C. 1 February 1916

“Sherif Hussein is not working in the British interests, except in so far as they further the particular dreams and hopes of the political party to which he belongs. His aim is the establishment of a Khalifate (not the only one) for himself, and independence for people speaking Arabic from their present irritating subjection to people speaking Turk. His aims are thus in definite opposition to the Pan-Islamic party, who are his strong obstacle, and to the Young Turk party, who are however less dangerous to his schemes; his activity seems beneficial to us, because it marches with our immediate aims, the break up of the Islamic ‘bloc’ and the defeat and disruption of the Ottoman Empire, and because the states he would set up to succeed the Turks would be as harmless to ourselves as Turkey was
before she became a tool in German hands. The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities, incapable of cohesion, and yet always ready to combine against an outside force. The alternative to this seems to be control and colonisation by a European power other than ourselves, which would inevitably come into conflict with the interests we already posses in the Near East.”

An unsigned memorandum written by Lawrence, The Politics of Mecca, arrived in London in early February. Its intention appears to have been to disarm opposition to Sherif Hussein and to open the way for the Arab Revolt.

Yet what was then unknown to those in Cairo was that another
secret document was by now on its way to being ratified. At the same time that Lawrence’s memorandum was on its way to London, a draft of the Sykes-Picot Agreement received approval. It defined how Arab lands would be divided between British and French influence and control should the Ottoman Empire be defeated in the Great War.