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Middle Eastern Studies,

Vol. 46, No. 6, 791899, November 2010

The Missing Dimension: Britains Secret


War against France in Syria and
Lebanon, 194245 Part II
MEIR ZAMIR
This article is dedicated to the memory of Elie Kedourie who, without the benet of
secret documents, understood the workings of the Middle East.

On 22 May 1945 Shukri al-Quwatlis closest aides gathered around his sickbed in the
presidential palace in Damascus. The Syrian President, suering from an acute ulcer
attack, had been unable to perform his duties for several days. In Damascus and
other Syrian cities clashes had broken out between demonstrators and members of
the Syrian gendarmerie, the French army and the Troupes Speciales. The French
appeared ready to use force against Quwatli and his cabinet as they had against
Faisals government in Damascus in July 1920 and against the Lebanese government
in November 1943. His political rival Foreign Minister Jamil Mardam, now Acting
Prime Minister was openly voicing his intentions to replace him. Even his most
loyal lieutenant, Interior Minister Sabri al-Asali, with other members of the Cabinet,
supported Mardams provocations of the French. But what worried him most was
Britains ambiguous stand: Edward Grigg, Minister Resident in the Middle East,
who visited him in Damascus, and the British Ambassador, Terence Shone, had
refused to assure him that the British Ninth Army, stationed in Syria and Lebanon,
would intervene to defend him and his ministers in the event of a French
attack (Docs.678). The English, Quwatli suspected, had given Mardam, their
trusted collaborator, the green light to depose him. He realized that reneging on his
secret deal with the English and the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Said, three
years previously would cost him dearly. Then he had agreed to incorporate Syria in
an Iraqi-led Hashemite confederation in return for Britains secret support in
evicting France from Syria and Lebanon and securing for himself the Syrian
presidency. He told his aides that the British are very egoistic and it is impossible to
rely on them as they shift their position according to their interests, which every day
take on a new twist. In contrast, the Americans are honest and today are the Arabs
best friends. Earlier that day the American Ambassador, George Wadsworth, had
visited him. At Quwatlis request, Wadsworth had jotted down that the United
States supports Syrias struggle for independence from colonial rule.
ISSN 0026-3206 Print/1743-7881 Online/10/060791-109 2010 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/00263206.2010.520412

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M. Zamir

Agent no. 325 included these details in reports sent to his controller, Colonel
Walter Stirling of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) also known as MI6
who acted as an undercover liaison ocer between the Ninth Army and Quwatli.
The agent, Dr. Muhsin al-Barazi, Secretary-General of the Presidents Oce, had
earlier been recruited by the SIS. His reports, like those of other agents, some of
whom held high positions in the Syrian government, were sent to the British
Legation in Beirut (also known as the Spears Mission) where the British
consulate and oces of several British intelligence agencies were located
(Docs.689). A few days later, a French secret agent working in the British Legation
would send copies of these reports, together with many other secret documents
received from London, Cairo where the oce of the Minister Resident in the
Middle East was and other British embassies in the region, to the French military
intelligence headquarters in Beirut. The French intelligence service had also recruited
informers in the oces of the Syrian presidency, the government and the Foreign
Ministry. These informers passed on copies of secret documents, which, promptly
translated in Beirut from English and Arabic into French, were sent within days via
special courier to General Charles de Gaulle, President of the Provisional
Government in Paris.
The clash between de Gaulle and Winston Churchill in the Levant during the
Second World War has generated numerous studies because of the personalities
involved and its long-term repercussions on Anglo-French relations. No evidence
could be found to back de Gaulles accusations, repeated in his memoirs, that
Churchills government deliberately engineered the crisis in Syria in the summer of
1945 to force France out of its mandated territories of Syria and Lebanon. Secret
British and Syrian documents uncovered recently in French archives reveal that de
Gaulles allegations were in fact justied, but he was unable to reveal his sources or
prevent his countrys expulsion from Syria and Lebanon. De Gaulle never forgave
Britain for this most humiliating experience of his long career, and, once elected as
President of the Fifth Republic, he took his revenge.1
In the early 1980s, the British historians Christopher Andrew and David Dilks
warned of the risk in ignoring or downplaying the role of secret intelligence in
international relations. Dening it as the missing dimension, they stressed that the
danger in any missing historical dimension is that its absence may distort our
understanding of other accessible dimensions.2 Details gleaned from top-secret
British and Syrian documents obtained by French Intelligence can indeed be
regarded as missing dimensions in our understanding of the end of the Second World
War and the early years of the Cold War in the Middle East. A re-evaluation is
necessary, not only of the end of the French mandate in the Levant and Syrias
independence, addressed in this article, but of other major issues, such as the making
of the Arab League, the beginning of the Cold War in the region and the question of
Palestine. This has now become possible using hitherto inaccessible secret British and
Arab documents.
One major issue that warrants examination is Britains use of its intelligence
agencies to retain its hold over the Middle East during and after the war. It can now
be established that despite its declared policy of post-war decolonization, Britain
viewed intelligence as essential in maintaining its interests there.3 Confronted with
growing Arab nationalist opposition and international denunciation of its hegemony

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in the region, Britain rst under the Conservatives and later the Labour Party
increasingly resorted to covert action, including political subversion and bribing key
Arab politicians, to safeguard its vital strategic and economic interests in the Middle
East. Unable to reconcile its multiple interests because of intense rivalries between
prominent Arab leaders, such methods provided great exibility. Britain could
declare neutrality towards the three Arab dynasties while its secret agents and
diplomats backed the Hashemites against their rivals Kings Faruq of Egypt and
Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. It highlighted its role as mediator in the conict between
France and Syria, while its agents worked behind the scenes to expel France from
Syria and Lebanon and incorporate the two countries within its own sphere of
inuence.
Such methods were employed in Britains attempts to integrate Syria in a Greater
Syria or Fertile Crescent Confederation dominated by Iraq, to ensure the Arab
leaders collaboration even after independence, in its economic rivalry with the
United States, especially over oil, and in preventing Soviet entry into the region. One
of the ndings the documents reveal is that the Cold War began in the Middle East
earlier than previously assumed. Covert action was also used against the Zionists in
Palestine and their escalating terrorism, especially following the assassination of
Lord Moyne, the Minister Resident in the Middle East, in November 1944 by two
members of a Zionist underground movement.4
Covert warfare can be eective while under wraps; if it fails, the initiator can deny
responsibility. But it can backre if the intended target becomes aware of it. This
happened with de Gaulle, whose discovery of Britains betrayal in the Levant was to
poison his relations with London. Despite his failure to prevent his countrys
expulsion, he used information obtained by his intelligence sources to ght his own
clandestine war against Britain in the Middle East. An examination of this war is
beyond the scope of this article; it suces to point out that it played a part in
undermining Britains eorts to incorporate Syria in a Hashemite federation by
revealing details of its double game to King Faruq and King Ibn Saud, thereby
exacerbating its relations with the two monarchs. After the summer of 1945, the
French also passed on information obtained by their agents about Britains duplicity
towards the Zionist movement to David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Shertok, heads of
the Jewish Agency. Secret Franco-Zionist intelligence collaboration against Britain
solidied in April 1946 and continued under the Fourth Republic, culminating
during the 1948 war in Palestine.5
The documents uncovered in the French archives oer a unique insight into the
secret activities of the British intelligence agencies in the Middle East during and
after the war. For the rst time, we have direct access to uncensored SIS documents
that shed light on recruitment methods, names of intelligence ocers and agents and
the type of information required of them. They also give details of the extensive use
of bribery conducted mostly by ocers of the Special Operations Executive (SOE)
of prominent Lebanese and Syrian politicians.6 Obtaining accurate political
intelligence on ruling Arab elites became a major goal of the various British
intelligence agencies. Arab monarchs, presidents and prime ministers were encircled
by informers who provided intelligence ocers with ongoing details of their views
and activities, as well as their mutual relations. Informers were recruited from
politicians, top ocials and advisers, and even included a personal physician Ibn

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Sauds doctor whose controller was Walter Smart, attached to the British Embassy
in Cairo under the guise of Oriental Secretary. Smart, Kinahan Cornwallis, the
Ambassador in Baghdad, Alec Kirkbride, the Minister in Amman, and Shone
illustrate that the line between diplomat and intelligence ocer was not always clearcut. The rst three were intelligence ocers who became diplomats, while the latter
was a professional diplomat who frequently played the role of intelligence ocer.7
The success of British intelligence in ensuring the collaboration of prominent Arab
leaders during the war enabled Britain to keep its hold over the region despite the
subversion and propaganda of the Axis powers and to indirectly implement policies
serving its interests. Tactics used in Syria and Lebanon to coerce key Arab politicians
into cooperating included political and nancial incentives and political subversion,
or undertaking to assist them against their enemies whether France, the Zionists, or
the Soviet Union. British secret agents and diplomats scored a major success by
securing the covert collaboration of three prominent Arab nationalist leaders Riad
al-Sulh, Shukri al-Quwatli and Jamil Mardam.
French and British sources provide answers to an intriguing question why three
committed Arab nationalists agreed to collaborate with Britain. The experiences of
Sulh, Quwatli and Mardam, all veterans of the Arab Revolt in the First World War
and of Faisals short-lived government in Damascus, shaped their current outlook.
They understood that the destinies of their countries, as well as their own political
futures, depended on choosing correctly from among the warring Great Powers. To
avoid a recurrence of Arab disappointment in the First World War, when Britain
had occupied the Ottoman Syrian provinces only to divide them up, delivering Syria
and Lebanon to France, it was imperative that they align themselves with the Power
that would prevail and impose its post-war settlement over the region. In early 1942,
although Allied victory against the Axis Powers was still far from certain, they
decided to align themselves with Britain, a decision based on their reading of
internal, regional and international conditions. After Britain had established control
over Syria and Lebanon in July 1941, they needed its support to realize their national
and political goals of the end of French rule, independence and national sovereignty,
the restoration of Syrian unity, and their rise to power. Despite the Lytteltonde
Gaulle agreement, in which Great Britain recognized Free Frances predominant
position in Syria and Lebanon, British ocials, especially General Edward Spears,
the British Minister in Syria and Lebanon, let them understand, albeit discreetly,
that Britain would ultimately choose the Arab nationalists in Syria and Lebanon
rather than support Free France once the war in Europe was over. Moreover,
Britains suppression of Rashid Alis pro-Axis coup detat in May 1941 in Iraq and
the Abadin incident in February 1942 in Egypt served as a valuable lesson it
demonstrated Britains resolve to use force against any Arab leader endangering its
vital interests in the region while rewarding those who remained loyal. The British
used the two leaders who had collaborated with them in those incidents Nuri
al-Said and to a lesser extent Mustafa al-Nahas, the Egyptian Prime Minister to
entice Syrian and Lebanese politicians to work with them.8
Sulh was the rst to negotiate secretly. In early March 1941 he met a British agent
and two weeks later sent a letter to Georey Furlonge, a diplomat in the British
Consulate in Beirut, oering to collaborate in order to reach an entente that will
save us from this hell. He also exchanged messages with Nuri al-Said via the Iraqi

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consul in Beirut.9 British and Syrian documents disclose that Sulh coordinated his
policies toward the British with Saadallah al-Jabri, his father-in-law and with
Quwatli, to whom he was ideologically close, both originally being from the Istiqlal
party. Indeed, British ocials later used Sulh as a go-between with Quwatli and
Jabri. As for Mardam, French sources indicate that, while in exile in Baghdad after
being implicated in Abd al-Rahman al-Shahbandars assassination in July 1940, he
received money from the British embassy. In this instance too, Nuri al-Said was
involved.10
Despite Quwatlis anti-British record and his collaboration with German agents,
the British still worked with him. He was an obvious choice: since the spring of 1941
he had established himself as the most prominent leader of the National Bloc and
was popular among the Syrian public. The British preferred him to his rival,
Mardam, who had been much discredited for his failure in the 193639 treaty
negotiations with France and his alleged involvement in Shahbandars assassination.
Moreover, Mardam, known to be an opportunist, maintained cordial relations with
General Georges Catroux, the French Delegate-General in Syria and Lebanon.
Quwatli, with his strong opposition to the Hashemites and close ties to Ibn Saud,
had his drawbacks. But to win British support, he was seemingly willing to put aside
his hostility towards the Hashemites, at least temporarily.11
At the end of December 1941, Quwatli left for Iraq and Saudi Arabia, ostensibly
on a pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In fact his visit had been
arranged by Furlonge to enable him to hold talks in Baghdad with Nuri al-Said and
British ocials. In Baghdad for nine months, he was a guest of the Iraqi government.
Nuri al-Said used Quwatlis close ties with Ibn Saud to send him twice to Riyadh to
mediate between Iraq and the Saudi King. The contents of those messages are not
known, but they might have been part of the Iraqi Prime Ministers eorts to
convince Ibn Saud that his plan for an IraqiSyrian union was not directed at the
house of Saud. In Baghdad, Quwatli met with Cornwallis, a key player in British
eorts to incorporate Syria in a Hashemite federation. Quwatlis future role was
raised by Nuri al-Said at a meeting with Minister of State Oliver Lyttelton in
Baghdad in January 1942. On 6 March Catroux received an unexpected letter from
Antony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, requesting that Quwatli be allowed to
return to Damascus. Edens personal intervention on behalf of a recognized antiFrench Syrian Arab nationalist politician who had collaborated with Nazi Germany
must have appeared unusual to Catroux, then unaware of Quwatlis secret ties with
the British and the Hashemites. He replied that it was inadvisable to allow Quwatli
to return to the mandated territories, but in light of Edens request, he would be
willing to authorize his return. Quwatli, however, remained in Baghdad, returning to
Damascus only in September 1942.12
With Nuri al-Said backing his rival, Mardam sought Mustafa al-Nahas help
to persuade the British and Free French to follow the Egyptian example and
hold elections to facilitate his return to power. In June, accompanied by Beshara
al-Khuri, he went to Cairo, where he met with Nahas and British ocials. His claim
that the British had endorsed his nomination as Prime Minister backred as Spears,
faced with Catrouxs ire, was obliged to disavow him temporarily. But two years
later he became Spears closest collaborator in a joint campaign to evict France from
Syria and Lebanon.13

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Britain upheld the rst part of its secret deals with the three nationalist leaders.
In August 1943, with the help of British ocials working behind the scenes, Quwatli
became the Syrian President, and Mardam the Foreign Minister in Jabris
government, while Sulh was nominated Prime Minister by the newly-elected
Lebanese President, Beshara al-Khuri. However, shortly after his election, Quwatli
attempted to renege on his undertaking. Throughout 1944 and the early months of
1945, British agents and Nuri al-Said tried in vain to pressure him to uphold his
pledges. At stake was not merely Quwatlis personal future, but Syrias very existence
as an independent state.
Nuri al-Saids secret deals with Quwatli and Mardam (Docs.1, 8, 22) in 194244
formed part of the Iraqi Prime Ministers ceaseless struggle to unite Syria and Iraq.
But they also attested to Britains own designs. His role in inter-Arab relations from
the 1930s to the 1950s and in the making of the Arab League has often been
examined.14 His close ties with Britain and his attempts in the 1940s to establish an
Arab union based on a Fertile Crescent Confederation dominated by Iraq are also
well known. But the documents now under review shed new light on his intimate
involvement in Britains secret eorts to reorganize the Middle East for its own ends.
As the front man in Britains strategy, some foreign observers well-acquainted with
the region believed that to uncover Britains true intentions, Nuris policies had to be
closely followed.
Nuri al-Said, a born schemer trusted by British diplomats and senior ocers in
the region who respected his broad outlook on Arab and international aairs, was
perfectly suited to the British tactics of covert action and secret diplomacy. He
regarded politics as an art of intrigue, manoeuvring and outplaying opponents.
Some ocials, such as Cornwallis (Docs.246) Stirling and Kirkbride, had known
him since the First World War, when they had all participated in Lawrences and
Faisals Arab Revolt and in the latters government in Damascus. Others, like
Brigadier Iltyd Clayton, whose brother (Gilbert, Clayton) was General Allenbys
Chief Intelligence Ocer, and Walter Smart, worked closely with him after the war
the former during his long military service in Iraq in the 1920s and 1930s, and
the latter as Oriental Secretary in Cairo. Clayton, who was inuential in shaping
Britains Middle East policy during and after the war, advocated an IraqiSyrian
union (Doc.13).15
After Frances defeat, Nuri al-Said and a powerful group of British ocials
serving in the region believed that Britain should seize the opportunity to amend two
mistakes it had made after the previous war, when, dividing geographical Syria into
four entities, it gave Syria and Lebanon to France and Palestine to the Jews.
Restoring Greater Syria and uniting it with Iraq under British hegemony would solve
two pressing issues: Iraqs instability in the face of internal and external threats, and
the question of Palestine (Docs.2, 45). But there were major obstacles to a Greater
Syria or an IraqiSyrian union: in London, Churchills and Edens reservations had
to be overcome, while in Cairo, British diplomats also had doubts. France had yet to
be expelled from Syria and Lebanon; Syrian nationalist leaders had to be persuaded
to endorse such a union; Amir Abdullah of Transjordan, who harboured his own
designs on the Greater Syrian throne in Damascus, had to give his consent; the
vehement opposition of Ibn Saud and Faruq had to be overcome; and the
Maronites and Zionists had to renounce their goals of separate independent states.16

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And yet, as the annexed documents demonstrate, advocates of the Greater Syria
solution powerful nancial circles in London and agents in the Middle East were
not deterred. Their arguments diered, but the goal was the same: to integrate the
states of the Fertile Crescent in an Arab confederation dominated by Iraq and under
Britains control. Their economic and strategic reasoning was familiar: to solve the
pressing Jewish problem in Palestine within an Arab federation,17 or to present such
a scheme as a response to the spontaneous Arab desire for unity. After Yalta, the
need to counter the Soviet threat in the Middle East constituted another powerful
argument. British debates over reorganizing the Middle East have already been well
researched, but the present documents add a new dimension, revealing the covert
methods and secret diplomacy British diplomats and intelligence agencies used to
implement their schemes.
These debates raise another intriguing question concerning the role of the British
diplomats, members of the intelligence community and top army ocers in the
region in shaping Britains Middle East policy. De Gaulle was adamant in the belief
that Churchill and Eden were fully aware of their representatives deception of
France in Syria and Lebanon. But Georges Bidault, his Foreign Secretary, and
diplomats in the Quai dOrsay and Beirut had their doubts. Britain was indeed
conducting a two-fold policy towards France in the Levant: while Churchill and
Eden in London reiterated that Britain recognized Frances privileged position in
Syria and Lebanon in the Lyttletonde Gaulle agreement and had no intention of
replacing it in the Levant, British ocials there constantly undermined Frances
position and sought to force it out. Spears role illustrates the intricacies of
the British policy. His personal animosity towards de Gaulle and his part in the
Lebanese crisis of November 1943 is well documented. And yet all along he
maintained that he was fullling a mission, as dened by Churchill.18 Besides, the
initiative in early August 1944 to reach a secret agreement with Quwatli (Doc.12),
was taken with the full approval of Lord Moyne, while Spears was in London.
Furthermore, telegrams sent to General Bernard Paget, Commander-in-Chief of the
Allied Forces in the Middle East, by Churchill and Richard Law, Under-Secretary of
State in the Foreign Oce in early June 1945, at the height of the Syrian crisis,
indicate that both Churchill and Eden were, at that stage, directly involved in the
eorts to oust France from the Levant (Docs.8897).
Many veteran British ocials in the Middle East despised the French for what
they regarded as their defeatism and sought to exploit Frances weakness to oust it
from the region. They hoped that Britain would thus be able to reorganize the Fertile
Crescent states under its hegemony. Others, newcomers to the region, such as Spears,
sought to make names for themselves by emulating T.E. Lawrence. The warnings of
diplomats in London and the Middle East that this was a treacherous path went
unheeded. After the Yalta summit in early February 1945, even Churchills and
Edens reservations regarding the expulsion of France were overcome.19
Few of the documents, from Syrian and British sources, annexed to this article,
have been published before. Translated into French by the French intelligence
services, the French versions have been translated into English for the purpose of this
article. Some documents are presented in their original English. Comments added by
the French translators have been retained. The principle guiding their selection was
to shed light on Britains secret war with France in Syria and on the struggle of the

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Syrian National Bloc leaders to liberate their country from France without placing it
under a new foreign rule. Only a small number of the documents on Syrias role in
the making of the Arab League and on the American and Soviet intervention in the
Anglo-FrenchSyrian imbroglio have been reproduced. The documents cover the
period from April 1942, when Quwatli concluded a secret deal with Nuri al-Said
under the watchful eyes of British ocials, until July 1945, and include secret
exchanges of letters between Quwatli and Mardam on the one hand, and
Ambassador Shone and General Paget on the other. Five letters the two Syrian
leaders exchanged with Shone on 29 May 1945, in which they agreed to place their
country under British hegemony and integrate it in a Greater Syria in return for
British military assistance against the French, are of particular interest (Doc.85).
The following analysis is based on the annexed documents, other secret documents
that have not been included, and on additional sources in French and British
archives. Information and comments appended by French intelligence ocers to
some of the documents have also been used. The analysis aims to present the
documents in their internal, regional and international context, focusing on those
deemed more important. The politics practised at the time in the Middle East, devoid
of public, nationalist or patriotic slogans, is revealed in all its ugly detail. The
documents also provide insight into the nature of intelligence warfare and secret
diplomacy. They can be divided into ve groups that reect how the Syrian
nationalist leaders, especially Quwatli and Mardam, contended with covert and
overt Anglo-Iraqi pressure to incorporate Syria in a Hashemite confederation and
their own struggle against France for their countrys independence while locked in
intense personal rivalry at a time when Syria was becoming an arena for an interArab struggle and for the competing Great Powers.
The rst group of documents extends from Quwatlis secret understanding with
Nuri al-Said in April 1942, to the Syro-Saudi agreement in March 1944. In those
two years, Quwatli moved from undertaking to collaborate with Britain and the
Hashemites to reneging on his pledges once elected President (Docs.17). The second
runs from Mardams secret deal with Nuri al-Said in April 1944 to the failure of the
British initiative in AugustSeptember of that year to persuade Quwatli to reach a
tacit agreement. Although threatened by France regaining its position after its
liberation, the Syrian President solidied his alliance with Ibn Saud against
the Hashemites. This culminated in the deliberations at the Arab Preparatory
Conference in Alexandria (Docs.832). The third group runs from January to March
1945. Despite British and Iraqi pressure, Quwatli became a full member of the antiHashemite Triple Alliance together with Kings Faruq and Ibn Saud on the eve of
Roosevelts and Churchills visit to Egypt and before the formation of the Arab
League (Docs.3347). The fourth group dates from AprilMay 1945. Assisted by
Mardam, British agents successfully outplayed de Gaulle and Quwatli (Docs.4884).
The last runs from 29 May until July 1945 when Quwatli was nally pinned down
and agreed to sign a secret agreement with Britain placing Syria under its indirect
inuence. Although de Gaulle knew of Britains anti-French intrigues, he failed to
prevent his countrys humiliating ejection from Syria and Lebanon (Docs.85125).
The NuriQuwatli agreement of April 1942 (Doc.1) was negotiated while Quwatli
was in Baghdad. French sources maintain that British ocials were directly involved
in these negotiations and that Cornwallis sent a copy of the agreement to the British

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799

Legation in Beirut. Quwatli disclosed to a colleague several years later that in


return for his collaboration, British agents had undertaken to ensure his election
as President and to help free Syria and Lebanon from French rule. The second
agreement (Doc.2) was apparently prepared in July 1942, but signed only in
February 1943 by two leading members of the Hashemite family the Regent,
Abdul llah, and Amir Abdallah in addition to Nuri and Quwatli. The agreement
should be seen against the backdrop of four events: the al-Alamein victory, which
removed the military threat of the Axis; Nuris famous letter to Richard Casey, the
Minister Resident in the Middle East, in which, prompted by the British victory, he
laid out his plan for an Arab union; Edens declaration of 24 February endorsing
the idea of Arab unity; and Catrouxs announcement of Free Frances intention to
hold elections in Syria and Lebanon, opening the way for a National Bloc victory
and Quwatlis election as the Syrian President. The February agreement, unlike the
general nature of Nuris Arab unication scheme, as outlined to Casey in his Blue
Book,20 dealt specically with the establishment of Greater Syria. It is evident that
to persuade Quwatli to add his signature the Iraqi premier had to compromise by
agreeing to his unity plan being implemented in stages, and that the wishes of the
peoples of the Syrian regions must be taken into consideration and their interests
must be safeguarded. Judging from the comment he added beneath his signature,
Quwatli continued to harbour reservations. Distrusted by Nuri and British agents,
they wanted him to sign the agreement before becoming President.
The following month, Quwatli secretly negotiated with Catroux to win French
support for his election in return for entente with France. Spears, who suspected that
Quwatli was trying to outwit him, warned Catroux that the Syrian leader had no
intention of fullling his promise. Spears warning, however, spurred Catroux on to
step up his eorts to secure the collaboration of Quwatli and other National Bloc
leaders. In the parliamentary elections held in JuneJuly, the French refrained from
taking action against nationalist candidates, resigning themselves to Quwatlis
election as President and the subsequent formation of a nationalist government.21
Despite his agreement with Quwatli, Nuri al-Said was concerned about losing his
grip on his initiative to form an Arab union based on Iraq and a united Greater Syria
which he envisaged as the cornerstone of an Arab League. In March 1943, under
British pressure, he allowed Nahas, the Egyptian premier, to lead the deliberations
on forming an Arab League. But the Syrian leaders who opposed their countrys
integration in a Hashemite federation turned to Ibn Saud, Nahas and Faruq for
support. Nuri stayed in Syria and Lebanon for the summer and followed the Syrian
parliamentary elections closely, hoping to mobilize support for Iraq among the
newly-elected politicians. Condent after their sweeping victory and return to power,
Syrian politicians, Quwatli among them, made it clear that Syria had to secure
complete independence and national sovereignty before it would discuss a loose form
of Arab unity. Inuential leaders declared their support for a republican form of
government and questioned the right of Iraq and the Hashemites to rule them.22
With Quwatli now President of the Syrian Republic and less inclined to abide by
his secret undertaking, Spears and Nuri al-Said began to promote Mardam both to
pressure Quwatli and as an alternative partner. His appointment in August as
Foreign Minister in Jabris cabinet enabled Mardam in the next two years to
considerably inuence Syrias regional and international relations, especially the

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conict with France. It facilitated the task of British agents to inuence Syrian
foreign policy tacitly, particularly during the critical months of AprilJune 1945.
Mardams letters to Spears (Docs.36) suggest that he had been a key player in
Britains covert policy in Syria already in December 1943, while his agreement with
Nuri al-Said (Doc.8) indicates that he had replaced Quwatli as the Hashemites
main ally in Syria.
The Lebanese constitutional crisis in November 1943, engineered by Spears and
Sulh, provoked a sharp clash between Free France and Britain, enhanced Spears
prestige in Syria and Lebanon and accelerated the Arab unity debates. It alleviated
the Arab Nationalists main concern that France would evacuate Syria while
exploiting its special relations with the Maronites to retain its hold over Lebanon.23
The Lebanese crisis and the subsequent progress of the two Levant states towards
independence gave additional weight to the discussions that Nahas was holding in
Cairo on convening a conference on Arab unity. With the end of the French
mandate in sight, conicting Arab pressure on Syria intensied. Ibn Saud pressed
Quwatli to stand rm against Hashemite intrigue. Quwatli made it clear to Spears
that he had no intention of acquiescing to Catroux appeal for a treaty and that he
was disposed to grant Britain privileged military and economic status in Syria. But
he opposed incorporating his country in a Hashemite Greater Syria (Docs.36, 23).
Mardam, however, endorsed closer cooperation with Iraq. In January 1944 Mardam
stayed in Baghdad for 11 days, holding discussions with Abdul llah and Nuri
al-Said. At the end of February he travelled to Riyadh where he was warned by Ibn
Saud that Nuri Pasha was promoting the formation of a Greater Syria under the
guise of Arab unity. Mardam consequently signed both the SyrianSaudi March
agreement (Doc.7) and the April deal with Nuri al-Said (Doc.8) the rst on behalf
of Quwatli, the second being his own secret deal with the Hashemites. The two
agreements illustrated the deep dierences between Syrias leaders over their
countrys Arab orientation. Quwatli was obviously unaware that his Foreign
Minister and the Iraqi premier were plotting against him.
The endless intrigues in inter-Arab relations, which fully involved local British
agents, were overshadowed by the Allied forces landing in France in June 1944.
Arab politicians and British ocials in the Middle East believed that the war in
Europe was coming to a close. Only after the German counter-attack in the Battle of
the Bulge in mid-December was this impression dispelled. The impact of D-Day was
especially noticeable in Syria. Since its defeat by Germany in June 1940, Syrian
nationalist leaders had been dreading the moment of Frances liberation and
subsequent re-establishment as a prominent European Power. This was the message
that de Gaulle and Catroux were conveying to the Syrian leaders to persuade them
to conclude a treaty with France. But with British agents tacitly encouraging a
rejection of the French proposal while reassuring them that Syria could secure
national sovereignty without such a treaty, they decided to wait. After the liberation
of Paris in August and the formation of de Gaulles provisional government,
Quwatli, Jabri, Mardam and other National Bloc leaders acted with a sense of
urgency. They feared that, as it had done after the First World War, Britain would
betray them once again and cut its own deal with France (Docs.10, 14). This greatly
inuenced their stand towards Britain until it expelled France from Syria in the
summer of 1945.24

