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assumed for the benefit of the United States and "is of a nature to give every reassurance to the American Government."
He adds that the new regime in Syria will later be supplanted by “a definitive regime to be established by treaty. I can already now give you the assurance that when the negotiations for that treaty take place full account will be taken of the rights conferred upon the United States by the above mentioned convention", i. e., our treaty of 1924.
He states he informed the Syrian Government of my note. I am giving a copy of his reply to the British. Repeated to London.
8900.00/865 : Telegram The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, October 24, 1941–9 a. m.
[Received October 25—2:18 p. m.] 426. Department's 186, October 13. A personal letter in the sense suggested was on October 15th addressed to Fayez El Khouri the official in question. On October 22 he came to Beirut to call on me and told me on behalf of President Taj-ed-Din that they were just a little disappointed in Damascus that the American Government was apparently not yet prepared to give the new regime in Syria its blessing. Incidentally he informed me that the contents of my note of October 8th to Catroux had not yet been brought to the attention of Syrian authorities although as stated in my 405, October 8, the General had promised me to do so.
I explained to him the point of view of the Department very frankly but as kindly as I could and stressed the fact that in principle of course the Government of the United States had always favored the legitimate aspirations to independence of the Levant States.
Fayez el Khouri then declared that President Taj-ed-Din authorized him to state the Syrian Government was quite willing to assure the United States officially and formally that all present American treaty rights would be fully respected pending negotiation of a fresh treaty and the definite abolition of the mandate.
I reported this conversation to General Spears 51 and asked him what the attitude of the Foreign Office was toward the new regime in Syria. He informs me today that the British Government is about to recognize the Syrian authorities and that similar action by the United States would of course enormously strengthen the position of these authorities and would have a stabilizing effect throughout the Middle East.
5 Maj. Gen. Edward L. Spears, head of British Mission to Syria.
Please refer in this connection to my telegram 192, June 5.52
I understand that General Catroux is contemplating the creation also of an independent Lebanese Government in the immediate future.
The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, October 30, 1941–11 a. m.
[Received October 30–8:44 a. m.] 434. My 432, October 29; 433, October 30;53 and referring once more to paragraph 4 of my 426, October 24. General Spears has just shown me a telegram from his Foreign Office stating that the British Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to inform the Department that it would welcome the recognition of Syria by the United States. Spears was instructed to tell me privately the Foreign Office hoped I would find it possible on my part to recommend that such recognition by the United States be accorded. I said I had kept the Department currently informed of developments in the Levant and the Department's 182, October 6, on which I based my note of October 8 of which I had given him a copy, represented for the moment the only expression of the Department's views I had so far received.
The Department may wish to consider among others the following points in arriving at a decision.
(1) We should first of all feel reasonably sure that British Government is determined and prepared to defend Syria at all costs.
(2) Assuming that this is case our recognition would of course be of tremendous help to Allies and would thus [be] welcome part of general war effort to defeat Axis.
(3) It would strengthen the moderate elements both in Syria and Lebanon who are genuinely pro-American and in sympathy with Allied war aims and would have a steadying influence on entire Arab world.
(4) It would discourage all German sympathizers who are still trying to cause confusion and embarrassment and who are potential fifth columnists behind Allied forces.
(5) It would discredit German defeatist propaganda and correspondingly instill greater confidence among the people that United States will continue to back Britain to limit.
(6) It would facilitate from military point of view all preparations and arrangements which might eventually become necessary in connection with American interest in establishment of powerful battle front in Middle East.
(7) It should also have beneficial effect on British-Free French relations which at present leave much to be desired.
59 Ante, p. 721. 53 Neither printed.
(8) As regards adequate safeguarding of our treaty rights it would seem that not only Syrian Government but also British and Free French would be quite prepared to give us any guarantees we might desire.
Department may perhaps wish to ask me specific questions.
Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. George V. Allen of the
Division of Near Eastern Affairs
[WASHINGTON,] October 30, 1941. Participants: Mr. Barclay, Second Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. Murray 54
Mr. Barclay said that the Embassy had received instructions from the British Government to point out that a recognition of Syrian independence by the United States would have a considerable stabilizing effect in the Near East and would strengthen the position of Great Britain and her allies throughout the Arab countries.
