File 705/1916 Pt 2 'Arab revolt: Arab reports; Sir M Sykes' reports' [209r] (415/450)
The record is made up of 1 item (245 folios). It was created in 22 Jan 1918-24 Mar 1919. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers Documents collected in a private capacity. .
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4 < ’ ‘ \
APPRECIATION OF ATTACHED ARAB REPORT No. IV. (New Series.)
NO reference is made in the report to the action at Katia as it is a military
operation^and the report is confined strictly to political information ; hut nevertheless
it is the^ principal political event of the week in the region affected by the Arab
movement. At present it is difficult to gauge its general influence on the situation as
it is not yet clear what the total result of the action amounts to. The Turks will lay
stress on the fact that the action was offensive, and fought on enemy soil; should,
however, the fighting result in the destruction of their expedition, movement in Syria
may fie expected.
,p:The agent’s reports of Syria, which correspond very closely with M. Eddeh’s
account as given in the interview at Paris, show that Syria is in a state of almost
complete political disorganisation, and that it will not require much to bring about the
deliverance of the country from Turkish rule, provided always that the Turks have not at
their disposal an additional organised military force which they can withdraw from other
fields of operation. Though no precise proofs can be shown, it is suggested that there
are signs of a “rapprochement” between and an access of strength to the various
parties opposed to the Committee of Union and Progress. The tone of the Sheriffs mani
festo, various rumours of mutiny among Turkish troops, and the attitude of the Syrians,
all go to show that either a Turkish disaster of a magnitude that cannot be concealed
or a further shaking of the prestige of the Central Powers may very probably result
in a political upheaval in Turkey, with the object of destroying the Germanophil group.
In such an event the Committee of Union and Progress may he expected to survive
by diving under the surface, sacrificing one or two of its most notable puppets, and
taking charge of the rebellion against itself.
The friction between Idris and the Sherif is typical of the difficulties of working
with a race of people in a pre-nationalist state of political existence. These difficulties
are not minimised by the fact that the Indian Government pays, arms, supports, and
influences one local magnate while the Egyptian Government does the like for the
other. A divided people is difficult to unite with a divided authority in control. However,
it is to be hoped and expected that our officers on the spot will surmount the difficulties
which our system and Arab racial peculiarities have laid in their path. As far as can
be seen neither party has much claim to Comfida, and matters are complicated by
ancient animosities and feuds. However, it must always be remembered that the di ei ence
between a state of war or peace existing between Arabian chiefs is not so great as
might be supposed. There is often as much fighting between two sides who are at peace
but on bad terms as between two parties at war but not violently Hostile to each other.
In judging the Sherif of Mecca and Idris in these matters account has also to be taken
of two factors :—
(a.) That the chiefs are obliged to placate their followers^ and relatives by marriage,
the latter multiplied by frequent and prolific nuptials.
(b.) That chiefs are not in close telegraphic control of their lesser expeditions.
About this item
This item contains papers relating to British military and intelligence operations in the Hejaz and broader Arabian Peninsula during the First World War. Notably, the item contains reports by my Sir Mark Sykes relating broadly to the Anglo-French absorption of the Arab Provinces of the Ottoman Empire after the War.
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