League of Nations mandate for Syria and Lebanon

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Mandate flag of the League of Nations Trust Areas of Syria and Lebanon

The League of Nations mandate for Syria and Lebanon ( Arabic الانتداب الفرنسي على سوريا ولبنان, DMG al-Intidāb al-Faransī ʿalā Sūriyā wa-Lubnān , French mandate français sur la Syrie et le Liban ) was granted to France in 1922 by the League of Nations in confirmation of the resolutions of the British-French Conference of Sanremo (1920) . It comprised the area of ​​today's Syria and Lebanon as well as the today's Turkish province of Hatay .

The mandate français en Syrie was created after the First World War and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire . In 1919 and 1920 according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement , which was concluded between Great Britain and France during World War I, Great Britain received the British mandate Mesopotamia on the territory of today's Iraq and the League of Nations mandate for Palestine , which covers the southern part of the Ottoman Empire Province comprised Syria (Syria, Palestine, and Jordan) while France controlled the rest of Ottoman Syria (modern Syria, Lebanon, and Hatay ).

At the beginning of the 1920s, British and French control over these areas were formalized by a mandate system of the League of Nations and France received the mandate over Syria on September 29, 1923, which, in addition to modern Syria, included modern Lebanon and Hatay (Alexandretta).

The French mandate lasted until 1943, when the two independent states Syria and Lebanon emerged from the undivided area in the Ottoman Empire. Hatay was affiliated to Turkey in 1939 after a referendum. French troops left Syria and Lebanon in 1946.

Division of the mandate area

Arab Kingdom of Syria

With the defeat of the army of the Ottoman Empire in the vilayet Syria and Beirut came towards the end of World War I in 1918, British troops under Marshall Edmund Allenby to Damascus , accompanied by the independence fighters of the Arab Revolt , by I. Faisal , son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca , were cited. In October 1918, Faisal established the first Arab government in Damascus and named Ali Rida ar-Rikabi military governor. The new Arab government established local administrations in the major Syrian cities and the pan-Arab flag was flown across Syria. The Arabs relied on earlier British promises that the new Arab state would encompass the entire Arab country from Aleppo in northern Syria to Aden in southern Yemen.

However, in accordance with the secret Sykes-Picot agreement between Great Britain and France , General Allenby only left the interior regions of Syria (the eastern zone) to the Arab government. Palestine (the southern zone) was reserved for Great Britain and on October 8th French troops landed in Beirut and occupied the entire Syrian coast as far as Naqura (the western zone); they replaced British troops there and immediately dissolved the Arab governments in the region.

The French government demanded the full implementation of the Sykes-Picot Treaty and the recognition of French supremacy over Syria. On November 26, 1919, the British troops withdrew from Damascus to avoid an armed confrontation with the Entente partner and left the Arab government to the French troops.

Faisal traveled to Europe several times from November 1918 and tried unsuccessfully to convince the governments in Paris and London to change their positions. The French government sealed its intervention in Syria with the appointment of Henri Gourauds (1867–1946) as High Commissioner for the Syrian Cilicia . At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 , Faisal's position became even more precarious when the European powers decided to ignore the Arab demands.

In June 1919, the US King Crane Commission came to Syria to seek local opinion on the country's future. The area under investigation by the commission ranged from Aleppo to Beer Sheva . 36 larger cities were visited, over 2,000 delegations from more than 300 villages received and more than 3,000 petitions received. The results confirmed the rejection of the mandate by the Syrians as well as the Balfour Declaration and the demand for a Greater Syria including Palestine . The Commission's results were rejected by France and ignored by the UK.

In May 1919, elections were held for a General Syrian Congress. 80% of the seats went to the Conservatives. The minority included dynamic Arab nationalists such as Jamil Mardam -Bey, Shukri al-Quwatli , Ahmad al-Qadri, Ibrahim Hananu and Riyad al-Solh .

Faisal with TE Lawrence and the Hejaz delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919

Troubles broke out in Syria when Faisal reached a compromise with Georges Clemenceau and Chaim Weizmann over Jewish immigration to Palestine. Anti-Hashemitism was demonstrated and the Muslim residents revolted around the heights of Lebanon for fear that they would be integrated into a new - mainly Christian - Greater Lebanese state against their will.

In March 1920, the Syrian National Congress in Damascus, chaired by Hashim al-Atassi, adopted a resolution that rejected Faisal's agreements with Clemenceau. The Congress declared the independence of Syria within its natural borders including Palestine, proclaimed King Faisal as King of the Arabs, an economic community with neighboring Iraq and also demanded its independence. On May 9, 1920, a new government was formed by Ali Rida ar-Rikabi.

