The British Government's Declaration to the Seven Arabs (June 1918)

June 16, 1918 


[This Declaration was made in reply to a memorial submitted to the Foreign Office, through the Arab Bureau in Cairo, by seven Arab leaders domiciled in Egypt.


The Declaration was read out by an officer of the Arab Bureau at a meeting of the seven Arab leaders, which had been specifically convened for the purpose on June 16, 1918, in Cairo.


The text reproduced here is the rendering of G. Antonius of the Arabic text which was in possession of the seven memorialists.


In Arab circles this Declaration is usually known as the Declaration to the Seven.] 


                                                             Declaration to the Seven 


His Majesty's Government has considered the memorial of the Seven with great care. They fully appreciate the reasons for the desire of its authors to retain their anonymity1, but the fact that the memorial is anonymous has in no way detracted from the value which His Majesty's Government assign to that document.


The territories mentioned in the memorial fall into four categories: -


(i)Territories which were free and independent before the outbreak of the War;


(ii)Territories liberated from Turkish rule by the action of the Arabs themselves;


(iii)Territories liberated from Turkish rule by the action of the Allied armies;


(iv)Territories still under Turkish rule. 


With regard to the first two categories,2 His Majesty's Government recognizes the complete and sovereign independence of the Arabs inhabiting those territories, and supports them in their struggle for freedom. 


With regard to the territories occupied by the Allied armies,3  His Majesty's Government invites the attention of the memorialists to the proclamations issued by the commander-in-chief on the occasion of the capture of Baghdad (March 19, 1917) and the capture of Jerusalem (December 9, 1917). These proclamations define the policy of His Majesty's Government toward the inhabitants of those regions, which is that the future governments of those territories should be based upon the principle of consent of the governed. This policy will always be that of His Majesty's Government. 


With regard to the territories in the fourth category,4 it is the desire of His Majesty's Government that the oppressed peoples in those territories should obtain their freedom and independence.  His Majesty's Government will continue to work for the achievement of that object. They are fully aware of the difficulties and perils which threaten those who are striving for the [liberation?]5 of the inhabitants of those territories. 


In spite of those obstacles, however, His Majesty's Government believes that the difficulties can be overcome, and they are prepared to give every support to those who are striving to overcome them. They are ready to consider any scheme of cooperation which does not conflict with the military operations in hand or with the political principles proclaimed by His Majesty's Government and their allies.



1     The memorialist were Rafiq al-Azm; Sheikh Kamal al-Qassab; Mukhtar al-Sulh; 'Abdul-Rahman Shahbandar; Khaled al-Hakim; Fauzi al-Bakri; Hasan Himadeh.

2     i.e. the independent states of the Arabian Peninsula, and the Hejaz, as far north as 'Aqaba.

3     In June 1918, when this statement was issued, those territories comprised the greater part of Iraq (inclusive of Baghdad and Basra) and the southern part of Palestine (inclusive of Jerusalem and Jaffa).

4     i.e. the hitherto unliberated portions of Iraq and Syria.

5     This word is obscure in the Arabic source. 


 Source:  The Arab Awakening, George Antonius, G P Putnam's Sons, 1946.