[D]ocuments, uncovered in French archives...shed new light on the covert activities of the British in the Middle East. They reveal that British intelligence agencies played a key role in shaping Britain’s policy by securing the tacit collaboration of prominent Arab nationalist leaders in Syria and Lebanon after helping them attain power.The entire paper can be seen here. It includes some new source materials. For example, here are some of the arguments against Greater Syria given by a Syrian diplomat in London to Syrian Foreign Minister Mardam:
They also disclose that British agents were behind the schemes to integrate Syria in an Iraqi-led Hashemite confederation, or with Transjordan in a Greater Syria federation that was to include Palestine. The documents include a secret agreement from May 29, 1945 revealing that Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli was coerced into tacitly granting Britain a dominant strategic and economic position in Syria in return for its help against the French army attack on Damascus (provoked by British agents themselves).
The Syrians’ claim that their country was the first Arab state to secure complete independence from colonial rule is therefore debatable. In this regard, it is worth quoting a telegram of November 5, 1945 from the Syrian minister in Washington to his foreign minister in Damascus referring to statements made by American diplomats: “As far as British influence is concerned, the American government asks, ‘Did we recognize your independence just for you to put yourselves in the hands of Great Britain?’ Having reminded them that Great Britain delivered us from French oppression, they said to me, ‘Is that deliverance? They freed you in order to use you themselves. Great Britain, under the pretext of delivering you from the French, wants to annex you. We will not allow feudal Syrians to sell their country to Great Britain.’”
YET-TO-BE-PUBLISHED documents from 1945-1947 indicate that after their success against France in Syria, British intelligence agents, who enjoyed even greater freedom of action in the Middle East under the Labor government, employed similar tactics against the Zionist movement.
In fact, the “Zionist card” became a vital instrument used by British agents in securing their country’s influence in the Arab world by playing on the Arabs’ fears of the Zionists’ aspirations for a Jewish state.
It was also exploited to deflect the Arab nationalists’ hostility from Britain and justify Britain’s continued influence in the Arab world.
Constantine Zurieq, a diplomat in the Syrian legation in Washington who later became a leading Arab nationalist intellectual and the first to apply the term “nakba” to the 1948 Arab defeat, quoted in a telegram to Damascus on November 7, 1945, the warnings of an American official in the State Department: “Great Britain wishes to exploit the Arab-Jewish conflict because it is the only way for it to remain in Palestine, to dominate all the Arab countries. The American government strongly desires to find a friendly settlement between the Arabs and the Jews. But it is convinced that the British colonial authorities will do everything to prevent that, as Great Britain wishes for incidents to worsen in Palestine and for disorder, where blood is spilled, to take place.”
On several occasions I noted the little respect that we enjoy here, because the English, as I already knew and as you know also, do not respect those who are smaller than them, especially those whom they consider to be their servants. I regret to tell you that I feel strong emotion taking hold of me when I think of the situation I am in and how people regard us behind their smiles of diplomatic courtesy.(h/t Elder of Lobby)
I return to the plan for Greater Syria. In a few days I hope to obtain a copy of the plan which I will send to Your Excellency. For my part, I strongly rejected the possibility of the Syrian Government's agreement to such a plan or to any other plan that ushers the Zionists into our country - as if we don't have enough disasters visited upon us by God, France and the misfortunes it has brought us, in the end to see the Jews coming into Syria after having taken Palestine.
I hope I have conveyed the point of view of the Syrian Government with regard to this grave matter.