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ments concluded by France regarding it, i. e., Lebanon, or in its name".

Catroux also emphasizes necessity that all regions and all creeds be assured equitable representation in the Lebanese Government both in high offices and in the administrative services in general. Equality of civil and political rights of all its nationals “without distinctions whatever” must be guaranteed.

The presidency has been offered to Alfred Naccache who is now head of the state and he has accepted.


890E.01/100: Telegram

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

BEIRUT, November 9, 1941–11 a. m.

[Received 3:48 p. m.] 443. My 441, November 7.57 General Catroux sent for me last night and showed me the text of the proposed proclamation which I had already been shown by the British (see my 435, October 31). He then let me read revised text which he had prepared after consultation with the British but which he said still contained certain clauses or phrases to which the British objected. The whole question had now been referred to London to be threshed out between De Gaulle and Eden.58

Catroux said the British were unreasonable in their attitude and obviously tried to reduce or even hoped to eliminate French influence in the Levant States. That he could not permit, nor would he yield to some of the veiled threats General Spears had uttered. I laughed and said he talked just like De Gaulle and I was therefore obliged to tell him exactly what I had said to the latter. I then repeated the substance of my remarks to De Gaulle when I last saw him in Beirut as reported in the second half of my telegram 323, August 5, 11 p. m.59 I added that during the past 3 months I had had ample opportunities of watching Anglo-Free French relations and was more than ever convinced that the problem was psychological rather than political. So long as the Free French suspected the British of intriguing and of wishing to harm French interests it would be difficult to bring about the whole-hearted cooperation which the security of Syria demanded. Moreover, everything that could be interpreted as an indication that the Free French did not trust their British allies was encouraging the pro-Axis sympathizers among the natives and was facilitating Nazi

B7 Not printed.
58 Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Ante, p. 780.


propaganda. The American Government and people had complete confidence in the good faith of the British Government in its epic struggle for the preservation of civilization and I ventured to hope that the Free French would give proof of similar confidence by not hampering the British war effort with insistence on relatively minor matters.

Catroux replied he personally quite agreed that the British were not as unscrupulous as some people thought but he had found it difficult to convince De Gaulle of it. Repeated to London.


890E.01/100: Telegram The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Beirut (Engert)

WASHINGTON, November 13, 1941—7 p. m. 204. Your 434, October 30, 11 a. m., 435, October 31, 8 a. m., and 443, November 9, 11 a. m. For your confidential information, the British Embassy here recently gave oral expression to the hope of the British Government that this Government would formally recognize the independence of Syria, for the reason that our recognition would strengthen the position of Great Britain and her allies in Arab countries and would have a stabilizing effect in the Near East generally.

Response was made that, among other considerations, American treaty rights could not be given up by executive action alone, and that those rights might be jeopardized if Syrian independence were to be recognized unaccompanied by a new treaty. Moreover, we would doubtless require a clarification of the continuing special rights and privileges claimed in Syria by France.

Apparently similar considerations would apply with at least equal force to the question of this Government's recognition of the independence of the Lebanon which presumably will be proclaimed in the near future.

The Department feels that the objects which the British have in mind and which are mentioned in your no. 434 can be attained through the issuance by this Government of a sympathetic public statement prompted by the achievement of independent status by Syria and the Lebanon. The issuance of such a statement, which, however, would not constitute recognition, is contemplated soon after the independence of the Lebanon is proclaimed. The British Embassy will be so informed.


890E.01/101: Telegram

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

BEIRUT, November 13, 1941–10 p.m.

[Received November 14—1:35 p. m.] 449. My 443, November 9. I have just been shown in strict confidence a note dated yesterday which General Catroux is sending to Lyttelton today rejecting two principal British suggestions regarding the proclamation. Incidentally the British observations have been made verbally not in writing.

1. Foreign Office had suggested that reference to the treaty of 1936 be omitted because the Lebanese did not like it and it had never even been ratified by France. Catroux presumably under instructions from de Gaulle states that reference to the treaty is necessary because it satisfies Free France and cannot harm British interests. It confirms “the preeminent and privileged position of France in the Levant, a position which no nation has challenged and which the British Government has recognized as existing and as continuing after the granting of independence.” He then explains that France needs the right to station troops in the country for the protection of Christians and other minorities in Syria and the Lebanon concerning whose fate “America and Great Britain have repeatedly expressed interest.

60 inasmuch as it is inconceivable that Great Britain should wish to question either France's privileged position in the Lebanon or her role as protector of the Christians” there could be no objection to taking the 1936 treaty as a basis.