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Even before D-Day, Spears sought to exploit the Syrian leaders fear of an AngloFrench agreement to coerce compliance with British demands. Spears proposals to
Mardam (Doc.9) and the latters request for Britains protection (Doc.10) marked a
renewed British eort to press Quwatli into abiding by his pledges before being
elected President. Spears may have taken the initiative, but the documents indicate
that it was approved by Moyne (Docs.1113). Another factor that prompted the
British authorities in Cairo to take action was the convening of the Preparatory
Conference in Alexandria from 25 September to 5 October 1944 to debate the
formation of an Arab Union.25
On 5 August the Lebanese Prime Minister, Riad al-Sulh, travelled to Damascus
and handed his counterpart, Saadallah al-Jabri, a proposal for a secret AngloSyrian agreement dictated to Sulh in the British Legation by Colonel Gilbert
MacKereth.26 Sulhs visit took place while Brigadier Clayton, Moynes chief adviser
for Arab aairs, was in Beirut (Doc.12). The British used Sulh to conceal their
initiative from the French and lend it an informal character. Claytons message that
Quwatli could not continue to play in both camps provides some explanation for the
British actions (Doc.13). British policy-makers could no longer ignore Quwatlis
game of tacitly aligning Syria with Ibn Saud against their Hashemite allies. In the
next two months the Syrian President and his premier were under intense pressure
which reached its height during the Alexandria Conference from British agents and
Nuri al-Said, to consent to the Sulh proposal.
Documents 1332 illustrate the tactics used to press Quwatli into accepting the
British proposal and the ensuing intrigues and scheming that the initiative provoked
among Arab leaders. The British diplomats were not satised with Quwatlis
agreement to grant Britain privileged strategic and economic status. They insisted
that he yield to their demands to unite his country in a Hashemite-led Greater Syria.
Indeed, that remained the main bone of contention between Quwatli and Britain
until 29 May 1945, when he nally succumbed to the pressure. A comparison
between the August 1944 proposal and the May 1945 agreement demonstrates that
the British did not change their stand during those ten months. It is worth noting
that in their initial proposal, apart from undertaking to protect Syrian independence
against any aggression, namely from France, they used the Jewish incentive to lure
the Syrian leaders to acquiesce to their demands. Article 5 states that Great Britain
pledges to ensure the application of the clauses of the White Paper in Palestine and
promises to put a complete stop to Jewish ambitions (Doc.12). In the coming
months British agents used the Zionist threat both as scare tactics and to provoke
Syrian and other Arab leaders against the United States as part of Britains
economic rivalry with the latter.
The Syrian President and Prime Minister did not yield to the intense British and
Hashemite pressure (Docs.1721, 23, 27). Quwatli realized, as Sulh had warned
Jabri, that rejecting the British oer entailed a heavy price Syria still needed
Britains support to free itself from France (Docs.1516).Yet Quwatli proved to be a
crafty politician who succeeded in walking a tightrope, agreeing to collaborate
secretly with Britain, but on his own terms. His observations, after three days of
talks with Cornwallis, reveal that he well understood the British tactics (Docs.246).
He concluded that the question of Greater Syria divided the British representatives,
that Syria could exploit this to retain its republican regime, that Britain had its own

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M. Zamir

interest in ending Frances presence in the Levant, and that, contrary to British
advice, Syria had to improve its relations with the United States. In fact, in the
summer the Syrian government had already appealed to the United States and the
Soviet Union to recognize Syrias independence. Despite Quwatlis reservations
concerning Communist inuence, he allowed Jabri to initiate talks with the Soviet
Minister in Cairo in April, and in June a Russian delegation arrived in Damascus to
discuss establishing diplomatic relations. American and Soviet recognition of Syria
and Lebanon as independent states in July boosted Quwatlis condence and
contributed to his readiness to withstand British pressure.27
Ibn Sauds support of Quwatli was essential for the latters resistance to the
pressure of British diplomats and Nuri al-Said, as revealed in the correspondence
between the two before and during the Alexandria Conference (Docs.27, 29). The
alliance with Saudi Arabia was crucial in gaining indirect American backing. As his
countrys strategic and economic importance to the United States increased, Ibn
Saud was better able to mobilize American support against Britains attempts to
incorporate Syria in a Hashemite Fertile Crescent Union, which he considered a
major threat to the security of his kingdom. The Saudi Kings eorts culminated in
meetings with the American President, Theodore Roosevelt, and Churchill in Egypt
in February 1945. Saudi Arabia also provided the nancial resources to win the
support of politicians, journalists and other inuential personalities in Syria against
Iraqi and Jordanian propaganda.
Following the Syrian and Lebanese elections in the summer of 1943, France could
not retaliate against the continual overt and covert British attacks orchestrated by
Spears and secret agencies operating in the two countries. But after their military
intelligence succeeded in penetrating both the British Legation in Beirut and the
Syrian government in August 1944, French agents were better able to counter the
British ploy. With information from documents provided by their agents, French
representatives in Syria and Lebanon, in particular General Paul Beynet, the
Delegate General, became spoilers, eectively countering British intrigues, not only
in Syria and Lebanon, but throughout the Middle East. French agents played an
indirect role in solidifying the anti-British and anti-Hashemite Triple Alliance by
secretly sending Ibn Saud, Faruq and Quwatli copies of documents on the British
plots against them, including Mardams deal with Nuri al-Said. In November de
Gaulle, visiting Faruq in Cairo, established direct secret ties with the Egyptian King.
As Quwatli and Jabri had successfully resisted British pressure and France had
tacitly collaborated with the two monarchs, de Gaulle came to believe that the game
was not yet over and that France could retain its inuence.28
Until his resignation in January 1946, intelligence information played an
important role in de Gaulles policy in Syria and Lebanon and the Middle East as
a whole. It stiened his resolve to withstand what he viewed as Britains dirty tricks
to supplant France in the Levant. He was willing to grant Syria and Lebanon
independence, but not to let Britain replace France. He tried to persuade Churchill
and Eden that their countries should collaborate against the rising tide of Arab
nationalism and the anti-colonial campaigns of the United States and the Soviet
Union, but to no avail. He consequently insisted on treaties with the two Levant
states to safeguard Frances strategic, economic and cultural interests before
transferring the Troupes Speciales to the local governments and pulling out its forces.

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In early September 1944 a meeting in Algiers attended by Beynet and Rene


Massigli, the envoy to London, and chaired by Catroux, now serving as
Commissioner for Muslim Aairs in North Africa, was almost certainly convened
to decide on a response to Britains attempt to conclude a secret agreement with
Syria. The French policy-makers were also concerned that representatives of North
African nationalist movements might be allowed to participate in the Alexandria
Conference. The meeting took place shortly after Massiglis return from London,
where he had concluded an agreement with Eden in which the British government
once again reassured France that it recognized its interests in Syria and Lebanon
(Doc.14). Catroux, who, unlike de Gaulle, had all along advocated agreement with
Britain in the Levant, must have been angered and disappointed to receive evidence
from Beirut of the British anti-French intrigues.29 Britains contradictory policies,
coupled with reports that Spears would soon end his term in Syria and Lebanon,
reinforced the Quai dOrsays belief that the Foreign Oce was not behind the
attempts of British agents and top military ocers to evict France from the Middle
East (Docs.1415). Accordingly, a three-fold policy was drawn up and implemented
in the coming months: to reassure Quwatli of Frances intentions to grant
independence to Syria and Lebanon while insisting on a treaty in return for
transferring the Troupes Speciales; to continue with eorts to persuade Churchill,
Eden and British representatives in the region not to heed those calling for an end to
Frances presence in the Middle East; and to restore Frances inuence among the
Christians in Lebanon.30
In October and November, after many disappointments, French ocials in Paris
and Beirut nally had cause for satisfaction. Britain had failed to persuade Quwatli
to sign a secret treaty or to promote the Greater Syria plan, and its Arab allies were
in disarray. The Hashemites had lost ground as Nuri al-Saids intrigues backred.
In Amman, Abdallah replaced his Prime Minister, and in Cairo, King Faruq
red Nahas the day after the conference ended. The unyielding, anti-French
Jabri was substituted by the more moderate Faris al-Khuri as a gesture towards
both the British and the Hashemites who had been antagonized by Jabris rm
stand. Britains prestige in the Middle East was further eroded by Lord Moynes
assassination in Cairo. In October Beynet presented Quwatli with a toned down
proposal intended to win his cooperation by stressing Frances support for Syrias
independence in its current borders with a Republican regime. In mid-November,
Churchill and Eden went to Paris to celebrate Frances liberation and were warmly
welcomed by de Gaulle and the French public. De Gaulle and Bidault once more
tried to convince their guests that both countries should collaborate in the Middle
East, including on the question of Syria and Lebanon, but Churchill and Eden
remained uncommitted.31
In early 1945 Quwatli again found himself in a quandary. An Anglo-French
agreement was increasingly becoming a reality, while Spears, his closest ally, had
been replaced by Terence Shone, a career diplomat. Although the handsomely
rewarded Spears became a vociferous defender of the Syrian and Arab causes in
London, his ability to help was limited, as Quwatli was soon to discover in his
meeting with Churchill and Eden. In his messages, the former British Minister
warned against concluding an agreement with France and advised the Syrian
President to wait as the British government was bound to take action against France.

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M. Zamir

But in Damascus the British agents were displeased with him, while Mardam, their
man in Syria, intentionally provoked anti-French demonstrations. In the following
months, the British government and its representatives in London and the Middle
East continued to send mixed signals, leaving Quwatli confused and unable to decide
whether the British government was indeed seeking rapprochement with France a
tactical move intended to put pressure on Syria or simply could not reach a
decision (Docs.378, 413, 456).
After the Yalta summit, the Middle East became the focus of intense regional and
international activity that culminated in Roosevelts and Churchills visits to Egypt
and meetings with three Arab leaders Roosevelt with Ibn Saud and Faruq, and
Churchill and Eden with Ibn Saud, Faruq and Quwatli held while the Preparatory
Committee in Cairo deliberated on the nal form of the Arab League. The annexed
documents illustrate the close inter-dependency between the regional and international systems in the Middle East. Syria now assumed a more important role in
Britains plans for post-war reorganization of the Middle East to withstand the new
Soviet threat, and in the ensuing struggle between the SaudiEgyptian axis and the
Hashemites. The documents also provide insight into Quwatlis eorts to steer his
country between the conicting pressures from the Great Powers and the two
polarized Arab camps. He still saw Britains support for evicting France as crucial,
but was unwilling to pay the price, convinced that Britain had its own interest in
ending the French presence. His relations with Iraqs leaders further deteriorated
after he learned of their intention to use the conict with France over the Troupes
Speciales, provoked by Mardam, as a pretext to send armed volunteers to Syria. On
8 February the Regent formally oered to send the Iraqi army to defend Syria
against the French (Docs.334). Quwatli was compelled to ally himself openly with
Ibn Saud and Faruq against the Hashemites, even at the risk of antagonizing
Britain. He believed that the support of the two monarchs, especially Ibn Saud, for
Syrias independent republican regime, would deter Iraq from using force and
persuade Britain to abandon plans to integrate his country in a Hashemite-led
federation.
The Triple Alliance, comprised of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, was formed in
mid-February following four consecutive developments: the Hashemite meeting in
Shuneh; the Radwa Pact between Faruq and Ibn Saud; Quwatlis visit to Riyadh;
and the summit attended by the three in Faiyum, near Cairo. In Shuneh, Abdul llah
and Abdallah coordinated their stand on the eve of the Arab Preparatory Committee
meeting in Cairo. Information received in Damascus indicated that the two
Hashemite leaders suspected that Quwatli was plotting to install Ibn Sauds son,
Prince Faisal, as King in Damascus. They consequently discussed plans to take
covert action against Syria and Saudi Arabia. In Radwa, Faruq and Ibn Saud
formed a joint front against the Hashemites, as well as against Britain. In Riyadh,
Quwatli and Ibn Saud coordinated their stand towards what they regarded as an
Iraqi threat. In Faiyum, Faruq, Ibn Saud and Quwatli agreed to adopt a common
strategy before their meetings with Churchill.32
Quwatlis report to his cabinet on his visit to Riyadh conrmed that the Hashemite
threat was the main issue discussed (Doc.35). It revealed that Ibn Saud was deeply
suspicious of Britain and believed that the Hashemites would not have plotted
against him or Syria without the consent of British agents. Quwatli, who shared this

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

805

belief, had previously told Jabri of his fears that British agents might act against the
Saudi monarch in the Hijaz. The Syrian President, however, purposely downplayed
Ibn Sauds advice, which the latter would repeat in the coming months, that the
Syrian government should not provoke a military confrontation but try to negotiate
an agreement with France. In Baghdad and Amman it was believed that the Saudi
monarch was seeking to improve relations with France in order to promote the
enthroning of his son in Damascus.33
In another report, Quwatli summarized his meeting with Faruq and Ibn Saud in
Faiyum on 16 February (Doc.36). He did not dwell on Britains policy or the
Hashemite threat, but highlighted the support of the two monarchs for Syrian and
Lebanese independence and their endorsement of Syrias stand against a treaty with
France. A Saudi record of the Faiyum summit provides additional details. Ibn Saud
apparently suggested that all three leaders pursue the same line when meeting
Churchill, especially concerning Britains duplicitous attitude, with some British
ocials supporting the Hashemites and others Saudi Arabia and its allies. Ibn Saud
raised the question of Hashemite ambitions in Syria with Churchill who, according
to the Saudi minutes, promised that the issue of Greater Syria would not be settled in
favour of the Hashemite family, adding that
at a particular time it was very likely, but England cannot insist on a plan which
is on the one hand opposed by the population of Syria, and on the other hand is
considered by King Abd al-Aziz, our close friend, as prejudicial to him
personally and to the interests of his family. As a result, nothing will therefore
be done in the way Nuri Said wishes.
At Ibn Sauds request, Churchill also agreed to meet the Syrian President.34
Quwatlis meeting the following day with Churchill and Eden, however, was
disappointing (Docs.378). The President did not raise the issue of Greater Syria, but
focused on his countrys relations with France, rejecting any proposal to grant it
privileged status. But Churchills, and especially Edens, endorsement of a FrancoSyrian treaty left him uncertain whether it reected Britains current uctuating
position or was merely a tactic already used by some British agents to pressure
Syria into giving in to Britains demands. His proposal to reach agreements with all
four Powers should be noted, as it had initially been raised by Spears to cover up a
secret Anglo-Syrian agreement. His concluding remarks quoting Spears Make
Great Britain face the fait accompli so that it will help you indicated his condence
that he could manoeuvre Britain into supporting Syria against France without
penalty. But his belief that Britain had abandoned the Greater Syria plan proved
premature.35
Despite Churchills assurance to Ibn Saud that Britain had called o its plan for a
Greater Syria, British agents in the Middle East and diplomatic and nancial circles
in London still promoted the idea. The new Syrian Minister in London, Najib
Armanazi,36 sent messages to Damascus describing their activities, in which Camille
Chamoun, the Lebanese Minister Plenipotentiary in London, known for his ties with
British intelligence, was also involved (Doc.45). In fact, Chamoun was working with
Spears to promote the nancial interests of British companies in Syria and Lebanon
in which they both held shares. Armanazi must have been astonished to learn from

806

M. Zamir

the editor of The Economist that his Foreign Minister endorsed the Greater Syria
plan. Quwatlis protests to Shone about British secret agents activities went
unheeded (Docs.413). Mardam, in Cairo for the signing of the Arab League Pact,
reported that British ocials were advising Syrian leaders to improve their relations
with Iraq, and added that apparently Syria was more concerned with an Iraqi
occupation than with ending the French one. In mid-March Quwatli, accompanied
by Jabri, now president of the Syrian parliament, went to Baghdad to meet the Iraqi
regent and Nuri al-Said in yet another attempt to calm their misgivings. He argued
that Syria should secure its national sovereignty before discussing the issue of unity
(Docs.40, 44). But the Hashemites, and certainly British Intelligence, were aware of
his ploys. After returning from Cairo, Churchill and Eden publicly endorsed
Frances demand that treaties be signed with Syria and Lebanon. Churchill made a
statement to Parliament to that eect, while the Foreign Oce issued a White Paper
restating Britains support for a Franco-Syrian agreement. In letters to Quwatli and
in meetings with Armanazi, Spears warned that Eden was hostile to the Syrian
position. Even more worrying was Britains refusal to support Syrias request to
participate in the San Francisco Peace Conference. Quwatlis protest to Shone was
answered in general terms and the latters assurances that his country seeks no
advantage in Syria did not alleviate the Syrian Presidents fears (Doc.44).
In the post-war years, Britains reputation in the Middle East often exceeded its
true ability to control the region. Even before the end of the war it was losing ground
and prestige in the Arab world. What Quwatli and Ibn Saud believed to be
sophisticated British ploys intended to pressure Syria were often the result of a
confused, undecided policy (Doc.51). Churchills trip to Cairo, which was arranged
at the last minute after learning of the American Presidents intention to go to Egypt,
was overshadowed by Roosevelts visit and meeting with Ibn Saud. The latter had
enhanced his prestige in the Arab world, while Faruq was improving his standing,
with Egypt becoming the dominant force in the newly established Arab League. In
contrast, Britains loyal allies, the Hashemites, had lost ground. Economic rivalry
with the United States, especially over oil concessions, was a constant concern in
Britain. In mid-March Roosevelt invited Abdul llah, the Iraqi Regent, to visit
Washington. This prompted Field Marshal Lord Gort, the High Commissioner in
Palestine and Transjordan, to ask Abdallah to warn his nephew, the Regent, against
becoming too friendly with the Americans. For their part, Eden and other British
diplomats drew the attention of Arab diplomats to American assistance to the Jews
in Palestine. British secret agents in North Syria instigated anti-American
demonstrations in protest against Washingtons support for the Zionist cause,
leading Wadsworth to tell Mardam that the United States was not a weak Power and
did not intend to be treated the way France had been treated in Syria.37
France, however, was not as weak as British and American diplomats in the
Middle East believed. With the upper hand in the intelligence war against Britain, it
used eectively intelligence obtained from its agents in the British Legation in Beirut
and in the Syrian government to stage its own covert activities against Britain and
the Hashemites. In Syria, Mardam, who had emerged as Frances most hostile
opponent, became the target of French covert action. Beynet indirectly informed
Quwatli of his Foreign Ministers secret deals with Nuri al-Said and British agents.
Similar tactics were employed in establishing secret ties with Ibn Saud and Faruq.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

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In the following months both monarchs tried to mediate between Quwatli and the
French, realizing that the English and the Hashemites would exploit a Franco-Syrian
confrontation to intervene in Syria. Beynet also initiated secret ties with the Jewish
Agency in Palestine. In mid-November 1944 he met in Beirut with David BenGurion, the head of the Jewish Agency; three months later he was able to inform de
Gaulle of the contacts his assistants had made with the Zionist underground
movements.38
In early March Beynet left for Paris, where he remained for over two months with
the intention of passing time until the war was over and France was better positioned
to impose its own terms on Syria. While in Paris, he established contact with Adnan
al-Atasi, the new Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary. He must have been pleased to read
Atasis letters and telegrams to Damascus endorsing an agreement with France
(Docs.47, 54, 59, 61, 63). When the Quai dOrsay learned that Britain had no
intention of allowing Syria to participate in the Peace Conference, laying the blame
on France, it informed the Syrian government that France supported Syrias
participation. After assuring Abdallah that Britain would not back Syrias participation in San Francisco, the Foreign Oce reversed its stand and took credit for its
invitation to the Peace Conference. British diplomats in Cairo and Damascus then
accused the French of claiming credit for an act they had had no part in.
Lebanon again became an arena for the clandestine Anglo-French war. French
agents rst informed their trusted ally, the former President Emile Edde, and later
warned the Maronite patriarch, Antoine Arida, that Sulh was playing a double
game: despite his undertaking in the National Pact to support an independent
Lebanon, he was conspiring with Syrian leaders, the English and the Hashemites to
integrate Lebanon in a Greater Syria. French warnings fell on fertile ground, as the
Maronites were already deeply concerned over their countrys future following the
Arab unity discussions in Alexandria and Cairo. Beynet also informed President
Beshara al-Khuri, through discreet channels, of the intrigues of his Prime Minister
and partner in the National Pact against the Lebanese state. Whether this played a
part in Khuris apparent nervous breakdown in January 1945 is not known. It is
worth noting that Mardam reported to Quwatli on the allegations of Edward Grigg,
the new British Minister Resident in the Middle East, that the French had poisoned
the Lebanese President. His charges can be seen as part of the anti-French smear
campaign conducted by British diplomats. Khuris illness he stayed in Haifa in
northern Palestine for treatment until the summer created a political vacuum,
provoking an intense contest for the presidency among Maronite politicians, one of
whom, Camille Chamoun, was promoted by Spears and secret British agencies. In
January, the French scored a victory in Lebanon after Sulh, their bitter and
dangerous opponent, was forced to resign. Replaced by Abd al-Hamid Karameh,
equally hostile to France but far less sophisticated than his predecessor. Syrian
leaders and British diplomats became increasingly concerned that France might
succeed in reversing its fortunes in Lebanon by convincing the Maronites to realign
themselves with France, their traditional protector. France might then evacuate
Syria, but remain in Lebanon.39
On 1 April the Middle East War Council (MEWC), chaired by Grigg, was
convened in Faiyum for ve days to dene its recommendations to the Cabinet
on Britains Middle East policy. The participants, who included top military

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M. Zamir

commanders and senior diplomats,40 had major issues to address: Britains position
in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East on the eve of the Peace
Conference, its stance towards the Arab League and the question of Palestine. Of
immediate concern was the future of Frances presence in Syria and Lebanon.
Strategic and tactical policies dened by the MEWC in the two Levant states
were largely implemented in the following months after Churchill and Eden gave the
go-ahead (Doc.51).
The documents allow detailed analysis of the complex covert policies conducted
by Britain and its Arab collaborators in Syria and Lebanon in those months. It
suces to highlight Britains main goals, outlined in part in Griggs instructions,
and the two telegrams from Alexander Cadogan, the Permanent Under-Secretary at
the Foreign Oce, to Beirut and the QuwatliShone secret agreement of 29 May
(Docs.489, 51, 85). Three main goals can be identied: rst, to evict France from
Syria and Lebanon without appearing to be responsible. Churchill did not seek
direct military confrontation with France, being well aware of the possible negative
repercussions on Britains relations with Paris. Britains colonial policy in the Middle
East was already under attack from the Arab Nationalists in the region, as well as
from the United States and the Soviet Union. Expelling France from Syria and
Lebanon only to replace it when the Peace Conference was about to be convened in
San Francisco would have provoked a wave of international protest; hence the
emphasis in Griggs and Cadogens instructions on covert action. British diplomats
expected the moderate Bidault and ocials in the Quai dOrsay, who argued that
France should compromise in the Levant as it needed Britains support in Europe, to
have the upper hand. De Gaulle, however, was not convinced, especially as he was
daily reading new evidence on Britains dirty tricks against France.
The second goal was to tacitly secure Britains pre-eminent strategic and economic
position in Syria by coercing the Syrian President into fullling commitments made
in 194243 to Nuri al-Said and British agents by exploiting his fears of an AngloFrench agreement, that France might use military force to impose its own terms on
Syria while remaining in Lebanon, or of losing the presidency to Mardam. Barazis
almost daily reports on Quwatlis mood allowed British diplomats and intelligence
agents to deal with him more eectively. The last goal was to create conditions to
facilitate Syrias linkage, one way or another, in a union with Jordan and Iraq.
Mardam, who became Acting Prime Minister in early April, was essential to
Britains clandestine war against France. He was obliged to serve his British masters,
the Hashemites, with whom he had signed a secret deal and from whom he received
large sums of money, and advance his own ambitions to replace Quwatli, while at the
same time freeing his country from French rule (Doc.40). His immediate goal was to
prevent Ibn Saud and Faruq from persuading Quwatli to negotiate with France.
Support for negotiations was gaining ground among some Syrian politicians, with
three senior diplomats, representing their country in Paris, London and Washington,
criticizing Mardams extreme anti-French stand and his over-reliance on British
support. The sharp disagreement with his Foreign Minister led Atasi to tender his
resignation. Mardam, however, was not deterred, and while waiting for France to
make the rst move, as Shone had advised, he exploited the dispute over the Troupes
Speciales to provoke a confrontation and lay the blame on the French themselves
(Docs.556). It should be noted that this was not merely Mardams personal

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

809

initiative, intended to force Britain to intervene militarily and expel the French he
coordinated his steps with Shone, as emerged from his reports to Quwatli on his
meeting with the British ambassador.
After their failure in forming the Arab League, the Hashemites stepped up
pressure on Quwatli. Abdallah, seeking to promote his own ambitions in Syria and
Lebanon, planned, with British approval, to send his popular son, Crown Prince
Talal, on a trip to both countries (Doc.49). But after the Syrian government
prevented Talal from going to Damascus he had to make do with a trip to Beirut in
mid-April. Talals visit and meeting with Karameh and leading Muslim and
Christian politicians caused deep concern in Damascus. Although Mardam met with
Karameh to coordinate a joint Syro-Lebanese response to Abdallah, Quwatli, who
distrusted his acting Prime Minister, wrote a personal letter to the Lebanese Prime
Minister, warning him that there is a group of Englishmen who, inuenced by the
Jews, believe that the success of the Amir will be theirs and support his ambitions
and that
in Syria it is impossible for us to tell the people that we oppose the Union of
Arab Countries, especially Syria, Transjordan, Palestine and Lebanon; but if we
adopt this project, we will nd ourselves in a dire situation which will only
benet the French since they will arouse the Lebanese Maronites against us and
yourself. We will have made the situation worse instead of improving it.
Reports in early May on de Gaulles intentions to send reinforcements to Beirut
led to another Iraqi attempt to renew the February plan for military intervention
in Syria, ostensibly against the French army. Mardam, Chamoun and British
intelligence agents in Baghdad were also involved (Docs.77, 84). British Intelligence
probably hoped that an Iraqi operation would save Britain from having to take
direct action against the French in Syria. But Ibn Saud, learning of the plan from his
attache in Baghdad, warned Quwatli not to allow the Iraqi army to enter Syria
(Docs.745). Tense relations with his strongest ally, coupled with the Iraqi threat to
send its army to Damascus, added to Quwatlis fears. He became increasingly
isolated in his presidential palace, a target of scare campaigns conducted by British
agents, the Hashemites and Mardam. The rapidly rising popularity of his acting
Prime Minister with the public following his determined struggle against the French
was another cause for his concern. Growing numbers of deputies and ministers in the
Cabinet now voiced support for his rival. A week before the outbreak of the crisis he
suered an ulcer attack and was forced to remain in bed throughout the critical days
when his country became the focus of an international crisis.
The last phase of the crisis, which continued throughout May, can be reconstructed almost day-by-day with the help of archival sources.41 This is useful, as the
protagonists reacted to their assessment of their rivals intentions. At that stage, the
Syrian crisis developed into an open Anglo-French confrontation that escalated into
a clash between Churchill and de Gaulle. Uncovering the British machinations that
provoked the crisis necessitates rst disentangling the threads of British and Syrian
anti-French propaganda campaigns once de Gaulles decision to send reinforcements
became known. The propaganda war was a key part of Britains covert policy
throughout, as is clearly illustrated in the instructions from London to General Paget

810

M. Zamir

at the height of the crisis (Docs.9091, 93, 96, 124). De Gaulles and Churchills
personal involvement, however, requires the historian to consider also the complex
and controversial relations between them at the end of the war. Two issues must be
addressed: rst, why de Gaulle fell into the British trap although he was aware of the
ploy, and how far his accusations that Churchill used the crisis in the Levant to force
him out of oce can be substantiated; and second, why Churchill allowed the British
army in Syria to expel France from the Levant, well aware of the possible
repercussions on Britains relations with France at a critical time when the issues of
Germany and the future of Western Europe, in which France was a key member,
were being debated. Was there any truth in the British charges that the British
government had been forced to issue its ultimatum after the French army attacked
Syrias constitutional institutions and tried to seize its elected leaders?
While the MEWC met in Faiyum, de Gaulle, Bidault and Beynet met in Paris to
discuss Frances Syrian policy, especially the future of the Troupes Speciales. De
Gaulle rejected Bidaults proposal to adopt a more conciliatory stand towards Syria,
arguing that France could not give up its military presence in the Levant while a
large contingent of British forces remained. Such a policy, Beynet warned, might
provoke a crisis in which the loyalty of the Troupes Speciales could not be relied
upon. He therefore asked for three additional battalions, of which two would serve
as reinforcements. De Gaulle misjudged the gravity of the situation when he stated
that
each day it is becoming less likely that serious trouble will erupt in the Levant.
The English are now preaching peace and quiet. The neighboring Arab states
are less inclined than ever to side with the present leaders in Damascus. The
local governments, in fact, thanks to France, have just gained much prestige by
forcing their way into San Francisco.42
De Gaulle underestimated Churchills determination to evict France from the Levant
and overestimated Saudi Arabias and Egypts ability to pressure the Syrian
leadership into a more conciliatory stand towards France. His decision in early May
to reinforce the French troops in Syria and Lebanon was based on a dierent
assessment, but it provided the British and Syrians with the pretext they needed to
act against France.
As war ended, retention of the French Empire, which had been one of de Gaulles
main goals throughout the war, was becoming increasingly dicult. He suspected
that the Americans and British were conspiring to exploit Frances weakness to
extend their inuence over its colonies, whether in Indo-China, North and Western
Africa, or the Middle East. Ample evidence from British and Arab sources
reinforced his suspicions. France also had to contend with a wave of nationalist
uprisings in its colonies. On 9 May French forces confronted in Setif near Algiers by
protesters calling for independence, massacred thousands. The news from Algeria,
coinciding with reports on the arrival of fresh French troops, provoked fear in
Damascus that France was determined to retain its mandate even if it involved the
use of force.
In early May it became apparent in Paris that Frances Syrian policy had reached
an impasse: attempts to reach an understanding with Britain had failed, while

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

811

friendly gestures to Syria had brought no result. Even an initiative to negotiate a


