Memorandum by the India Office about policy in Arabia


Sir Frederic Arthur Hirtzel was a senior British official at the India Office. In his note, he outlines what he believed should be the policy of the British Government regarding Syria and Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). 

In 1916, a secret agreement between the British and French diplomats Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot had divided up the Turkish Provinces of the Middle East into spheres of influence. Known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, it assigned Syria, Lebanon, parts of south-eastern Turkey and northern Mesopotamia to the French sphere of influence, while the rest of Mesopotamia, Palestine and Jordan were assigned to the British sphere of influence. 

The policy note by Hirtzel makes it clear that Britain’s main objective was to gain control of the whole of Mesopotamia. This was subsequently achieved after further negotiations with the French. Britain then installed Faisal, son of the Sharif of Mecca, as King of Iraq, and persuaded his brother Abdullah to accept the position of Emir of Transjordan under a British Mandate.

Full title:
Policy in Arabia. Note by India Office
20 November, 1918
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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