|T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Cause at the Paris Peace Conference
The uneasy co-existence of mandated peoples and mandatory power representatives was not confined to Syria. Mesopotamia was also unsettled. In the summer of 1920, Arab revolts occurred along the Euphrates and around the Kurdish town of Mosul. The British bore the brunt of this unrest, and their reprisals were devastating air assaults. The British looked around for an Arab who could restore calm to the area and who would be sympathetic to the British presence. They now had a convenient choice, a choice to whom, Churchill felt, Britain owed something. At a conference in Cairo in March 1921, Feisal was made King of Mesopotamia.
Lawrence had played his part in this event. He had been recruited by Churchill as an adviser in helping to devise a final settlement. He was instrumental in the setting up Mesopotamia and Transjordan as independent Arab States. The British enthroned Abdullah (Feisal's brother) as King in Transjordan, just as they had enthroned Feisal as king in Mesopotamia.
In the end, the final settlement for the Middle East was not attained at the Paris Peace Conference. A separate treaty was drawn up that decided Ottoman Turkish issues, including the Middle East. This treaty was negotiated and signed on 10 August 1920 in the Paris suburb of Sevres. Ironically perhaps, Sevres was known for its production of brittle china and should probably have served as a warning to those negotiating the treaty that it was likely to be broken.
So it proved. The Treaty of Sevres, as it pertained to Turkey, was never ratified. The Americans, British and French, in response to the Italian occupation of the Turkish ports of Antalya and Marmaris in the Eastern Mediterranean, had allowed Greece to send troops to defend the port of Smyrna (Izmir). (102) This led to a rise in Turkish nationalism championed by Atatürk, (103) who was able to set up a new government and establish a new capital in Ankara in opposition to the Sultan's government in Constantinople.
When in June 1920, Greece moved inland from Smyrna, a Greco-Turkish war unfolded, culminating in a victory for Atatürk and his troops when they marched into Smyrna on 10 September 1922. In the end the Turkish settlement was not finally signed, sealed and delivered until the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on 24 July 1923.
As for Ibn Saud, by May 1919, his quarrel with Hussein had been smoldering for months with "repeated border incursions by one side or the other…The British Government was embarrassed, since Hussein was a key figure in its Middle Eastern policy, while Ibn Saud was a protégé of the India Office." (104) Attempts by Britain at mediation between the two protagonists to end this display of Arab factionalism led nowhere. By 1924, Hussein was forced to abdicate while Mecca was taken over by Ibn Saud. The whole of the Hejaz region was eventually to be absorbed into the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Read the Conclusion.
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