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10.6.7 Resolution of the General Syrian Congress

General Syrian Congress

"Resolution of the General Syrian Congress" in the King-Crane Commission Report in Foreign Relations of the United States: Paris Peace Conference, 1919, 12: 780-81.

At the Paris Peace Conference, the Allied Powers had different opinions about what should happen to the territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire. Britain and France wrote up Article 22, while US President Woodrow Wilson wanted to find out what government the Arabs and other people in the area desired. Wilson sent a commission to investigate, and people living along the Mediterranean coast (the area of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine on Map 3 in Student Handout 10.6B) sent representatives to a Syrian Congress. The Syrian Congress sent this resolution to Wilson’s commission. Whom did the Syrians want as king? (Notice that they didn’t select Husayn.) What were the three most important demands of the Syrians? Vocabulary: Emir: amir, governor Bulgarians, Serbians, Greeks, Romanians: European peoples given new independent nations pretensions: false claims commonwealth: nation their title: the Zionist claim to that territory as the homeland of the Jewish people compatriots: Jews who already live in Syria and Palestine (not new immigrants) littoral: coastal partition: division into more than one nation  
This resolution shows that the Syrians were clearly aware that Article 22 was imperialism in a new guise, and that they did not want to be governed by the French or British, or by Husayn. The most important demands of the Syrians were full independence, no partition, and no Jewish state in Palestine. The protest against the Balfour Declaration and Zionist migration marks the beginning of the long struggle still being played out in Southwest Asia. The appeal to the United States is a response to Wilson’s commission, the King-Crane Commission, headed by Henry C. King and Charles R. Crane. The panel included this resolution in their report, but it was ignored by the British and the French.

We the undersigned members of the General Syrian Congress, meeting in Damascus on Wednesday, July 2nd, 1919... provided with credentials and authorizations by the inhabitants of our various districts, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, have agreed upon the following statement of the desires of the people of the country....
1. We ask absolutely complete political independence for Syria...
2. We ask that the Government of this Syrian country should be a democratic civil constitutional Monarchy on broad decentralization principles, safeguarding the rights of minorities, and that the King be the Emir Faysal, who carried on a glorious struggle in the cause of our liberation and merited our full confidence and entire reliance.
3. Considering the fact that the Arabs inhabiting the Syrian area are not naturally less than other more advanced races and that they are by no means less developed than the Bulgarians, Serbians, Greeks, and Romanians at the beginning of their independence, we protest against Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, placing us among the nations in their middle stage of development which stand in need of a mandatory power.
4. ....[D]esiring that our country should not fall a prey to colonization and believing that the American Nation is furthest from any thought of colonization and has no political ambition in our country, we will seek technical and economic assistance from the United States of America, provided that such assistance does not exceed 20 years.....
7. We oppose the pretensions of the Zionists to create a Jewish commonwealth in the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, and oppose Zionist migration to any part of our country; for we do not acknowledge their title but consider them a grave peril to our people from the national, economic, and political points of view. Our Jewish compatriots shall enjoy our common rights and assume the common responsibilities.
8. We ask that there should be no separation of the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, nor of the littoral western zone, which includes Lebanon, from the Syrian country. We desire that the unity of the country should be guaranteed against partition under whatever circumstances.....