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Correspondence between Sir Henry McMahon and Sherif Hussein of Mecca – July 1915-March 1916, Cmd. 5957 – 1939.

Sir_Henry_McMahon_by_John_CollierClick here to view the entire original document.


Sherif of Mecca to Sir Henry McMahon – July 14, 1915, pp. 3-4

“Whereas the whole of the Arab nation without any exception have decided in these last years to …grasp the reins of their administration both in theory and practice…And whereas it is to their (the Arabs’) interest also to prefer the assistance of the Government of Great Britain in consideration of their geographical position and economic interests…For these reasons the Arab nation see fit…to asking the Government of Great Britain if it should think fit, for their approval…of the following fundamental propositions…”

“Firstly – England to acknowledge the independence of the Arab countries, bounded on the north by Mersina and Adana up to the 37 of latitude…up to the border of Persia; on the east by the borders of Persia up to the Gulf of Basra; on the South by the Indian Ocean…on the west by the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea up to Mersina. England to approve of the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam.

Secondly – The Arab Government of the Sherif to acknowledge that England shall have the preference in all economic enterprises in Arab countries whenever conditions of enterprises are otherwise equal.”

McMahon to Sherif, pp. 4-5 – Aug. 30, 1915

“…we confirm to you…our desire for the independence of Arabia and its inhabitants, together with our approval of the Arab Khalifate when it should be proclaimed…With regard to the questions of limits and boundaries, it would appear to be premature to consume our time in discussing such details in the heat of war…especially as we have learned, with surprise and regret, that some of the Arabs in those very parts, far from assisting us, are neglecting this their supreme opportunity and are lending their arms to the German and the Turk…”

Sherif to McMahon, pp. 5-7 – Sept. 9, 1915

“I am confident that your Excellency will not doubt that it is not I personally who am demanding of these limits which include only our race, but that they are the proposals of the people, who, in short, believe that they are necessary for economic life.
“In order to reassure your Excellency I can declare that the whole country, together with those you say are submitting themselves to Turco-German orders, are all waiting the result of these negotiations, which are dependent only on your refusal or acceptance of the question of the limits and on your declaration of safeguarding their religion first and then the rest of rights from any harm or danger.”

McMahon to Sharif, pp. 7-9 – Oct. 24, 1915

“I have…lost no time in informing the Government of Great Britain of the contents of your letter, and it is with great pleasure that I communicate to you on their behalf the following statement, which I am sure you will receive with satisfaction-
“The two districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the limits demanded. With the above modification, and without prejudice to our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept those limits.”

Sherif to McMahon, pp. 9-11 – Nov. 5, 1915

“…the two vilayets of Aleppo and Beirut and their sea coasts are purely Arab vilayets; and there is no difference between a Moslem and a Christian Arab- they are both descendents of one forefather. We Moslems will follow the footsteps of the Commander of the Faithful Omar ibn Khattab, and other Khalifs succeeding him, who ordained in the laws of the Moslem Faith that Moslems should treat the Christians as they treat themselves…They will thus enjoy their civic rights in as much as it accords with the general interests of the whole nation.”

McMahon to Sherif, pp. 11-12 – Dec. 14, 1915

“…I am further directed by the Government of Great Britain to inform you that you may rest assured that Great Britain has no intention of concluding any peace in terms of which the freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does not form an essential condition.”

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