Convention Universitaire, regarded as a test of Syrian intentions, was rejected by
Mardam. Mardams letter to Quwatli on his intentions to exploit the negotiations on
a cultural agreement to gain time and toy with those idiot French must have
provoked anger. A unilateral evacuation of Syria and Lebanon was out of the
question, especially as de Gaulle was aware that Britain was plotting to expel France
only to take its place. His memoirs, written years later, reected his state of mind at
the time regarding what he dened as Britains policy of intimidation:
I had always expected it, for the national ambitions masked by the world
conict included the British plan to dominate the Middle East. How many times
I have already confronted this passionate resolve that was prepared to shatter
any barrier that stood in its way! With the wars end in Europe, its occasion
had come. In an exhausted France, the invasion and its consequences had
obliterated our former power. As for the Arabs, a political program as subtle as
it was costly had rendered a number of their leaders accessible to British
inuence.43
De Gaulles decision to reinforce the French troops was a calculated risk intended to
convey to the British government that France was determined to retain its rights in
its mandated territories at all costs, thereby forcing Britain to expose its true
ambitions or seek an agreement. It was also intended to put pressure on the Syrian
leaders before General Beynet returned to Beirut. On 19 May Beynet met Henri
Pharoun, the Lebanese Foreign Minister, and Mardam, and presented them with
aides-memoires repeating the familiar demands for treaties safeguarding Frances
traditional interests before turning the Troupes Speciales over to the local
governments and recognizing Syrias and Lebanons complete independence. But
the French demarche was never taken seriously, as Mardam and other Syrian
ministers, as well as British commanders, were already preparing the ground for a
military showdown (Docs.66, 75, 81). The exact timing depended on whether the
French could be provoked into taking the rst step and on Quwatlis response to
British pressure.
After his meeting with Churchill in January 1945, Spears recorded in his diary that
Churchill had promised that one day he would re a last broadside at de Gaulle
which ought to settle him; that would be to remind him of the fact that I had brought
him out of France. He said the French could obviously not keep their position or
indeed remain in the Middle East but we ought not to be the people to push them
out.44 Churchills readiness four months later to forcibly expel France from the
Levant should be examined against the backdrop of international and regional
developments and his deteriorating relations with de Gaulle. The eect of the
Yalta Summit, especially Stalins ambitions in the Middle East, on his strategic
considerations has been discussed above. It had become clear that France could no
longer remain in Syria and Lebanon as its presence obstructed Britains eorts to
reorganize the Middle East for its own strategic and economic needs. Yet until the
last minute Churchill sought to avoid a direct clash with de Gaulle over the Levant.
He obviously did not realize that de Gaulle was aware of the British intrigues and
was not about to yield without a show of force. Contrary to de Gaulles assumption

812

M. Zamir

that Churchill would back down at the last minute, Churchill was able to take action
after his agents in Syria had provided him with the necessary pretext. His assessment
that de Gaulles policy of confronting Britain over the Levant was not popular
among the French politicians and public proved accurate.45
In Part I it was argued that Churchill and de Gaulle often clashed in the Levant to
settle scores not directly related to the region. In the aftermath of the Yalta Summit,
and as the war was coming to an end, their relations rapidly deteriorated. Although
Britain had allocated part of its military zone in occupied Germany to France, de
Gaulle, bitter and angry after the three Great Powers had ignored France, and
always wary of British foul play, was determined to demonstrate his countrys
resolve to regain its position as a Great Power. His foreign policy became more
forceful, as borne out during Roosevelts visit to Algiers, the occupation of an Italian
enclave on the Alpine border and the confrontation with the American army in
Stuttgart. Churchill was clearly troubled by de Gaulles aggressive policy, but would
it have been sucient, as de Gaulle claimed, for him to use the crisis in the Levant to
get rid of the French leader? Some studies substantiate de Gaulles accusations, but
of relevance to this study is that when confronted with the Syrian crisis, de Gaulle
believed that Churchill was attempting to force him out of power. Churchills nal
act was to publicly humiliate de Gaulle by reading his ultimatum in Parliament
before delivering it to him.46 Be that as it may, the fact that de Gaulle was reading
daily detailed intelligence reports from Beirut on Britains duplicity surely eroded the
little trust that he had in Churchill, concerning not only the Middle East, but also
Europe (Docs.86, 8890).
Throughout May, British diplomats and intelligence and military ocers sent the
Syrian leaders mixed messages regarding their governments intention to defend
Syria if the French forces attacked (Docs.68, 723, 80, 823). This policy can be seen
as the result of indecision in London, but evidence indicates that it was a wellorchestrated campaign aimed to mislead de Gaulle and pressure the Syrian President
and his ministers into giving in to British demands. The British charade continued
until the last minute as Shone advised moderation while Stirling was tacitly working
to provoke a confrontation with the French forces.
Indecision within the Syrian Cabinet came to an end after Mardams meeting with
General Paget in Damascus on 22 May. Mardam reported to his anxious and
hesitant colleagues that he had been informed by General Paget that a British
division had crossed the border from Palestine into Lebanon for training, that Paget
had oered to arm the Syrian gendarmerie, and that British forces would intervene if
necessary to ensure security in a military zone vital to the Allied war eorts against
Japan, but not to protect the French against Syrian attacks. Pagets statement gave a
green light to the Syrians to intensify their attacks, letting them understand that if
the French retaliated, the British forces would save them. Following General Pagets
visit to Damascus, Stirling secured the collaboration of Sabri al-Asali, the powerful
Minister of the Interior and Mardams main rival, who controlled the Gendarmerie
and other Syrian security agencies. With the two prominent members of the Cabinet
agreeing to forcibly expel the French, other ministers fell in line and approved
Mardams proposal to step up provocation of the French army.
With Quwatli conned to his sickbed, Mardam handled the events during the
critical days leading up to the 29 May crisis. French intelligence reports, and

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

813

especially Barazis descriptions, provide details of his activities in those days. He may
have been a crafty and opportunistic politician, but he was also a patriotic Syrian
leader ghting to secure what he regarded as his countrys foremost national goal
the end of French colonial rule. He was constantly in touch with British agents,
coordinating with them his moves against the French. There is no need to describe
the range of tactics and intrigues used by Mardam and British agents to attack and
discredit the French in Syria. The annexed documents from JuneJuly provide
sucient evidence of Mardams pivotal role and his secret agreements with Shone
and Paget during and after the crisis (Docs.98125).
In the week prior to the crisis, British and French commanding ocers met almost
daily following the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Syria. Two meetings
between Paget, Beynet and Humblot, Commander of the French army in the Levant
(20 and 22 May), are of special interest, since the former was preparing the ground
for the intervention of his forces. Paget argued that as Commander-in-Chief of the
Allied Forces in the Middle East, he was responsible for maintaining security in the
entire region, which comprised one military zone. The crisis in Syria, he warned,
could aect security in the neighbouring states, and moreover, the Middle East was
an operating base for the Allied forces in the war against Japan. He accused the
French of provoking the crisis by sending reinforcements and rejected their claim
that it was merely a British pretext to attack France. British ocers also warned their
French counterparts that their intelligence agencies had reported a French plan to
attack and seize Syrian government buildings and the elected leaders. Indirect
evidence implied that such a plan did exist.47 But even if the French decided to act,
this was becoming impossible after the precautionary measures taken by the British
army in the streets of Damascus. The French attack on the parliament and the
shelling and bombing in Damascus on the evening of 29 May were not calculated
operations but acts of revenge stemming from frustration and anger beginning only
after a senior French ocer in the city had learned of Quwatlis secret agreement
with Shone. It nevertheless forced Churchill to issue an ultimatum to de Gaulle and
instructions to General Paget to intervene against the French forces (Docs.867).
The French retaliation, however, provided the British and the Syrian governments
with eective ammunition in their propaganda war against France which assumed a
central role after the crisis.48
After the British army seized Syria and Lebanon from Vichy with the help of de
Gaulles Free French forces, Spears wrote to Churchill that Britain should take the
opportunity to oust France from Syria and Lebanon and reorganize the Middle East
under its hegemony. In the summer of 1945, the rst goal was nally achieved, but
the second was yet to be accomplished. As it turned out, it was easier to drive France
out than organize the Middle East under a declining British Empire. Throughout
the war and post-war years committed British ocials in the region laboured
diligently, both overtly and covertly, to defend their countrys interests against other
Powers or local nationalist movements. They debated endlessly in committees, wrote
long memoranda, negotiated, plotted, bribed, threatened and cheated, all for the
sake of the higher national interest. They nally succeeded in ousting France from
the Levant and, for a short time, had their moment in the Middle East.49 But in the
end their grand designs came to naught. The secret agreement with the Syrian leaders
was not implemented, while the Greater Syrian Confederation was never established.

814

M. Zamir

The legacy they left behind was bitter. Britain may have helped Syria free itself from
French colonial rule, but this came at a high price for the Syrians for the next
decade, a weak, unstable Syria continued to provide an arena for confrontation
between the Great Powers and the neighboring Arab states in what has become
known as the Struggle for Syria.50

Notes
The article was researched with the help of a grant from the Israel Science Foundation.
1. For Part I of this article see: M. Zamir, De Gaulle and the Question of Syria and Lebanon during the
Second World War, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.43, No.5 (2007), pp.675708. See also E. Kedourie,
The Chatham House Version and other Middle-Eastern Studies (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson,
1970), pp.7, 21335.
2. C. Andrew and D. Dilks (eds.), The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in
the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Illinois, 1984), p.1.
3. For the use of intelligence in colonial role in the Middle East, see two recent studies: P. Satia, Spies in
Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britains Covert Empire in the Middle East
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) and M. Thomas, Empires of Intelligence: Security Services
and Colonial Disorder after 1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).
4. From 1945 until 1948 armed resistance by Zionist underground movements became a major concern
for British intelligence and security agencies. See for example C. Andrew, The Defence of the Realm:
The Authorized History of MI5 (London: Allen Lane, 2009), pp.35366.
5. M. Zamir, Bid for Altalena: Frances Covert Action in the 1948 War in Palestine, Middle Eastern
Studies, Vol.46, No.1 (2010), pp.1758.
6. S. Kelly, A Succession of Crises: SOE in the Middle East, 194045, Intelligence and National Security,
Vol.20, No.1 (March 2005), pp.12146. See also B. Sweet-Escott, Baker Street Irregular (London:
Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1965), pp.7099.
7. M. Wight, Power Politics (London: Royal Institute of International Aairs, 1979), pp.11517. See the
following memoirs written by agents involved in British intelligence and diplomatic activities in the
Middle East during the Second World War: W.F. Stirling, Safety Last (London: Hollis and Carter,
1953), pp.22743; A.S. Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns: Experiences in the Middle East (London: John
Murray, 1956), pp.14252; F. Stark, East is West (London: John Murray, 1945), p.2, on her
acquaintance with Kinahan Cornwallis. See also her autobiography, Dust in the Lions Paw (London:
John Murray, 1961). Walter Smart originally served as a consul-general in the early 1920s in Beirut
and Damascus.
8. Evidence of the secret collaboration of Quwatli, Mardam and Sulh with British agents during the war
is based on secret British and Syrian documents obtained by French intelligence. There are also
receipts of payments made by the British agents. For Sulhs ties with Spears, see M. Zamir, An
Intimate Alliance: The Joint Struggle of General Edward Spears and Riad al-Sulh to Oust France
from Lebanon, 19421944, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.41, No.6 (2005), pp.81132. The article was
written before the discovery of the secret French documents.
9. Tahsin al-Kadri, the Iraqi Consul-General in Beirut, played an important role in Nuri al-Saids
activities to mobilize support in Lebanon and Syria for an IraqiSyrian union before and during the war.
His telephone conversations with Lebanese and Syrian personalities, including Sulh, were routinely
monitored by the French intelligence. See G. Puaux, Deux Annees au Levant (Paris: Hachette, 1952),
p.172. The author was the French High Commissioner in Syria and Lebanon in 193940.
10. S. Mardam, Syrias Quest for Independence (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1994), pp.2630.
11. During the occupation of Damascus in June 1941 by the British and Free French forces, Quwatli,
fearing imprisonment, found refuge in the Saudi Consulate in Damascus. French sources claimed that
the Saudi court paid regular subsidies to Quwatli. See also Mardam, Syrias Quest, pp.3033.
12. Ministe`re des Aaires Etrange`res (MAE), Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 768, Beirut, Nov. 1943, Note
sur les Relations Franco-Britanniques au Levant.
13. The National Archives, Kew (TNA), FO226/233 31/106/42, telegram 178, 29 June 1942, from
Prodrome Beirut to Ministate, Cairo; FO226/233 31/180/42, Beirut, 1 Aug. 1942, Note from Lascelles

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

14.

15.

16.

17.
18.

19.

20.

21.

22.
23.
24.

25.

815

to Spears; Ministe`re de la Guerre, Service Historique de lArmee, Section de Terre (Vincennes),


(SHAT), box 4H295, Note pour le General, Beirut, 29 June 1942. See also Mardam, Syrias Quest,
pp.5660.
Lord Birdwood, Nuri As-Said: A Study in Arab Leadership (London: Cassell, 1959), pp.18791;
Kedourie, The Chatham House Version, p.276; A. Gomaa, The Foundation of the League of Arab
States (London: Longman, 1977), pp.6672; Y. Porath, Nuri al-Saids Arab Unity Programme,
Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.20, No.4 (1984), pp.7698.
Brigadier Clayton served until 1943 as deputy and head of the Middle East Intelligence Centre, and
later as an adviser to the Minister Resident in Cairo. The French followed him closely during his
frequent visits to Syria and Lebanon. See for example: MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 1102,
Quneitra, 21 Oct. 1943, Information a/s de la visite du General Clayton. See also: H.O. Dovey, The
Middle East Intelligence Centre, Intelligence and National Security, Vol.4, No.4 (1989), pp.800812;
W.R. Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East, 19451951: Arab Nationalism, The United States
and Postwar Imperialism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp.136, 341, 3645; Kedourie, The
Chatham House Version, p.353; E. Elath (Epstein), San Francisco Diary (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1971), pp.60
61 (in Hebrew). Both Abba Eban, the future Israeli Foreign Minister, and Albert Hourani served as
Claytons assistants in Cairo in the early war years.
For Greater Syria, see a major study prepared by the Research Department in the Foreign Oce in
TNA, FO371/61497 9137/42/65, The Greater Syria Movement, London, 10 Jan. 1948. See also Y.
Porath, In Search of Arab Unity, 19301945 (London: Frank Cass, 1986); C.E. Dawn, The Project of
Greater Syria (unpublished PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1948). On Houranis support for
a Greater Syria, see A.H. Hourani, Syria and Lebanon: A Political Essay (The Royal Institute of
International Aairs, London: Oxford University Press, 1946), pp.26970. See also D. Pipes, Greater
Syria (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp.36. Pipes rightly observed that the Greater Syria
movement should be judged not by its failure, but by the critical role it played in Middle East politics
after 1918.
For an extensive study of British attempts to solve the Palestinian question within an Arab federation,
see Porath, In Search of Arab Unity, especially Chapter 2.
E. Spears, Fullment of a Mission: The Spears Mission to Syria and Lebanon, 19411944 (London: Leo
Cooper,1977), pp.12. In early 1945, Spears repeatedly raised the issue of Syria and Lebanon in
Parliament and campaigned for Britains arming of the Syrian gendarmerie. On Spears activities in
London against the French and the Zionists and in support of the Arab cause, see R. Miller, Divided
against Zion; Anti-Zionist Opposition in Britain to a Jewish State in Palestine, 19451948 (London:
Frank Cass, 2000), pp.2354.
The Royal Institute of International Aairs (Chatham House), under its director, Arnold Toynbee,
became during the war an inuential organization advocating the eviction of France from the Levant,
rejecting the establishment of a Jewish state and promoting Arab unity. See Kedourie, The Chatham
House Version, pp.3523, 39094. See also The Royal Institute of International Aairs, British
Security: A Report by a Chatham House Study Group (London: Royal Institute of International
Aairs, 1946), especially section IX.
On Nuri al-Saids Blue Book scheme, see Porath, In Search of Arab Unity, pp.3067, 362; and
Gomaa, The Foundation, pp.6971. See also Colonel S.F. Newcombe, A Forecast of Arab Unity,
Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, Vol.32, part II (1944), pp.15864. The author was a longtime pro-Arab lobbyist who promoted an Iraqi-Syrian union.
TNA, FO226/240 9/73/43, Beirut, 8 March 1943, report on the Iraqi Consul-General Tahsin alKadris meeting with Quwatli; A. Roshwald, Estranged Bedfellows: Britain and France in the Middle
East during the Second World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp.1248.
TNA, FO226/240 9/386/43, Beirut, 19 July 1943, report on a meeting with Nuri al-Said. For Starks
meeting with Quwatli in July 1943, see Stark, East is West, pp.1225.
Zamir, An Intimate Alliance, pp.8256. See also M. Zamir, Lebanons Quest: The Road to Statehood,
19261939 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1997), pp.18792.
Spears and Mardam coordinated a boycott of the traditional French celebration of 14 July, which that
year was to mark Frances liberation. See MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 771, Beirut, No.763,
19 July 1944, Francom Beirut to Diplofrance Alger; carton 1122, Beirut, Information Speciale No.917,
6 June 1944. See also Mardam, Syrias Quest, pp.12831.
Porath, In Search of Arab Unity, pp.26790; Gomaa, The Foundation, pp.21734.

816

M. Zamir

26. MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 755, Beirut, Note, 13 Oct. 1944, and carton 769, 24 Nov. 1944,
Note dInformation on the disagreement between MacKereth and General Holmes, the Commander
of the Ninth Army, on the one hand, and General Spears on the other, on policy towards France.
MacKereth was a diplomat who served as Consul-General to Damascus before the war. See Puaux,
Deux Annees, p.172, and M. Fry and I. Rabinovich, Despatches from Damascus: Gilbert MacKereth
and British Policy in the Levant, 19331939 (Tel Aviv: Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African
Studies, 1985). For Spears version of his clash with MacKereth, see Spears, Fullment of a Mission,
pp.2957.
27. Khalid Bakdash, the head of the Syrian Communist Party, mediated in the negotiations leading to
Soviet recognition of Syrias independence. See also R. Ginat, Syrias and Lebanons Meandering
Road to Independence: The Soviet Involvement and the Anglo-French Rivalry, Diplomacy and
Statecraft, Vol.13, No.4 (2002), pp.96122.
28. C. de Gaulle, The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers,
Inc., 1998; the original three volumes in French were published in 19541959), Vol.III, Salvation,
pp.7323; C. de Gaulle, Lettres, Notes et Carnets, Juin 1943Mai 1945 (Paris: Plon, 1983), pp.3434,
de Gaulles letter to Bidault, Paris, 19 Oct. 1944. Throughout 1945, de Gaulle exchanged messages
with Ibn Saud, and to some extent continued Puaux policy. See note 33.
29. MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 2419, Negotiations de Londres sur les Aaires du Levant, 21
Aout 1er Septembre 1944; General Catroux, Dans la Bataille de Mediterranee (Paris: Rene Juillard,
1949), pp.17998. See also Egremont, Under Two Flags (London: Phoenix Giant, 1998), pp.2789.
30. MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 755, No.2072, Beirut, 20 Sept. 1944, Beynet to Diplofrance
Algier; No.2337, Paris, 30 Nov. 1944, Bidault to Beynet; Baghdad, 1 Nov. 1944, on Iraqi newspapers
reaction to de Gaulles declaration on Lebanons independence; Mardam, Syrias Quest, pp.15065.
31. MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 755, No.968, Beirut, 13 Oct. and No.1013, 20 Oct. 1944, Beynet
to Bidault, on reaction in Syria and Lebanon to Nahas dismissal; No.64, Beirut, 12 Jan. 1945,
Situation politique au Liban. See also de Gaulle, War Memoirs, Salvation, pp.7258.
32. On Faruqs rapprochement with Ibn Saud, see Kedourie, The Chatham House Version, pp.177207.
33. Other documents not included in this article point out that Nuri al-Said believed that Ibn Saud,
tacitly backed by France, was seeking the support of Quwatli and other Syrian politicians for
enthroning his son, Prince Faisal, as the future Syrian King. In fact, after their countrys defeat in June
1940, the High Commissioner, Gabriel Puaux, and other French ocials in Beirut had advocated such
a solution, fearing that a Hashemite prince in Damascus would enable Britain to extend its inuence
over Syria and Lebanon. In April 1939, Puaux discussed such a possibility with Fuad Hamza, the
Saudi Minister in Charge of Foreign Aairs, in Beirut. See Puaux, Deux Annees, pp.4041, 2023. See
also Porath, In Search of Arab Unity, pp.80106.
34. On the importance that the Foreign Oce attached to the ChurchillIbn Saud meeting, see T.E.
Evans (ed.), The Killearn Diaries, 19341946 (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1972), pp.32731.
35. For a British version of Churchills meeting with Quwatli, see Louis, The British Empire, p.166; Evans,
Killearn Diaries, pp.32731; de Gaulle, Lettres, Notes et Carnets, pp.3934, 25 Feb. 1945, de Gaulle to
Bidault.
36. N. al-Armanazi, Muhadarat an suriyya min al-ihtilal hatta al-jala [Lectures on Syria from the
Occupation to the Evacuation] (Cairo, 1953). For Armanazis description of the last phase of Syrias
struggle for independence, see pp.15988.
37. In early August President Harry Truman spoke with Professor Phillip Hitti, a historian of Lebanese
origin at Princeton University. He described the Syrian and Lebanese leaders as charlatans with no
principles, who were at the service of Great Britain and far from their people and their aspirations.
Concerning the events in Syria in the previous months, he stated that personally, he believed that it
was simply a theatrical show well prepared by the British and played out by the Syrians. These details
were reported by Hittis secretary to Constantine Zuryak of the Syrian Legation in Washington.
38. MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 755, Beirut, No.981, 19 Oct. 1944, and Note, 16 Feb. 1945,
Beynet to Bidault; Zamir, Bid for Altalena: Frances Covert Action in the 1948 War in Palestine,
pp.1820. For Beynets letter to de Gaulle recommending collaboration with the Zionist movement in
June 1945, see authors article The French Connection, Haaretz, Tel Aviv, 20 June 2009.
39. MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 755, No.135, Beirut, 23 Jan. and No.244, 1 Feb. 1945, Beynet to
Bidault; carton 769, No.1129, Beirut, 24 Nov. 1944, Beynet to Bidault. French Intelligence constantly
monitored Khuris health. Reports can be found in carton 1142. The French also obtained the minutes

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

40.

41.

42.
43.
44.
45.
46.

47.

48.

49.
50.

817

of all the meetings between Quwatli and Mardam on the one hand and Karameh and Pharoun on the
other. This allowed Beynet to eectively use covert action to sow discord between the two states.
Among the participants were General Paget, the High Commissioner of Palestine, the Governors of
Cyprus and Aden, and Ambassadors from Baghdad, Cairo, Jeddah, Teheran and Damascus.
Cornwallis, the former Ambassador to Baghdad, was also present.
For exchanges of telegrams between de Gaulle and Beynet during the crisis, see Beynets papers in
SHAT, box 1K230. For Stirlings version of the crisis see: Stirling, Safety Last, pp.22938. For
detailed daily descriptions of the crisis see Mardams version in Syrias Quest, pp.20920.
SHAT, box 4H309, Reunion du 5 avril au sujet des aaires du Levant, Paris, 5 April 1945.
De Gaulle, War Memoirs, Salvation, p.879.
Spears Papers, Middle East Centre, St. Antonys College, Oxford, box I, Extract from Levant Diary,
194445.
De Gaulle, War Memoirs, Salvation, pp.87980; G. Bidault, Resistance: The Political Autobiography of
Georges Bidault (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967), pp.96101.
De Gaulle, War Memoirs, Salvation, pp.7679, 862, 8757, 880, 890. Churchills response to de
Gaulles accusations on 5 June 1945 in Parliament, MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 1161. See
also J.W. Young, The Foreign Oce and the Departure of General de Gaulle, June 1945January
1946, The Historical Journal, Vol.25, No.1 (1982), pp.20916; A.W. DePorte, De Gaulles Foreign
Policy, 19441946 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), pp.1512.
SHAT, box 4H375, le with minutes of British and French ocers meetings prior to the crisis. See in
particular the meeting between Paget and Beynet on 22 May 1945; box 4H410, Apercu General,
Damas, 1929 May 1945.
MAE, Nantes, Syrie et Liban, carton 1161, Statement made by General Beynet, Beirut, 9 June 1945.
His press conference, SHAT, box 4H309. Following de Gaulles and Beynets accusations, Stirling was
recalled to London in mid-June. See Stirling, Safety Last, pp.2367. Churchill was sensitive to de
Gaulles allegations, which received wide coverage in the British press, coming as they did shortly
before the parliamentary elections. Throughout the crisis the French Information Service in Beirut
prepared a weekly summary of the reaction of the French press to the Syrian crisis. Examples of such
reports can be seen in carton 1161.
This term was taken from the title of E. Monroes book, Britains Moment in the Middle East,
19141956 (London: Methuen, 1963).
P. Seale, The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics, 19451958 (London: Oxford
University Press, 1965); A. Rathmell, Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle for Syria,
19491961 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1995).

Appendix
List of Documents
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.

25 April 1942 Nuri al-Said-Quwatli agreement


July 1942/February 1943 Hashemite-Quwatli agreement
5 December 1943 Mardams and Quwatlis verbal declaration to Spears
15 February 1944 Mardam to Spears
6 March 1944 Mardam to Spears
6 March 1944 Mardam to Spears
15 March 1944 Secret Syro-Saudi agreement
15 April 1944 Nuri al-Said-Mardam secret agreement
5 June 1944 Mardam-Spears agreement
27 July 1944 Mardam to Spears
29 July 1944 Instructions from the Foreign Oce
5 August 1944 British secret proposal (MacKereth) via Sulh to Jabri
5 August 1944 Claytons instructions to Beirut

818
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
62.
63.

M. Zamir
21 August 1944 Edens instructions to Spears Mission in response to Mardams
request
24 August 1944 British memorandum to Mardam
25 August 1944 Sulhs letter to Jabri
8 September 1944 Spears-Quwatli meeting
12 September 1944 Quwatlis letter to Nuri al-Said
12 September 1944 Nuri al-Saids reply to Shukri al-Quwatli
14 September 1944 Jabris reply to Sulh
15 September 1944 Nuri al-Said to Shukri al-Quwatli
15 September 1944 Nuri al-Said-Jamil Mardam secret agreement
18 September 1944 Quwatlis reply to Spears
21 September 1944 Quwatlis report on his meeting with Cornwallis
22 September 1944 Quwatlis report on his meeting with Cornwallis
24 September 1944 Quwatlis report on his meeting with Cornwallis
21 September 1944 Quwatli to Ibn Saud
22 September 1944 Mardam to the Foreign Oce
27 September 1944 Ibn Saud to Quwatli
5 October 1944 Jabri from Alexandria to Quwatli
4 October 1944 Asali from Alexandria to Quwatli
10 October 1944 MacKereths verbal note to Syrian Government
8 February 1945 Iraq proposes military aid
9 February 1945 Quwatli to Ibn Saud
19 February 1945 Quwatlis report on his visit to Saudi Arabia
16 February 1945 Quwatlis report on his meeting with Faruq and Ibn Saud
20 February 1945 Quwatlis report on his meeting with Churchill and Eden
19 February 1945 Mardam from Cairo to Quwatli
20 February 1945 Ahmed Maher to Mardam
5 March 1945 Amir Abdallah to the Iraqi Regent
No date Faris al Khuri to Shone
7 March 1945 Quwatlis protest to Shone
14 March 1945 Shones reply to Quwatli
18 March 1945 Minutes of conversations between Quwatli and the Iraqi Regent
28 March 1945 Armanazi from London to Mardam
30 March 1945 Mardam conveys Quwatlis verbal note to Shone
2 April 1945 Atasi from Paris to Mardam
2 April 1945 Cadogan to the British Legation in Beirut
4 April 1945 Cadogan to the British Legation in Beirut
3 April 1945 Armanazi to Mardam
8 April 1945 Middle East War Council in Faiyum
10 April 1945 Mardams verbal note to Quwatli
15 April 1945 Armanazi to Mardam
15 April 1945 Atasi to Mardam
17 April 1945 Mardams reply to Armanazi
19 April 1945 Mardam to Atasi
20 April 1945 Shone to Mardam
27 April 1945 Armanazi to Mardam
2 May 1945 Atasi to Mardam
3 May 1945 Cadogan to Shone
3 May 1945 Mardam to Atasi
5 May 1945 Churchill to de Gaulle
6 May 1945 Atasi to Mardam

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon


64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
69.
70.
71.
72.
73.
74.
75.
76.
77.
78.
79.
80.
81.
82.
83.
84.
85.
86.
87.
88.
89.
90.
91.
92.
93.
94.
95.
96.
97.
98.
99.
100.
101.
102.
103.
104.
105.
106.
107.
108.
109.
110.
111.
112.
113.

819

7 May1945 British verbal note to Mardam


10 May 1945 Armanazi to Mardam
10 May 1945 Minutes of the Syrian Cabinet meeting
15 May 1945 Quwatli to Mardam on Griggs visit
12 May 1945 Barazi to Stirling on Griggs visit to Quwatli
15 May 1945 Barazi to Stirling on Quwatlis concerns
14 May 1945 Atasi to Mardam on Beynets return
16 May 1945 Ibn Saud to Quwatli
17 May 1945 Spears to Quwatli via Stirling
17 May 1945 Shones memorandum to the Syrian government
19 May 1945 Ibn Saud warns Quwatli of Iraqi army intervention
19 May 1945 Quwatlis reply to Ibn Saud
19 May 1945 Asalis instructions to the Syrian security forces
20 May 1945 Chamoun from Baghdad to Mardam
20 May 1945 Mardam to Atasi
20 May 1945 Mardam to Atasi
20 May 1945 Armanazi to Mardam
21 May 1945 Syrian Cabinets secret decision
21 May 1945 Shones memorandum to Mardam
21 May 1945 Armanazi to Mardam
21 May 1945 Chamoun from Baghdad to Mardam
29 May 1945 Quwatli-Shone secret agreement
31 May 1945 Churchills ultimatum to de Gaulle, delivered by the British Embassy in
Paris
1 June 1945 Pagets ultimatum to Beynet
1 June 1945 Churchills order to Paget
2 June 1945 Churchills order to Paget
2 June 1945 Churchill to Paget
3 June 1945 Laws order to Paget
4 June 1945 Laws order to Paget
7 June 1945 Laws order to Paget
7 June 1945 Law to Paget
10 June 1945 Laws order to Paget
10 June 1945 Laws order to Paget
11 June 1945 Laws order to Paget
2 June 1945 Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget
7 June 1945 Mardam-Shone agreement
7 June 1945 Mardams report to the Cabinet
7 June 1945 Syrian Cabinets decision
9 June 1945 Shones memorandum to Mardam
9 June 1945 Mardam to Shone
10 June 1945 Mardam to Shone
15 June 1945 Shone to Mardam
16 June 1945 Shone to Mardam
18 June 1945 Mardam to Shone
18 June 1945 Shones reply to Mardam
18 June 1945 Mardam to Shone
19 June 1945 Shones reply to Mardam
18 June 1945 Mardam to Shone
18 June 1945 Shones reply to Mardam
20 June 1945 Mardam to Shone

820

M. Zamir

114.
115.
116.
117.
118.
119.
120.
121.
122.
123.
124.
125.