2. The Foreign Office had objected to the statement that the Lebanon constituted “a politically and territorially indivisible entity whose integrity must be protected against all encroachments.” It feared lest an irrevocable fixing of boundaries cause dissatisfaction in Syria and disturb the relations between Great Britain and the Arab world. Catroux replied that Syrians had been aware of his intention since September 27, 1941, and not a single protest had been received directly or indirectly. A compact Lebanon was necessary for the interests of France and useful to Britain and other western powers as a bridgehead vis-à-vis the independent Mohammedan countries. Moreover, the principle of Lebanese unity was recognized by the mandate which refers to the frontiers established in 1920 "and the Franco-American Convention of April 4, 1924, extended to the Lebanon thus defined the guaranty of the United States.” Syria formally accepted this state of affairs in 1936 and renounced all claims regarding the frontiers of the Lebanon. Furthermore, all difficulties between Syria and the [apparent omission) must be settled “through the medium of France to the exclusion of any other power.” He, therefore, considered the discussion as closed and there was no point in reopening it.

From conversations with General Spears I gather that the British feel several other passages besides those mentioned show a distinct inclination on the part of Free French to perpetuate a tutelary relation

Omission indicated in the original telegram.

ship which might even during the war confine Lebanese collaboration to Free France to the exclusion of Great Britain, the other Allies or the United States. I agree that all unnecessary limitation of Lebanese independence merely to serve French vanity is undesirable and will not only be criticized locally but will be used by Nazi propaganda.

The Department may wish to make some observations regarding the reference to our treaty of 1924 quoted above. Repeated to London. To Cairo by mail.


890D.01/565 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near

Eastern Affairs (Murray)

[WASHINGTON,] November 17, 1941. Subject: Recognition of Independence of Syria. Participants: Mr. Barclay, Second Secretary, British Embassy

Mr. Murray

Mr. Allen Mr. Barclay recalled the observations which had been made to him during his previous visit to the Division regarding the above subject, and said that his Embassy had telegraphed to the British Foreign Office that the State Department was hesitant regarding the formal recognition of Syrian independence due to (1) the legal procedure in the United States with regard to any action which might affect the rights enjoyed by formally ratified treaties and (2) the desire of the Department to have further information regarding the continuing priviledged position of France in Syria after independence had been granted.

Mr. Barclay said that the Embassy had now received a reply by telegram from London on the subject. In this telegram the British Government pointed out that the independent status intended for Syria involved a change in but not a termination of the mandate. As regards American rights in the area, the British Government referred to the fact that Syria acceded naturally to the obligations hitherto assumed in her name.

Mr. Murray said that the statement of the British Government that the present plans for the independence of Syria did not involve a termination of the mandate was surprising. He said that the Department had presumed that the British and Free French authorities intended that the mandate would be considered by them as terminated immediately, and referred to the following statement contained in a letter from General de Gaulle addressed to General Catroux on June 24, 1941 (reported in Beirut's telegram no. 404, October 8, 10 a. m.):

“The mandate for which France was made responsible by the League of Nations in 1924 must come to an end. For this reason you will take as a starting point for the negotiations with the States of the Levant the Treaty of Alliance concluded with them in 1936. I take it upon myself to transmit to the League of Nations at the proper time the substitution in the Levant of the régime of the mandate by a new régime which will be in accordance with the purposes for which the mandate was created."

Mr. Barclay said that the British Embassy, likewise, had not understood clearly whether it was intended to terminate the mandate until the receipt of the recent telegram from London. Mr. Murray said that he thought it possible that the British Government had revised its attitude on further consideration of the matter.

Mr. Murray suggested to Mr. Barclay that he give us an aidemémoire on the subject, setting forth the further observations of the British Government. Mr. Barclay agreed to do so (the aide-mémoire received on November 18 is attached hereto 62).



The British Embassy to the Department of State


His Majesty's Embassy understand that the Free French Headquarters in London are keeping Mr. Biddle informed about affairs in Syria, and also about the Lebanese declaration of Independence which is expected to be made in the very near future. General Catroux has also informed the United States Consul General at Beirut of the proposed Lebanese declaration.

2. From these declarations the United States Government will see that the creation and recognition of an independent Syrian Government involves a change in but not a termination of the Mandate in toto, nor does it involve a termination of French responsibilities. It puts Syria in a position analogous to that of Iraq before the last AngloIraqi Treaty of Alliance 63 and before Iraq became a member of the League. Iraq was at that time recognized as an independent Government but His Majesty's Government nevertheless retained mandatory responsibilities which were not terminated until Iraq's admission to the League.

62 Infra.

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Signed at Baghdad, June 30, 1930, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. CXXXII, p. 363.

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