De Bunsen Committee
The De Bunsen Committee was the first committee established by the British government to determine their policy toward the Ottoman Empire during and following World War I. It was established on 8 April 1915 by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, and was headed by Sir Maurice de Bunsen. The report of the De Bunsen committee established the foundation for British policy in the Middle East.
The committee was established in response to a French initiative, to consider the nature of British objectives in Turkey and Asia in the event of a successful conclusion of the war. The committee's report provided the guidelines for negotiations with France, Italy, and Russia regarding the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire.
The members of the committee were was follows:
- Sir Maurice de Bunsen, 1st Baronet, Chairman
- GR Clark, representing the Colonial Office
- Thomas Holderness, representing the India Office
- Henry Jackson (Royal Navy officer), representing the Admiralty
- C.E. Callwell, representing the War Office
- Hubert Llewellyn-Smith, representing the Board of Trade
- Mark Sykes, representing Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War
The De Bunsen committee considered four possible solutions: partition, leaving only a small Ottoman state in Anatolia; preservation subject to Great Power control zones of political and commercial influence; preservation as an independent state in Asia; creation of a decentralised, federal Ottoman state in Asia.
The Committee's report, titled "Committee of Imperial Defence: Asiatic Turkey, Report of a Committee" was issued on 30 June 1915, and recommended the last option as the best solution for meeting the British Empire's defence needs.
- The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record, by J. C. Hurewitz, 1979, Yale University Press; 2 edition, ISBN 0-300-02203-4, page 26
- In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth: The McMahon-Husayn Correspondence and Its Interpretations 1914-1939, Elie Kedourie
- National Archives, CAB 42/3/12
- The Sykes-Picot agreement and the roots of imperialist domination of the Middle East