Mr. Murray suggested to Mr. Barclay that the recognition of Syrian independence by this Government presented a good many technical and political considerations which he thought would need clarification before action could be taken by this Government. In the first place, he pointed out that the rights pertaining to the United States and its Nationals in Syria were derived from a formal treaty between the United States and France signed in 1924, consent to the ratification of which was accorded by the United States Senate. Mr. Murray said that under American constitutional procedure these rights could not be given up by executive action alone, and that recognition of Syrian independence, unaccompanied by a new treaty making provision regarding those rights, might jeopardize these rights.
Mr. Murray pointed out that our position with regard to recognizing the independence of Syria was also different from that of Great Britain, since we still maintained diplomatic relations with Vichy.
54 Wallace Murray, Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. 55 Paul H. Alling, Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. 5 British Ambassador.
Mr. Barclay said that the Secretary had mentioned this phase of the subject to Lord Halifax.
Mr. Barclay was asked whether he had any further information regarding the exchange of letters which took place on August 7, 1941, between Mr. Lyttelton and General Catroux, in which Mr. Lyttelton stated on behalf of the British Government that when the independence of Syria and Lebanon has been granted “we freely admit that France should have the predominant position in Syria and Lebaron over any other European Power”. In replying to this letter, General de Gaulle took note of the British renewed assurances that Great Britain admitted as a basic principle the "preeminent and privileged” position of France when Syria and Lebanon shall have attained independence. Mr. Barclay said that he presumed this promise of a continuing preeminent position for France referred only to military matters, and would be similar to the position held by Great Britain in Iraq following the granting of independence to that country in 1932. Mr. Murray said that he was afraid that the Free French might have in mind a more extensively preeminent position, relating possibly to commercial, cultural and political privileges in addition to military privileges. Mr. Barclay agreed that the position to be held by France in Syriả needed clarification, but pointed out that the preeminent position of Great Britain in Iraq following the independence of that country had extended only to the right to maintain troops there and did not include any commercial or other privileges. He said he felt certain that no more than military privileges were intended for France in Syria.
It was pointed out to Mr. Barclay that according to information we have received from Beirut, the Turkish Government has announced its decision not to recognize the independence of Syria, on the grounds that Turkey did not desire to recognize independence conferred by a belligerent government. Mr. Barclay said that he was not aware of this development and thought that his Government, in view of its treaty relations with Turkey, should look into the matter at once.
During the conversation, it was suggested to Mr. Barclay that his Government itself might derive some benefit by the adoption of a careful policy by the United States with regard to Syrian independence. It was suggested that Great Britain, because of the international situation at the moment, may have considered it necessary to make concessions to de Gaulle and did not feel in a position to demand a specific description of the special rights which France would enjoy following independence. The United States, however, was under no embarrassment in this respect, and the British might welcome insistence on our part that the continuing privileges of France in the area be clarified. At any rate, the American Govern
ment would doubtless require such clarification before taking action in the matter of recognizing Syrian independence under the present arrangements.
Mr. Barclay was asked whether his Government had indicated an appreciation of the effect which a recognition of the termination of the mandate in Syria might have on the Palestine situation. Mr. Barclay said that he felt certain his Government had this prominently in mind. He thought that while the Jews in Palestine might object to the British Government's action in having agreed to the termination of the Syrian Mandate without having first adequately safeguarded the position of non-Arab peoples in the area, the Jewish displeasure would be offset by the very great pleasure with which all Arabs would welcome the independence of Syria. Mr. Alling pointed out that the Jewish question was one which the American Government wished to bear prominently in mind. Mr. Murray said that he was not certain the Arabs would be so enthusiastic about the so-called "independence” of Syria when they realized the full implications of the reservations made on behalf of France.
In leaving, Mr. Barclay said that he would report to his Government that the constitutional procedure with regard to the relinquishment of American treaty rights complicated the question of the recognition of Syrian independence by this country, and that the American Government would also doubtless desire further clarification of the position to be held by France after independence is granted.
890E.01/98: Telegram The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, October 31, 1941—8 a.m.
[Received November 1–10:19 a. m.] 435. I have been shown in confidence an advance copy of the proclamation which General Catroux proposes to address to the Lebanese people in about a week. It resembles very closely his proclamation to the Syrians, reported in my 381, September 28, but stresses France's “tutelary duties” and states that in recognizing the independence of Lebanon France does not renounce either her “tutelary friendship” or the privileged position which she acquired here in the course of centuries. He adds that French assistance will be granted in the spirit of the Treaty of Alliance and Friendship of 1936 “which has received the unanimous approval of Lebanese opinion”.
Due no doubt to our representations of October 8 the clause quoted in numbered paragraph 3 of my 381 has been amplified to read “rights and obligations deriving from international conventions and instru