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HIST 151
Paul Sedra

World War I 5/15/2012 2:54:00 PM the postwar settlement in the political history of the region we are talking about (the modern middle east).  The borders.  The states. With Which people are grappling today  They were determined by the postwar settlement. And yet in the negotiation for that settlement (the postwar settlement), middle easterners themselves, had almost no voice at all  Rather the cast of characters in this part of the story that were venturing through. It consist largely a Britain’s and French men among them a fellow called Sir Arthur Henry McMahon, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot  The Husain-McMahon correspondence of 1950-1960.  The Sykes-Picot accord of 1960. These documents have remained after root of controversy over specifically the compatibility of Britain’s commitments during the first WW.  The notion that the borders for the postwar middle east upon which Sykes and Picot decided in their accord violated the territorial pledges that McMahon had made to the Sharif of Mecca. This is a notion that precist [21:31] in both secularly discourse but also political discourse to this day. o Particularly, of course, with reference to Palestine. The Sharif of Mecca, Sharif Husain, he was flooded with insinuations from British officials to the effect that the British would insure that the Arabs realize their independence.  This was part of the bargain that was the British officials trying to make with this influential figure, a man who could assist them in their struggle against the Ottoman empire during the first WW. o Particularly, by harassing the Ottomans militarily as part of, what would ultimately become known as, the Arab revolt. The Sharif of Mecca being cudgeled, he is being solicited by the British in order to support this Arab revolt, to lend his support  Material.  Particularly, in terms of men. And, in order to win and to secure that support the British are willing to make pledges, these pledges come from Cairo, from a man known as Sir Arthur Henry McMahon.  He is (McMahon) willing to discus exactly what the Arabs can expect upon the end of the war, in terms of independence. Where is the controversy here?  The controversy is in the fact that McMahon ultimately prides himself on having pulled the proverbial wall over the Sharif Husain’s eyes. o On having masterfully, according to him, hidden the truth from the Arabs. o On having managed to win Arabs support for a revolt without having made a concrete territorial pledge. o This is what McMahon believed he had accomplished. o And of course he, Lawrence, was part of this British effort to win the Arabs to the British side. Who was McMahon ?  he was the British high commissioner to Egypt  and in a letter, dated October 24 th1915 to the Sharif Husain (The Sharif who was the guardians of Islam’s holier shrines), McMahon committed Britain to a recognition of Arab independence in those lands that had been requested by the Sharif, however (and this would become the subject of controversy) with a number of critical exceptions. These exceptions …  The lands to the west of the district of Damascus, Aleppo, Hums, and Hama were excluded from the pledge.  Lands disputed by France were declared beyond the scope of British-Arab negotiation.  What were called “special administrative arrangements” were to reign in the provinces of Baghdad and Basra.  The Sharif was enjoying to respect the claims of the British ally chiefs of Arabia. With all of these exceptions having then incorporated into the correspondence, as we indicated before, McMahon felt that he had, very cunningly deceived the Sharif.  Not only Palestine, but Damascus, Aleppo, Hums, and Hama are disputed by France.  Because all of these areas are disputed by France, McMahon believe that he had, in fact, issued no territorial pledge at all.  And having pulled the wall over the Sharif Husain’s eyes, the Arab revolt begin in June 1916 with an attach on Ottoman forces at Mecca and it would continue right through to October 1 1918 when the Sharif Husain’s son, Faisal, would make a triumphant entry into Damascus.  However; the Sharif, Sharif Husain, was unaware that at just the time that he was negotiating his loyalties with McMahon, there were two men meeting in London discussing the very same issues. o That is to say the postwar settlement, how the lands of the middle east would be divided after the end of the war.  And under the terms of the Sykes-Picot accord that they secretly drafted in May 1916, and this was of course a month before the beginning of the Arab revolt, France would sees control of grater Lebanon and Britain of provinces of Baghdad and Basra. o Those provinces together with Mosel would ultimately constitute the kingdom of Iraq. o The part of Palestine that were beyond French Rule, under this rule, would be entrusted under international administration.  Arabs under this plan were supposed to realize their independence in regions that were not ruled directly by France or Britain, but they would realize this independence only under the influence of the great powers, Britain or France. Most infamously in the case of Syria, this “independence” would prove a sham, with France invading only about five months after the general Syrian congress, The declaration of a Syrian kingdom and the secession of Faisal to the thrown. And so this sham independence of Sykes-Picot raises probably the thornious [30:30-] question of modern middle eastern historian,  that is had McMahon, in fact, committed Britain to nothing at all?  Are we to except McMahon’s claim that he had pulled the wall over the Sharif Husain’s eyes ?  These is no question that McMahon had aimed for a certain ambiguity in the terms of his pledge.  But it can also be safely said that these ambiguity ultimately extended well beyond anything he had intended. o To the point that, not only  the Sharif Husain  the Arab side but, indeed, British officials themselves had a hard time figuring out exactly what the British were arguing in that correspondence. Lets explain why, what was the problem with the correspondence that led to confusion?  First of all, there was the question of terminology. o You recall that in describing the line, beyond which negotiation was not possible, a use of term districts, but for McMahon, terms like …  Districts.  Towns.  Territories. These were not defined, they were not precisely defined, and this led to enormous confusion.  His inconsistence references in this regard, and some pretty inapt translation that happened here, at the Cairo high commission where he was based, led to the invocation of an Ottoman term “Velaiets”. o This Ottoman term was that which was ultimately used on the Arab side in interpreting McMahon’s pledge. o And yet in the Arab side there is likewise very inconsistent use of various terms. o Moreover, the extent of this frontier, (the Damascus, Aleppo, Hums, and Hama) that was suppose to determine what was included and what wasn’t, northward or southward was left unspecified by McMahon.  So that’s part of the explanation for the fact that the Sharif Husain saw a territorial pledge, where McMahon ultimately claimed there was not.  But beyond that we have to consider the context in which the correspondence happen. o Because beyond the correspondence itself, the letters themselves (
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