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The apple of discord : the impact of the Levant on Anglo-French relations during 1943

By Karen Elizabeth Evans

Abstract

This thesis provides a detailed account and analysis of\ud Anglo-French relations in the Levant and their impact on the\ud more general relationship between the British and the Free\ud French during the important year of 1943. It aims to examine\ud and explain how the Levant, traditionally an area of mutual\ud suspicion and rivalry, created and accentuated discord and\ud dissension between wartime Allies and , on occasion , even\ud came perilously close to rupturing their relations.\ud \ud The introduction provides a survey of Anglo-French\ud relations in the region as a backdrop against which the\ud period covered by the thesis must be viewed. Chapters I-IV\ud examine two policies pursued by Britain in the interests of\ud the war effort, the persuasion of the Free French to honour\ud their independence pledge to Syria and Lebanon and the\ud encouragement of the formation of a unified French movement\ud in North Africa. Arising from these policies, the mounting\ud tensions between the Foreign Office and its principal\ud representative in the Levant and between Churchill and de\ud Gaulle are explored. The influence of deteriorating AngloFrench relations in the Levant on the Churchill-de Gaulle relationship is considered as are the high-level AngloFrench discussions in the summer of 1943 which acknowledged the need for better co-operation in the Levant. Chapters V and VI investigate the increasing Bri tish involvement in Levant politics, which resulted in the establishment of strongly nationalist and anti-French governments in both Syria and Lebanon.\ud \ud Chapters VII-XII are concerned exclusively with events\ud in the Lebanon during late October and November 1943 which\ud provoked a major crisis in Anglo-French relations. Attention\ud is focused on the efforts of the Foreign Office and their\ud French counterparts to defuse the crisis and to lessen its\ud overall impact, and is contrasted with the intransigence\ud displayed by Churchill and de Gaulle and with the\ud belligerence of both French and British authorities on the\ud spot. The final chapters deal with the efforts made to heal\ud the breach in the Anglo-French relationship by both sides\ud and the attempt by both to re-evaluate and reform their\ud policies in the Levant. The troubled course of the AngloFrench alliance in the Levant throughout the remainder of the war, including the crisis in Syria in May and June 1945, is examined in a brief epilogue

Publisher: School of History (Leeds)
Year: 1990
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:1035

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  1. 10 During late 1943 and early 1944, the Foreign Office had been deluged with complaints from the French about the activities of General and Lady Spears.
  2. (1943). 11 Spears to Foreign Office, 17 E7376/27/89, FO 371/35192. Against this Hankey minuted cynically: "So some are".
  3. (1943). 110 Murphy in fact presented Massigli with a 107 Massigli a Londres,
  4. (1943). 12 Helleu a Alger,
  5. (1943). 12 Shone was obliged to appeal urgently to Nahas to call a halt to such potentially violent incidents; though Nahas did attempt to enforce some restraining measures, Cairo was the scene of further anti-French demonstrations on 10 Shone to Foreign Office,
  6. (1943). 14 Helleu a de Gaulle, 26 Novembre
  7. (1943). 14 Spears to Foreign Office,
  8. (1943). 15 Cornwallis to Foreign Office,
  9. (1943). 17 Catroux a Alger,
  10. (1943). 17 Cornrnander-in-Chief, Middle East to War Office,
  11. (1943). 17 Vienot a Alger, 13 Novembre
  12. (1943). 18 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  13. (1941). 2 Sir Kinahan Cornwallis: British Ambassador to Iraq,
  14. (1943). 2 Spears to Foreign Office,
  15. (1943). 2 Vienot a Alger,
  16. (1944). 20 Foreign Office to Spears,
