3 APRIL 1920, Page 2

In regard to Mesopotamia, Mr. Lloyd George dissented from Mr.

Asquith's suggestion that we should confine our occupation to the vilayet of Basra, on the Lower Tigris. He said that the Government would claim the mandate for Mesopotamia as a whole, including Mosul, and would set up an Arab Adminis- tration. Basra had limited resources. Baghdad and Mosul were provinces that.could pay their way under decent govern- ment. To hand the country back to anarchy and confusion would be "an act of folly quite indefensible." The Arabs, he said, desired our continued supervision. For our part, through we feel that the British Empire's territorial responsibilities ought not to be increased without very good reason, we are inclined to think that Mr. Lloyd George's policy is the best for the time being. Mesopotamia must be treated as a whole. To occupy Basra alone would be a poor compromise, which would benefit neither the Arabs nor the Empire. Baghdad is the natural military and commercial centre of the country. When General Maude had occupied Baghdad he had won the campaign, because the enemy found it impossible to concentrate large forces within striking distance of the city. The deserts and the mountains are the natural defences of Mesopotamia.