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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1919

Egypt,   pp. 201-209 PDF (3.0 MB)

Page 208

It appears, therefore, that when this protectorate was proclaimed
it was announced as merely a measure to preserve the integrity and
independence of Egypt.
A protectorate, in international law, certainly does not mean sov-
ereignty, and the assumption of sovereignty under the guise of a
protectorate would be unwarranted and contrary to international
On September 2 last, the British Embassy at Washington issued
a public statement, among other things saying: " The British Gov-
ernment has carefully avoided destroying Egyptian sovereignty."
Field Marshal Allenby, British High Commissioner in Egypt,
however, the other day issued a proclamation stating that Great
Britain would accord certain autonomy to Egypt. This is appar-
ently an assumption of sovereignty, for only the sovereign can grant
As I construe the recognition by the United States of the British
protectorate over Egypt it is qualified and subject to reservation for
further discussion, and in according this recognition I do not under-
stand that the United States intended to deprive the people of Egypt
of any of their rights of sovereignty or independence, but the pro-
tectorate so recognized was merely a measure for preserving the
integrity and independence of Egypt until the same could be guar-
anteed by a league of nations or an agreement among the powers.
Moreover Section [A-rticle] 148 of the treaty contemplates negotia-
tion between Great Britain and the other Governments with regard
to the Egyptian matter which I take it was by necessary interpreta-
tion to deal with the question of the rights of the Egyptian people
under the conditions implied by the above quotations and by the
express terms of your letter of November 5, 1918,7 stating the con-
ditions upon which the United States and the entente allies would
agree to the armistice.
As this matter comes before the United States Senate in an official
way in connection with the ratification of the Treaty of Peace with
Germany, which has in it a clause recognizing the British protec-
torate over Egypt, I desire to be entirely accurate as to the meaning
of this protectorate.
Will you kindly let me know, therefore, whether the interpretation
I have given above is correct, i.e., that the United States has never
recognized any sovereignty in Great Britain over Egypt and did not
intend, by the qualified recognition of the protectorate, to transfer
from the Egyptian people any of their rights of sovereignty and
I will appreciate an early reply.
Yours sincerely,                     ROBT. L. OwEN
7Foreign Relations, 1918, Supplement 1, vol. I, p. 468.

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