the American Government enjoys with respect to Syria and Lebanon by virtue of the American-French Convention of April 4, 1924.40 Furthermore, the Department is confident that those authorities will bear in mind the fact that no modification in the terms of the Mandate, including termination thereof of course, will affect existing American treaty rights in the area unless such modification has been assented to by the United States.

You are requested to discuss the matter with the British Foreign Office and to inquire what arrangements the British Government contemplates with respect to consultation with the United States concerning the termination of the Mandate.

A copy of this instruction is being forwarded to the American Consul General at Beirut for his information.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:

39 Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. III, p. 496.

40 Ibid., 1924, vol. I, p. 741.


890D.01/526: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, August 22, 1941-midnight. [Received August 22-6: 52 a. m.]

3822. Department's instruction No. 433, August 7. Foreign Office states orally that negotiations looking towards the establishment independent governments in Syria and the Lebanon will be undertaken solely by the Free French authorities. The British Government will not take part in the negotiations but would be pleased to make on our behalf any representations to the Free French that we may desire. Such representations would probably be made through the British Minister of State in the Middle East.11


890D.00/852: Telegram

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

BEIRUT, September 28, 1941-10 p. m. [Received September 29-11:30 a. m.]

381. My 376, September 22, 9 a. m.2 The first President of independent Syria Sheik Taj-ed-Din el Hassani, was yesterday inaugurated at Damascus. General Catroux 43 read a proclamation from which I summarize the following points.

1. 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.

2. Its position as ally of Free France and of Great Britain requires close conformity of its policy with that of the Allies.

3. "By assuming independent international life Syria assumes of course the rights and obligations heretofore subscribed to in its name."

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Free France favors closer ties between the different parts of Syria and will therefore modify the special status of certain regions

41 Oliver Lyttelton.

43 Not printed.


Gen. Georges Catroux, Free French Delegate General and Plenipotentiary in Syria and Lebanon.

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).

7. It is understood that all guarantees under public law in favor of individuals and religious communities will be respected.

8. Free France will assist in establishing better economic collaboration between Syria and the Lebanon.

9. 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. 10. 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.

11. 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.

890E.05/3: Telegram


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

BEIRUT, October 2, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 1: 13 p. m.]

392. Decree No. 242 dated September 26th signed by General Catroux published today modifies temporarily many provisions of Decree No. 324, November 22, 1939, relative to the organization of the Mixed Courts in the Lebanon. Principal changes are to the effect that a majority of French judges is no longer necessary in any court and in some of them the judges may be either French or Lebanese. Prerogatives of the Inspector-General are now delegated to the Chief of the Lebanese State or to the Under Secretary of Justice.

A similar Decree modifying the composition of the Mixed Courts in Syria, No. 96 dated August 18, 1941, is now en route with my despatch No. 132, August 22.44 It modified Decree No. 316, December 2, 1940, and referred to Decree No. 290, October 19, 1939.

"Not printed.

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