The Hussein-McMahon correspondance was a correspondance of 10 letters during 1915 and 1916 between Sharif Hussein, the Emir of Mecca and the British High Commissioner Sir Henry McMahon. In the exchange, McMahon (in the name of the British government) promised Shairf Hussein an independent Arab state in the area of Greater Syria. In return Sharif Hussein would launch an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in the context of the First World War. Despite some open questions concerning the precise boarders, the Arab revolt began in Mecca on 10 June 1916. It was led by one of Sharif Hussein's sons, Emir Faysal, and accompanied by T.E. Lawrence, better known as "Lawrence of Arabia", who was sent as an agent for the British.
Historical Context[change | change source]
In the war against the Ottoman Empire, the British needed the help of the Arabs. Therefore, British officials devised a plan whereby an Arab uprising against the Ottomans would separate Ottoman troops in the Middle East from German troops in Africa. This led to what is known as the Hussein-McMahon correspondence: an exchange of letters between the British High Commissioner Henry McMahon, who was stationed in Egypt, and the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali. Sharif Hussein was considered the legitimate leader of the Arab people because of his alleged descent from the Prophet (the Hashemites) and his role as the official protector of the holy sites. In ten letters, borders within large parts of Ottoman Territory (Greater Syria) were drafted and discussed: the British promised an independent Arab territory from the Mediterranean to present-day Iraq and from the Indian Ocean to Syria.