26 June 1945 Mardam to Shone


24 June 1945 Shone to Mardam
26 June 1945 Shone to Mardam
28 June 1945 Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget
28 June 1945 Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget
28 June 1945 Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget
28 June 1945 Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget
28 June 1945 Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget
29 June 1945 Mardams report to Quwatli
5 July 1945 Evans to Mardam
10 July 1945 Evans verbal note to Mardam
14 July 1945 Asali to the Cabinet on Mardams intrigues

Documents
Document 1: Nuri al-Said-Quwatli agreement
Baghdad, 25 April 1942
Following is the agreement concluded between Nuri Said and Shukri Quwatli, which they
swore by God to adhere to and make all their eorts to implement.
It is with their faith in Arabism and its glory, in our nation and its virtues, that they
concluded it, inspired by God and counting on Him for everything they have decided to work
for.
They realize that for centuries the Arab nation has suered from divisions and separations
and foreigners and indel intruders established their sovereignty over it.
They acknowledge that the ignorance rife in the Arab countries is the main factor in the
humiliation felt by the Arab people feel and that it is one of the fundamental causes of the
despotism and humiliation to which it is subjected.
It is in light of all the above and having considered the issue at length, that the good God
inspired them to conclude the following agreement:
1)

2)

3)

4)
5)

6)

Nuri Said will endeavour in Iraq and wherever it is deemed necessary, to prepare
the ground for an absolute and complete Arab Unity. He pledges before God to do
this.
Shukri Quwatli will endeavour in Damascus and wherever it is deemed necessary, to
prepare the ground for an absolute and complete Arab Unity. He pledges before God to
do this.
Each of the two contracting parties is responsible to himself, to his brother and to God
for his actions. He is responsible for the desired success and must lead his region to attain
it with the agreement of his brother.
Each of the two contracting parties undertakes to honestly help his brother like a friend
helps a friend and a close friend helps a close friend.
Nuri Said undertakes to facilitate and morally and materially help his brother Shukri
with regard to all foreign authorities. For his part, Shukri undertakes the same with
regard to Nuri.
Both contracting parties agree that presidencies and thrones do not constitute an
obstacle between them. Both of them seek only the Arabs interests, whoever the foreign
power might be, the goal being the interests of the Arab nation.
That said, both contracting parties recognize the following two facts:

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon


7)

821

The house of the Hashemites benets from its dominant position in the Arab cause and
thus deserves the greatest appreciation and gratitude.
a) Great Britain, which is the largest global power dominating the Near East, is not a
hostile obstacle to the Arabs, because the interests of the Arabs necessitate a true
friendship and staunch loyalty with regard to this power, and if the Arabs do not gain its
friendship of their own accord, the circumstances and events will force them to submit to
it by force, which must be avoided by all means.
8) The Unity of Syria with all the regions that were detached is vital for the entire Arab
nation. This Unity must be the goal towards which all eorts must be coordinated. It is
understood that all these eorts must be made after the understanding between the two
brothers who signed this document.
9) The question of Syria and Lebanon must be resolved in accordance with the Arabs
interests in order to remove the foreign colonizer who rules there.
10) The Syrian borders in the north must be modied in order to guarantee the return of the
Arabs of Cilicia to the cradle of the motherland.
11) The friends of one of the contracting brothers are the friends of the other and vice versa.
Each of the two contracting parties undertakes not to make things easy for and to
struggle against the political and personal enemies of his brother.
12) The question of Palestine is sensitive. Neither of the two contracting parties may express
a denitive opinion on the subject without consulting with Great Britain.
13) The two contracting brothers undertake to help each other succeed in their respective
countries and to collaborate with all the Arabs who are striving towards the goals that
they pursue.
14) Each of the two contracting parties will strive, within the limits of its ability, to form a
bloc of Arab states which can support each other to facilitate cultural, economic,
political and military collaboration between the Arab peoples.
15) Lebanons situation is special. Each of the contracting parties must apply himself to
realizing Lebanese Unity with the other Arab countries, by collaborating on the one
hand with our Lebanese brothers and on the other with Great Britain which seeks the
annexation of Lebanon to Syria.
16) Turkey and Persia pose a threat to the Arab nation. Iraq and Syria will support each
other to ward o these serious threats.
17) France poses a direct threat which we must remove by any means possible. Syrias
liberty is necessary in attaining Arab Unity. Deliverance from the French threat is a
basic factor to which all possible help must be rendered in order to remove this
threat.
In any event, Nuri Said promises that Iraq will not recognize the present Syrian
government.
18) The attitude of Iraq and Syria with regard to the House of Saud will be dened by
an agreement between the two contracting parties. No guiding principle will be
adopted with regard to Ibn Saud before there is complete agreement between Iraq and
Syria.
19) This agreement will retain its general form until Shukri Quwatli rises to power. The
provisions of the agreement will constitute the basis of the agreement on national issues.
Drawn up at the present on a personal level, this agreement will then be brought to the
national Arab level.

This is our agreement. God is our witness.


Signatures:
Shukri Quwatli
Nuri Said

822

M. Zamir

Document 2: HashemiteQuwatli agreement


July 42/February 1943
Top Secret
Plan for Syrian Unity
1)
2)
3)

4)

5)
6)
7)

8)

Syria is one geographical unity [illegible word] and must regain its unity.
Syrian Unity can be realized in stages, but at each stage, the wishes of the peoples of the
Syrian regions must be taken into consideration and their interests must be safeguarded.
The Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Transjordanians, united from the beginning by
their noble traditions, are currently linked by economic interests which are becoming
increasingly important.
Greater Syria is able to rule elements which may not be purely Arab, but are of noble
origin. All hostility is suppressed. The Jews, because of the blood ties between them and
the Arabs, will be the object of hostility only if they initiate it.
Greater Syria will be a part of the Greater Arab Unity.
Each region of [Greater] Syria will retain its distinctiveness and its nancial autonomy,
while they will all pursue the same common economic and national vision.
Autonomy is guaranteed to each region, but Syrian Unity rstly and Arab Unity secondly
have one sole aim, which is to nd the unique means that will rmly ensure the common
interests of each one.
The aim of this plan is to create an Arab bloc suciently strong to guarantee and protect the
Arab culture and way of life in the Islamic East against annihilation and disappearance.

This plan will allow us to collaborate eciently, according to our traditions, with the Great
Powers and not submit ourselves to their will. End.
Each one signed the present document, adding the following remarks:
Amir Abdul llah
From the bottom of my heart I declare my abidance by this noble plan.
Amir Abdullah
It is for the realization of this noble ideal that we live, we, members of the Hashemite family.
Nuri al-Said
I welcome this plan which will rouse the Arabs, which will unite them and create a true
friendship between them and their cousins.
Shukri Quwatli
I agree, but we must wait for the right opportunity.

This plan is dated July 1942. It was signed by Shukri Quwatli in February 1943.
As for the Jews, their agreement or refusal was not mentioned anywhere.

Note by the agent


This plan was authored by Dr. Magnessi.1 It has been approved so far by Amir Abdul llah,
Amir Abdullah, Nuri Said and Shukri Quwatli.
[Authors note: In 1942 Dr. Judah Magnes, President of the Hebrew University, headed a
group of Jewish intellectuals who advocated a bi-national or autonomous Jewish entity within
an Arab Federation. Apparently he secretly negotiated with Nuri al-Said and British ocials.
[These are original explanatory notes added by the French translators to some of the documents and
presented here in consecutive order.]
1
Phonetic spelling. Probably Mac Ness.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

823

French sources indicate that the above agreement was prepared in four languages, including
Hebrew. See also Document 45.]

Document 3: Mardams and Quwatlis verbal declaration to Spears


Translation
Top Secret
Verbal declaration by Jamil Bey Mardam to General Spears with the knowledge of
Shukri Quwatli
5 December 1943
I can assure Your Excellency that we do not intend to begin negotiations with the French
authorities to conclude, as they wish, a treaty with them.
The state of war and resulting confusion does not allow us to rely on any agreement that
might be concluded with us, the consequences and value of which we do not know.
This opinion is reinforced by the fact that legitimate France, the result of a government
that represents the French people, does not currently exist.
We can sign a treaty with the Allies, but not solely with France.

This declaration is registered in the Spears Mission in the registry of political


correspondence under No.115 S.

Document 4: Mardam to Spears


Translation
Top secret
Syrian Republic
Ministry of Foreign Aairs External Correspondence No.61
Damascus, 15 February 1944
To His Excellency, the Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majestys Government in
Damascus
Minister,
The Syrian government has no objection if Allied buildings and military barracks are
constructed on its territory.
We have noted your statement, according to which the true goal of these buildings would
not undermine Syrian sovereignty, and according to which the buildings in question, after
their evacuation, will be totally liquidated to the sole benet of the Syrian treasury.
Yours, etc. . . .. . . .
Minister of Foreign Aairs
Signed: Jamil Mardam Bey

Document 5: Mardam to Spears


Translation
Ministry of Foreign Aairs Foreign Correspondence No.75
Top Secret Damascus, 6 March 1944

824

M. Zamir

To His Excellency, the Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majestys Government in


Damascus
Minister,
Your Excellency knows that the national(ist) Syrian government had agreed to a concession
regarding the search for and exploitation of Syrian oil.
I assure you today that the present Syrian national(ist) government does not intend to
change the stand it adopted in 1938, and that it remains faithful to its undertakings to the
company that owns the concession.
I would like to ask you, Minister, to please transmit these assurances to whoever has the
right to see them and to believe in the sincerity of our intentions and promises.
Yours, etc . . . ..
Minister of Foreign Aairs
Signed: Jamil Mardam Bey

Document 6: Mardam to Spears


Translation
Top Secret
Syrian Republic
Ministry of Foreign Aairs

External Correspondence No.76


Damascus, 6 March 1944
To His Excellency, the Minister Plenipotentiary of His
Majestys British Government in Damascus

Minister,
I have the honour of conrming to Your Excellency that the government of the Syrian
Republic is willing to give all the help it can regarding the nancial plans, studies and research
undertaken or that will be undertaken by the British or by citizens of the United Kingdom in
Syria.
We are pleased to inform you that the Syrian Republic will gladly welcome British capital
whose contribution would be considered as proof of a noble collaboration between Great
Britain and the Syrian Arab nation for the benet of its progress and development.
We are therefore willing to engage in detailed negotiations with the British capitalists who
want, as you wished to inform us, to make a return on their assets and their activities in Syria.
These discussions will be concerned with the projects on which the Syrian government and
private Syrian establishments will be likely to collaborate.
Yours, etc . . .. . . ..
Minister of Foreign Aairs
Signed: Jamil Mardam Bey

Document 7: Secret Syro-Saudi agreement


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Secret Syro-Saudi Agreement of 15 March 1944

Between
His Royal Highness Amir Saud Ibn Abd al-Aziz, heir to the Arab Saudi Kingdom,

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

825

and His Excellency Sheikh Yusuf Yasin, head of the political Cabinet,
acting on behalf of His Majesty Abd al-Aziz Ibn Abd al-Aziz Ibn Abd al-Aziz al-Faysal alSaud
on the one hand,
and
His Excellency Jamil Mardam Bey, Minister of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic, acting
on behalf of His Excellency Shukri Bey Quwatli, President of the Syrian Republic,
on the other.

Article 1 The representatives of the two sides have agreed to help each other and consult with
each other on anything related to their general interests or that concerns the politics of the two
states, both with regard to one or more other Arab states, or one or more foreign states.
The representatives of the two sides have agreed to provide mutual assistance in any
dispute, conict or conciliation that might arise between one of them and another Arab or
foreign party.
Article 2 Anything relating to plans for Arab Unity must be done with complete
understanding between the two parties.
The two parties undertake not to adopt, under any circumstances, a stand opposed to the
stand adopted by the other.
Article 3 The government of the Syrian Republic and the government of the Saudi Arabian
Kingdom will help each other completely with any matters relating to the interests of the
nomadic Bedouin. The two states will pursue a single approach in any dispute or conict that
might arise between the Bedouin under their jurisdiction.
Article 4 The two governments will help each other on all matters pertaining to the natural
resources that have already been exploited or that will be exploited in the Arab states, as well
as on matters regarding oil and the companies that have obtained or will obtain concessions.
Each contracting government will approve any measures that the other might take against
any operating company or establishment.
Article 5 This agreement is concluded for a period of ve years, tacitly renewable unless one
of the signatories requests its modication.
Article 6 Two copies of this agreement have been made.
Bodet al-Tanhat, 15 March 1944
S/ Yusuf Yasin
S/ Jamil Mardam
The seal of Saud Ibn Abd al-Aziz

Registered in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.37 Documents.

Document 8:: Nuri al-SaidMardam secret agreement


This is a copy of the agreement signed on 15 April 1944 between the former Iraqi Prime
Minister, Nuri Said Pasha, and the current Minister of National Economy in Syria, Jamil
Mardam Bey.

We, Nuri Said and Jamil Mardam Bey, have agreed:


a.

To work together for Syrias liberation from the yoke of the colonizers and for the unity
of these countries.

826
b.
c.

d.
e.

M. Zamir
To strive for the formation of an Arab Hashemite state including Syria.
The head of the kingdom will be and can only be Jamil Mardam. The latter, who will
be the sole leader of the kingdom, will be second in rank after the designated
sovereign.
Nuri Said undertakes to work towards the realization of this plan and to accept the
authority of the chosen sovereign.
The two parties undertake to respect this agreement, which God is the only witness
thereof.

Signed: Nuri Said and Jamil Mardam


Two copies made
15 April 1944
[Authors note: This copy was obtained by the French Intelligence more than a year after it
was signed. See also Document 22.]

Document 9: MardamSpears agreement


Translated from the Arabic
Secret and Condential
Republic of Syria
Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Cabinet
Damascus, 5 June 1944
No.119/23/S.B.
Verbal Note
His Excellency General E. Spears, Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majestys
Government, Damascus
In conrmation of our conversation, I consider it my duty to conrm our ultimate desire to
conclude a frank and clear agreement between us.
The proposals that you submitted encourage us to believe that our understanding will
ensure the safeguarding of our and your interests.
With deep respect,
Minister of Foreign Aairs
S/Jamil Mardam Bey

Document 10: Mardam to Spears


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Republic of Syria
Ministry of Foreign Aairs
No.142/29 S.B.
Damascus, 27.7.44
His Excellency the Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majestys Government
Your Excellency,
You are undoubtedly aware of the circumstances in which Syrias constitutional and
independent status has evolved, as well as the good impression and result produced by the aid
provided by His Majestys Government to this eect.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

827

At the moment, as former intentions are re-emerging for the destruction of which the
Syrians have sacriced so much, the government of the Syrian Republic feels obliged to thwart
these intentions which are harmful to the ties of friendship between the Syrians and the Allies,
and to take steps to guarantee its independence, dignity and national sovereignty which its
enemies have tried to undermine.
While we are asking for new conrmation of the extent of the aid that His Majestys
government can give the young Syrian state, we know that Great Britain, anxious to keep its
promises, will full its responsibilities with regard to Syrian independence and will not tolerate
any attack on it. Thereby, it will gain not only the trust of the Syrians, but also of the entire
Arab nation.
Awaiting your conrmation and your noble actions, I convey to you my deep respects,
Minister of Foreign Aairs
S/Jamil Mardam

Document 11: Instructions from the Foreign Oce


Foreign Oce
Near East Department
No.XII S.L.
29 July 1944
Coded
From now until further instructions, continue to observe stop Refrain from any
intervention in local aairs stop Take care that proof wont be held against us stop Get
detailed instructions from Cairo stop.

Document 12: British secret proposal (MacKereth) via Sulh to Jabri


Translation
Top Secret
British Proposals Ocially Presented by Riad al-Sulh on 5 August 1944 to Saadallah Jabri

1) The British government pledges to eectively and completely and absolutely protect
Syrian independence against any aggression or transgressions from any state or group of
states that lay claim to Syrias rights.
2) Great Britain pledges to provide the necessary funds to exploit Syrias agricultural and
metallurgical resources in the framework of a nancial and economic agreement in which
Syrias interests will be safeguarded in all ways possible.
3) Great Britain pledges to provide experts and technicians who will freely enter into
contracts with the Syrian government and who will be considered its ocials.
4) Great Britain will help Syria to set bounds to the direction of Arab Unity. It will occupy
itself with unifying nancial and economic regulations as well as teaching methods in the
Arab states. It will help Syria to attain a prominent position among the Arab states.
5) Great Britain pledges to ensure the application of the clauses of the White Paper in
Palestine and promises to put a complete stop to Jewish ambitions.
6) If Syria seeks unication with Transjordan and Palestine, the British government will not
impose the type of regime. If Syria chooses a monarchy, Great Britain will not impose
Amir Abdullah as king, but it hopes that the Syrians will choose a Hashemite Arab Amir.
7) In return for all this, Great Britain wishes to be assured:

828

M. Zamir

a) that Syria will nally strive to free itself.


b) that Syria will conclude a treaty with Great Britain only.
c) that Syria will not enter into any pact or international agreement before consulting Great
Britain.
Document 13: Claytons instructions to Beirut
5 August 1944
Coded
No.29
Oce of the Minister Resident in the Middle East
Service du Levant
We do not want any intervention in our interior aairs.
This would produce diculties and complication and the position becomes clearer every
day in the following sense:
1)
2)
3)
4)

Those people who are governing at present pretend to be with us but they cannot continue
with us.
We are compelled to make our choice between them and our friends and we cannot
change our plan, it being not a question of tactics but a matter of principle.
Our proposals so far submitted have been without response. We should not insist on
getting an answer. It is up to them to come to us and not up to ourselves to come to them.
It is necessary that our behaviour be the following:

We are not satised with this situation. But we do not intend to undertake anything to
change it. It is up to our friends to make up their minds. We are being in two opposite camps.
We are wanting to be on good terms with both of them.
Especially it is the international events which are urging us to consolidate our position with
one of those camps.
Considering this important question it should be decided upon who is for and who is
against us.
All these questions will be studied on the spot as soon as I shall have arrived with you.
Signed: Clayton

Document 14: Edens instructions to Spears Mission in response to Mardams request


Coded telegramme
Foreign Oce L.R. No.9 from 21 August [1944]
Top Secret
Enclosed you will nd a memorandum in which we are answering the claim of the frm.
[Foreign Minister] M. Jamil Mardam Bey.
Under the present circumstances we are not going to expose ourselves in a matter the end of
which is not sure.
In a time w[h]ere things are changing rapidly even from one moment to the next one we are
not willing to take side with the weak and leave the strong.
Considering the present circumstances it is necessary for us to have the friendship of
the French people because we have common interests. In this way we do not want to satisfy
Mr. Jamil and his fellows.
We have promised once more Mr. Massigli that our position towards them should
be inspired of our ancient agreement but there must not be forgotten that we are

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

829

not wanting to withdraw completely from the eld having obligations and aims to be
realised.
Your manger (minister?..,) will have with him all necessary information.
(s.) Eden

Document 15: British memorandum to Mardam


Memorandum presented to Jamil Mardam by the Political Ocer in Damascus
24 August 1944
The British Government regrets that it cannot satisfy the demand you laid down in your
letter from the end of July.
The reasons given by His Majestys Government may not satisfy you at the moment,
but they are inspired by a true desire to safeguard Syrian independence, which it has
recognized.
Great Britain, on which you have based great hopes, does not wish to disappoint you in any
way, but it is constrained:

by reason of its loyalty to its ally, France,


because, having initially found in you a sincere desire for collaboration in the framework
of the propositions it made to you and which met with your approval, it then found itself
facing an ambiguous attitude which continues to cause it anxiety.

Your Excellency, I regret having to conrm to you that the key to all these matters has been
oered to you but you have refused to use it.
Yours sincerely,
(no signature)

Document 16: Sulhs letter to Jabri


Translated from the Arabic
Letter from Riad Bey Sulh to Saadallah Bey Jabri

Beirut, 25 August 1944


To my dear brother Saadallah bey, may God protect and keep him.
I embrace you and havent seen you for a long time. All your orders have been carried out. I
discussed frankly with His Excellency Colonel MacKereth the matter that you spoke to me
about today. It is regrettable that the English have decided to continue their policy. They
declare that they do not wish to interfere in your aairs and that they now need very much the
friendship of the French. You have to understand the situation.
Anyway, I believe that our friends (namely the English) are not happy with you. You know
why. I told you, when I informed you of the solutions for which your agreement was
requested, that they would make things dicult for you if you didnt go along with them.
Personally, I had a positive opinion, but Shukri Bey, may God keep him, sought the
impossible.
Politics, dear brother, is dierent from friendship and aection. In any case, the matter
depends solely on you. Act as you think best.
May God keep you for your sincere brother.
Signed/ Riad

830

M. Zamir

Note: This letter was written on Friday, 25 August and entrusted to Aref Bey Nakadi, the
current Director General of the Syrian Ministry of Justice, to be conveyed to Saadallah Jabri
in Damascus.
A copy of the letter was given to the English by Riad al-Sulh.

Document 17: SpearsQuwatli meeting


Top Secret
Summary of the declarations made on 8 September to H.E. Shukri Bey Quwatli,
President of the Republic,
By General Sir. E.L. Spears, His British Majestys Minister

I congratulate His Excellency the President with all my heart for his recovery and I hope
that health returns to the relations that exist today between his Majestys Government and His
Excellencys Government.
It pains me to say that our relations have recently not been as I personally would have
wished them to be. Our relations have been troubled by some small clouds which will become
larger if we dont try to disperse them. The rst of these clouds is your secret agreement with
King Ibn Saud, and the second is the violent attitude that you have adopted of late following
the article in the Times.
It is painful, Your Excellency, to see the eorts that I made for three years to help the Syrians
obtain freedom which would unify them with their other Arab brethren. I say that it pains me to
see my eorts doomed to failure and the idea of the Arab nation doomed to division.
I assured you personally, on many occasions, of my governments desire to emancipate the
Arabs, to unify them and to negotiate with them on the basis of friendship and the exchange of
interests, but on every occasion I do not cease, nor does my government cease, to note the
doubt that lls your hearts.
We have made every eort possible to assure you of the honesty of our intentions. It is
regrettable to see that my government will nd itself compelled to cease all intervention in
Syrias aairs and allow you to settle your diculties with people other than ourselves. We are
sure that you will not nd in anyone other than us the same spirit of conciliation and
friendship that you nd in us.
We have presented you the proposals by means of your brothers, and despite the noble
character of these propositions, they still await a reply, whether positive or negative.
Your recent attitude concerning the plan for the unication of Syria displeased us, when we
are sure that you had, in the past, agreed to it.
As for your machinations with regard to His Highness the Amir Abdallah, we say to you as
friends, and with the respect that we have for Syrian independence, that it is not in keeping
with the generosity, Arabism and courtesy the Syrians are known for.
Your Excellency, I make these observations regarding your government as a friend who
wishes to receive some clear and positive answers on the matter. I hope that this is the prelude
to a true understanding between you and your Arab brethren in the discussions that will soon
take place in Alexandria, discussions that we hope will not fail because of you.
Interpreter: S/Debbas

Registered on 12 September 1944 at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.79 File of
secret documents.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

831

Document 18: Quwatlis letter to Nuri al-Said


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Letter from Shukri Quwatli to Nuri Pasha Said
Damascus, 25 Ramadan 13632
My dear and generous brother,
Greetings from Arabism.
I do still do not know the reason for this boycott and this long separation. If we have done
wrong, we ask for your forgiveness, and if we have blasphemed, we ask for Gods pardon.
I do know there are things that have been bothering you, but God knows that they are not
of our doing. You know the circumstances in which we nd ourselves. You must also know of
our ordeal with the French. Each time we block one door, they open others. You must be
aware of their intrigues and the diculties they cause us throughout the country. In this
critical period you deprive us of your fraternity, your aection and your advice. Our sorrow is
exacerbated by the fact that your friends adopt the attitude of tigers and show us their teeth.
May God help us in this situation.
Oh, brother! I am waiting for you. If you do not to come to us, we will go to you. Today we
are more than ever in need of helping each other, even more so since I should like to clear up
the misunderstanding that has arisen between us.
I am waiting for you.
May God protect you.
Your brother
Signed: Shukri Quwatli

Document 19: Nuri al-Saids reply to Shukri al-Quwatli


Translation
Top Secret
Reply from Nuri Pasha Said to Shukri Quwatlis letter

Your Excellency and Dear Brother,


I shall obey your order and will come, despite the bitterness and pain that I bear in my
soul.
I wish Your Excellency would put an end to the attitude of his hero3 Saadallah. I also wish
you to know that my friends can no longer put up with the useless evasiveness that is only
aimed at leading you into the arms of the French, who will play with you as they wish.
I wish for God to grant us success and guide us for the benet of all Arabs.
25 Ramadan 13634
Signed: Nuri

Document 20: Jabris reply to Sulh


Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
of the Syrian Republic under No.194
2

12 September 1944.
The word hero is used here ironically.
4
12 September 1944.
3

832

M. Zamir

Top Secret
Verbal note presented by Saadallah Jabri to Riad al-Sulh,
Thursday, 14 September 1944

It is with regret, Your Excellency that I reply to the proposals that you raised and
conveyed to me personally and which the Minister of an Allied State and a friend referred to in
his conversation with His Excellency the President of the Republic.5
I regret to say that these proposals are misplaced.
First of all, you know that Syria is an independent, sovereign state with a constitutional
regime. I was very surprised to see an ocial diplomatic representative allude to these
proposals in a conversation he had with the President of the Republic,6 thus pretending to be
unaware of the responsible and qualied Ministry when speaking to the President of the
Republic who is not responsible.
Secondly, these proposals greatly surprised me and I do not believe that the Authorities
who drew them up want to present them to us ocially, because despite their attractive
appearance, they conceal a new kind of mandate. Now you are aware of the sacrices that we
made to free ourselves of the mandate.
We assured His Excellency General Spears on several occasions that we do not wish to
negotiate with France, but neither do we wish to come under the mandate of a state which,
under the guise of an honest treaty, would place us under its protectorate.
I regret to have to tell you frankly that I consider the proposals that you conveyed to me
null and void.

Document 21: Nuri al-Said to Shukri al-Quwatli


15 September 1944
To His Excellency and brother Shukri Bey Quwatli
I assure Your Excellency that you have no reason to worry about me. I am, as you
know, your aectionate brother and your satisfaction is the only thing that matters to me.
Our brother Jamil told me about the doubts and troubles that ll your soul. We remain
true to our commitments and you will always see proof of my sincerity. Anyway, we will
soon meet in Damascus where I hope we will renew our commitment of aection and
understanding.
I can already conrm that we, the Iraqis, will not undertake anything or say anything in
Alexandria without your agreement and within the framework of subjects we already agreed
on in the past.
Furthermore, I hope that your representatives will show the same goodwill as we do.
Yours respectfully,
s/ Nuri

5
6

This refers to the memorandum of 5 August 1944 from Riad al-Sulh to Saadallah Jabri.
This refers to the conversation between General Spears and Shukri Quwatli on 8 September. A summary
of the proposals made by General Spears to the President of the Syrian Republic on that occasion was
made by the ocial interpreter of the British Consulate in Damascus, M. Debbas, and deposited in the
les of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs on 12 September under No.79.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

833

Document 22: Nuri al-Said-Jamil Mardam secret agreement


Copy of the secret agreement between
Nuri Said and Jamil Mardam
15 September 1944

We the undersigned, Nuri Said and Jamil Mardam, have reached agreement on the
following:
We will act with one mind to deliver Syria from the colonizers yoke. We will ght for its
unication. We will act to establish a Hashemite Arab throne there, under which Syria, in its
natural borders, will be unied and which will constitute the prelude to the realization of
general Arab Unity.
The primary position in Syria can only be for a return to Jamil Mardam. He will be, after
the occupant of the throne, the countrys premier and its only leader. It is in the name of the
occupant of the throne, whoever it may be, that Nuri Said promises this and undertakes on
his honour and his religion to employ all his eorts to bring it about.
The two parties undertake to keep this agreement secret.
Made in two copies.
15 September 1944
S/ Jamil Mardam S/ Nuri Said
[Authors note: See Document 8.]

Document 23: Quwatlis reply to Spears


Memorandum conveyed on the rst day of the Celebration
(18 September 1944)
by Shukri Quwatli, President of the Syrian Republic, to His Excellency General
Sir E. Spears, Minister of His British Majestys Government7

I assure His Excellency the Minister of our good intention and our desire not to see any
clouds, even light ones, disturb our relations.
I also assure you that we are putting all our hopes in your friendship.
I take this opportunity to reply to Your Excellency regarding a certain number of questions
which, according to him, are troubling him.
What you call a treaty or an agreement concluded between us and the government of His
Majesty Ibn Saud is merely a friendly understanding necessitated by the Arab and Islamic
kinship inspired by the Koranic verse: Make use of virtue and piety. This agreement is not
directed against anyone.
As for the proposals to which you alluded,8 we never considered them, in reality, to be more
than personal conversations between us and some of our brethren. We would be very pleased

This memorandum is Shukri Quwatlis reply to the declarations made to him by General Spears on his
visit of 8 September, and which was registered by the ocial interpreter of the British Consulate in
Damascus, M. Debbas.
These declarations were added to the le of the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs on 12 September under
the number 79.
8
This refers to the memorandum sent on 5 August 1944 by Riad al Sulh to Saadallah Jabri. A copy is in
the archives of the Spears Mission in Beirut.

834

M. Zamir

if you could present us with ocial and clear proposals so that we could study them with the
desire to reach an understanding with you.
With regard to the plan for Unity, I am sure that you are aware of our strong desire for a
representative democratic regime. It is not my intention, nor that of my government, to bind
ourselves to plans whose consequences and contents are unknown.
Nevertheless, I would like Your Excellency to be assured of the following truth: we sincerely
wish to come to an agreement with you, while safeguarding our independence and unity.
I take the opportunity of the meeting of the Congress of Alexandria and the consultations
on Arab Unity to express to you our deep desire to see Great Britain take its place on our side
as a friend and help us free ourselves from the nightmare of French colonization which
threatens our country and whose menace is only getting worse. We also hope that Great
Britain favours reconciliation between us and our brethren, its friends.
Syria wishes, Your Excellency, to release itself from the nightmare of colonization, like it
wishes to be united with its Arab sisters, while remaining an independent and sovereign
republic.
S/ Shukri Quwatli

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


of the Syrian Republic under No.203.

Document 24: Quwatlis report on his meeting with Cornwallis


Top Secret
Report written by Shukri Quwatli
dated 4 Shawal 1363 (21 September 1944)

The copy of this document is led in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.37/A
Special Documents.