At the Sanremo Conference on April 25, 1920, the Supreme Council of the Allies gave France the mandate over Syria including the Lebanon Heights and Great Britain the mandates over Palestine including Jordan and Iraq. The Syrians reacted with violent demonstrations and the formation of a new government under Hashim al-Atassi on May 7, 1920. The new government decided on a general mobilization and began to raise an army.

Banknote for 25 Syrian piastres, issued in Beirut in 1919 by the Banque de Syrie . The Banque de Syrie , later renamed Banque de Syrie et le Grand Liban , continued to issue banknotes for Syria and Lebanon until the 1950s.

These violent demonstrations provoked hostile reactions from the French occupation army as well as from the Maronite Patriarch of Mount Lebanon, who described the decisions as a coup . In Beirut, the Christian press opposed the decisions of the Faisal government. The Lebanese nationalists profited from the crisis and convinced a council of Christian people in Baabda on March 22, 1920 to proclaim Lebanon's independence.

French drawing of Damascus 1920

On July 14, 1920, General Gouraud issued an ultimatum to Faisal, giving him the choice between submission and abdication. Faisal realized that he was in the weaker position and chose to work together. His young minister of war, Yusuf al-Azma, refused his allegiance and met the French at the Battle of Maysalun , who were victorious under General Mariano Goybet in less than a day. Al-Azma fell in battle with most of his followers. General Goybet entered Damascus victoriously on July 24, 1920.

When French troops disembarked in Lebanon, they were welcomed as liberators by the Christian community, but met strong opposition in Syria. It was not until 1923 that France was able to suppress the uprisings that broke out in the Alawi areas of Jebel ad-Duruz and in Aleppo and gained full control over all of Syria.

The mandate

After the Sanremo Conference and the defeat of Faisal's monarchy at the Battle of Maysalun, French General Henri Gouraud divided the mandate of Syria into six states. These were the state of Damascus in 1920, the state of Aleppo in 1920, the state of the Alawites in 1920, the state of Jebel ad-Duruz in 1921, the autonomous Sanjak Alexandrette in 1921 and the state of Greater Lebanon in 1920, which later became modern Lebanon.

Both Arabic and French have been made official languages.

Flag of the Syrian Confederation (1922–1924) and the subsequent State of Syria (1924–1930).

In July 1922, France established a loose union between three of these states: Damascus , Aleppo and the Alawites under the name of the Syrian League (Fédération syrienne). Jebel ad-Duruz, Sanjak Alexandrette and Greater Lebanon were not part of this alliance. On December 1, 1924, the Alawi state separated from the alliance when the state of Aleppo and the state of Damascus were merged to form the Syrian state.

In 1925, a Druze revolt led by Sultan al-Atrasch in Jebel ad-Duruz spread to other Syrian states and became a general uprising in Syria. In mid-July 1925, the rebels captured the small town of Salchad , and two weeks later the district capital as-Suwaida . The French troops suffered losses of several hundred men. The riots lasted until the spring of 1928. The French military tried to retaliate by urging the parliament of Aleppo to declare the separation from Damascus, but this was frustrated by Syrian patriots. On May 14, 1930, the Syrian state declared itself a republic (→ Syrian Republic ) and a new constitution was enacted. In 1932 the flag showed three red stars, which represented the three districts of Damascus, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor . In 1936 a Franco-Syrian and a Franco-Lebanese independence treaty were signed. The treaties, based on the model of the Anglo-Iraqi treaty of 1930, were intended to bind the states to France in the event of war, in return they were assured independence and admission to the League of Nations. Until 1940 the independence treaties were not ratified by the French parliament; they were not ratified under the Vichy regime either. However, the treaty allowed Jebel ad-Duruz, the state of the Alawites, which was now called Latakia , and Alexandrette to be integrated into the Syrian republic for the next two years. Greater Lebanon, now the Lebanese Republic, was the only state that did not join the Syrian Republic. Hashim al-Atassi was the first elected president under the new constitution, which was adopted after the independence treaty. In 1938 the state of Hatay was proclaimed, which joined Turkey in 1939 after a corresponding agreement between Turkey and France and a resolution by its parliament. Syria did not recognize the annexation of Hatay, in which the Arabs form a majority over the Turks, into Turkey, and the matter is still debated today.

