6/2/1919 Emir Faisal seeks a promised kingdom

Britain has found itself in a bit of sticky wicket in the Middle East, where its contradictory promises to the French and the Arabs are now coming home to roost. Today the awkwardness is laid bare when Emir Faisal appears before the Paris Conference to advance the claims of his father, Sharif Hussein of Mecca (self-declared King of the Arabs). Faisal does not speak English, but he has the British intelligence officer T. E. Lawrence to translate for him. Faisal is seeking the Arab kingdom promised to his father, a greater Syria that would stretch from the Anatolian border all the way down to the Arabian peninsula. This unfortunately clashes with French ambitions in the Middle East and the Sykes-Picot agreement on the region’s partition. The French have a particular attachment to the area around Mount Lebanon, where francophile Maronite Christians live, and are keen both to create a larger Lebanese entity under French control and to use this to expand into Syria proper.

As can be imagined, the French are hostile to Faisal’s presentation. Wilson is curiously indifferent. The British meanwhile are in an embarrassing position. They would like to support their Arab client, but they dare not risk a rupture with France. If they have to choose, then Faisal will be disappointed.

image source:

Emir Faisal and his delegation. Lawrence is to his right. (Wikipedia: Faisal I of Iraq)

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