  17. (1944). 20 These discussions had been urged by Massigli as he believed that "the Levant was the danger spot in AngloFrench relations". Duff Cooper to Foreign Office,
  18. (1943). 21 Spears to Foreign Office,
  19. (1943). 23 Spears to Foreign Office,
  20. (1943). 25 Foreign Office to Spears,
  21. (1943). 25 Spears to Foreign Office,
  22. (1943). 26 Foreign Office to Algiers,
  23. (1943). 26 Spears to Foreign Office,
  24. (1943). 27 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  25. (1943). 27 Spears to Foreign Office,
  26. (1943). 28 Spears to Foreign Office,
  27. (1943). 3 Cornwallis to Foreign Office,
  28. (1943). 30 Casey to Foreign Office,
  29. (1943). 30 Catroux a Alger, 16 Novembre
  30. (1943). 30 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  31. (1943). 33 Churchill to Eden,
  32. (1944). 33 Foreign Office to Spears,
  33. (1943). 33 Record of conversation between the
  34. (1943). 35 A report of the conversation was sent to Casey on 19 November. See Foreign Office to Casey,
  35. (1943). 36 Beirut to Foreign Office,
  36. (1944). 36 Spears to Foreign Office,
  37. (1984). 38 On the formation of the Assemblee Consultative provisoire, see
  38. (1943). 38 Within days of the Assembly beginning to function however, a bitter attack was
  39. (1943). 39 Conclusions of War Cabinet meeting, 5.00pm, Thursday,
  40. (1943). 4 Cornwallis to Foreign Office,
  41. (1943). 4 For example, "La Syrie" had recently contained what Spears considered to be "a most impertinent attack on Bri tish intervention in the crisis". Spears to Foreign Office,
  42. (1943). 40 Casey to Foreign Office,
  43. (1944). 40 Record of conversation between
  44. (1943). 40 The meeting took place at the British Embassy at 3.30pm and was attended by Eden,
  45. (1943). 41 Casey to Foreign Office,
  46. (1943). 41 Spears to Foreign Office,
  47. (1943). 42 Spears to Foreign Office,
  48. (1943). 43 Foreign Office to Casey,
  49. (1944). 43 Killearn to Foreign Office,
  50. (1943). 44 Winant (Ambassador in the United Kingdom) to Hull,
  51. (1943). 45 Spears to Foreign Office,
  52. (1943). 48 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  53. (1943). 49 Foreign Office to Casey,
  54. (1943). 49 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  55. (1944). 50 In a speech to the Commons on his return, Churchill 48 Shone to Foreign Office,
  56. (1945). 50 Record of Cairo conversations,
  57. (1943). 51 Foreign Office to Algiers,
  58. (1943). 51 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  59. 52 de Gaulle a Catroux, 22 Novembre 1943, No 450(?), Papiers Massigli, Vol 1468. 53 ibid.
  60. (1943). 52 Foreign Office to Algiers,
  61. (1943). 52 Spears to Foreign Office,
  62. (1943). 52 Vienot a Alger, 23 Novembre 1943, No 1376-7, Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1005; Minute by Sir Orme Sargent,
  63. (1943). 53 Conclusions of a War Cabinet meeting, 5.30pm,
  64. (1943). 54 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  65. (1943). 54 Spears to Foreign Office,
  66. (1943). 55 Foreign Office to
  67. (1943). 55 Foreign Office to Macmillan,
  68. (1943). 55 Spears to Foreign Office,
  69. 56 Extrai t d' une lettre Ostrorog a M. de Gouringaud, Alger CFLN, Vol 1006.
  70. (1943). 56 Foreign Office to doi
  71. (1943). 56 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  72. (1943). 57 Spears to Foreign Office,
  73. (1943). 6 Dixon to Foreign Office,
  74. (1943). 6 Spears to Foreign Office,
  75. (1943). 60 Foreign Office to Algiers,
  76. (1943). 60 Foreign Office to Casey,
  77. (1945). 60 Orme Sargent to Churchill,
  78. (1943). 60 Record of conversation with M. Palewski, by Eric Duncannon,
  79. (1943). 61 At a meeting on 18 November however, Massigli stubbornly maintained that "in his opinion, the incident had been neither so grave as [British] information represented, nor so insignificant as he had been led to believe from his own sources".