Today, I received at my summer house in Zabadani, His Exellency [Kinahan] Cornwallis,


Ambassador of Great Britain to Baghdad, accompanied by Colonel Furlonge.
After dinner, we discussed the Syrian expectations from the Alexandria Congress. I told
him, as you probably know, that the Syrians are more than willing to fraternize and
collaborate with their Arab brothers in order to consolidate their political and economic ties.
For this reason they have no ill intentions towards anyone; on the contrary, all their eorts are
invested into setting themselves free from the dangers surrounding them. To that purpose,
they are adopting, I dare say, the spirit of the British policy.
At that point, Mr. Cornwallis enquired on the said dangers:
Are those dangers real or rather the subject of your obsession? Then he quoted an old
English saying: Fear the devil and you will see him everywhere.
I replied honestly:
We are not obsessed. We are surrounded by danger. British politicians have already noticed
this and have been observing it for some time already. His Excellency General Spears is
convinced of the justice of our point of view. France, which has lost its position in the world, is
making tremendous eorts to impose itself on us, and its ambitions are growing day by day.
Turkey, for its part, has set its mind on certain Syrian lands which it believes it can easily
annex. In addition to all this are the Arab ambitions promoted by propaganda of our Arab

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

835

neighbours, on whose support and aid we were counting. Under these circumstances, we do
not fear the devil, we know he exists.
He replied:
I wish to use the opportunity of my visit to talk to you as an old friend, with frankness and
honesty. The situation in the Arab world is abnormal. It would be regrettable if the Arabs did
not take advantage of Great Britains good intentions because of their inability to unite. To
tell the truth, your position is confusing. The French intentions are not reassuring, nor can we
claim that they are good.
The Turkish ambitions to which you refer are of no consequence and pose no danger at the
present time.
The only potential threat of failure to the Arabs eorts and to our good intentions toward
them is the lack of consensus among the Arabs themselves. To my knowledge, both Iraq and
Transjordan wish you only well. Why dont you go along with them, with honesty and no
ambiguity in order to dissipate this uneasy atmosphere? Your doubts and attitude toward His
Highness the Amir Abdallah is regrettable and cannot even be qualied in diplomatic terms.
At that point I interrupted him by saying:
We cannot welcome into our country anyone who tries to destabilize our regime; we will
not welcome among us anyone who seeks to annihilate us completely.
He replied:
Who told you such a thing? His Highness the Amir Abdallah is a practical man and we
have total condence in him. If he really comes to Syria, it would certainly not be against you
but rather in order to nd collaborators and supporters. You might even attain the highest
level in the country. It would be only a symbolic visit. The future King Abdullah will be like
our kings, who reign but do not govern. As long as Syria is thus divided, the Arab countries
will be unable to unite.
In addition, the Zionists success presents a real danger to the Arab nation and goes against
our mutual interests. Syrias unication will settle this matter once and for all.
I then explained to him that we Syrians will never accept the Amir Abdullah under any
assumed title, and we do not want him as king because we do not trust him.
Then you only have to choose any other Hashemite Amir, he replied.
And to this I replied: If we do so, what will the King of Egypt or the House of Saud
say?
He declared:
These matters shouldnt be brought up; they are irrelevant. Kings have nothing to do with
the wishes and aspirations of the people. The Syrian people, who have proved to be intelligent
and who constantly fought against the French, are worthy of consideration. No one will
oppose them when they decide to welcome into their country the Hashemite family which has
sacriced so much for the cause of the entire Arab nation.
As the conversation had already taken up so much time, I said to him:
We will speak about these issues tomorrow; after I have had time to think about them.
The meeting came to an end. He will come to see me and lunch with me tomorrow in
Damascus.
S/ Shukri Quwatli

Document 25: Quwatlis report on his meeting with Cornwallis


Top Secret

836

M. Zamir

Report written by Shukri Quwatli


dated 5 Shawal 1363 (22 September 1944)

A copy of this document is led in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.37/A
Special Documents.

The topic of the conversation was once more the good intentions of Great Britain toward
the Arabs. I said:
We have already touched on the subject with General Spears. We are sure of his friendship,
but what will be Mr. Edens attitude regarding our aairs? To what extent can we count on his
support to get rid of the French?
He replied:
You have no right to complain after Great Britain has so clearly announced its intention
not to recognize any colonization or foreign inuence over Syria. As for France, it will not
stay, I can assure you. Our friendship with France will not be to your detriment. You can be
sure about that.
As for the Turks ambitions, to which you have alluded, I can tell you nothing useful in that
regard as I have no knowledge of the decisions made at the Adana Congress.
As long as you place your trust in our friendship and support, you should not encounter
any serious problems in that regard. However, all this depends on your degree of
comprehension of British policy regarding the Arabs and the conclusion of an agreement
between them.
I asked him:
Will the essentials of this agreement entail a consensus between the Hashemite and
Saudi families who are hostile to each other although they both do not conceal their loyalty to
you?
He replied:
England does not see this matter like you do; it does not wish for hostility between the
Arabs but rather a consensus. The House of Saud should know that the Hashemite family
means them no harm.
I said:
We Syrians are devoted to the idea of a Republican regime.
He declared:
A Republican regime will not save you from France. Iraq is always ready to intervene on
your behalf, even by armed force. You are probably well aware that in 1940 the Iraqis were
ready to expel the Vichyists from Syria. Now is the right time to set yourselves free from the
many dangers surrounding you in such a way that no one can lay the blame on British
diplomacy for having intervened on your behalf. The military eorts deployed by Iraq and
Trans-Jordan to free you from French inuence will also help you against the Jewish threat
and will keep it at bay.
He then began to explain that his greatest hope was to see the Arab nation be freely reborn
and that the Arabs could only exist if they united; that the leaders of this nation are the
descendants of the prophet Mohamed; that the Arabs have faith only in the descendant of the
Quraish, who laboured for decades on behalf of the Arab cause, and that he would be sorry if
his political career ended before he saw the triumph of the Arab cause. The ultimate triumph
would be the unication of Syria.
During the conversation he threw in some threats, including:

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

837

As an Englishman, I have responsibilities. I assure you that my government is determined


to carry out this plan at any cost; and will not allow anyone to stand in its way. After shaking
o French inuence over Syria, Great Britain is not disposed to letting its interests blow in the
wind.
I concluded the conversation with him with the promise to discuss the matter again before
his departure.
Signed/ Shukri Quwatli

Document 26: Quwatlis report on his meeting with Cornwallis


Top Secret
Report written by Shukri Quwatli
Dated 7 Shawal 1363 (24 September 1944)

A copy of this document is led in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.38/A
Special Documents.

Mr. Cornwallis summarized his opinions as follows:


a.

The British are promoting by all means the independence of Syria and its deliverance from
any foreign inuence.

This encouragement includes political and economic support, as well as military (if needed),
but this support should remain discreet.
They (the British) will support all Syrian claims.
Observation: General Spears had made the same clear and formal promise, in his capacity as
British Minister Plenipotentiary.
b.

If they accept the British views, they (the Syrians) must consider themselves as solely
accountable for any misunderstanding that might arise between them and any other Arab
nation.

Observation: He was referring to any possible misunderstanding between the Syrians and
the Transjordanians, that is, their vision of a Greater Syria, and the State of the House of
Saud.
The sincere promises made by General Spears allow us other interpretations, since he did
not ask us to follow the Hashemite family; on the contrary, he allowed us complete freedom
on that matter whereas Mr. Cornwallis insists on the designation of the Hashemite family.
From our point of view, this matter is very serious, as we must be aware of the exact nature
of the British policy. Will Britain impose the point of view of Cornwallis or of Spears? To
continue under the shadow of these two conicting positions will present many diculties of
which we cannot predict the consequences.
In my opinion, our Foreign Aairs oce must lay emphasis on that matter, as this policy is
too vague and puts most of our friends, such as King Abd al-Aziz, ill at ease; furthermore, this
state of anxiety will allow the French to play their game when we will be the most vulnerable.
c.

Mr. Cornwallis believes that we should put a limit to foreign inuences, whether Soviet or
American.

838

M. Zamir

As a matter of fact, this demand is unachievable, as despite Frances weakness, we still are not
able to free ourselves from its inuence; so how could we close our doors to others?
d.

The Turks have no territorial ambitions over our country.

Personally, I believe otherwise, and the accurate information at our disposal proves it.
Furthermore, the declarations made by our many informants indicate that the Rastan line is
still considered to be under Turkish inuence as promised by the English to the Turks.
Anyhow, Ambassador Cornwallis denial does not carry much weight on the matter, as his
denial does not bind the British government at the present, especially as these conversations
are of a private nature and will enable the British to repudiate them at any time.
e.

In the event of an agreement between us, the British will be able to put a limit to the Jewish
claims.

It is in Mr. Cornwallis opinion that a Jewish state will be created in Palestine.


We should formally oppose this creation.
***
In general, all those sincere and clear conversations had only one purpose: to convince us to
reach an agreement with Iraq and Transjordan so that we will accept the plan for Syrian Unity
proposed by the Emir Abdallah.
We can conclude that:
1.
2.

3.

4.

5.

Britain is determined to shatter French inuence over Syria. We should take as much
advantage as we can of this situation.
The British disagree among themselves regarding the future. (We dont know if this is a
ruse or not) . . . This will enable us to maintain the status quo within our borders as well
as to preserve the Republican regime.
There is an Anglo-Turkish plan regarding Northern Syria. We should be wary of its
consequences and already lay claim to the lost Arab Sanjak (Alexandretta) before the
Turks claim the transfer of Aleppo and other towns.
The American inuence is of special importance for us. Mr. Cornwallis seems to fear its
consequences. We should exploit the situation rather than ght it because it will replace
the undesired French inuence over our country.
The Communist inuence exemplies a lethal threat to our country on two levels:
a. On the religious level
b. On the colonial level

We do not know if the Soviets will come to an agreement with the French or if they will
make our country the bastion of their dangerous propaganda against the Islamic world in
general.
The main issue of my conversation with Mr. Cornwallis is as follows: Mr. Cornwallis sees
the coronation of the Emir Abdallah as a personal plan and not an ocial British plan.
It is our good fortune that, regardless of our dierences and his discreet threats, Mr.
Cornwallis agrees with us that we should free ourselves from French colonial inuence.
In light of this information and these explanations, I would like to ask you to take all
necessary steps to take action in the future.
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Condential and top secret
Transmitted to the Ministry of Foreign Aairs

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

839

Document 27: Quwatli to Ibn Saud


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Letter from President Quwatli to King Ibn Saud
To His Highness and brother His Majesty King Abd al-Aziz Ibn Abd al-Rahman al
Faisal al Saud May God support him

Greetings from Arabism. Our brothers are headed for Alexandria. I dont know your nal
decision. Have you decided to withdraw or has something new happened?
The only thing I can inform Your Majesty is that the situation is going from bad to worse.
Our diculties are continually increasing. God has sent us these impious French and British,
enemies of the nation and religion; our disappointments with both are great and our misfortune
enormous.
As I am writing these lines, news is arriving that these cursed French are preparing traps for
us throughout the country. They threaten us everywhere.
As for the blue-eyed men [English], they sent us this atrocious Cornwallis to convince us of
the necessity of favouring the English, otherwise well pay for our attitude. He began by
threatening to abandon us to France, which will do with us as it pleases. I informed him that
we do not want that and that we will not agree at any price to recognize the French, whom we
wish to get rid of for good; but we also dont want the British to treat us like subordinates. He
then assured me of their good intentions (deceitful) and hastened to present me with an
agreement, or a treaty, as he called it, comprising two parts: one secret and the other public.
He added that eventually, the same treaty but only the public part could be concluded with
the French and the Americans.
Ill tell you about the treaty when they send me the copy, because they told me verbally and
I didnt keep the text.
The most important thing he tried to convince me of is their plan for Syrias unication. He
declares that the British do not insist on Amir Abdallah. We will have the option of choosing
one of the members of the Hashemite family. Despite everything, this cunning man took
precautions. He assured me that he was asking me as a friend and not in an ocial capacity,
and that in his opinion these solutions were the best and in the interests of both the Syrians
and the Arabs.
In any case, I am asking you to give orders to Yusuf9 to participate in the Congress in
Alexandria. His participation in this Congress will help us and alleviate our burden.
May God keep you, Your Highness and dear brother. You are our protector and our support.
4 Shawal 36310
Signed: Shukri
Document 28: Mardam to the Foreign Oce
22 September 1944
Text of the telegram sent to H.E. the Secretary for Foreign Aairs
by the Syrian Foreign Minister

Sheikh Yusuf Yasin, Special Adviser to Ibn Saud.


21 September 1944.

10

840

M. Zamir

I have the honour of informing Your Excellency that the British Minister and the
French representative in Syria have suggested that Syrian Government enter into
negotiations with the French representatives with a view to concluding the treaties by
whose terms France would gain a privileged position in Syria, just as the French
representative stated. The Syrian Government considers that this suggestion is contrary to
the principles set out in the Atlantic Charter and other documents on numerous
occasions by the United Nations principal members. The Syrian Government, which
objects to granting a privileged position in Syria to France or to any other state, rmly
objects to considering this suggestion. The Syrian Government considers that the
mandate, once held by France, ended both de jure and de facto at the time when
liberal, democratic and independent institutions were established in Syria, as well as from
the time when Syrias independence was recognized by Great Britain, the USSR, the
United States and other countries including all those in the Arab world, and the
exchange of diplomatic representatives with these various states. On 22 December 1943,
French representatives themselves concluded with Syria an arrangement transferring to
Syria all the powers and privileges exercised until then by France in Syrias name. I can
assure Your Excellency that the Syrian Government intends to continue observing its
national and international obligations, in conformity with the wishes of the Syrian
people and with the help of the United Nations who have fought this war to defend the
ideals of liberty and justice and to maintain peace throughout the world, including the
Levant.
Yours etc.,
Signed: Jamil Mardam Bey
[Authors note: A copy of the letter was sent by the Foreign Oce to the Quai dOrsay.]

Document 29: Ibn Saud to Quwatli


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Reply of King Ibn Saud to President Shukri Bey Quwatli
To our beloved brother Shukri Bey, may God protect you and keep you.

Greetings and holy blessings. Thanks to God I received your letter and noted all that it says.
We do not wish to boycott these people but we cannot bear their manoeuvring and intrigues.
May God protect us and keep us from their iniquity.
Dear brother, personally, I count only on God, who is my only support. Whatever
the British do, I do not fear them. I only fear God. Their man in our country is like a
fox. The intrigues of this cursed Cornwallis are not unknown to me. For a long time he
has been malicious and treacherous, and he is the son of malicious and treacherous
persons.
The blue-eyed individuals promised me that they would not do anything without my
consent and that this rambling Abdallah would get nothing. They make fun of him like they
make fun of many others. Personally, I was used to their lies, but I didnt believe that they
would lie to me this time. What is their interest in unifying the Arabs? If they had wanted to,
they could have done it after the last war, but may God protect the Arab nation from their
games and the Muslims from their iniquity.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

841

We will send Yusuf to Alexandria; he alone will deal with them. Tell your people to serve as
intermediaries between him and the others. That they dont adopt the same attitude as his, so
that they can retain the means to annoy Nuri and company.
The son of Saud sends his greetings. Bashir and everyone wish you success.
Greetings from your brother.
10 Shawal 36311
S/ Abd al-Aziz Ibn Abd al-Rahman

Document 30: Jabri from Alexandria to Quwatli


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Note from Saadallah Jabri, Syrian Prime Minister
to Shukri Bey Quwatli, President of the Syrian Republic

(brought from Alexandria to Damascus by Fowzi Telo, who ew from Egypt on


5 October 1944)

Today I talked to Mr Allen Shaw,12 the British Minister Plenipotentiary, about an opinion I
expressed in one of the sessions of Congress, concerning our strong desire not to conclude any
treaty, pact or agreement with foreigners, whether they be French or not.
His conversation with me took the form of reproaches. He wanted me to understand that
they know about our intentions, actions and words. They are surprised and wonder where we
got these ideas from. They maintain that our position, before we came to power, was dierent
to the one we have now. I told him very frankly:
Our politics is guided by our nations best interests. It matters little to us if we change our
minds every day. In Aleppo we have a proverb which goes, We can change a thousand times
and do not fool ourselves. Syria today can only rely on itself. It has learned from experience
that its global position, between East and West, dictates that, if it wishes to survive, it should
think only of itself and its sincere, patriotic children. There is no room for others. For that
reason, Syria can only count on itself, its neighbours and its close relatives. Our desire to give a
framework to the Unity of the Arab countries stems from these realities. We only want to align
ourselves with them alone. We will thus guarantee ourselves a political, economic and military
union, which will strengthen us in the foreign public opinion and preserve our sovereignty for
the same reason.
I do not know who could have reported my comments to the Congress to Mr. Allen Shaw. I
suspect Nuri Pasha. Allen Shaw began to sell me the same story that you sold the British
Minister Cornwallis. He told me:
What do you think of Turkey and the communist movement which is beginning to grow
among you?
I answered him frankly:
We will come to an understanding with Turkey, because our common interests dictate that
we demonstrate reciprocal aection and that we will be friends, and also because we are
neighbours with the same religion and are threatened by the same danger.
11

27 September 1944.
Note the questionable spelling: the phonetic Arabic transcription reads Allencho.

12

842

M. Zamir

As for communism, you are the rst to encourage it in our country. If it was up to us alone,
we would completely annihilate the communists; but you others, you will soon be forced to
ght them more than us. If they pose a danger for us, the danger they pose for you is much
more serious. Your interests will oblige you to help us in this struggle and will force you to
support us to get rid of the French.
Once again he told to me about the opinions of the Iraqi delegation which have been
repeated to me more than once by Nuri Pasha. He declared that there was no dierence
between us and the Iraqis regarding the realization of the Arab Empire and the restoration of
the old Arab system, under whose umbrella the Arabs had succeeded, in the past, in
maintaining their national position and extending their inuence over the whole of the Middle
East.
Then I gave him to understand that our wish to help and support each other did not mean
unity or fusion. What contributed to the destruction of the Islamic Empire was its
centralization. Anyway, we Syrians, despite our strong desire to unite with others, want to live
our own lives under the republican, democratic regime of the people that we value.
I distinctly felt that the English are actively pursuing their intrigues and schemes. They
think that the failure in Congress must be ascribed to the non-application of decisions, of
whose excellence they tried to persuade us in Damascus and here.
Fortunately, Nahas Pasha is on our side. He feels that adopting the British views will cause
him to lose the position he aspires to in the agreement of the Arab nations.
Yesterday Nuri Pasha made some remarks which drew my attention: Time is on our side
You will see that you will share our opinion We will not fail.
Similar remarks were also made to me by Allen Shaw.
I am telling you this for your information.
Written during the night of 4 to 5 October 1944
S/ Saadallah

Document 31: Asali from Alexandria to Quwatli


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Personal letter sent by Sabri Asali13 Member of the Congress of Alexandria to the
President of the Syrian Republic

(This letter was sent by airplane by Fowzi Telo)

Your Lordship, the revered leader,


I wish you perfect health. Matters do not go the way we would have wished and it seems
that our suspicions are founded. Jamil Bey is excessively attering. The meetings he held with
Nuri Pasha have surprised me and I cannot see the reason. What we have heard from Abu
Zuhair,14 and the strange things we have seen him do, justify our suspicion and the knowledge
that he wishes to harm us.

13

Sabri Asali is trusted by the President of the Republic and is his ocial representative in the Alexandria
Conference.
14
The surname of Jamil Mardam.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

843

Moreover, he is cool in all his negotiations and discussions. He makes no eort and does
not want to adopt our attitude towards the Iraqis. I do not know if this behaviour is the
consequence of a line of conduct laid out for him, or if it is his character, but I must admit that
he roused my suspicions. However, I cannot disclose anything about a person nicknamed fox
who in reality is much shrewder and more skilful than a fox.
I have no idea what happened to our compatriots from Damascus who are here. The
welcome they gave us was dull and cold. What a dierence between the last reception and this
one. Its as if the people and the country have changed.
If our activities do not take the required form, this is because the Members of Congress see
things dierently. Unfortunately, each of them understands Arabism in his own way. If we
have encountered so many diculties regarding culture, borders and money, what diculties
will we meet when tackling serious political questions or subjects that have not yet been
decided upon? It is sad and painful to note this strong desire to postpone matters to a later
date.
Please forgive me, Sir, for telling you that our Congress is British and not Arab. Our Iraqi
friends are in permanent contact with the English. I think the latter only want it to succeed if
they can realize their own plans. It is apparent that they maintain a disguised hatred towards
us. I met Mr. Smart of the British Embassy through Faris Pasha. I think his position is as
Secretary of Oriental Aairs. He made it clear to me, with typical English rudeness, that the
discussions we are holding in Congress will not lead to Arab unity.
All that matters now is the conduct of our friend Abu Zuhair. He is a strange and
astonishing man. One would say that he is not one of us and that he is not interested in our
aairs. All I can say is that everything we have heard about him deserves our full attention
otherwise we risk losing out on him.
My Lordship, I send you from afar my aection and my respect.
Long live Arabism.
Cairo, 4 October 1944
S/ Sabri Asali

Document 32: MacKereths verbal note to Syrian Government


10 October 1944
Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Verbal Note

His Majestys Government regrets that it has to present you with the following facts:
1)
2)
3)

4)

All the advice that it generously gave, in the interests of the Arab people and its unity, was
the object on your part, of sharp opposition which it appears you determined in advance.
All the arrangements that Great Britain made in favour of Arab Unity were not studied
by you and aroused no interest.
The rights acquired from Great Britain were heavily encroached upon at the time of the
discussion and the adoption of certain decisions which you have not yet made public. His
Majestys Government regrets that it has to remind you that gratitude and an accurate
appraisal of the situation would have led you to adopt a dierent attitude than you did.
You did not want to acknowledge fairly the responsibilities that Great Britain had,
especially regarding Palestine. Besides this, the atmosphere of the discussions was not
friendly, not only with regard to us, but with regard to all the European Powers. We

844

M. Zamir
reckon that a favourable time has not yet come for new discord which would generate new
hatred between the nations.

In expressing my regrets, Your Excellency, I must remind you again that we expect from
you new and profound changes in the present situation. Otherwise, His Majestys
Government does not wish to nd itself facing situations and trends which it doesnt
believe are able to serve the Arab nation, on the one hand, and could harm British
interests on the other.
S M15
Note: This memorandum was conveyed on 10 October to Riad al-Sulh, who in turn conveyed
it to the Syrian government

Document 33: Iraq proposes military aid


Translated from the Arabic
The Royal Government of Iraq
The Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Damascus Legation
No.19 S.
Copy of a verbal note presented by H.E. the Minister Plenipotentiary of the
Royal Government of Iraq to H.E. the Syrian Foreign Minister,
Thursday 8 February 1945

His Highness the Regent of Iraq has notied me that the Royal Government of Iraq,
anxious to support the Syrian point of view, wishes to give Syria, its sister, all its help to
defend its rights and its national interests.
The Royal Government of Iraq hopes that its brother Syrian Arab Government will accept
this help, with which the Iraqis are pleased and which they oer in good faith and in its widest
interpretation.
The Royal Government of Iraq hopes that the Syrian Government will communicate its
demands to us which, it can rest assured, will be satised in advance.

The Foreign Secretary of the Syrian Republic replied:


I thank Iraq I will notify my Government of this.

Registered at Foreign Aairs in Syria


under No.55 Documents.

Document 34: Quwatli to Ibn Saud


Translated from the Arabic
The Syrian Republic
The President
Coded telegram
registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
15

For: MacKereth.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

845

under No.75
Correspondence

[no date probably 9 February]


H.E. the King Abd al-Aziz al Saud
Mecca
I am sending Your Majesty a copy of a communique brought to me by the Iraqi Minister
Plenipotentiary.
My conversations with the British Minister Plenipotentiary did not provide me with a
convincing outcome of the measures that could be taken. We fear that the Iraqis will benet
from this opportunity, while we work against the French, to act against us.
I propose to Your Majesty that we arrange a meeting to study the situation.
Please tell the Englishman close to Your Majesty of your agreement.
S/ Shukri Quwatli
(to be followed)

Document 35: Quwatls report on his visit to Saudi Arabia


Translated from the Arabic
The President
Report by Shukri Quwatly, President of the Syrian Republic,
on his journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

In the name of most merciful God,


In reply to the royal invitation H.M. King Abd al-Aziz al-Saud kindly sent me, I went to
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and below give a summary of the conversations I held with His
Majesty.
H.M. is particularly concerned for all Syrians. He thinks that Syria, and Damascus in
particular, constitute the beating heart of the Arabs. He admires the Arab Syrian peoples
jihad for its struggle for freedom and its legitimate rights.
I revealed to His Majesty our objectives which aim to rid us of any remaining French
inuence. His Majesty shared my vision and declared that it is in the interest of Syria in
particular and of the Arabs in general to rid themselves of this inuence, and that if foreign
inuence was shown to be necessary, it would be enough for us to recognize only the
friendship of the English.
His majesty also shared my opinion: it is in the general Arab interest that all French
inuence be brought to an end, because this will be the prelude to dismantling French
inuence in the Extreme-Maghreb, which is wholly Arab and Muslim and will be a blessed
sign of the emancipation of Muslims in the Maghreb.
His Majesty is in total agreement with us on everything, but he cannot undertake any
military operations to help us, because he is not yet sure of the intentions of the English, or of
the real plans the British have for Syria.
Having told him of the assurances we received from our friends the English, he told me
that he does not have much condence in such promises because he himself has been able
to assess their value. He is persuaded, for example, that the Hashemites only make
gestures at the instigation of the English, that they dare not undertake anything without
British agreement, that the consequences of these dierent courses of action can only be

846

M. Zamir

fully appreciated if we understand that English high politics must favour its European
allies.
We have exchanged views on the position to adopt if there is a Franco-British understanding concerning Syria. His Majesty thinks that such an understanding is possible and that
as a result we in Syria must take precautions in two ways:
1)
2)

Preserve a line of retreat with the French.


We Arabs must make a communal eort to pressure England so that it will press France
concerning Syrias legitimate demands.

His Majesty has promised to do everything necessary in this regard, just as he


has promised to convince the Egyptian Government, for its part, to behave in the same
way.
Having reviewed the outcome of the Shuneh Congress and the communique sent to us by
the Iraqi Government, His Majesty said that this note was only a manoeuvre and that the
Iraqi Government would not have the courage to undertake anything, in particular a military
operation, without the consent of the English; and that whoever begins an operation of this
sort is the loser, even if defending a legitimate right.
As a result, his Majesty does not place any value on this manoeuvre. He thinks that the
French themselves are not worried about such a development because they are convinced that
Great Britain will not decide on such a course of action.
His Majesty has promised to provide all the help possible, and the possible help is political
and diplomatic action, because any other action would be prejudicial.
The important points on which I reached an understanding with His Majesty are
summarized below:
Primo Safeguarding Syrias current regime, as well as its borders, is essential.
Secundo Being liberated from French inuence is also essential. This will come about with
Great Britains help, both covert and overt.
Tertio Continue guarding against Hashemite ambitions.
Quarto Collaborate with Egypt to bring all this about.

This is a summary of the conversations which left me with the conviction that His Majesty
will protect Syria as he protects his own country and that he will defend its rights and interests
as he defends his most precious possessions.
Damascus, 19 February 1945
The President of the Syrian Republic
S/ Shukri Quwatli.
Filed in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs, No.19/945
Secret Political Reports.

Document 36: Quwatlis report on his meeting with Faruq and Ibn Saud
Translated from the Arabic
Syrian Republic
The President
Report by the President of the Syrian Republic
16 February 1945

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

847

The copy of this document delivered on 20 February 1945, was led in the Syrian Ministry of
Foreign Aairs under No.20/946 Secret Political Reports.

On 16 February 1945, I drove with His Majesty King Faruq I, may God protect him, in his
car to a meeting with His Majesty King Abd al-Aziz.
The meeting, which lasted about two hours, took place at the Obrige Hotel16 in Faiyum.
Following is the summary of the conversations that took place between us and which focused
on the following points:
1.
2.
3.

The question of Palestine,


The question of Syria and Lebanon,
The mineral resources of the Arab countries.

In general, we completely agreed on the answers each of us would give to Mr. Roosevelt or
Mr. Churchill concerning the problems of the entire Arab nation. Regarding the matters of
specic interest to each of our countries, we were allowed complete freedom to reply according
to the interest of the cause.
The question of Palestine We agreed that:

the English White Paper would be regarded as the limit to Arab claims,
that emigration would be absolutely limited,
sales [of land] would be forbidden,
and we would enter into negotiations that would lead to the individual autonomy of
the two governments, but incorporated in the greater Arab union (if the Jews do not
want to suer from an Arab economic embargo). If the Jews refuse these proposals, the
Arabs have no objection to their compensation. In this case all the reunited Arab
governments will ensure this compensation. If the Jews wish for the realization of a
Greater Syria, the Syrians will accommodate them on the basis of a republican
administration, but will help them only to a very limited extent and they will not be
allowed to buy land.

The question of Syria and Lebanon.


We agreed that the independence of Syria and Lebanon is nal. This independence is
assured and guaranteed by the reunited Arab states which are willing to defend it against any
aggression.
The Arab states are not willing to recognize Frances privileged position; they are loyal to
the Charter of Syro-Lebanese independence recognized by the Great Allied States and at the
present time will not allow the conclusion of a treaty with France, because such a treaty would
weaken Syrias independence and return the Syrians to a mandate regime. His Majesty King
Abd al-Aziz stressed this point, declaring: Syrias safety is as important as the safety of my
own country.
We agreed that the question of an army is fundamentally linked to this independence, which
we want to be absolutely complete.

16

Probably what the Egyptian press called LAuberge du Lac.

848

M. Zamir

The mineral resources of the Arab countries


We reached the following understanding: our common desire is to adopt an open door policy
regarding the future exploitation of mineral resources in the Arab countries.
Current concessions obtained by ocial companies will be maintained according to
agreements already concluded, but each Arab government will proclaim its own laws, which
will be considered essential and which the companies will have to take into consideration. In
other words, we want these companies to understand that we are not merchandise to be
exploited cheaply. We will therefore claim our part of our mineral resources and from now on
will be guided only by our interests. His Majesty King Abd al-Aziz in fact explained it to Mr.
Roosevelt when he told him: I am your friend and the friend of the English. I ask you to prove
your friendship to us.
Another possible solution would be to consider giving these concessions to Anglo-American
companies and thereby enjoy the political protection of both nations.
(The question of Soviet and French capital was not touched upon in the conversation as we
want to avoid these dangerous inuences as quickly as possible.)
Generally speaking, the understanding between us is absolute and the agreement certain.
What is important is that each sovereign has committed himself to defending our viewpoint
concerning our independence and our army.
16 February 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli

Document 37: Quwatlis report on his meeting with Churchill and Eden
Translated from the Arabic
Syrian Republic
The President
Report by the President of the Syrian Republic

The copy of the report drafted on 20 February 1945 was registered under the
No.21/245 Secret Political Reports.

