The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence refers to a series of letters exchanged between Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, and Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, during the early 20th century. The correspondence took place during the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire, of which Hussein was a subject, was allied with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria) against the Allied Powers (Britain, France, and Russia).
The correspondence began in July 1915, when Hussein wrote a letter to McMahon proposing an alliance with Britain against the Ottoman Empire. In his letter, Hussein outlined his grievances with the Ottoman Empire and his desire for independence. He also proposed the establishment of an independent Arab state in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, with himself as its ruler.
McMahon responded to Hussein's letter in October 1915, agreeing to the establishment of an independent Arab state and promising British support for such a state. However, the terms of this support were not clearly defined, and the correspondence continued as Hussein and McMahon attempted to negotiate the specific boundaries and terms of the proposed Arab state.
The correspondence was seen as a key moment in the history of the Arab states, as it marked the first time that a British official had promised support for Arab independence. However, the correspondence was also the source of much controversy and confusion, as the British government was simultaneously negotiating with the French and Russians over the future of the Middle East. This led to conflicting promises and the eventual breakdown of the negotiations between Hussein and McMahon.
Ultimately, the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence did not result in the establishment of an independent Arab state as promised. After the war, the Middle East was divided into a number of mandates and protectorates controlled by the Allied Powers, with the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire being divided between Britain and France. This led to widespread disillusionment and resentment among the Arab people, who felt that they had been betrayed by the British.
Despite the ultimate failure of the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, it remains an important moment in the history of the Middle East and is often cited as a factor in the ongoing conflict and tensions in the region.
In this great cause Arabia is now associated, and God grant that the result of our mutual efforts and co-operation will bind us in a lasting friendship to the mutual welfare and happiness of us all. The Erasure of Arab Political Identity: Colonialism and Violence. George Antonius and agreed to by Mr. The McMahon-Husayn Correspondence 14 July 1915 — 10 March 1916 The entire correspondence was published in English first by George Antonius, The Arab Awakening London, 1938 , and next in a British white paper, Cmd. Obviously no reference was intended to non-existent Vilayets. We have heard that Ibn Rashid has been selling large quantities of camels to the Turks, which are being sent up to Damascus.
To the most noble His Excellency the High Commissioner. Retrieved 6 November 2016. The League of Nations might reserve in the mandate a right of supervision of administration and even of revocation of authority, but that right would be nominal and of little, if any, real value provided the mandatory was one of the Great Powers as it undoubtedly would be. George Antonius upon the "surrounding circumstances" of the Correspondence. Moreover, there is a British undertaking to safeguard the holy places, which would hardly have been necessary if Palestine was not part of the area.
I believe that the construction at which they have arrived was the intention of the statute. Letter from Husayn to McMahon, February 18, 1916 In the name of the Merciful, the Compassionate! The reservations made by Sir Henry McMahon in his note of the 24th October, 1915, must be read in the light of the attitude prevailing in White-hall at the time. The United Kingdom representatives also contend that Palestine was not a purely Arab country. When the Arabs know the Government of Great Britain is their ally who will not leave them to themselves at the conclusion of peace in the face of Turkey and Germany, and that she will support and will effectively defend them, then to enter the war at once will, no doubt, be in conformity with the general interest of the Arabs. The point about the Holy Places is different. On this point he wishes to say that he sees no reason to modify his remarks. Under these circumstances 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.
It is beyond the scope of the Committee to express an opinion upon the proper interpretation of the various statements mentioned in paragraph 19 and such an opinion could not in any case be properly expressed unless consideration had also been given to a number of other statements made during and after the war. Hussein to McMahon, 14 Jul 1915 Boundaries: Consistent with the Caliphate: Requested England to "approve of the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam. But in order to render an accord easy, and taking into consideration the assurances mentioned in the fifth article of your letter to keep and guard our mutual interests in that country as they are one and the same, for all these reasons we might agree to leave under the British administration for a short time those districts now occupied by the British troops without the rights of either party being prejudiced thereby especially those of the Arab nation; which interests are to it economic and vital , and against a suitable sum paid as compensation to the Arab Kingdom for the period of occupation, in order to meet the expenses which every new kingdom is bound to support; at the same time respecting your agreements with the Sheikhs of those districts, and especially those which are essential. Although the Arab members of the Committee were of the opinion that even with these corrections the English text still failed to represent the best possible rendering of the Arabic text, they agreed that if these corrections were made the English text would be free from actual error so far as anything essential to a proper understanding of the points at issue in the Correspondence is concerned. Consequently, and as the whole of the Arab nation have praise be to God agreed and united for the attainment, at all costs and finally, of this noble object, they beg the Government of Great Britain to answer them positively or negatively in a period of thirty days after receiving this intimation; and if this period should lapse before they receive an answer, they reserve to themselves complete freedom of action. . I had had no previous or inner knowledge of the McMahon pledges and the Sykes-Picot treaty, which were both framed by war-time branches of the Foreign Office.
. The reason they advanced to prove their argument? Peace not to be decided without agreement of both parties. These reasons may be expected to retain their force for many years to come. Fourthly— If one of the parties enters into an aggressive conflict, the other party will assume a neutral attitude, and in case of such party wishing the other to join forces, both to meet and discuss the conditions. In conclusion, we beg you to accept our warmest salutations and expressions of friendship.
Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca. On the other hand, the League of Nations in the distribution of mandates would presumably do so in the interests of the inhabitants of the colonies and the mandates would be accepted by the Powers as a duty and not to obtain new possessions. The additional mention of Homs and Hama was evidently made because al-Faruqi had mentioned them and to ensure that the intervening territory of which they were the most important towns should not be excluded from the area consigned to Arab rule. Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T. The source material below is placed in the public domain and is free of copy restrictions. Britain's position was dictated by caution.
The necessary instructions, as set forth in your letter, have been issued to the Governor at Port Sudan, and he will arrange everything in accordance with your wishes. At the first meeting on the 23rd February the Arab representatives handed in a memorandum explaining generally the Arab interpretation of the Correspondence. A follow up article on the manner in which the editorial contro. The result of this survey went to confirm Lord Kitchener in his view that southern Syria up to Haifa and Acre and down to the Gulf of Aqaba would be, on political and strategic grounds, an indispensable asset to the British Empire in the event of a break-up of the Ottoman Empire. It is extremely awkward to have this piece of solid ground cut from under our feet. Had I been an honourable adviser I would have sent my men home, and not let them risk their lives for such stuff.
With the above modification, and without prejudice of our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept those limits. The remainder will be collected as quickly as possible and will be deposited at Port Sudan, where it will remain until we hear from you officially of the beginning of the movement and of the places to which they may be conveyed and the intermediaries who will carry out the orders for receiving them. Consequently, we cannot satisfy the Arab nations or make them submit to give us such a title to nobility. Confirmed British agreement to the requests and concluded the ten letters of the correspondence. It is hoped that these explanations will convince the Arab members of the Committee that Sir Henry McMahon never had any intention of including Palestine in the area of Arab independence; and furthermore that he never had any reason to suppose that his intention was not perfectly clear to the Sharif. I have, therefore, 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 confident 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. There are various Turkish posts and small garrisons along the coasts of Arabia who are hostile to us, and who are said to be planning injury to our naval interests in the Red Sea.