  80. (1945). 61 Churchill thought a direct interv~ntion by ~im ~ould only lead to his receiving "some insultlng answer . Mlnute by Churchill,
  81. (1943). 61 Foreign Office to Casey,
  82. (1943). 62 Algiers to Foreign Office,
  83. (1943). 62 Casey to Foreign Office,
  84. (1943). 62 Macmillan to Foreign Office, No 2409,
  85. (1943). 63 Catroux a Alger, 23 Novembre
  86. (1943). 63 Makins to Foreign Office,
  87. (1943). 64 Algiers to Foreign Office,
  88. (1943). 65 Algiers to Foreign Office,
  89. (1943). 65 Kirk to Hull,
  90. (1943). 65 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  91. (1943). 65 Spears to Foreign Office,
  92. (1943). 66 Algiers to Foreign Office,
  93. (1945). 66 Shone to Foreign Office,
  94. (1943). 66 Spears to Foreign Office,
  95. (1943). 67 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  96. (1943). 67 Minutes by
  97. (1943). 67 Spears to Foreign Office,
  98. (1943). 67 The Prime Minister remained at Carthage until 27
  99. (1945). 68 See Foreign Office to Paris,
  100. (1943). 68 Spears to Foreign Office,
  101. (1943). 69 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  102. (1945). 69 Shone to Foreign Office,
  103. (1944). 7 The French did not gain entrance to the European Advisory Commission until
  104. (1943). 70 Casey to Foreign Office,
  105. (1945). 70 Foreign Office Minute by Sir
  106. (1945). 71 Beirut to Foreign Office,
  107. (1943). 71 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  108. (1943). 71 Spears to Foreign Office,
  109. (1943). 72 Helleu a Alger, 16 Novembre
  110. (1943). 72 Spears to Foreign Office,
  111. (1943). 74 Wilson to Holmes,
  112. (1943). 75 Spears to Foreign Office,
  113. (1943). 76 Conclusions of meeting of War Cabinet,
  114. (1945). 77 Paris to Foreign Office,
  115. 78 Vienot a Alger, 17 Novembre 1943, No 1256, Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 999. 79 w.
  116. (1943). 79 Conclusions of War Cabinet meeting, 5.30pm,
  117. (1943). 79 Spears to Foreign Office,
  118. (1943). 8 Shone to Foreign Office, doi
  119. (1943). 83 Algiers to Foreign Office,
  120. (1943). 84 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  121. (1943). 86 "Instructions Concernant la Poli tique a Sui vre au Levant",
  122. (1943). 88 Eden to Foreign Office,
  123. (1943). 88 Macmillan to Foreign Office,
  124. (1943). 89 Foreign Office to Beirut, E7319/27 /89, FO 371/35192; Casey to
  125. (1945). 90 The last six months of 1945 witnessed a series of laborious negotiations dedicated to finding a resolution which would please everybody;
  126. (1943). 90 Vienot a Alger,
  127. (1943). 92 Note par Ie Conseiller Administratif de la France Combattante au Liban Sud,
  128. (1946). 92 The final ignominious departure of British troops from the Levant took place in
  129. (1943). ADC 433; Wilson to Holmes,
  130. (1943). already reproached the British on several occasions over the attitude of the press and especially Reuters during the Lebanese crisis.
  131. (1943). Although torn by conflicting responsibilities, Catroux decided that it was his duty to return and to inform the Committee in Algiers without delay of lila situation 27
  132. (1943). As a direct result of these Allied victories, and especially Operation Torch, which was to light the way for the establishment of de Gaulle's movement on French terri tory, the position of the Free French had improved substantially. Most notably,
  133. (1943). Benoist a Alger, 22 Decembre
  134. (1943). Blast of War, p 422. Murphy recorded that "Macmillan feels, as I do, that Massigli is doing his utmost to arrive at a prompt solution" Murphy to Hull,
  135. (1943). Blast of War, pp 428-29; Macmillan to Foreign Office, doi
  136. (1943). Box III, File III, Spears Papers,
  137. (1943). CAB 65/36. The time-limit now was to be 10.00am on
  138. (1943). Churchill circled Casey's sentence about waiting a little and wrote "I agree".