On Saturday, 17 February 1945, Mr. Terence Shone, the British Minister Plenipotentiary in
Syria, informed me that Mr. Churchill could receive me immediately after King Faruq. He
accompanied me up to the British prime ministers house, where the meeting lasted
approximately 45 minutes.
I felt that the atmosphere was chilly and that Mr. Churchill was not frank with his replies.
From the beginning, I noticed that Mr. Eden was not favourable towards us; he listened to
what I said with chilliness. Mr. Shone had warned me about Mr. Edens chilliness, but it
hadnt convinced me.
I explained to Mr. Churchill all the stages of the Arab cause and spoke to him about Syrias
role. It was unfair, I told him, that the aairs of the Syrian people who are more mature that
the other Arab peoples are destined to be at the mercy of France, which refuses to recognize
our legitimate rights.
Mr. Eden then said to me:

But are you sure you have fullled your obligations towards France? I believe that General
Catroux declaration conditioned the end of the mandate on the conclusion of a treaty.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

849

I replied:
We would like to conclude a treaty with all the Allies, not solely with France. We would
like to come to the Peace Conference in the company of other Arab states, free and with no
ties.
Mr. Churchills reply, if I understood it correctly, was as follows:
You can deal with the issue of the Peace Conference only after you are in a state of war
with the Axis.
I presented the Syrian problem in detail, saying:
There are some British diplomats who have understood exactly the Syrian issue.
Mr. Eden, cutting me o, said:
You are referring, perhaps, to General Spears.
Yes, I replied, he noted the legitimacy of our claims.
But Mr. Eden, maintaining his mood, said to me:
Mr. Spears is a citizen of Damascus and is Lebanese . . .
Finally, Mr. Churchill asked me this question:
What solution do you see to the Syro-Lebanese problems? This question interests the
Allies in general, not only Britain. It should not be forgotten that France is our ally and
friend and we cannot displease it, seeing that we agree that it has a privileged position.
I replied:
I speak as a patriot before speaking as the President of the Republic. Syria is not willing to
recognize Frances privileged position and there is nobody in Syria ready to conclude a
treaty with France that would preserve the countrys state of slavery. We understand what
the French are asking of us in their proposed treaty . . . Now our independence is nal; it
has been recognized by all the Great Powers. We oer our friendship to these reunited
states and do not wish to favour one and not the others.
Mr. Churchill declared:
All this may be true, but in any event I would advise you to enter into negotiations with
the French. They are logical, and political matters are not a question of character, but of
interest.
It is equally a matter of trust, I replied.
Mr. Eden then said:
May the President of the Syrian Republic allow me to remind him, while appreciating his
patriotism and desire for the independence of his country, that His Majesty the King Abd
al-Aziz attained the success that we welcome only thanks to the important quality he has
which makes him practical.
But, I said, how do you want us to be practical with France when, for twenty years, we
had to put up with it? Our people no longer trust the agreements it enters into. It concluded
a treaty with us in 1936 that it annulled. I cannot shoulder the responsibility of new action
with France especially now when the matter does not depend only on us because Syria
is the key to all the Arab countries, and all the Arab states are anxious to deliver Syria
from French inuence.
Mr. Churchill continued the conversation, saying:
I do not doubt, my friend, your noble patriotic feelings, but as I already said, I am not free
to act as I please. I informed King Abd al-Aziz, for whom I have a special respect, about
all of this. The Middle East is the object of serious conversations among all the Allies. Mr.
Stalin raised the question of a clash of European interests in this important region. It is a
pity that the Arab nations have not yet attained the necessary state of recovery, and there
is no doubt that the main world Powers need to agree on their inuence in your country.
France cannot be chased out of positions it occupies. We do not know what the future
holds for us, and Stalins friendship, despite his communism, requires from us, as you
know, oil concessions. Are you willing to do that?

850

M. Zamir

I replied:
Who can tell us that our according France a privileged position wont be exploited on
behalf of the Soviet Union?
Shrugging his shoulders and smiling, he said to me:
Who knows, who knows.
Mr. Eden then continued:
We advise the Syrians to weaken the violence of their demonstrations. We equally advise
them not to malign France, like they are doing today. We will serve as an intermediary
between the two.
Sensing that the meeting was drawing to a close, I said:
I will make eorts to begin new negotiations on condition that you help us, but I must
remind you that right now Syria does not belong solely to the Syrians, that it is an Arab
country, and that all the Arab states are signatories of the Pact of Arab Unity and they
share its sorrow.
Mr. Eden declared:
Their Majesties Kings Abd al-Aziz and Faruq have conrmed it. Be sure, Mr. President,
that we wish to satisfy you as much as possible, but you are not unaware that it doesnt
depend only on us.

The moment I left, I realized that Great Britain would like to support us, but that support
will depend on what we do to oblige it to help us. This conrms what General Spears
repeatedly said to me: Make Great Britain face the fait accompli so that it will help you.
Cairo, Saturday evening, 17 February 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli

Document 38: Mardam from Cairo to Quwatli


Translated from the Arabic
Letter from Jamil Mardam Bey, the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs,
to Shukri Bey Quwatli, President of the Syrian Republic
(Written in Cairo, 19 February 1945)

Venerated President,
Greetings from Arabism. I consider it necessary to add the following to the conversations
you had with Mr. Churchill:
The Syrian question was raised in the long conversation which took place today in
the Egyptian Cabinet between Ahmad Maher Pasha on the one hand, and Mr. Eden, Lord
Killearn and Mr. Cadogan, on the other.
Here is what His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Maher Pasha reported to me:
1

2
3

Mr. Eden praised the wise steps that the Arabs have taken in their struggle for unity.
He believes that the meeting between Kings Faruq and Abd al-Aziz, as well as the visit by
President Quwatli to the King of Hejaz are favourable moves.
He acknowledged that the nal outcome of the plan for a Greater Syria is not
absolutely necessary at the moment. Mr. Churchill conrmed that to you personally.
The issue of a Regency Council is only one plan among many others and the
British, in any event, will not impose it on us. They reckon that the French are the
main obstacle to the realization of such a plan. So are the Syrian people. Mr. Eden
acknowledges that after your meeting with Mr. Churchill you showed no enthusiasm
for this plan.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon


4

5
6

851

In his conversations, Stalin made it clear to the English, especially concerning Syria,
Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, that the Russians did not approve uncontrollable action by a
European nation in any country. He repeated to him the words of Lenin, who says:
Patriotism does not mean love of ones fatherland, but the love of other peoples
fatherlands as well.
Lord Killearn commented: It appears that father Stalin loves many fatherlands.
It seems that, with regard to Palestine, Roosevelt is prepared to go back on his former
intentions.
It is possible that a new Congress will be convened especially for Syria and Lebanon in
order to dene Frances position in those countries. Mr. Eden declared that the British
cannot appear to have totally forgotten Frances position (this is in contradiction to the
categorical proposals that Mr. Churchill made to you.)
It appears that in his conversations, Mr. Churchill wanted to show you the eect that
the intervention of His Majesty the King Abd al-Aziz in our favour had on him. Mr.
Churchills declarations to the King were more generous than those of the Foreign
Minister. Maher Pasha frankly let me know that he (Mr. Eden) was very reserved in his
intentions and that the important points that he had revealed wavered around an
agreement with France, out of concern for its interests and to safeguard its position. That
is what we fear. Mr. Eden believes in the possibility of French aid for Britain to strengthen
the League of Arab Nations.

See just how strange this is!


In brief, the conclusion that can be drawn from the conversation that took place between
Dr. Ahmad Maher Pasha and Mr. Eden is as follows: The support that we can expect from
Great Britain in the event of a violent crisis in our country is limited. This proves to us that the
conversations of Mr. Churchill have not really shed light on the situation and that General
Spears irritation was not as advantageous as Mr. Shones wisdom.
In any case, the guiding principle that was decided upon with Dr. Maher Pasha is the only
path we can follow.
I dont know how much longer our work will keep us here. The diculties and obstacles are
many and the task is no ordinary matter.
With my deep respects,
S/ Jamil Mardam
Cairo, 19 February 1945.

Document 39: Ahmad Maher to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
The Kingdom of Egypt
The Prime Ministers Oce
Private
Letter from the President of the Egyptian Council, Ahmad Maher Pasha
to the Minister of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic, Jamil Mardam Bey

His Majesty Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs


20 February 1945
Excellency,
Good day. His Excellency the British Ambassador informed me that Mr. Eden agrees
entirely on the plan we drew up for the success of your cause.

852

M. Zamir

Today in the Chamber I shall make a declaration concerning our agreement. I shall point
out that we have rmly decided to help you and back your legitimate claims.
Having said that, it is my duty to ask you to draw the attention of the Syrian Government
to the necessity to avoid any deplorable incidents. If a regrettable incident should occur, it
should be made clear that it was of the oppositions doing and not yours.
In the talks that took place and will take place between the French and myself, I will, if
possible, be an intermediary and will try to convince them that it is in their interest to reach an
agreement with you.
His Excellency the Lord is convinced, thanks to God, your success is assured.
Please inform the Syrian Government and His Excellency the venerable President and
please, Excellency, accept my deepest devotion.
S/ Ahmad Maher

Document 40: Amir Abdallah to the Iraqi Regent


Top Secret
Translated from the Arabic
Supreme Oce of the Emirate
Private
Abdallah Ibn al-Husain, Amir, by the grace of God, of Transjordan
to HRH Amir Abdul llah Bey Ali, may God protect him.
Amman, 5 March 1945
Greetings. You are most certainly aware that we placed our hopes on Jamil Mardams
promises and on his agreement with Nuri Pasha. Today the Prime Minister gave me positive
proof of Jamils treason and double dealing. In reality, he only reached agreement with Nuri
Pasha through ruses and hypocrisy. I think that this whole intrigue, from start to nish, is
some mischief on the part of General Spears, the British ex-Minister Plenipotentiary in Syria. I
am now in possession of enough information to convince me that the General intervened and
continues to intervene in the aairs of the Arab countries with the intention of serving the oil
interests we know about and in which he has many shares. All his eorts have been towards
this end: exploiting the situation in Syria and Lebanon so that the English can maintain their
inuence and position there in order for him to realize his ambitions regarding the oil. He has
managed to place Jamil Mardam at his service. Personally, I am now certain that Jamil served
him faithfully, played with us and pretended to agree with us in order to consolidate his
position at our expense.
In other respects, he used his well-known ploy with Shukri Quwatli and his master Ibn
Saud, the man without conscience who does not keep his word. I beg my dear nephew to call
Nuri Pashas attention to this, so that he can make his arrangements, revise his conduct with
Jamil and be aware that the plans for an Arab Union are dashed to pieces, God forbid, if they
are to be conducted in this way.
That is the aim of my letter. May God protect you.
Your uncle S/ Abdallah.

(Extract from the archives of the Political Bureau of the British Legation in Beirut led in the
dossier Arab Union, No.125 B bearing the following note by Colonel MacKereth:
dangerous pay much attention to this.)

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

853

Document 41: Faris al-Khuri to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
The Syrian Republic
Ministry of Foreign Aairs
No.721 h.
H.E. the Minister Plenipotentiary of
His British Majestys Government, Damascus
I have the honour of asking you, on behalf of the Syrian Republic, to please inform your
honourable Government of our deep feelings and our great sorrow concerning the omission of
Syria from the states invited to the San Francisco Congress.
I must remind Your Excellency that the Syrian nation, which has fought for its
emancipation for a long time, will never be able to forget that its struggle has as its aim
freedom and democracy, aims for which the Great Powers, which have recognized our
independence, are ghting today.
The Syrians, who have taken part in this war with their famed courage, and who have
worked in the shadow of the British ag and the ags of other democratic Powers, cannot
under any circumstances be regarded as non-belligerent. Several thousand Syrians, volunteers
in your victorious armies, take their places on the battleeld for the principles for which you
are ghting.
The young Syrian Republic wishes to be called to the Congress, and that the natural right of
belligerence accorded to others should also be accorded to it, and that by virtue of the lendlease law, it should be provided with everything for which it has a pressing need, munitions
and other things.
On behalf of the Syrian Government, I beg you to accept my deepest respect.
The Prime Minister
S/ Faris al-Khuri

(Presented by Faris al-Khuri to the British Minister Plenipotentiary and registered in the
British Legation.
A copy of this text is led in the Political Bureau of the Legation in Beirut, under No.1911 C/S
Secret with the following comment by the Minister: to send to London.)

Document 42: Quwatlis protest to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Copy
Memorandum

I am extremely sorry for the recent attitude of the British government.


We were deceived twice at the same time, which we were not expecting.
The White Paper is for us a blow which we would never have thought Great Britain capable
of, especially after we described our situation and the oppression that we suered to the British
prime minister.
Our non-invitation to the San Francisco Congress, when we had declared war on the Axis,
is a second painful blow for our young independent country.

854

M. Zamir

In the name of our very moved patriotic and national feelings I ask you, Mr. Minister, to
convey our overwhelming sorrow to the British high authorities.

(Memorandum presented by Shukri Quwatli to the British Minister Plenipotentiary


and registered at the British Legation. A copy was kept in the Political Bureau in
Beirut under No.1909 C/S secret, on 7 March 1945, with the following remark by the
Minister: something has to be done, even if just as a matter of form, to give them
satisfaction.)

Document 43: Shones reply to Quwatli


Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Memorandum

His Majestys Government regrets not being able to adopt a positive attitude regarding the
wishes expressed in your note of 7 March 1945.
His Majestys Government does not intend to reject your claims, but it has to study them
with its allies who have been convened at the San Francisco Congress, as it is not the only
party involved and it is normally bound by their opinion.
As for the White Paper to which you have referred, Mr. Eden has asked me to inform
you that Great Britain is bound by its agreements and undertakings apart from recognizing
you, and it cannot completely ignore everything in order to make a case only of this
recognition.
I can assure you, Your Excellency, that British policy, which seeks no advantage from your
noble country, is guided solely by a feeling of aectionate concern.
You can be sure, Your Excellency, that Britain and its allies rmly desire to see Syrian
independence ourish and reach completion.

(Memorandum presented to the Syrian Prime Minister on 14 March 1945 Registered at the
Political Bureau of the British Legation under No.1949 C/S/.)

Document 44: Minutes of conversations between Quwatli and the Iraqi Regent
Translated from the Arabic
Top Secret
Minutes of conversations that took place in Baghdad on 12 March 1945 between
Amir Abdul llah Ben Ali and Shukri Bey Quwatli

His Royal Highness Amir Abdul llah Ben Ali, Regent of the Iraqi throne and His
Excellency the President of the Syrian Republic, Mr. Shukri Quwatli, met as a result of the
national claims and discussed all matters concerning their two countries in particular, and the
Arab nation in general.
His Highness conveyed to the President of the Syrian Republic his views on the plan for an
Arab Union and declared that Syrian Unity was one of the foundations of the Union. He
added that this plan was preoccupying His Majesty King Faisal I, the king of Syria and Iraq:
our country is still prepared to help Syria realize its Unity, even by force of arms. Iraq twice

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

855

oered you military aid: the rst time when Syria was under the Vichy regime, and the second
to free the Syrian army and to rid Syria from the vestiges of French inuence.
The President of the Republic assured His Highness that the Syrians sincerely desired Unity
and would not abandon this idea. But not discussing it would not mean that they did not want
it. Especially, he declared: as we are confronted by numerous dangers, the greatest of which
is the minorities, whom the French could incite against us, and Lebanon, which does not
inspire condence. The noble feelings that Iraq expresses by wanting to unite and liberate
Syria would now not bring about the anticipated result. It would be better to be patient for a
while until the plans of the Arab States are dened and end in the establishment and adoption
of the statutes of the League. Once the Arab League is tangible, based on actual forces and has
taken on a legal and lawful form, we can make the decisive eort to free ourselves from
colonization, which is trying to hold on to its last stand. Then all the Arab States will be on
our side in word and in deed, and the success will be credited to our Iraqi sisters army,
inshallah.
His Excellency the President also assured His Highness that once Syria gained true
independence, the future form of the government mattered little. It would be up to the people
to choose the government and the form of administration.
H.R.H. Amir Abdul-Ilah was in complete agreement with His Excellencys views.
They then discussed the issues of the SaudiIraqi borders, Iraqi claims on Kuwait and other
regions. His Excellency the President of the Syrian Republic declared being charged by His
Majesty King Abd al-Aziz al-Saud to assure all the Hashemite princes that he only wished
them well and that he wished them no harm, that he also desired the success, tranquillity and
prosperity of Iraq and Transjordan, and that he was willing to arbitrate all matters presented
to him or anything the Hashemites believed themselves to have been deprived of.
His Royal Highness thanked His Excellency for his kind mediation and assured his being a
sincere brother to H.M. King Abd al-Aziz.
In general, the views of the two parties were in complete agreement. It was agreed to submit
all remaining disagreements or misunderstandings to a committee of referees chosen among
the members of the League of Arab States. A spirit of condence and aection should prevail
among them.
Made in Baghdad, on Monday 27 Rabia al Awal 1364
corresponding to 12 March 1945
S/ Abdul-Ilah
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Registered in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
under No.55 League of Arab Nations.

Document 45: Armanazi from London to Mardam


Top Secret
Syrian Republic
Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Secret Report
of the Minister Plenipotentiary in London

(Copy to the President of the Republic)

To His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Aairs

856

M. Zamir

On the occasion of the signing of the Arab League Pact, the circles dealing
with the Arab question are again debating the plan for Syrian Unity, that is, of Greater
Syria.
I found that Mr. Camille Chamoun has a strong inclination for this plan, that is, for the
unication of Syria. It concerns the proposals of Dr. Mackins17 which, it seems, were
modied, so that the plan is now Arab after having been Jewish. His Excellency the Amir of
Transjordan has promoted this new plan. A limited number of copies have been printed. Mr.
Chamoun is in possession of one, but up until now I couldnt obtain a copy. It seems that the
matter has become serious, much more so than in the past; many of the English have told us
that Syria could have no future unless the various parties united. This new plan seems to suit
them completely.
A few days ago, Mr. Chamoun introduced me to the editor of a large British journal titled
LIconost [The Economist] who discussed with me the need to lend my personal support to
the plan for Syrian Unity, saying: Many Syrian deputies support the plan. He even added:
His Excellency the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs himself is one of its fervent supporters.
I am reporting to you what he said because the problem has reached, as one says, its apogee.
I dont think it is in the interests of our cause that such matters are attributed to you. I
therefore rejected the matter, formally arming that the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs
would not support such a plan unless it was passed by the Syrian parliament, and that no such
procedure had taken place up till now.
I believe that Mr. Camille Chamoun, despite his enthusiasm and his qualications, will
make trouble for us. In reality, after what Ive seen, his actions are not the result of honest
conviction, nor of a patriotic and national intent. He has been moved by other factors. Plainly
speaking, I must say that it is good neither for Lebanon nor for the Arab nation, but for the
direct good of Great Britain.
On several occasions I noted the little respect that we enjoy here, because the English, as I
already knew and as you know also, do not respect those who are smaller than them, especially
those whom they consider to be their servants. I regret to tell you that I feel strong emotion
taking hold of me when I think of the situation I am in and how people regard us behind their
smiles of diplomatic courtesy.
I return to the plan for Greater Syria. In a few days I hope to obtain a copy of the plan
which I will send to Your Excellency. For my part, I strongly rejected the possibility of the
Syrian Governments agreement to such a plan or to any other plan that ushers the Zionists
into our country as if we dont have enough disasters visited upon us by God, France and the
misfortunes it has brought us, in the end to see the Jews coming into Syria after having taken
Palestine.
I hope I have conveyed the point of view of the Syrian Government with regard to this
grave matter.
Respectfully,
London, 28 March 1945
S/ Najib Armanazi, Minister Plenipotentiary
Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs Diplomatic correspondence London
Legation No.49.
[Authors note: see Document 2.]

17

Phonetic spelling probably Mac Ness.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

857

Document 46: Mardam conveys Quwatlis verbal note to Shone


Top Secret
Verbal Note
Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs to the British Minister Plenipotentiary
His Excellency the President of the Republic has instructed me to ask Your Excellency
for explanations about the recent eorts by certain circles well known for their
close collaboration with the British [Secret] Services and who claim to act with regard
to the plan known as Greater Syria with the support of and at the request of these
services.
Syria, whose independence and sovereignty have been recognized by His British Majestys
Government, is surprised to discover the existence of such eorts and would like to know the
genuine British stand.
Not signed.
30 March 1945

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs British Legation Diplomatic correspondence


under No.177/945.

Document 47: Atasi from Paris to Mardam


Top Secret
Letter from Adnan Atasi, Syrian Minister in Paris, sent by airmail
H.E. the Foreign Secretary
Damascus
Sir,
My close contacts with French politicians, as well as my meeting with General Beynet have
totally convinced me of the good intentions of the Government of the French Republic
towards us. The French do not think of either colonizing us or of re-establishing Mandate
rule.
I think that it is in our interest to reach an understanding with them and to reach
a solution together. I believe that agreement with a loving people with humanitarian
tendencies such as the French is easier to realize than with any European government or
people.
The French, in my opinion, are only waiting for a simple sign from us to change the
demands they have put forward. It is enough for them to be convinced of our friendship
towards them and our liking for them and to be assured that we will not be with anyone other
than them.
Do you authorize me to act with this aim?
The Legation councillors share my opinion fully.
With my deepest respect,
2 April 1945
S/ Adnan Atasi
Minister Plenipotentiary

Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


Diplomatic correspondence
Paris Legation No.17
Note This letter has not yet been answered.

858

M. Zamir

Document 48: Cadogan to the British Legation in Beirut


Instructions from Cairo
To the British Legation in Beirut
Coded telegram

Order No.3.532, dated the 2nd April 1945


It is strictly forbidden to give any proof whatever that we are against the French. Our eorts
must be strongly concentrated to show them that we are their friends. This order nevertheless
must not prevent the departments being occupied with local aairs from annoying the French
from time to time.
Our wish to live on good terms with the French must not allow the slightest deviation from
our interests.
Signed: Cadogan

Document 49: Cadogan to the British Legation in Beirut


Instructions from Cairo to the British Legation in Beirut
Coded telegram

Order No.3.533, dated the 4th April 1945


Do all in your power and this most secretly to promote the plans in favour of the
Greater Syria. The prince Talal, heir to the crown of Transjordania, will pay a visit to Syria
and the Lebanon shortly.
Always help him in his mission.
Signed: Cadogan

Document 50: Armanazi to Mardam


Top Secret
From Najib Armanazi, Syrian Minister in London,
to the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs
Secret Report
Encoded
I dont know how to describe to you the attitude of the English towards us, neither what
they want, nor what the near or distant future will hold.
If we consider our friends, General Spears and those who share his opinion, we should not
hope that they can do much for us, especially if they always say: The Arabs must secure their
rights; but why? Because we have interests of prime importance in Arab countries, there are
rich oil reserves in these countries and they lie on our imperial communication routes.
Can we count on such friendship?
Alongside them are those who support Zionism, who are, at one and the same time, from
the Conservative, Labour and Liberal ranks. Generally they are not at all happy with the Arab
League, which they consider a danger that will, sooner or later, threaten British interests. (No
powerful grouping or signicant force must be on the Indies route.)
What will our position be if Labour comes to power tomorrow, and what would be the use
of this Arab League for which we have expended so much eort and trouble?

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

859

It seems to me that it is clear that the English themselves are perplexed about us; they dont
know what decision to make. I only fear that, driven by necessity, they will reach an
understanding with France. What would our situation be then?
And the Americans? Can we reach the nishing line backing their horse?
For us the English are an incomprehensible mystery and I even fear that they do not
understand each other; every day, I busy myself drawing up a clearer view of them, but the
next day I am forced to contradict myself. In my opinion, the policy they are following with
regard to us is undenable; it goes something like this: they recognize our independence, and
the next day they publish their White Paper. On the one hand they encourage us and on the
other they support the French position; they go so far as to advise us to reach an
understanding with France, while their ocials continue preaching the opposite, recommending that we do not make any concessions to France.
I am writing this to you on the eve of our departure for the Congress in San Francisco,
where the states will form groups. I believe it is in our interest, this time, to display some
strength of character and that we are not in tow to whoever wants to push us around as they
wish.
By forcing myself personally into the humble position I have assumed towards the English
for three years, I believed that Great Britain was truly agreeable to achieving everything that
we discussed with their ocials; the truth was only revealed when I arrived here. Having been
in the world of dreams, I now see the reality.
I think it is in our patriotic interest that we no longer show the English the eagerness of the
past. There are many Powers: America, Russia, France, who are ghting for our aection.
Let us try with these Powers what we tried with England.
This is my opinion, and I may be wrong.
Please accept, Your Excellency, my deepest respect,
3 April 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Najib Armanazi
Registered in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Secret Reports under No.247.

Document 51: Middle East War Council in Faiyum


Top Secret
The Minister Resident
Cairo
No.727
After having made a detailed statement about the position of our prestige and our interest.
After having studied the orders No.84, dated October 9th 1944 and No.112 dated December
7th 1944, 220 dated December 31st 1944.
The following decisions have been taken:
Political points of view:
The Congress recommends:
1)
2)

To put an end to all hesitations which are not in conformity with the realisation of the
Arab unity in a broader sense. This will bring us both in interior and exterior diculties.
Our politic up to now was too slowly to face the things being always guided by personal
factors which are not inspired by our high politic. Now it is necessary more than before to

860

3)

4)
5)
6)
7)
8)
9)

M. Zamir
form all possible coalitions against our competitors and to let it not to them to take prot
out of it. The future period is such one of competition, that is why we shall have to
develop our action secretly.
The French, American and Russian designs are seemingly meant to encircle and hinder
our interests. They always try annoy our friends who should be helped now more than
before.
We have to give our full approval to the pact of Cairo.
Fight as much as possible against the French intrigues in Syria and in the Lebanon. Keep
secret our ghts and do not give any proof of our ghting them.
Take up the same position against the communists in Syria and in the Lebanon.
The American interests in Syria and in the Lebanon do not constitute any danger to our
interests.
As to Syria, have full condence to the president Kouatly.
As to the Lebanon, keep always friendship with the Maronite Patriarch.
For the Congress
Signed: [Edward] Grigg

Received on 8 April 1945


The British Legation in Beirut
Political Bureau
and registered under No.2320 S.

The Minister Resident


Cairo
No.989
Top Secret
Extract
The economic and nancial position in Syria and in the Lebanon from a general point of
view is satisfying. Our interests in both countries have become stabilized, the wealth of Syria,
coveted by so many foreign countries and representing for us a necessary element must be
exploited by ourselves. This all obliges us to ght in a skilled way in order to attain our aim.
The following recommendations are of fundamental importance:
1)

2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

7)

It is not necessary that the Syrian Pound must be separated from the French Franc. The
separation is useful from a political point of view but from an economic and nancial
point of view it must be underlined that the connexion between the Syrian Pound and the
French Franc must be exploited by us in a remarkable way.
We cannot under the present circumstances satisfy the necessities of the Syrian
market.
One must pay attention to the economical and nancial activities of America in Syria and
in the Lebanon in order not to be surpassed by her.
There must be staged an action in a political way against the Banque de Syrie et du Liban,
the latter being a French establishment.
The politics consisting in inundating the market with gold is wrong, it must not be
repeated.
The project, presented by the nancial authorities of the Iraqi government concerning the
unied Arabian Dinar is convenient from another point of view. It must be helped as far
as possible.
The projects of exploitation of those companies representing our interests should be kept
secret from now on. The pacts among those companies and the Syrian Government must

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

861

be kept secret too, in expectation of more prosperous times. These pacts mentioned above
have their permanent value.

This and the previous document, which refer to Syria and Lebanon, are extracts of decisions of
the British Conference of Ministers which met in Fayum, Egypt, in the rst week of April
1945.
They have the same reference number and the same date in the les of the Political Bureau
of the British Legation in Beirut.
Received on 8 April 1945 at the British Legation in Beirut registered under No.2320 S.

Document 52: Mardams verbal note to Quwatli


Top Secret
From Jamil Mardam Bey,
Minister of Foreign Aairs
to his Excellency the President of the Republic
Verbal Note

In the course of the meeting I had with His Excellency Mr. Shone, I explained to him the
essence of the conversation that took place between Mr. Ostrorog and myself. I told him about
my feelings towards the French, their procrastinations, their stalling for time. I told him that
all their contacts with us had ended in merely a routine exchange of sentiments according to
their usual procedures, and that they were far from proposing practical solutions to the issues
we consider to be of national importance and which have an impact on the existence of our
homeland.
Mr. Shone who had exchanged views with the minister Grigg on Syrias aairs
clearly let me understand that he could not possibly support our claims as long as we were
opposing the French and were seeking to provoke a bitter crisis in our country. But on the
other hand he promised that the British Government would not stand idly by if the French
tried to meddle in our independence. What he wanted to say was that we should not
anticipate events but should let the French provoke them. He declared that the opposition
which currently had the support of France against us, had no practical value, but he
added:
Let them delude themselves, let them think that they are doing something, and wait for
General Beynet to return. (Mr. Shone believes that for several reasons, his delay is
intentional.) No doubt there will be a crisis after his return. This crisis will not be of your
doing but will take place under pressure of the events. I (i.e. Mr. Shone) can then intervene on
your behalf with the American minister.
I believe this advice is indiscreet. We should not provoke any mischief before it happens. If
it happens and the San Francisco Congress is still in session, the situation will be to our
advantage and will favour our cause. Then, by force of circumstance our problems would then
be submitted to the international public opinion and I think we would win the game.
10 April 1945
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
Minister of Foreign Aairs
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
General Reports No.512.

862

M. Zamir

Document 53: Armanazi to Mardam


Top Secret
Letter from Najib Armanazi,
Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary in London,
to the Syrian Foreign Minister in Damascus

This letter will be brought to you by Mr. Camille Chamoun.


