Faisal memorandum – Conference of Allied Powers/ UK House of Commons

Memorandum Submitted to the Conference of Allied Powers at the House of Commons

[The Allied Powers Conference assigned Britain as the Mandatory for Palestine on April 24, 1920.
Amir Faisal – the son of King Hussein of Hejaz – became later King of Iraq ]
Submitted by General Hoddad Pasha (Hejaz Army) and delegated by His Royal Highness Amir Faisal, on March 10, 1921

On Behalf of His Majesty

      The Arabs entered the war on the side of the Allies with certain clear aims. They wished to obtain their independence and become once again a free people, masters of their destiny.  But my Father, His Majesty King Hussein, did not undertake the responsible and dangerous task of leading the Arab revolt before he had obtained assurances from His Britannic Majesty's Government that the Arabs would reap a reward commensurate with the risks they were to run and the sacrifices they were to make. Those pledges, given to my Father by the British Government, offered to the Arabs the definite promise of independence within the limits included by a line, drawn from Alexandretta along the 37th degree of latitude up to the Persian frontier and then down to the Persian Gulf; on the west the boundary seas to be the Red Sea, the Peninsula of Sinai and the Mediterranean. Certain reservations were made by the British Government, to some of which my Father assented; he claimed that the others, which affected only a comparatively small portion of the whole area involved, should be settled by discussion when the war was over. My Father considered that in view of the pledges given to him, the essential unity and independence of the Arab-speaking provinces of the Turkish Empire were secure in the event of the success of the Allies; accordingly he threw himself into the struggle and called on his fellow Arabs to join his standard. With what patriotism they came forward from every part of the Arab Provinces to perform their comparatively small, though not unimportant, part in the common task; every reader of the official communiques issued during and after the war is aware.  

     To none of the Allies has the peace brought more bitter disillusion. The Arabs have not gained independence and they have lost even the relative unity they enjoyed when they owned a common allegiance to Constantinople. That the Arab Provinces should be separated can be justified by no considerations of practical statesmanship; still less justification is there for the decision of provinces into various separate and independent states. Racially they are homogeneous; economically they are interdependent. Unless there is complete freedom of trade through the whole country, neither Syria, in which I include Palestine, nor Mesopotamia can flourish; indeed they are so closely united that nomad Arab tribes pass and repass naturally from the one to the other every year.  Again, from a military standpoint the Arabs can only hope to withstand the pressure from the north which is one of the constant factors of Middle Eastern history, if they can show a united front. Divided they must fall; united they can defend their frontiers and maintain that security from external menace which is the indispensable preliminary to orderly progress.

     These observations appear so obvious that I should have hesitated to submit them to the Conference had not the Allied Powers ignored them, as far as the Arab Provinces are concerned, in  the settlement they have drawn up in the Middle East. They have not even established any link or bond which is the indispensable preliminary to orderly progress.  

     That the Allied Powers have interest in various parts of the Arab Provinces my Father has admitted, and he would be the first to say that the Arabs should regard such interest and relations with due and proper respect. The Allied Powers have also made declarations to racial entities which  my Father again is glad to discuss in a liberal spirit, though there may have been nothing said  about them in the pledges he holds from His Britannic Majesty's Government. But such discussions should be inspired by the sentiments expressed by the President of the United States on July 4th, 1919:

   "The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political, upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nations or people, which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its exterior influence or mastery "  

     These principles, moreover, the leading statesmen of the Allied Powers have frequently declared  to guide their policy.  

     I have submitted therefore on behalf of His Majesty King Hussein that this Conference should reconsider the treatment meted out to the Arabs by the Treaty of Sevres.  I stand here on behalf of the Arabs and solemnly ask for that independence and unity for which we fought, and for which many thousands of my countrymen laid down their lives.  We wish to maintain the friendly relations  with the Allied Powers that existed between us while we were brother nations in arms; we wish to do no detriment to the legitimate interests of any foreign Power; but above all we wish, with the passionate patriotism that we share with other people, to be free to order our own national life so that our race, inspired by its great history, may once again develop its genius and contribute as in the past to the common stock of human civilization. Until this desire is satisfied, peace, which is  one of the main objectives of this Conference can never be established in the Arab provinces.  

                                                        (Signed) Faisal

Document Type: Memorandum
Document Sources: Conference of Allied Powers
Country: Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom
Subject: History, Palestine question
Publication Date: 10/03/1921
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