  139. (1945). Cooper to Eden,
  140. (1945). Cooper to Foreign Office,
  141. (1945). Cooper to Foreign Office:
  142. (1941). De Gaulle and the Levant Affair, doi
  143. (1982). De Gaulle et la nation face aux problemes de defense, 1945-1946, Colloque organisee par l'Institut d'Histoire du Temps Present et l'Institut Charles de Gaulle,
  144. (1968). De Gaulle's Foreign poli~y, 1944-1946,
  145. (1943). E ans (Ed), op cit,
  146. (1944). E5855/23/89, FO 371/40303; see also Moyne to Foreign Office,
  147. (1943). E6848/27 /89, FO 371/35184; Foreign Office to Beirut,
  148. E7487/27/89, FO 371/35193; Parliamentary Question by Lloyd for 2 December, E7543/27/89, FO 371/35194. 1943, Major 56 Spears to Foreign Office,
  149. (1943). FO 954/8. 32 Louis Roche: Counsellor at London Delegation of CFLN.
  150. (1986). For Bechara el Khoury's acount of his meeting
  151. (1943). Foreign Office to
  152. (1943). Foreign Relations of the United States, doi
  153. (1945). France and "Western Union": doi
  154. (1984). France and the Unity of Europe, 1945-1951, doi
  155. (1977). France of the 664 Aidan Crawley, De Gaulle, doi
  156. Gaulle a Massigli, 13 Novembre 1943, Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1005. Also in Papiers Massigli, Vol 1479. 109 Robert Murphy: Roosevelt's personal representative in Algiers and Chief Civil Affairs Officer on General Eisenhower's staff.
  157. (1943). Gaulle Overruled Macmillan was growing more and more gloomy about prospects of a settlement. Frustrated by the bombardment of telegrams from London, Beirut and Cairo, most of which were 14 Helleu a Massigli,
  158. (1943). GRAND No 153, PREM 3/421; Foreign Office to Algiers,
  159. (1943). Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1000. 467 et Comite. La majorite des specialistes du Foreign Office savent pertinemment qu'affaiblir a l'extreme la position fran9aise en Syrie et au Liban ou en ".
  160. (1943). Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1575. 410 Vo!r7 presence dissipera les derniers nuages. Elle pr7v1endra les interventions mili taires anglaises et d01 t permettre une clarification avantageuse des rapports franco-anglais au Levant.
  161. (1941). Halifax: British Ambassador to the United States between
  162. Hamilton had been Charge d'Affaires in Beirut until early 1943 but was now acting as Arab adviser to the Minister of
  163. (1943). He argued that the Lebanese had always considered the 13 Spears to Foreign Office,
  164. He disclosed that he had received a telegram from Catroux 32 Catroux a de Gaulle, Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Catroux, op cit,
  165. (1943). He said he did not mind de Gaulle in a Committee but he would not tolerate him in a position of supreme authority. He wanted a strong and friendly France, but he did not see that arising under de
  166. he worried that the Lebanese affair would divert public attention from the vital question of French participation on the
  167. (1943). How had the French come to take such drastic action? In attempting to determine exactly what drove Helleu to act as he did, it is interesting to ponder a point made by George Kirk in The Middle East in the War, that in Algeria on 23
  168. (1943). It was claimed that in deference to the States' susceptibilities, Britain had always dissuaded the French from flaunting their mandatory authority, but Spears was reminded that
  169. It was only later on 23 November, when a telegram from Catroux arrived, referring to a telegram from de
  170. (1965). IV Diaries/Memoirs etc Earl of Avon, The Eden Memoirs. The Reckoning,
  171. (1983). Levant, in De Gaulle et la nation face aux problemes de defense, 1945-1946, doi
  172. Louis, op cit, p 171; de Porte, op cit,
  173. (1943). Middle East to War Office,
  174. (1943). No 1614, Vol 1005.