In his case His Excellency has a series of projects likely to consolidate our economic
existence thanks to collaboration with English companies which are all of merit and powerful.
The rst and most important of these projects has a bearing on future airlines. Personally, I
think we need to support this.
General Spears and we know what he is is convinced that the projects for which Mr.
Chamoun is currently undertaking the journey must receive our approval because they
represent reasonable solutions for us.
On another matter, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Ministry has
conrmed to us that we do not need, under any circumstances, to worry about our
independence. Nothing can threaten us and we must not suppose that France wishes us ill
because he thinks the French will never do us wrong despite their current attitude which is
that of someone seeking to gain time and postpone solutions while waiting to regain his
strength and to prot from more favourable circumstances.
The most important thing for us, as the Under-Secretary of State said, is not to get involved
in a situation from which it would be dicult to extricate ourselves later on.
The Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Ministry shares Mr. Chamouns opinion about
Syrian unication. So, as you can see, it is not a joke, and I believe that the day when the
British Government ocially proclaims its support for this plan prepared by the Jews is not
far o.
The English here are anxious about the contacts which are taking place between Ahmad
Bey Dauk, Adnan Bey Atasi and the French. They think that it is not in Syrias or Lebanons
interest that diplomatic representatives should be dragged into the oblivion of the situation.
Mr. Chamoun will explain to you his plans. Soon I hope to be able to give you my own
observations.
15 April 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Najib Armanazi
Registered in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs Diplomatic correspondence
London Legation Personal letters under No.A/54.

Document 54: Atasi to Mardam


Top Secret
Letter from Adnan Atasi, Syrian Minister in Paris
to Jamil Mardam Bey, Minister of Foreign Aairs of Syria
H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs
Damascus
I think that postponing the revision of our attitude towards France is detrimental.
Humanity will not proceed towards justice and the future belongs to the powerful. France
will be stronger tomorrow than it is today. It is therefore easier to reach an agreement between
us today than it will be tomorrow.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

863

I have asked His Excellency for permission to engage in detailed negotiations with the
French, but I have not received any reply.
General Beynet is a sensible man. I am sure that reaching an agreement with him is easier
than with any other person. I fear that in the end they will again send us Ponsot or Puaux and
then we will be faced with a real disaster.
Our sovereignty and our independence are the foundation for any agreement. It is on this
basis that we can attain a result that guarantees Frances interests.
I insist that His Excellency revise our general attitude. You know that in politics there is
neither eternal enmity nor eternal friendship.
15 April 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Adnan Atasi
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs.
Diplomatic correspondence Paris Legation.
under No.29/332.

Document 55: Mardams reply to Armanazi


Top Secret
Reply from Jamil Mardam Bey, Minister of Foreign Aairs of Syria,
to Najib Armanazi, Minister Plenipotentiary of Syria in London.
Coded telegram
Reply to your letter of 3 April.
We have chosen our way. A person does not change direction in the middle of a journey.
H.E. the President says literally:
We are Arabs and we practice gratitude. We are sincere with our friends, so that they will
be sincere with us.
I would gladly like to see you dispel your suspicions.
17 April 1945
The Minister of Foreign Aairs
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs.
Secret diplomatic correspondence London Legation,
under No.3440/77.

Document 56: Mardam to Atasi


Top Secret
Reply from Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs
to Adnan Atasi, Syrian Minister in Paris
Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary
Paris
H.E. the President is pleased with your view and thanks you for your sincere patriotism.
There is a thing known as divorce and this is what we got from France. There is no honest
Syrian who can bear a French presence in our country. It is essential that this nation has under
no circumstances an existence with us.
This is the principle.
However, you are qualied to engage in discussions with the French that must not give rise
to steps giving you or us a hard time.

864

M. Zamir

We exercise our right of refusal of anything they ask from us. We do not want to give them
anything, because we are independent. We do not have to give them anything, because it
would weaken our independence.
If we agree to give concessions or advantages to Great Britain or America, we do so because
we know that both represent a global force which is feared. As for France, it has left this
framework and no longer enjoys global inuence.
We must not forget that the English, the Americans, as well as the Russians, would not be
pleased with us if we granted the French any pre-eminent position or if we gave our signature
recognizing its alleged claims.
Our case is an international case and depends on the Arab States. As for France, we are
playing with it.
The Minister of Foreign Aairs
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
19 April 1945

Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs.


under No.153 General 4212 Specic.

Document 57: Shone to Mardam


Top Secret
From Mr. Shone, Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majesty
to the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs

Your Excellency,
At the present time, Syria cannot impose its right by force, and its army, which remains in
foreign hands, cannot defend it.
It is on the base of these considerations that I personally advised you to reduce the fervour
of the subsequent demonstrations in favour of the Alexandretta liwa, which you and we are
certain have been organized by foreign hands who seek to disrupt the situation and create
conicts which you and we do not need.
Anglo-Turkish friendship does not aim to ignore the rights of the Syrians to the
Alexandretta liwa, neither can the attainment of what the Syrians consider their right be
achieved by demonstrations.
The only result of all this turmoil will be a delay in the Turks recognition of Syrias
independence, even though Syria needs this recognition.
All I can do is express sincere opinions and I am sure that you will appreciate my good
intention.
Your obedient servant
S/Shone,
Minister Plenipotentiary
20 April 1945
Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Diplomatic Correspondence sent by the British Legation
under No.3472/179.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

865

Document 58: Armanazi to Mardam


Top Secret
From Najib Armanazi, Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary in London
to the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs

Coded
Yesterday I met the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Aairs.
The British have completely changed their attitude towards us. We no longer nd here the
aectionate interest that they showed us in Damascus.
It is the plan for Greater Syria that is preoccupying people here. In his conversation,
the Under-Secretary of State mentioned that the unication of Syria was normal and that the
(existing) states were a challenge to history and geography.
I dont know how to express my concern to you, but I can assure you that the people here
are not joking and that they actually support the plan for a Greater Syria. Is their support
sucient? The Syrians will not allow such a plan, even if we accept it. And we also have to
consider the opposition of the Great Powers who have interests in our country and who may
still act.
What will our future be if these eorts are successful?
The satisfaction of the British regarding Camille Chamoun rests entirely, in my opinion, on
the conditions that will be useful for them in realizing this cursed plan.
I advise you; take care that the events dont forestall us just when we think that we are
crafty politicians in trying to gain time when, in reality, this time will have beneted our
opponents.
The British, who appear to be on our side, or the French side, or whoevers side, their only
plan remains Greater Syria.
27 April 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Najib Armanazi

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs Political Reports


under No.3537/8I.

Document 59: Atasi to Mardam


Top Secret
Coded telegram

From the Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris


to the Foreign Minister Jamil Mardam Bey

The Generals declarations are harmless and do not conceal any ill intent.
As for us here, we will continue to repeat that we do not wish to conclude a treaty; but then
how do you want to put a stop to the Mandate? The English themselves declare that it is
necessary to reach the agreements that the General alluded to in his conversation.
The sentiment characterizing your letter of 25 April brings me to tender my resignation and
to inform you that I intend to return to Damascus.
2 May 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Adnan Atasi

866

M. Zamir

Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


Diplomatic correspondence Paris Legation
under No.3543/52.

Document 60: Cadogan to Shone


Top Secret
Coded dispatch from Sir Alexander Cadogan (Cairo) to M. Shone, Minister of Great
Britain to the Levant

The projects of Mr Camille Chamoun are no projects at all. You did very well by asking for
our advice. It is understandable that Mr. Chamoun has friends supported by him, but ocially
we are not in a position to support him.
In this historical time there are many projects and tendencies in the Arab world. We shall
support those that are by nature able to guarantee our inuence. We are also not in haste to
ocially give our complete help to Mr. Chamoun or anyone else.
It is certain that Mr. Chamoun himself does not know until now what he
wants. Like all the Syrians and Lebanese he is looking for an opportunity to take
advantage of.
Signed: Cadogan
Political Department
No.437/1232, dated the 3rd May 1945.
[Authors note: English version is unclear.]

Document 61: Mardam to Atasi


Top Secret
Encoded
From the Foreign Minister, Jamil Mardam Bey
to the Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris

I do not understand the reasons for your anger. We have complete condence in your
patriotism and you are above suspicion. The President and I regretted that you interpreted our
words wrongly.
All I wish to say to you is that the French are asking for only one thing: that we accept the
principle of negotiating a treaty or agreement with them. We do not agree to this principle and
regard ourselves as completely independent, and with no need to reach an agreement with
them. We are prepared to reach agreements with all the Great Powers, and with France,
which, you could say, does not belong to this category.
The spirit of patriotic independence that you represent must refuse to open new prospects in
our country to France. Frances presence among us is only a matter of days and will not be
prolonged, although it has delayed leaving for some months. The army is ours and we will
seize it. It is for reasons of Allied military need and following British advice . . . that until now
we have not used force to seize it. Once we have taken the army, the French will no longer be

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

867

anything in our country. We completely detest them. Do you not know the following Koranic
verse:
We will smile at them while cursing them in our hearts.
Our position being what it is, why make a treaty with them, and on what?
H.E. the President and I beg you to conrm at every juncture our current point of view,
which is not personal, but really a patriotic and national principle on which all Syrians are
agreed Greetings.
3 May 1945
Foreign Minister
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Diplomatic correspondence sent to the Legation in Paris
under No.3590/51.

Document 62: Churchill to de Gaulle


British Embassy
Paris
5th May, 1945
My dear General,
The Prime Minister has asked me to convey to you the following personal message
concerning your proposal to reinforce the French troops in the Levant States:
Du Cooper has reported to me his talk with you about reinforcements for the Levant.
I am sorry to hear that you look on this matter as one concerning the future of our two
countries in the Levant.
We have recognised your special position in the Levant. But our commitment and duties
extend throughout the Middle East. Our main task is to ensure that Allied communications to Indian and Far Eastern Theatres by land, sea and air, and essential oil drawn
from the Middle East are kept free from interruption and disturbance. The Arab countries
hold rm together and inconvenient as it may be, we cannot disregard events in the Levant
States.
I have several times assured you that His Majestys Government have no designs against
French interests in Syria and Lebanon. I am anxious to prove this to you and to meet you
in this matter, but so long as relations between France and the Levant States remain
undened, we have to be on our guard against disturbances which might aect the whole
of the Middle East. I am willing therefore to order a withdrawal of all British troops from
Syria and Lebanon at the moment a treaty has been concluded and is in operation between
the French Government and the Syrian and Lebanese Governments. From this point of
view, it would seem a great pity if the sending in of reinforcements, above those which are
needed as replacements, were to cause unrest or a rise in temperature. Of course this again
might be oset if the Troupes Speciales were handed over. It would help greatly if you
could make an immediate declaration on this subject. As you can imagine, it is a matter of
great importance to us not to have the Arab world roused up, with probable sympathetic
reactions in Iraq.
If you reinforce your troops at this moment the Levant States, who have been waiting for
Treaty proposals for some time past, may well suppose that you are preparing a settlement to

868

M. Zamir

be concluded under duress. This might injure both your and our relations with them and
poison the atmosphere for the negotiations you are about to begin. I hope therefore that you
will help me in avoiding this addition to our troubles.
Good Wishes.
Yours sincerely
[Churchill]
[signed] Du Cooper
Monsieur le General de Gaulle,
Rue St. Dominique,
Paris

Document 63: Atasi to Mardam


Top Secret
From the Syrian Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris
to the Foreign Secretary, Jamil Mardam Bey

As for me personally, I forgive whoever did me wrong, even if it was intentional. I am sure
of your good intentions. Let us at least forget this dierence.
At the moment I am sure that an agreement, or at the very least the semblance
of an agreement, has been reached at our expense between the French and the
English.
This agreement has a bearing on Frances future position and leaves it freedom of action in
Syria on condition that the English have the right to benet from the economic concessions
they have won. (I dont know the nature of these concessions perhaps you know better than
me).
In such a situation, our future, not as people but as a nation, is threatened. As for me, I
dont understand you when you say that France is not a Great Power. As a diplomat, I do not
have the right to think only about the present; I owe it to myself to think even more about the
future
I do not like France and I cannot bear the follies of the French; my adviser, Mr. Shaker,
cannot bear them; but feelings are one thing and national aairs another. It is for that reason
that I insist that you fundamentally revise our attitude. Agreement with a still weak France
today seems better than when it has become strong. Whether we want it or not, whether its
friends or enemies want it or not, France will become strong. It relies on the deeds of forty
million men and a powerful industry. Whatever diculties and obstacles arise, it will be
reborn.
I therefore insist on and rearm my point of view. Take note of this important observation:
I only act taking inspiration from your instructions which I observe with the greatest
attention.
6 May 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Adnan Atasi

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs,


Diplomatic correspondence from the Legation in Paris
under No.3598/52.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

869

Document 64: British verbal note to Mardam


Top Secret
Verbal Note
Sent in reply by Mr. Weld Forester, His British Majestys Consul in Damascus

His Excellency Mr. Shone has asked me to notify you of the following:
The French Government is not bringing new troops to Syria, but it is changing the guard,
which as you know, is its right, as Syria has not ceased to be under military authority.
I would like to remind you that the French themselves have acknowledged the declarations
of Mr. Richard Law linking these matters to the need for a general settlement.
This settlement will require the composure and goodwill of both sides.
7 May 1945
(unsigned)

Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs Documents


under No.424.

Document 65: Armanazi to Mardam


Top Secret
From Najib Armanazi, Syrian Minister in London
to the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs

I heard from some of our friends and particularly from General Spears that the French will
soon make their next coup and that they will bring in troops because they do not trust the local
[Troupes Speciales].
Do all you can to prevent the landing of these troops. Initiate the crisis today before it starts
tomorrow and they have already made their arrangements. Our friends here will do their duty
and advise you to adopt this line of action.
10 May 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
s/ Najib Armanazi
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Diplomatic correspondence London Legation
under No.3641/92.

Document 66: Minutes of the Syrian Cabinet meeting


Top Secret
Minutes of the meeting of the Syrian Cabinet on 10 May

At the meeting on 10 May 1945 the Cabinet decided the following:


The Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs is authorized to engage in discussions and
negotiations with the French side on the following limited issues:
1.

Agreement on the question of French institutions in Syria, their level and inspection,
provided their position will not be more privileged than those of other foreign institutions.

870
2.
3.

M. Zamir
The unconditional delivery of the Syrian army, which belongs to the nation: nding a
formal and nal solution despite all rejections by the French side.
The settlement of various pending nancial questions; income from the common interests,
including the frozen reserves required by the administration of the common interests; the
renery in Tripoli and the part that is due to Syria; the railway of Tell Kotchek which
entirely belongs to Syria.

The Cabinet, presided over by H.E. the President of the Republic, has unanimously given
this task to the Minister of Foreign Aairs. It expresses the wish that he should conclude it
with a maximum of rmness and speed.
Damascus, 10 May 1945
s/ President of the Republic
s/all Ministers
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs Documents
under No.427.

Document 67: Quwatli to Mardam on Griggs visit


Top Secret
From the President of the Syrian Republic, Shukri Quwatli
Report
to the Foreign Minister

Sir Grigg, Resident Minister in the Middle East, advises the Syrian Government to reach an
agreement with France to end the continuation of the Mandate. This is a summary of the
conversation which took place between the Minister and me.
I reminded the Minister that there is no need for an understanding and that there is no need
for an agreement like the French want, because Syria is only bound to the League of Nations
by a mandate it has never recognized.
But the Minister insists and conrms that it is in Syrias interest that Great Britain has thus
ended its relations with Iraq and Egypt and that Syria will do it.
I let the Minister understand in no uncertain terms that we are not disposed to grant a
treaty to France, but that we are willing to settle nal arrangements with it to dissolve the
powers it insists on keeping.
The Minister is convinced that France will only submit to us propositions on which we
can agree. He believes that these plans, although unknown to him, will not be detrimental to
Syria.
Please examine these issues in your department and note that this time it is not possible for
us to count on British support.
12 May 1945
The President of the Republic
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Registered in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs Documents
under No.428.

Document 68: Barazi to Stirling on Griggs visit to Quwatli


Top Secret
Report by Muhsin Barazi, Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic,

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

871

British agent No.325


to Colonel Stirling

Our President is deeply aected by Mr Griggs visit and the advice the Minister gave him
caused him great disappointment.
An understanding with France and the settlement, in any form whatsoever, of an agreement
with the French is an outcome which can not satisfy the Syrian people. That is what the
President believes. So far we have been able to rid ourselves of France as an oppressor state
which the Syrian people have suered for twenty years. To unite this people and this state now
by an agreement or treaty is not desirable. The President is perplexed about the course he will
take. Mr. Griggs words: Great Britain will follow the course of action set out in the British
White Paper, have rendered unrealizable the help His Excellency anticipated from England in
any future misunderstanding arising between the French and the Government.
Jamil Mardam Bey thinks that it is the Governments duty not to despair of British help. It
is up to the Government, supported by the Parliament, and in agreement with Lebanon, not to
show weakness before the French, because this weakness would show them that the English
have really changed, and not just appear to have changed, the course of their policy. France
could then regain its inuence however it wished.
Jamil Mardam, in agreement with the Ministers, is of the opinion that we should busy
ourselves in provoking the French, in such a way that they would be convinced that we are
strong and that we enjoy British support and unanimous Arab support. He thinks that it is our
duty to enter into relations with the Arab states to get them to show us this support.
To sum up, the line of action adopted by the President, Jamil Bey and Sabri Bey is:

that the Syrian government should persevere in its constant manoeuvring to persuade the
French that the Syrian nation forms one bloc behind it;
that it is necessary to maintain the countrys demands and to apply ourselves to achieving
them in opposition to France which seeks, having recognized with the Great Powers Syrian
independence, to deny this recognition, or rather to invalidate it;
that it is not in Syrias interest, once the Soviet Union and America have fully recognized
its independence, to renounce this full recognition, to place itself once again under the
French yoke and in any way begin negotiations with France.

The President and Jamil Bey are relying heavily on Arab support and on the support of the
British who are the Arabs friends. They think that, despite the circumstances which oblige
British policy to facilitate and not oppose French ambitions, the true British intentions are to
make French inuence in Syria disappear once and for all.
The President and the Minister of Foreign Aairs have resolved not to follow Mr Griggs
advice and to persevere with the policy they have followed and which is the only one to follow.
However, they will show the French their desire for reconciliation and a willingness to
discuss matters. That is the only way to force French ambitions, hidden under the cloak of
friendship, understanding and dissolution of the Mandate, to reveal themselves as they really
are.
S/.
12 May 1945

Report presented to Colonel Stirling by Muhsin Barazi


Copy led in the British Bureau in Beirut, under No.1765/S.

872

M. Zamir

Document 69: Barazi to Stirling on Quwatlis concerns


Top Secret
Report of British Agent No.325
Muhsin Barazi, Secretary General of the Syrian Presidency
to Colonel Stirling

What is preoccupying our President and our Government is how far the French will push
their oensive and until when the British will maintain their present attitude.
The established fact is that France is seeking a treaty and that the President and his
Government have insisted that they will accept neither a treaty nor an agreement with France.
They declare that they adopted this attitude only at the suggestion and encouragement of their
friends the English, and that they regret that the British people responsible had painfully
deceived them, but now they refuse to backtrack. They know that the British people have not
ceased wanting to exploit the Syrians, not for the benet of the Syrian people and their
emancipation, but for their own interests. In the opinion of Jamil Mardam Bey, the liberation
of the people, human rights, the principles of President Wilson and the Atlantic Charter are
but strings in the hands of the powerful.
At the moment, our ruling parties believe that the English have practically abandoned
them. All the assurances given freely by Mr. Chamoun have not made them give up their point
of view, knowing that it is in their interest to pursue the plan of attack against the French.
They believe that by adopting a passive attitude, the Syrians will reveal their weakness and in
so doing, will lose many opportunities for success.
On the other hand, if they visibly pursue a policy of steadfastness, audacity and risk, they
will oblige the French to yield to them and settle the matter in such a way that will safeguard
prestige and maintain the inuence of this independent nationalist government.
The Government has decided not to go beyond the pursuit of an aggressive policy and to
make as much noise as possible. The French fear nothing more than turmoil. Only thus can we
instil fear in them and make them believe that the Syrian Government, in pursuing such a
policy, has the support of the British; they will not dare to take action against it.
President Quwatli and Jamil Bey fear only one thing: that a group of Syrians might provoke
an internal uprising; nevertheless, they believe that the present opponents cannot undertake
rash and risky actions, like those customary in the South American countries.
Such a move would naturally greatly annoy the Government, but the latter has made the
necessary arrangements and has just issued a law of repression of treason. Those that govern
us reckon that only an operation of this kind will destroy their inuence and their
predominance in the country. They believe that the French will not dare to rush into such an
adventure not knowing the state of mind of the Syrians, and convinced that up till now the
Syrians are following the Government in power, whatever it might be. It is for this reason that
the President and his ministers are anxious to remain in power at any price. They know that at
the moment they are not defending their country, but their own lives. It is therefore not
surprising that they are determined to ght France, because the expulsion of France from this
country is, for them, the only chance to ensure their interests.
The Government believes that it will overcome the most dangerous crisis. It hopes that, in
any event, the British Government will lend its help at the right time (that is, when the English
see that the French have crossed the line).
The anxiety of the President and his ministers, the impression they have that Britain is
anxious not to clash with the French, can only be seen as advantageous for France; however,

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

873

the President persists more and more with his colleagues in ghting against the French at any
price. They all believe that only steadfastness will bring about Frances departure.
It is the good luck of all of us that the French did not and do not perceive this state of mind,
nor what the Government thinks, nor its situation.
S/ Muhsin Barazi
325
Damascus, 15 May 1945

Report sent to Stirling.


Copy led in the British Political Bureau in Beirut
under No.S 1768.

Document 70: Atasi to Mardam on Beynets return


Top Secret
From Adnan Atasi, Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris
to Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs

I was informed of General Beynets return and that he has been designated to discuss the
conclusion of a treaty.
If he does not reach an understanding with you, he will throw the situation in Syria into
confusion and will summon the people for a new consultation in order to implement this
project which the French consider nal.
The importance of this situation is that the English will not oppose such a step and the
French know it.
9 May 1945
The Minister Plenipotentiary
s/ Adnan Atasi

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs.


Diplomatic Correspondence. Paris Legation
14 May 1945 under No.3641/55.

Document 71: Ibn Saud to Quwatli


Top Secret
From King Ibn Saud to the President of the Syrian Republic
Encoded Telegram

President Shukri Bey Quwatli.


I ask you not to provoke trouble. Let others be the aggressors. You are now in a very
dicult situation. Neither we nor others can help you except with words. Words arent any
use. An understanding with France is not impossible. The obstinacy of your ministers amazes
me. The issue today is not a matter of love or hate between you and France, it is a matter of
interest. See what they want and then ght them if their conditions are unacceptable.
I would like to support you all along the line, but will you be satised with verbal support
like that of Egypt and Iraq? We are all powerless. What did the English tell you? Are they with

874

M. Zamir

you or with the others? If they are with them, do not tire yourselves and do not destroy with
your own hands the fruit of your labours. May God help you for your own good.
5 Jumadi al-Thani 1364
(16 May 1945)
S/ Abd al-Aziz
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs Documents.
under No.429.

Document 72: Spears to Quwatli via Stirling


Top Secret
Telegram from General Spears to President Quwatli

Encoded Personal
Telegram delivered by Colonel Stirling
I am with you. Under no circumstances could I disregard your interests.
The main thing in any discussion on an agreement or treaty with the French is that you
discuss it only with all the Allied States, and that you say that you are willing to grant strategic
bases to the International Security Council and not to France. This is the only way for you to
gain everyones sympathy and trust.
Sincerely
S/ E. Spears
London, 17 May 1945

Not registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs.


Still in the possession of Jamil Mardam Bey on 19 May 1945.

Document 73: Shones memorandum to the Syrian government


Top Secret
From Mr. Shone, British Minister Plenipotentiary
to the Governments of Syria and Lebanon
Memorandum
His Majestys Government believes that it is not in interest of the Governments of
Syria and Lebanon to engage in armed conict with the French troops in any way
whatsoever.
In order to ensure their rights, Syria and Lebanon will gain much more in the international
public opinion by acting peacefully and wisely, than they would by using force.
Damascus, 17 May 1945
Signed: SH
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
It has not yet received a number and has not been led.

Document 74: Ibn Sauds warning to Quwatli of Iraqi army intervention


Top Secret

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

875

From King Ibn Saud


to the President of the Syrian Republic

Telegram
Our Minister Plenipotentiary in Baghdad has informed me that the Iraqi army intends to
intervene in Syrias aairs. We cannot approve such a thing. The entry of a single Iraqi soldier
will prompt us to send our troops there. As a brother and friend I warn you to be wary of the
possible consequences of such a situation.
7 Jumadi al-Thani 1364
(19 May 1945)
S/ Abd al-Aziz

Not yet registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs, 19 May 1945.

Document 75: Quwatlis reply to Ibn Saud


Top Secret
President Quwatlis reply to Ibn Saud

God knows that we only want to safeguard our independence. We do not


want the Iraqi army. If we needed military help, we would ask it from you before
anyone else.
For my part, I would not want any of this, but the French are hypocrites and
aggressive. May God protect us from their evil deeds. We treat them like one treats an
illness, but they dont want to limit themselves. The British Government is totally on our
side, but it doesnt want to appear so. We will continue our sacred struggle against the
despots until the end.
19 May 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli

Not registered

Document 76: Asalis instructions to the Syrian security forces


The Republic of Syria
The Ministry of the Interior

Top Secret
Secret Communique

to the Supreme Commander of the Gendarmerie


to the head Oce of the Police and the Surete Generale

We inform you of the possibility that a state of alert and danger might be declared.
Take the various preventive measures you have for such a situation.

876

M. Zamir

The sanction that will be imposed on any infringer of the orders of the Commander will be
capital punishment according to the existing laws.
19 May 1945
Minister of the Interior
S/ Sabri Asali

Copy to the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


for your information.

Document 77: Chamoun from Baghdad to Mardam


Top Secret
From Mr. Camille Chamoun, Lebanese Minister in London
on a mission to Baghdad
to Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs

Encoded
I saw the British ambassador here. The English do not oppose anything that could be useful
for us. They wont intervene if the Iraqi tribes try to provoke the French. However, the French
cannot be provoked in the desert. Moreover, if the tribes nd a real interest in the matter, they
wont fail to take action. The movements of the tribes are therefore not useful.
As for the Iraqi army, it is ready to take action; but the Iraqis are asking themselves what
will be the result of this action. Some ocers said to me:
Do you support the unication of Syria and Iraq?
The Iraqis believe that when leaving for Syria, they wont retreat. Their goal is Damascus
and nothing else.
In any event, it is preferable for us to be governed by the Iraqis than to end up again under
the French yoke.
20 May 1945
S/ Camille Chamoun
Letter sent by Camille Chamoun through the British Embassy in Baghdad.
Not yet registered in the Foreign Ministry on 21 May.

Document 78: Mardam to Atasi


Top Secret
From Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Foreign Minister
to
Adnan Atasi, Syrian Minister in Paris

Encoded
The proposals presented by the French negotiator are unacceptable in principle and are
considered as an attack on Syrian independence.
Contact the right person and make the following understood:

either France recognizes our independence unconditionally, with no privileged position


and without going back to the Mandate in any form whatsoever;

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

877

or the Syrian Government will be forced to break o diplomatic relations with it, after a
vote in Parliament which meets the day after tomorrow.

In agreement with the Lebanese Government, we will keep to our word and we will get
through this crisis at any price.
Prepare to withdraw at the rst signal given to you.
20 May 1945
Foreign Minister
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


Correspondence sent to the Paris Legation
under No.3694/63.

Document 79: Mardam to Atasi


Top Secret
From Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Foreign Minister
to
Adnan Atasi, Syrian Minister in Paris

Encoded
We believe that the French ocials now in Syria are not capable of entering
into negotiations with us, and that no agreement is possible because of their colonialist
attitude.
We have followed a path we will not abandon and with Gods help we will triumph. We do
not hate France, and despite all the drastic measures we have taken, we would radically change
our position if France recalled its ocials, sent us others and entered into negotiations with us
on the basis of absolute recognition of our independence with no restrictions.
Present these demands if you nd the necessary frame of mind at the Quai dOrsay, noting
that we are determined to allow the crisis to reach its height, whatever the consequences,
because we are sure that Great Britain and America will not abandon us.
20 May 1945
The Foreign Minister
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Encoded telegram sent through the intermediary of the English authorities.


Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
Correspondence sent to the Paris Legation
under No.3698/64.

Document 80: Armanazi to Mardam


From Najib Armanazi, Syrian Minister in London
to
H.E. the Syrian Foreign Minister in Damascus

Today I was summoned to the Foreign Oce where I was notied of the following:

878
1.

2.

M. Zamir
Syria does not have the right to prevent the disembarkation of French troops nor to place
them under its control.
The latest events in Damascus cannot be considered as attacks on general security and
will only weaken the Syrian Governments position from the judicial and legal points of
view.
The High Command conrms for the second time that, in the current circumstances, it
cannot allow the placing of troop movements under any civil control whatsoever.
As far as the Syrian refusal to conclude an agreement with France is concerned, Great
Britain will continue to insist on the arrangements set out in the White Paper of His
Majestys Government.
Yours sincerely,

20 May 1945

The Minister Plenipotentiary


S/ Najib Armanazi

Not yet registered in the Ministry, 21 May 1945.

Document 81: Syrian Cabinets secret decision


Syrian Republic
Cabinet

Top Secret
Secret Decision

The Syrian Cabinet,


Considering the urgency and the unusual character of the situation,
Decided as follows:
Sole article The President of the Republic is qualied, with the unanimous agreement of the
Cabinet, to proclaim a state of alert and mobilize all the troops of the nation in the struggle
against the French colonizers.
Damascus, 21 May 1945
Approved by the Cabinet
S/Jamil Mardam, Sabri Asali, Ahmad Sharabati, Said Ghazi, Hasan Jabara, Hikmat
al-Hakim

Document 82: Shones memorandum to Mardam


Top Secret
From Mr. T.A. Shone, His British Majestys Minister in Syria and Lebanon
To His Excellency the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs

Memorandum
His Majestys Government is not responsible for the present situation in Syria. It regrets to
inform you that nothing can prevent it, in the event of trouble, from intervening for the
protection and safety of its troops.
This intention, I believe, will be brought in due time and if necessary, to the attention of the
French authorities.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

879

I wish to remind Your Excellency that in such a troubled situation, it is very dicult to
dene responsibilities, but the pursuit of calm is useful for both parties.
I am obliged, for the second time, to remind you that in the event of aggression against
French forces (as there already has been), military law will be enforced, these troops being
under the Allied High Command.
21 May 1945
Sh.
Not yet registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs on 21 May at 8 p.m.