With the defeat of France in World War II in 1940, Syria came under the control of the Vichy regime until the British and France libre troops occupied the country in July 1941 in the Syrian-Lebanese campaign . Free France formally recognized Syrian independence in November 1941 and made political concessions to local nationalists. In the first presidential election in 1943, Shukri al-Quwatli was elected head of state of the republic. France retained control over the troupes spéciales as well as in the social, cultural and educational systems. The military control of the mandate area by France was to end with the war. From 1944, however, the agreement was questioned by the French and demanded from the Syrian government for further reservation rights before handing over military command. This led to a stalemate until the Syrian government announced the establishment of its own military in 1945 . This was followed by fighting between Syrian gendarmes and French soldiers and the double bombing of Damascus , where several hundred people were killed in May 1945. France then stopped fighting under British pressure. The last French troops withdrew on April 17, 1946. Syria and Lebanon were founding members of the United Nations in 1945.

High commissioners

General Gouraud crossed Aleppo on September 13, 1920

General Delegate

State formation under the French mandate

During the French mandate, various states were formed in the previously unified Ottoman Syria. Various sectionist currents in Syria were primarily used to form these states. However, all Syrian factions were hostile to the French mandate and the division it created. This was demonstrated by numerous, sometimes very bloody, uprisings against the French troops throughout Syria.

The community of Maronite Christians on Mount Lebanon, on the other hand, enjoyed old connections and good relations with France. That is why Lebanon was an exception among the newly formed states. At the same time, the Syrian-Lebanese Communist Party was founded throughout the mandate to achieve independence from France.

État de Grand Liban

Flag of Greater Lebanon during the French mandate.
Flag of the Alawites state during the French mandate.
Flag of the Druze state during the French mandate.
Flag of the État d'Alep
Flag of the État de Damas.

On September 1, 1920, General Gouraud proclaimed Greater Lebanon .

Greater Lebanon was formed by the French troops to have a "safe haven" for the Maronite population of Mutasarrifia, the former Ottoman administrative district of Mount Lebanon. The area was owned by a Maronite majority and enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy during the Ottoman Empire. However, in addition to Mount Lebanon, Greater Lebanon also included other mainly Muslim regions that did not belong to the Maronite Mutasarrifia, hence the attribute large. Today these areas correspond to northern Lebanon , southern Lebanon , the Bekaa plain and Beirut . The inclusion of Tripoli , the former main port of Syria, in turn was a great economic loss for Syria.

The capital of the Greater Lebanon was Beirut. The new state had a flag with the cedar of Mount Lebanon on the French tricolor. In geostrategic and geo-economic terms, the French colonial authorities wanted to develop Beirut into a central port and trading center in the Middle East . From Beirut, the Transarménien should extend to Azerbaijan and the Transdésertique as far as southern Persia .

The Muslims in Greater Lebanon have rejected the new state since it was founded. They boycotted the 1922 census and refused to accept their new ID until General Gouraud agreed to remove an entry from the ID claiming Lebanese citizenship. The continued demand by Muslims for reunification with Syria culminated in the 1958 Lebanon crisis between Muslims and Christians, when Muslims wanted to join the newly proclaimed United Arab Republic while Christians sternly opposed it. On May 23, 1926 the state of Greater Lebanon became the Lebanese Republic with its own constitution.

État des Alaouites

The Alawite state was on the Syrian coast. About 278,000 people, mostly Alawis, members of a branch of Shiite Islam , lived there. The capital was Latakia on the Mediterranean.

Initially an autonomous area under French rule, known as Territoire des Alaouites , it became part of the Fédération syrienne in 1922 , but left this federation again in 1924 and became the État des Alaouites . On September 22, 1930 it was renamed Gouvernement Indépendant de Lattaquié . The Gouvernement Indépendant de Lattaquié joined the République syrienne on December 5, 1936 . Later there were several uprisings against the French occupation. The most famous uprising was led by Salih al-Ali, an Alawite.

Djébel druze

The Druze state existed in southern Syria under a French mandate between 1921 and 1936 and was inhabited by a majority of 50,000 Druze .

Initially the area was called État Souaida , but was later renamed État de la Montagne druze . The capital of the Druze state was as-Suwaida .

Etat d'Alep

The majority of the state of Aleppo was Sunnis . In addition to the fertile basin of the Euphrates from eastern Syria, it included northern Syria. A large part of Syria's agricultural production and mineral resources are located in these regions. The autonomous sanjak of Alexandretta came to the state of Aleppo in 1923 . The majority Sunni population of the state of Aleppo strongly opposed the partition of Syria. In 1925 France united the states of Aleppo and Damascus into the state of Syria.