  175. (1943). No 2338, E6925/27/89; Makins to Foreign Office,
  176. (1943). No 504, Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1573.
  177. (1943). No a Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1000. 357, 355, 585 Chataigneau assiduously provided Algiers with a catalogue of incidents which he maintained incriminated the British.
  178. (1943). No a Guerre 1939-45, Alger CFLN, Vol 1000. 37 ibid.
  179. (1943). Off'
  180. (1943). on Macmillan's staff in Algiers, thought that the allegation about a possible putSC? seemed "hardly credible", but admitted "it does look as :f there may well be further trouble". See Minute by P. Re11ly,
  181. (1943). op cit, Entry for 8
  182. op cit, pp 217-218 o~ Altounian, a former doctor, now a British intelligence offlcer. 51 "La crise libanaise et ses repercussions politiques en Syrie",
  183. (1945). op cit, pp 292-293. There was some evidence that the French had supplied the rebels with arms. See Foreign Office to Paris,
  184. (1943). op cit, pp 294-295. See Beirut lo Foreign Office,
  185. (1943). p 1023; Murphy to Hull,
  186. (1942). Palewski: Chef de Cabinet to de Gaulle,
  187. (1943). Papiers a Massigli, Vol 1481. doi
  188. (1943). Papiers a Massigli, Vol 1484. doi
  189. (1943). Papiers Massigli, Vol 1468. 524 au dessein que j'avais forme de rappeler Riad Solh.
  190. (1943). Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Foreign Office 1941-43; appointed Minister of State late
  191. (1943). respectively,
  192. Schaeffer a Vienot, 17 Novembre 1943, forwarded to Massigli by
  193. (1944). Spears to Eden, doi
  194. (1943). Spears to Foreign Office,
  195. (1944). Surtout, pas trop de zele". 12 Churchill despatched a curt response to Duff Cooper and to Eden who had tried to capitalise on the situation, informing both that he had no wish to remove Spears. 13
  196. (1943). T1950/3, PREM 3/421. See also Wilson to Holmes,
  197. (1986). The Authorised Biography, doi
  198. (1945). the British Cabinet, still unaware of the French order to cease fire, and in view of reports of 72 See E3552/8/89, FO 371/45566; Conclusions of War Cabinet meeting,
  199. (1943). the Eastern Department realised only too well 57 Borden, op cit, p 227; Holmes to Wilson,
  200. (1945). The Foreign Office and the Departure of General de Gaulle, doi
  201. (1943). the head of Sfirete, and Capitaine Moret2 , both of whom had been closely involved with the arrests of 11 1 Spears to Foreign Office,
  202. (1943). The Killearn Diaries, 1934-1946, Entry for 6
  203. (1941). The Rise and Fall of a Political Movement, (London,
  204. (1977). The Spears Mission to Syria doi
  205. (1984). the United States and postwar Imperlallsm,
  206. (1964). Theses Abed Al Hafiz Mansur, Anglo-French Rivalry in the Levant and the Question of Syrio-Lebanese Independence, 1939-1943,
  207. Though the French too, had their fair share of broken promises to the Arabs, most notably the non-ratification of the 1936 treaties, they were less able to afford, and possibly less inclined, to be sensitive about such matters.
  208. (1977). Trying to temper Spears's attitudes he trotted out the maxim 9 See Gaunson, op cit, p 181; also Mansur,
  209. (1943). Vol 4, p 1038; see also ibid, Winant to Hull,
  210. (1943). War Diaries, doi
  211. (1943). War Diaries, Entry for 18 doi
  212. (1943). War Diaries, Entry for 22 p 299. Macmillan and Mu~phy had already earlier in the day, on a d1fferent matter.
  213. (1943). When Spears actually saw these instructions, after his interview with Catroux, he was most disconcerted: he 22

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