Document 83: Armanazi to Mardam


Top Secret
From Najib Armanazi, Syrian Minister in London,
to Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs in Damascus

I was called to the Foreign Oce after the meeting between Mr. Massigli and Mr. Eden had
taken place.
Mr. Hall has clearly notied me:

that
that
that
that
that

this situation was no longer bearable,


Great Britain will not support Syria in adopting such conduct,
our aairs will be taken care of with the utmost consideration,
the proposal for a treaty presented by General Beynet was not nal,
in any case an agreement has to be reached between us and the French.

He said that if the Governments of Syria and Lebanon persisted in this way we will not take
responsibility for the ensuing events.
To be precise, he wants us to put an end to the crisis.
Then he said: Great Britain ocially promises the Syrian Government that it will protect
Syrias legitimate claims without harming Frances pride.
I transmit to you his remarks word for word.
21 May
The Minister Plenipotentiary
s/ Najib Armanazi

Sent through the British authorities


and delivered by them in the afternoon of 21 May.
Not yet registered on that date.
Document 84: Chamoun from Baghdad to Mardam
Encoded
Top Secret
From M. Camille Chamoun, Lebanons
Minister in London on a mission to Baghdad
to
H.E. Syrias Minister of Foreign Aairs Damascus

880

M. Zamir

The Iraqi army is ready to intervene unconditionally in our favour. Its command is under
the orders of the Syrian National Ministry of Defence.
The British will not oppose it if you think its intervention is required.
21 May 1945
S/ Camille Chamoun

Sent through the intermediary of the British Embassy in Baghdad.


Not yet registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs on 21 May 1945.

Document 85: QuwatliShone secret agreement


Translated from the Arabic
Exchange of letters no. 1
Secret
I, the undersigned, Shukri Quwatli, President of the Republic of Syria, pledge on my
honour, in my name, and in the name of the Syrian nation that has honoured me by
making me its president, to make the utmost eort to realize the unity of Syria in its
natural borders, that is, from the Taurus to the desert, to Egypt and to the Mediterranean
Sea.
I promise to do my utmost to realize the unity of Bar al-Sham* and to be a soldier in the
struggle for Syrias absolute unity, a natural step towards complete Arab Unity.
This is our agreement, and God is our witness.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Approved by the President of the Republic
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
*Translators note: literally, Desert of Damascus, an expression denoting geographical
Syria.

Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.


This document was provided by he who drew it up and who served as secretary.

Translated from the Arabic


Exchange of letters no. 2
Secret
I, the undersigned, Shukri Quwatli, President of the Republic of Syria, pledge on my
honour, in my name, and in the name of the Syrian nation that has honoured me by
making me its president, to accept, when necessary, the Agreement of the Syrian Oil
Company, to grant it a legal and judicial status and to obtain the Syrian Parliaments vote
in its favour.
God be my witness.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Approved by the President of the Republic
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.
This document was provided by he who drew it up and who served as secretary.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

881

Translated from the Arabic


Exchange of letters no. 3
Secret
I, the undersigned, Shukri Quwatli, President of the Republic of Syria, pledge on my
honour, in my name, and in the name of the Syrian nation which has honoured me by making
me its president, to grant Great Britain a privileged position in all spheres in Syria, in the
clearest of terms, namely, to grant it all privileges that are possible to grant to a friendly state,
bound with an everlasting friendship.
I am prepared to obtain from Parliament a vote in favour of providing Great Britain with
all possible economic, nancial and political facilities.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Approved by the President of the Republic
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.


This document was provided by he who drew it up and who served as secretary.

Translated from the Arabic


Exchange of letters no. 4
Secret
I, the undersigned, Shukri Quwatli, President of the Republic of Syria, pledge on my
honour, in my name, and in the name of the Syrian nation that has honoured me by making
me its president, that the Syrian Governments policies will always be consistent with British
policy, we being two friendly states, and that Syria will never turn to another international
bloc without the knowledge and agreement of Great Britain.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
S/ Shukri Quwatli
Approved by the President of the Republic
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.


This document was provided by he who drew it up and who served as secretary.

Translated from the Arabic


Exchange of letters no. 5
Secret
I, the undersigned, Shukri Quwatli, President of the Republic of Syria, pledge on my
honour, in my name, and in the name of the Syrian nation that has honoured me by making
me its president, that the future Syrian army will be an Arab army that will adopt the most
sincere attitude toward the British people and the Government of His Majesty the King.
Its instructors, trainers and guides will preferably be British.
It will depend on Britains noble assistance for its arming and equipping.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
S/Shukri Quwatli
Approved by the President of the Republic
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.


This document was provided by he who drew it up and who served as secretary.

882

M. Zamir

Translated from the Arabic


Secret
To His Excellency the President of the Syrian Republic,
I have been authorized by my Government to promise you formally and on my honour, to
maintain the secrecy of the text of the letter a declaration made by Your Excellency
regarding Syrian Unity.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
S/ Shone

Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.

Translated from the Arabic


Secret
To His Excellency the President of the Syrian Republic,
My Government has authorized me to formally promise that it will retain the secrecy of
the letters nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 dated from this day. It hopes, however, that all their contents
will, if necessary, assume the form of a treaty linking Great Britain and Syria in eternal
friendship.
Damascus, 29 May 1945
Your obedient servant
S/ T. Shone
Not delivered to the Foreign Ministry.

Document 86: Churchills ultimatum to de Gaulle, delivered by the British Embassy in Paris
31st May 1945
In view of the grave situation which has arisen between your troops and the Levant States
and the severe ghting which has broken out, we have with profound regret ordered the
Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, to intervene to prevent the further eusion of blood in the
interests of the security of the whole of the Middle East, which involves communications for
the war against Japan. In order to avoid collision between British and French forces we
request you immediately to order the French troops to cease re and to withdraw to their
barracks. Once ring has ceased, and order has been restored, we shall be prepared to begin
tripartite discussions in London.

Document 87: Pagets ultimatum to Beynet


Army General Beynet
Delegate-General and French Minister Plenipotentiary in the Levant

Owing to the grave situation which has arisen in the Levant States I have, as supreme
Commander in the Middle East theatre, been ordered by my Government to assume command
in Syria and the Lebanon.
My aim is to restore order as quickly as possible and to do this I require that the following
orders shall be carried forth with:

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon


a)

b)

c)

d)
e)

883

Instructions will be issued by French Military, Naval and Air headquarters that all orders
and instructions issued by me on my behalf as Supreme Commander will be obeyed
without question by all ranks of the French Military, Naval and Air Forces. All ring will
cease except in self defence.
All French troops and Troupes Speciales will withdraw to their permanent barracks,
except such troops as are guarding vulnerable points who will continue to do so until
relieved by British troops.
All French Military, Naval and Air Forces will remain within the limits of their barracks
or establishments except when on such duties as may be arranged between British and
French Headquarters.
All French aircraft in the Levant will remain grounded.
All French men-of-war will remain in harbour. Supplies for French forces including
Troupes Speciales will be arranged by my Sta in conjunction with the French Military
authorities. In this respect I shall require the use of French transports which will be made
available as needed.

I am concerned lest there should be incidents between the local population and isolated
French families. The question of their protection will be discussed between British and French
stas. In any case I require that all French men and women be warned to be in their houses by
nightfall.
In conclusion, I hope I may be assured of your co-operation in order to terminate as quickly
as possible a state of aairs which we both of us deplore.
I am directed to inform you by my government that as soon as ring has ceased
and order has been restored it is proposed that discussions shall be held in London
between the French and British Government which the Government of the United States
will attend.
Signed: Paget
General
Commander-in-Chief
1st June 1945
Middle East Force

Document 88: Churchills order to Paget


Order
The re-establishment of order has to be performed on a large scale. Put your hands on all
and everything. Anyway try to isolate the French.
Signed: Churchill
Political Department
No.3.759/792
dated the 1st June 1945.

Document 89: Churchills order to Paget


Order
There is nothing to be done in Lebanon as long as the aairs in Syria are not completely
terminated.
Once order has been re-established in Syria you may undertake the necessary steps in
Lebanon.

884

M. Zamir

The concentration of the French in Lebanon is rather more dangerous for themselves than
it is to us.
Signed: Churchill
Political Department
No.3.797/694
dated the 2nd June 1945.

Document 90: Churchill to Paget


We do not understand what you are going to say about the interest the French are taking in
Syria and in the Lebanon.
The private interests of all foreigners in Syria and Lebanon are respected.
If from a theoretical point of view we conceded certain privileges to the French in due
course we are not in a position to do this from a practical point of view.
The prestige of France in Syria and in Lebanon has annoyed us very much up to now. And
it is necessary to abolish it once and for all.
Signed: Churchill
Political Department
No.3.798/795
dated the 2nd June 1945.

Document 91: Laws order to Paget


Order
Try to create much ado about the names of Gen. Beynet, Humblot, etc. as far as possible in
order to get them out of Syria.
Your principal task for the time being is to win the battle of propaganda. And we only can
succeed in doing so by describing the French as being the aggressors and vandals in the eyes of
the general public.
Signed: Law
Political Department
No.3.700/699
dated the 3rd June 1945.

Document 92: Laws order to Paget


Order
It is necessary to put your hands on all administrations.
We are not going to do this by right of force but by the legitimate right to establish order.
Our political and military obligations compel us to remain rm and not to give in any
relaxation.
Signed: Law
Political Department
No.3.702/701
dated the 4th June 1945.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

885

Document 93: Laws order to Paget


Order
Do concentrate your eorts to prove that the Generals Beynet and Roget are the only guilty
authors of the massacres of Damascus.
At the same time you have to prove that there was not a single English ocer or clerk in any
way connected with the disorders.
The most interesting point is to make believe that all terror has been inspired by General de
Gaulle.
Signed: Law
Political Department
No.3.814/709
dated the 7th June 1945.

Document 94: Law to Paget


In answer to your letter, dated the 6th June a.c:
From a theoretical point of view: we gave our agreement to France having a privileged
position in Syria and Lebanon.
To ratify this privilege it is necessary that the French succeed in getting a pact by
Syria.
From a practical point of view: Syria will refuse to conclude a pact with France alone.
Signed: Law
Political Department
No.3.815/710
dated the 7th June 1945.

Document 95: Laws order to Paget


Order
I give you my permission to work against the Banque de la Syrie et du Liban.
Our eorts have to be directed towards the establishment of a national Syrian and Lebanese
bank. Our money has to be detached from the French Franc and to be based on the Pound
Sterling like all other Arab currencies.
Signed: Law
Political Department
No.3.825/714
dated the 10th June 1945.

Document 96: Laws order to Paget


Order
The declarations made by General Beynet in Beirut are wrong and without base.
Your propaganda has to be directed towards the aim showing that the French politics has
been directed against the whole Arab world. Moreover you will have to quote the atrocities
done by the French in Morocco and in Algiers.
Signed: Law

886

M. Zamir

Political Department
No.3.826/715
dated the 10th June 1945.

Document 97: Laws order to Paget


Order
All extraordinary measures having been taken for the duration of the war remain in force
until the end of the hostilities against the Japs.
As a matter of fact these measures have to be exercised in a sense advantageous to us and
not to the French.
Signed: Law
Political Department
No.3.829/72
dated the 11th June 1945.

Document 98: Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Agreement
His Excellency Shukri Quwatli, President of the Syrian Republic,
and His Excellency Sir Bernard Paget, representing the British Government,
have agreed on the following:
1)
2)

The French troops will evacuate Syria,


The Syrian troops will take their place.

This evacuation and replacement will be dened by special agreements reached between the
representatives of the two contracting parties in a spirit of understanding and warm aection,
according to the possibilities.
Drawn up in Damascus on 2 June 1945
BP.
CH.
Approved by the President of the Republic,
the Acting Prime Minister
s/ Jamil Mardam
Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
under No.514 Documents.

Document 99: MardamShone agreement


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
His Excellency Jamil Mardam, Acting Prime Minister
and His Excellency the British Minister Plenipotentiary
have agreed on the following points:

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon


1)

2)
3)

887

In the event of an armed confrontation between Syrian civilians and French troops, the
military authorities will intervene to resolve the dispute and make the French evacuate the
scene in order to maintain security and order.
It is agreed that legal action against the aggressors of both parties will be taken later.
In order to maintain order, the French will not be reinstalled in the positions that they
evacuated.

7 June 1945
SH. J.
Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
under No.515 A Documents.

Document 100: Mardams report to the Cabinet


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
To the noble Cabinet
During my meeting with him, the British Minister Plenipotentiary assured me of the
following:
1)
2)
3)

France will irrevocably leave Syria,


Great Britain does not want to take its place in Syria,
Lebanon will have the same rights as Syria, but all this cannot be realized unless we
ourselves succeed in ousting the French.

I propose that your noble Cabinet make a decision on the matter.


7 June 1945
Minister of Foreign Aairs
s/Jamil Mardam

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


under No.2412 Political Reports.

Document 101: Syrian Cabinets decision


Secret and Condential
Decision No.1977
The Cabinet,
Seeing that . . .. . .. . . Seeing that . . .. . .. . . Seeing that . . .. . .. . .. . .
considering that the liberation of the country necessitates special and rapid measures,
has decided the following:
Sole Article The Minister of the Interior is charged with the organization of the incidents
that will lead to the expulsion of the French from the Republics territories with the
collaboration and complete agreement of the British military authorities.
The Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Finance and the Interior are charged, each in his
own area, with implementing the present secret decision.
7 June 1945
Signed by all the ministers except for Faris al- Khuri and Naim Antaki,
on a mission [San Francisco]

888

M. Zamir

Copy to the Minister of Foreign Aairs for information

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.516 Documents.

Document 102: Shones memorandum to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
from Mr. Shone, British Minister in Syria
to Jamil Mardam Bey, Minister of Foreign Aairs.
Memorandum
The British Government,

Replying to the appeal of His Excellency the President of the Syrian Republic,
Wishing to maintain order and security in the Middle East,
Anxious to help the Syrian cause and to strengthen Syrias independence,

has agreed to intervention in the Franco-Syrian conict.


The Government of the Republic is not unaware that the French ocials are trying, by
various means, to distort the designs of His Majestys Government, whose only aim is for right
to triumph, without having any other ambition, as the repeated ocial declarations would
lead to believe.
I therefore feel obliged to ask the Government of the Syrian Republic to see to it that it
insists that the present conict is only between France and Syria and that Great Britain is
involved in it only in order to maintain peace and order.
Damascus, 9 June 1945
initialized: Sh.
Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
under No.204/33. Diplomatic Correspondence, British Legation.

Document 103: Mardam to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Letter from Jamil Mardam Bey, Minister of Foreign Aairs
to Mr. Shone, Great Britains Minister in Syria.
Excellency,
The Syrian Government has the honour of answering your verbal note as follows:
The good intentions of the British Government are only questioned by those who are hostile
to Syrian independence. Under all circumstances France has proven hostile not only towards
Syria, but towards the entire Arab nation, even all Muslims.
We are acquainted with your noble designs which led you to intervene last 30 May in order
to stop the savage French aggression. We know that the French colonialists received a crucial
blow which destroyed their criminal aspirations. Therefore we are not surprised by the
meaningless accusations they spread on all sides.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

889

But, Excellency, be assured that our people are very much aware of this and that there is not
a young Syrian child that does not know of the savagery of the French colonialists. We hate
them with all our hearts and are proud of it the same way we love you and are proud of it.
The Syrian public opinion will certainly know that Great Britains sole aim in this conict is
to realize the ideals it has been ghting for.
With deepest respect.
9 June 1945
Sincerely yours,
Jamil Mardam
Minister of Foreign Aairs

Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs


under No.205/34. Diplomatic correspondence.
British Legation.

Document 104: Mardam to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
To H.E. the Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majestys Government, Damascus.
Excellency,
Syria, which received in British aid the most it could have hoped for, considers that it is in
its interest to inform you of the following:
The creation of a Syrian army requires weapons, equipment and a military organization.
We hope in light of your noble pledges, that you will provide us with the equipment and
arms that this young army needs.
Considering that the British armys training has proved itself, we would like to ask the
British Government to provide us with qualied instructors to establish this army.
We would also like to ask for the authorization to admit Syrian military missions into the
British military academies.
Moreover we would like to receive the technical aid needed for the establishment of a Syrian
military academy (equipment, instructors and supervisors).
10 June 1945
Minister of Foreign Aairs
s/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs


under No.50a, special diplomatic correspondence for the army
British Legation.

Document 105: Shone to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
from H.E., His British Majestys Minister
to H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs
Damascus

890

M. Zamir

Jabal Druze is now the area of ferment which can cause us much trouble.
All I can suggest to you is to take care of Amir Hasan, who is unpredictable. Our Services
inform us that the French have made and have not ceased to make eorts which are as
worrying for you as for us.
You will agree with me and realize that the British Government does not wish to take any
action concerning the Druze. It prefers that you take care of the matter yourself and does not
want you to think that we have slightest desire to detach the Jabal from Syria in order to
attach it to another Arab country, like many of its inhabitants are now asking for.
15 June 1945
s/ Shone

Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs


under No.535a Documents.

Document 106: Shone to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
to H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs,
Damascus.
You can rest assured that the Alawite region will not turn against you. If any incidents
should occur the region will be on your side against the French.
16 June 1945
s/ Shone
Letter delivered by the Secretary of the Legation in Damascus

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.536 Documents.

Document 107: Mardam to Shone


Secret
Exchange of letters No.1
H.E. Jamil Mardam Bey, Acting Prime Minister
to
H.E. Mr. Shone, British Minister Plenipotentiary in Damascus.
Excellency,
It is agreed that at each stage of our activity we will work together, in a spirit of total
friendship, in order to create the circumstances and an atmosphere that will provoke a popular
incitement against the French, which could lead to a clash between the popular forces and the
French forces until we succeed in driving them out.
We remain in agreement that the cooperation between your ocials and us will be
complete, because total success can only be achieved if your eorts support ours.
18 June 1945
Minister of Foreign Aairs
s/ Jamil Mardam
Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.554/A Documents.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

891

Document 108: Shones reply to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
From Mr. Shone
to H.E. the Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs
Damascus
Memorandum
I agree with the spirit of your note titled exchange of letters no. 1 and which indicates your
desire for complete cooperation in the framework of the cooperation dened in our agreement
of 2 June 1945.
18 June 1945
s/ Sh.
Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.554 Aa Documents.

Document 109: Mardam to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Exchange of letters no. 2
H.E. Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs
and Acting Prime Minister
to H.E. the Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain.
The Syrian Government feels compelled to draw the attention of the British Government to
the fact that it is impossible for the Syrian people to allow French shareholders and the French
Government to prot from the blood of the Syrian people.
The most important matter to be discussed today is Syrias oil.
The Syrian Government, while adhering to the spirit of the agreements, its promises and the
concessions it has granted, seeks the liberation of concessionary companies in Syria from
French inuence. It has nothing against nominally dissolving these companies, thus ridding
itself of French partners.
This measure will, in the near or distant future, prevent many misunderstandings between
Syria and this Company (oil).
I ask for your Governments consent.
18 June 1945
Minister of Foreign Aairs
s/ Jamil Mardam

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.554/B Documents.

Document 110: Shones reply to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
From Mr. Shone
to H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs
Damascus

892

M. Zamir

Memorandum
I agree with the spirit of your note titled exchange of letters no. 2, in which you indicate
your desire for the British Government to give its opinion on the future of French capitalist
companies.
However it should be noted that this cannot be realized today and that it is preferable to
wait for more favourable circumstances.
These circumstances will be decided upon at another time.
19 June 1945
s/ Shone

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.554/Ba Documents.

Document 111: Mardam to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Exchange of letters no. 5
H.E. Jamil Mardam Bey, Syrian Minister of Foreign Aairs and Acting Prime Minister
to H.E. The Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain,
Damascus.
The gures of the issuing bank (in a Syrian name) have reached an excessive and
unimaginable extent. This is certainly putting the economic independence of the country at
risk and is leading it to the brink of ruin.
Moreover, this bank, which is French at heart, can, with a simple nancial act, push the
Syrian pound over the brink, hoping to satisfy the ambitions of the French colonial policy
after its complete failure.
The Syrian Government considers seizing this bank, since it is a Syrian establishment
signicant to the country.
I request your Governments consent before taking this step.
18 June 1945
Minister of F.A.
s/ Jamil Mardam Bey

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.554 H. Documents.

Document 112: Shones reply to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
From H.E. the Minister of Great Britain
to H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs
Damascus
Memorandum
Our Government sees nothing against the views expressed in your letter no. 5, but it advises
you not to precipitate an event that would take place anyway, as Frances economic inuence
will inevitably disappear together with its political and military inuence.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

893

Moreover, to make such a fuss would be very indiscreet these days, even more so as the
French cannot allow the collapse of the Syrian currency.
18 June 1945
s/ Shone

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.554 Ha Documents.

Document 113: Mardam to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
From Jamil Mardam Bey
to Mr Shone
to H.E. the Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain.
Damascus.
Your Excellency,
The plan you have referred to is not simply a plan; it is a matter of prime importance in the
Arab economy. That is why I am happy to nd that you are well disposed towards its
realization.
I will enter into direct negotiations with the Iraqi Government which nds itself involved,
just as we are, in order to determine our points of view and the conditions of the agreement.
I will let you know as soon as possible the outcome of our agreement so that you can notify
the groups in question.
20 June 1945
Yours sincerely,
S/ Jamil Mardam Bey
Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs under No.225/30.
Diplomatic correspondence
Legation of Great Britain.

Document 114: Mardam to Shone


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
from Jamil Mardam Bey
to H.E. the Minister Plenipotentiary of His British Majestys Government
Damascus.
Excellency,
In conrming our conversation of a few days ago, I have the pleasure to announce that the
control service of the concessionary companies and the mines of the Syrian Republic is at
the point of concluding the preliminary works undertaken in anticipation of the demands that
the citizens or companies will present for the research and exploitation of Syrias mines.
I am pleased to conrm to you that we have decided to provide the British citizens and
companies all the necessary facilities when they present such demands.
Respectfully yours,
26 June 1945
The Minister of Foreign Aairs
s/ Jamil Mardam Bey

894

M. Zamir

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic


under No.292/57 Diplomatic correspondence.
British Legation.

Document 115: Shone to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs
I regret to inform you of the following:
Ocials from the Syrian Government (including policemen) were openly involved in the
murder of some French ocials.
Such doings provide the French with arguments against us. We will no longer be able to
defend you and defend ourselves after the public accusations the French are making
against us.
The instigators and those who carried out the incidents in Jisr-al-Shaghur, Idlib and Aleppo
were, for the most part, Government ocials, and we deeply regret this.
We think that this attitude is in complete violation of our agreement with you; anything that
takes place between you and the French must appear to be the work of anonymous civilians.
24 June 1945
S/ Shone
Registered in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs
under No.271:66 Diplomatic correspondence.
British Legation.

Document 116: Shone to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
From Mr. Shone, Minister of Great Britain in the Levant
to H.E. Jamil Mardam Bey
Minister of Foreign Aairs.
In reply to the letter you sent me today, I am pleased to learn that you have determined to
grant the British citizens and companies all necessary facilities in the event that they request to
search for and exploit the mines.
I have informed my government of your present decision.
All the procedures will be observed in order to maintain the secret character of this decision
and in order to avoid any comments or misunderstandings on such important matters.
As always, your obedient servant.
26 June 1945
the Minister Plenipotentiary
S/ Shone

Registered at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Aairs


under No.293/58 Diplomatic correspondence.
British Legation.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

895

Document 117: Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget


Text in Arabic
Report on the Syro-British Meeting
on 28 June 1945 in Damascus

Report No.1
H.E. the President of the Syrian Republic, assisted by Jamil Mardam Bey, Acting Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Aairs, representing the Syrian side, and General Sir
Bernard Paget, representing the British side, met today, Thursday 28 June 1945 in Damascus
and reached the following agreement:
All the French war equipment and all the barracks buildings and locations
formerly occupied by the French troops will have to be returned to the Syrian
army. The Government of the Republic will make use of them like an owner uses his
property.
Made in Damascus on 28 June 1945
(initialled)
BP.
CH.
J.
Filed at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic.
Not registered by 1 July 1945.

Document 118: Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget


Text in Arabic
Report on the Syro-British meeting
on 28 June 1945 in Damascus

Report No.2
H.E. the President of the Syrian Republic, assisted by Jamil Mardam Bey, Acting Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Aairs, representing the Syrian side,
and General Sir Bernard Paget, representing the British side, met today, Thursday 28 June
1945, in Damascus and reached the following agreement:
The Government of H.M the King of Great Britain represented by his military authority
pledges to deliver to the Syrian Government within six months from today, weapons and
sucient war ammunition to equip ten thousand soldiers.
A detailed agreement will be concluded for the designation of the arms, their type and
quantity. It is agreed that this equipment may be adapted according to the circumstances
which might vary from day to day.
The quantity could be increased.
Made in Damascus on 28 June 1945
(initialled)
BP.
CH.
J.
Filed at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic.
Not registered by 1 July 1945.

Document 119: Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget


Text in Arabic

896

M. Zamir

Report on the Syro-British meeting


on 28 June 1945 in Damascus

Report No.4
H.E. the President of the Syrian Republic, assisted by Jamil Mardam Bey, Acting Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Aairs representing the Syrian side, and General Sir Bernard
Paget, representing the British side, met today, Thursday 28 June 1945, in Damascus, and
reached the following agreement:
In the future, the British army will not intervene in any armed conict that might arise
between the Syrian revolutionary forces and the French. It will not undertake the task of
protecting these forces.
Made in Damascus on 28 June 1945
(initialled)
BP.
CH.
J.

Filed at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic.


Not registered by 1 July 1945.

Document 120: Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget


Text in Arabic
Report on the Syro-British meeting
on 28 June 1945 in Damascus

Report No.5
H.E. the President of the Syrian Republic, assisted by Jamil Mardam Bey, Acting Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Aairs, representing the Syrian side, and General Sir
Bernard Paget representing the British side, met today, Thursday 28 June 1945, in Damascus,
and reached the following agreement:
If the French refuse to withdraw from Syria in accordance with the demand of the Arab
League and the Syrian Republic, the British army will remain neutral if the Syrians are
pressured to resort to force.
It is agreed that the Syrian Government will be the only authority qualied to maintain
order and security.
Made in Damascus on 28 June 1945
(initialled)
BP.
CH.
J.
Deposited at the Foreign Ministry of the Syrian Republic.
Not registered by 1 July 1945.

Document 121: Quwatlis and Mardams agreement with Paget


Text in Arabic
Report on the Syro-British meeting
on 28 June 1945 in Damascus

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

897

Report No.6
H.E. the President of the Syrian Republic, assisted by Jamil Mardam Bey, Acting Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Aairs, representing the Syrian side, and General Sir
Bernard Paget, representing the British side, met today, Thursday 28 June 1945, in Damascus,
and reached the following agreement:
In the event of a new armed conict between Syrian and French forces, the British army
will not be opposed to Syria receiving help from other Arab forces according to the secret
decisions taken by the Council of the Arab League.
Made in Damascus on 28 June 1945
(initialled)
BP.
CH.
J.
Filed at the Foreign Ministry of the Syrian Republic.
Not registered by 1 July 1945.

Document 122: Mardams report to Quwatli


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Report
to H.E. the President of the Republic

Mr. Shone has just been on the telephone with me and has made the following request:
Syrias interest, now more than at any other time, demands that we do not clash
with the French. The current situation requires much prudence. It seems that
France, which is counting on Russian support, has begun to play a dangerous game
against you.
This means, Your Excellency, the temporary suspension of any eective action, be it
military or political.
It is to allow you to give your orders that this situation is set out before you.
29 June 1945
The Foreign Minister
S/ Jamil Mardam
Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs
under No.454 Political reports.

Document 123: Evans to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
from Mr. Evans of the British Legation,
Damascus
Note
to H.E. the Prime Minister
H.E. Mr Shone has asked me to notify you of the following:
As I told you verbally, I am going to take a rest. You must know that my Government
wants me to absent myself temporarily from public life in order to allow the air to clear and to
prevent the French from having any more grounds for objection.

898

M. Zamir

France, as you know, has always said that the British ocials have been the cause of all the
misunderstandings which have occurred in Syria. For our part, we want to share with you our
sincerest opinions, which is that you get on with France and reach a reasonable solution which
will safeguard your national interests above all.
At this moment when I am leaving Beirut for a short rest, I wish you prosperity, happiness
and peace.
Unsigned note sent on 5 July 1945 by Mr. Evans of the British Legation in Damascus

Registered in the Ministry of Foreign Aairs


under No.319/121 Diplomatic correspondence.
British Legation.

Document 124: Evans verbal note to Mardam


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
From Mr. Evans, the British Legation, Damascus
H.E. the Minister of Foreign Aairs of the Syrian Republic, Damascus
Verbal Note
I have been charged with transmitting the following to Your Excellency:
You had asked the Minister Plenipotentiary of H.M. the Kings Government if we had any
objection to the publication of the book you want to distribute with the title: Black Book on
the recent events in Damascus.
I am authorized to reply to you that we will not oppose it in any way.
10 July 1945
Communicated by Mr. Evans of the British Legation in Damascus

Registered at the Ministry of Foreign Aairs in Damascus


under No.618 Documents.
[Authors note: This was part of the Anglo-Syrian propaganda campaign against France
following the Syrian crisis.]

Document 125: Asali to the Cabinet on Mardams intrigues


Translated from the Arabic
Secret
Report
presented by the Minister of the Interior to the Cabinet

It is my duty to report to your noble Council that H.E. Ahmad Pasha al-Rawi (Iraqs
Minister in Syria) openly disapproves of the numerous activities for the realization of what is
known as the Unity of Syria and Transjordan.
The information I [received from] the authorized services shows that one of our ministers,
whose name is constantly mentioned, must be considered to be one of the most fervent
supporters of this plan.
In my capacity as Minister of the Interior of this Government, I think that homogeneity is
no longer assured within the Ministry.

Britains Secret War against France in Syria and Lebanon

899

I therefore resign from the Government, leaving it to your noble Council to make the
decisions it considers appropriate.
14 July 1945
Minister of the Interior
s/ Sabri Asali

Copy for information to the Ministry of Foreign Aairs.


Not yet registered.