État de Damas

The state of Damascus was part of the French mandate between 1920 and 1925, its capital being Damascus.

Sandjak d'Alexandrette

The Sanjak Alexandrette was autonomous from 1921 to 1923 under the Franco-Turkish treaty of October 20, 1921, as there was an important Turkish community - in addition to Arabs of various religious denominations: Sunnis, Alawis, Syriac Orthodox Christians , Greek Orthodox Christians , Greek Catholics , Maronites . There were also Jewish, Assyrian, Kurdish, Armenian and Greek communities. In 1923 Alexandrette was annexed to the state of Aleppo and in 1925 it was directly subordinated to the French mandate in Syria with a still special administrative status.

The 1936 elections in Sanjak brought two MPs who favored Syria's independence from France, which was answered with communal uprisings as well as passionate articles in the Turkish and Syrian press. This became the subject of a complaint to the League of Nations by the Turkish government of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk about the alleged mistreatment of the Turkish population in the area. Ataturk demanded that Alexandrette become part of Turkey. He claimed that the majority of its residents were Turks. In November 1937 the sanjak was given autonomy through an agreement brokered by the League of Nations. Under this new status, the sanjak became separate, but not severed, at the diplomatic level from the French mandate in Syria and linked to both France and Turkey in defense matters.

The distribution of the seats in the representation of the Sanjak was based on a census from 1938 carried out by the French authorities under international observation: 22 of 40 seats were given to the Turks, nine Alawis, five Armenians, two Sunnis, and two Christian Arabs. This agency was appointed in the summer of 1938 and the Franco-Turkish treaty, which established the status of the sanjak, was signed on July 4, 1938.

On September 2, 1938, the Sanjak of Alexandrette proclaimed itself the State of Hatay and justified this with the erupted clashes between Turks and Arabs.

The republic existed for a year under French and Turkish military supervision. The name Hatay was suggested by Ataturk and the government was under Turkish control. The President Tayfur Sökmen was elected to the Turkish National Assembly in 1935, in which he represented Antalya . Prime Minister Dr. Abdurrahman Melek had also been elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey ; he represented Gaziantep in 1939 while he was still the prime minister.

After a referendum in 1939, the Hatay Republic became a province of Turkey.

Evolution of the League of Nations mandate for Syria and Lebanon

Vilayet Beirut
Vilayet Aleppo
Vilayet Syria
Sanjak Zor
Occupied Enemy Territory Administration North
(territorial administration of the occupied enemy territory-NORTH)
Occupied Enemy Territory Administration East
( Territorial Administration of the Occupied Enemy Territory -OST)
Flag of Kingdom of Syria (1920-03-08 to 1920-07-24) .svg
Kingdom of Syria
Lebanese French flag.svg
Greater Lebanon

Alawite State

Flag of the State of Aleppo.svg
State of Aleppo
(including Sanjak Alexandrette )
Flag of the State of Damascus.svg

State of Damascus
Flag of Jabal ad-Druze (state) .svg

Druze state
Flag of Syria French mandate.svg
State of Syria
Flag of Syria (1932–1958, 1961–1963) .svg
Syrian Republic
Flag of Hatay.svg
Hatay State

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Erich Topf : The formation of states in the Arab parts of Turkey since the World War by origin, importance and viability (= Hamburg University. Treatises from the field of foreign studies , Volume 31, Series A. Law and Political Sciences, Volume 3). Friedrichsen, de Gruyter & Co, Hamburg 1929, p. 37.
  2. Dalal Arsuzi-Elamir: Arab Nationalism in Syria. Zakī al-Arsūzī and the Arab-national movement on the periphery of Alexandretta / Antakaya 1930–1938 (= Studies on Contemporary History of the Middle East and North Africa , Volume 9). Lit, Münster 2003, ISBN 3-8258-5917-7 , p. 25.
  3. Usamah Felix Darrah: History of Syria in the 20th Century and under Bashar Al-Assad. Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag, Marburg 2014, pp. 52–55.
  4. Marwan Buheiry: Beirut as a regional trading and financial center 1919–1939 , in: Linda Schatkowski Schilcher / Claus Scharf (ed.): The Middle East in the interwar period 1919–1939. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1989, pp. 301-316 (here: p. 307).