Friday, November 02, 2007

Balfour Declaration - Occupation Folklore

Left: Arthur James Balfour (1st Earl Balfour of Whittingehame) 1848 - 1930

The Balfour Declaration

Foreign Office

November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour

The Balfour Declaration would not have been possible without the Sykes-Picot agreement, which contemplated victorious booty from WWI. The secret accord between the French and the British planned to divide the Ottoman Empire - the legacy of which continues to haunt and mire the region in blood and death.

The Sykes Picot agreement, concluded in 1916, divided the Middle East into areas of influence for France, Great Britain and others, giving the French control over modern Syria and Lebanon. Most of Palestine was supposed to be under international control--however that proposal never materialized. Though the agreement mentions the possibility of concessions by either side to an Arab state, it in fact made it impossible for Great Britain to honor promises to Shariff Hussein Ibn Ali in 1915.

The agreement excluded the districts "west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo" as specified in the Hussein-McMahon agreement, extending the line south so that Palestine was excluded from Arab control. However, the agreement also excluded two much larger areas that would be under direct British and French control, and split the Arab area into zones of British and French influence that would preclude full independence.

On June 27, 1916, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, Emir of Mecca, issued a proclamation in which he announced himself, as a direct descendant of Mohammed and the true leader of the Islamic faith. He was effectively seeking to depose the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V. Ali Ibn Hussein's objective in initiating the Great Arab Revolt was to establish a single independent and unified Arab state stretching from Aleppo (Syria) to Aden (Yemen), based on the ancient traditions and culture of the Arab people, the upholding of Islamic ideals and the full protection and inclusion of ethnic religious minorities.

The Betrayal of Arabs who fought with the Allied Forces against the Ottoman Empire

In 1915, Sharif Hussein Ibn Ali of Mecca and his sons Ali, Abdulla, Faisal, and Zeid, exploited a ripened opportunity to break the Arab people away from the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, Sharif Hussein petitioned Great Britain for material and logistical aid. Hussein naively thought that Great Britain would be grateful for another war front opened up against the Turks, further weakening their resolve to fight Great Britain.

Left: Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence, born on August 16, 1888 - Popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence became famous for his exploits as British Military liaison to the Arab Revolt during the First World War.

Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, known in the West as “Lawrence of Arabia,” was sent by British Intelligence to assess the fighting capabilities and material needs of Sharif Hussein and his sons. Lawrence spoke Arabic, which he learned in his youth in the course of his tour of the Middle East studying Crusader castles for his undergraduate thesis at Oxford.

He arrived in the midst of a powerful Arab nationalist uprising, knowing full well that Great Britain’s promises of Arab self-government were worthless. Lawrence justified his country’s betrayal of the Arab national dream this way:
“I risked the fraud, on my conviction that Arab help was necessary to our cheap and speedy victory in the East and that [it is] better we win and break our word than lose.”
While the Arabs fought for national liberation, Great Britain and France were planning to implement the 1915 Sykes-Pikot Agreement dividing the Arab nation into phony emirates and kingdoms whose oil resources would be delivered as over-generous concessions to British and French petrochemical corporations.

Left: Map of Sykes-Picot agreement showing Palestine under International Control

The Sykes-Picot Agreement

It is accordingly understood between the French and British governments:

That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab states or a confederation of Arab states (a) and (b) marked on the annexed map, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall have priority of right of enterprise and local loans. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall alone supply advisers or foreign functionaries at the request of the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.

That in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.

That in the brown area there shall be established an international administration, the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other allies, and the representatives of the sheriff of Mecca.

That Great Britain be accorded (1) the ports of Haifa and Acre, (2) guarantee of a given supply of water from the tigres and Euphrates in area (a) for area (b). His majesty's government, on their part, undertake that they will at no time enter into negotiations for the cession of Cyprus to any third power without the previous consent of the French government.

That Alexandretta shall be a free port as regards the trade of the British empire, and that there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards British shipping and British goods; that there shall be freedom of transit for British goods through Alexandretta and by railway through the blue area, or (b) area, or area (a); and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against British goods on any railway or against British goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned.

That Haifa shall be a free port as regards the trade of France, her dominions and protectorates, and there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards French shipping and French goods. There shall be freedom of transit for French goods through Haifa and by the British railway through the brown area, whether those goods are intended for or originate in the blue area, area (a), or area (b), and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against French goods on any railway, or against French goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned.

That in area (a) the Baghdad railway shall not be extended southwards beyond Mosul, and in area (b) northwards beyond Samarra, until a railway connecting Baghdad and Aleppo via the Euphrates valley has been completed, and then only with the concurrence of the two governments.

That Great Britain has the right to build, administer, and be sole owner of a railway connecting Haifa with area (b), and shall have a perpetual right to transport troops along such a line at all times. It is to be understood by both governments that this railway is to facilitate the connection of Baghdad with Haifa by rail, and it is further understood that, if the engineering difficulties and expense entailed by keeping this connecting line in the brown area only make the project unfeasible, that the French government shall be prepared to consider that the line in question may also traverse the Polgon Banias Keis Marib Salkhad tell Otsda Mesmie before reaching area (b).

For a period of twenty years the existing Turkish customs tariff shall remain in force throughout the whole of the blue and red areas, as well as in areas (a) and (b), and no increase in the rates of duty or conversions from ad valorem to specific rates shall be made except by agreement between the two powers.

There shall be no interior customs barriers between any of the above mentioned areas. The customs duties leviable on goods destined for the interior shall be collected at the port of entry and handed over to the administration of the area of destination.

It shall be agreed that the French government will at no time enter into any negotiations for the cession of their rights and will not cede such rights in the blue area to any third power, except the Arab state or confederation of Arab states, without the previous agreement of His Majesty's government, who, on their part, will give a similar undertaking to the French government regarding the red area.

The British and French government, as the protectors of the Arab state, shall agree that they will not themselves acquire and will not consent to a third power acquiring territorial possessions in the Arabian peninsula, nor consent to a third power installing a naval base either on the east coast, or on the islands, of the red sea. This, however, shall not prevent such adjustment of the Aden frontier as may be necessary in consequence of recent Turkish aggression.

The negotiations with the Arabs as to the boundaries of the Arab states shall be continued through the same channel as heretofore on behalf of the two powers.

It is agreed that measures to control the importation of arms into the Arab territories will be considered by the two governments.

I have further the honor to state that, in order to make the agreement complete, His Majesty's government are proposing to the Russian government to exchange notes analogous to those exchanged by the latter and your excellency's government on the 26th April last. Copies of these notes will be communicated to your excellency as soon as exchanged. I would also venture to remind your excellency that the conclusion of the present agreement raises, for practical consideration, the question of claims of Italy to a share in any partition or rearrangement of Turkey in Asia, as formulated in Article 9 of the agreement of the 26th April, 1915, between Italy and the allies.

His Majesty's government further consider that the Japanese government should be informed of the arrangements now concluded.

After the triumphant entry into Damascus by Faisal Hussein’s Bedouin Army and Egyptian regulars, Colonel Lawrence and Faisal Hussein attended the 1919 Paris Peace Council. Lawrence convinced Faisal and Abdullah Hussein to accept quisling monarchies in Iraq and Jordan. Their father, Sherif Hussein Ibn Ali, refused to go along with the wretched British Mandate. As punishment, Sharif Hussein and his Hashemite people were driven from Mecca and Medina by a shameless groveling warlord, Ibn Saud, who became a willing accomplice of the British to artificially divide the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia had its ignominious birth on the wrecked nationalist dreams of Sherif Hussein and the Bedouins.

Left: Winston S. Churchill - who was to later decry the British occupation thus: "I think we should now put definitely, not only to Feisal but to the Constituent Assembly, the position that unless they beg us to stay and to stay on our own terms in regard to efficient control, we shall actually evacuate before the close of the financial year. I would put this issue in the most brutal way, and if they are not prepared to urge us to stay and to co-operate in every manner I would actually clear out."

Great Britain crushed the ensuing Arab rebellion against its betrayal pulling out all the stops on violent repression. Winston Churchill, British Secretary of State in 1919, gave his military subordinates the backbone they needed to use poison gas on the Arabs. Some British officers were evidently hesitant to use gas because they had witnessed first hand its cruel effects on human beings on both sides of Europe’s trenches during World War I.
Churchill upbraided the boys saying: "I don’t understand this squeamishness about the use of poison gas. I’m strongly in favor of using it against uncivilized tribes."
After pacifying the Arabs, the Kurds were the next victims to suffer British armed attacks on their national aspirations. Great Britain crushed three Kurdish uprisings in Iraq between 1922-1932, but had the audacity to hypocritically, demand that Saddam Hussein leave the Kurds alone -- and cynically attacked Saddam Hussein’s use of gas on the Kurds -- the irony of it all.


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