Before beginning the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946, I’d like to summarize, very briefly, the Mandate for Mesopotamia Timeline.
Even before World War I began the British were considering and planning how their presence and influence could be expanded in the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire, which would fit in nicely with British India and their growing influence in Persia and the Arabian Peninsula.
However, there were several obstacles to be overcome. Some sort of arrangement to share the spoils of victory with France, who was the main British ally in the war, had to be negotiated, the emerging anti-colonial sentiment in the world had to be acknowledged, and the rights and wishes of the local Arab populations had to be minimally recognized in some manner. A way to give a veneer of order and international legitimacy also had to be designed.
With the signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement the British and French Governments divided up the region between themselves, and during the war a series of communications, proclamations and decrees gave the necessary lip-service to the wishes and rights of the local Arab populations. The system of mandates created by the victorious Allies of World War I provided cover against charges of colonialism, and the creation of the League of Nations gave the process an air of legitimacy.
The mandate for Mesopotamia process began with the British military occupation of the Ottoman Provinces of Basra and Baghdad during World War I and then continued with a civilian administration under military occupation which was based on the colonial system of British India.
After the mandate system was formulated and the League of Nations was created, a nebulous entity called the mandate for Mesopotamia was created with no borders and under the solitary condition that the people of the mandated territory, being ‘almost ready for independence’, be under the ‘guardianship and tutelage’ of the British so that they could be made ‘ready for independence’.
The major uncertainty in the process was the Ottoman Province of Mosul, which was originally to be placed in the French sphere of influence according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The British were occupying it, the French did not have the manpower or resources to control and administer it, the Ottoman Empire still claimed it, and Kurdish leaders in the province had opted for British administration.
Through the 12 year mandate process the British Government:
- created a kingdom with undefined borders in a mandated territory, also with undefined borders, in a territory which the British had claim to only through occupation,
- forcibly, and often brutally, subdued the Kurds in the Province of Mosul and put down Arab uprisings in the Provinces of Baghdad and Basra,
- reached an agreement with the French Government and added the Province of Mosul to the mandated territory, and then later included it piecemeal into the Kingdom of Iraq,
- legitimized, more than three years after it began, the mandate through a peace treaty with Turkey in which Turkey relinquished its claims to the Provinces of Baghdad and Basra,
- placed, more than four years after it began, the mandate under the oversight of the League of Nations with more detailed objectives, terms and conditions,
- forced an agreement on the newly established Republic of Turkey to legitimize the Province of Mosul’s inclusion in the mandate and in the Kingdom of Iraq,
- gradually, through a series of diplomatic efforts, established and refined the mandate’s - and by extension the Kingdom of Iraq’s - borders,
- all while ostensibly tutoring the people of Iraq in preparation for Iraq’s becoming independent, which did result in the Kingdom of Iraq’s gaining its troubled and somewhat limited independence in 1932.
The complete detailed timeline of the mandate for Mesopotamia can be read at:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 is quite long and complex,
so it will be in six installments:
• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part I
- Excerpts from Documents Relevant to the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon
• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part II
- The Sinai and Palestine Campaign at the End of World War I
- OETA North - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920
- OETA North - August 10, 1920 to January 7, 1922
• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part III
- OETA West - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920
• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part IV
- OETA East - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920
• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part V
- Lebanon - August 10, 1920 to December 31, 1946
• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part VI
- Syria - August 10, 1920 to April 17, 1946
Please take the time to go over the ‘Terms’ section.
Understanding the information in it will make it easier to understand the timeline.
Syria and Lebanon are often in the news. Most people are at least vaguely aware that they are troubled countries in a troubled part of the world, but almost no one is aware of how these two countries came into existence.
The process was long, complex, repressive, violent, and full of broken promises and missed opportunities.
The mandate system which was imposed by the victorious Allies of World War I on the people of these two countries, along with the people of the countries which are now Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Palestine, was ostensibly to aid and assist them in making the transition from being almost ready for independence to being independent countries, and do so while taking into account the rights and wishes of the people in the mandated territories.
After almost two years of military occupation following World War I, the territories which are now Lebanon and Syria were placed under the Mandatory administration of the French Government and remained under this administration for more than 24 years.
During this time little was done to fulfill the stated objectives or observe the written terms of the mandate.
Instead the people of Syria and Lebanon were governed according to the whims of the French Government, which showed little interest in their making the transition to full independence.
This is a timeline of how Lebanon and Syria came to be independent but troubled countries under the mandate system.
By better understanding this period I believe that it is easier to better understand what has happened since the mandate era ended and is happening now in Syria, Lebanon and the region.
In order to understand the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon it is necessary to understand these terms.
Syria and the Lebanon: Mandatory Syria and the Lebanon was a collection of parts of the Ottoman Provinces of Beirut, Syria, Aleppo and Diyarbakir, and the Ottoman Districts of Mount Lebanon and Deir Ez-Zor.
Along the Mediterranean Sea (starting in the north and going south) were:
- The Alexandretta District of the Province of Aleppo,
- The Latakia District of the Province of Beirut,
- The Tripoli District of the Province of Beirut,
- The District of Mount Lebanon,
- Beirut - the capital city of the Province of Beirut,
- Most of the Sidon District of the Province of Beirut.
Inland, east, of the above (starting in the south and going north) were:
- Most of the Hauran District of the Province of Syria,
- The Damascus District of the Province of Syria,
- The Hama District of the Province of Syria.
The north of Syria and the Lebanon was:
- The southern half of the Province of Aleppo
The northeast corner of Syria and the Lebanon was:
- The southern part of the Province of Diyarbakir
The east and southeast of Syria and the Lebanon was:
- The District of Deir Ez-Zor
- The District of Mount Lebanon was a semi-autonomous district governed directly from Istanbul.
- The District of Deir Ez-Zor was governed directly from Istanbul and not included in a province.
- Beirut, the capital city of the Province of Beirut, was on the Mediterranean coast surrounded by the District of Mount Lebanon and not a part of the District of Mount Lebanon.
mandate: (‘m’ not ‘M’) The ‘tutelage’ of ‘colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war (World War I) have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world’ which is ‘entrusted to advanced nations’ for their ‘well-being and development’ or ‘until such time as they are able to stand alone’ - as described in Article 22, paragraphs 1, 2 and 4 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
mandated territory: A colony or territory ‘inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world’ whose ‘tutelage’ has been ‘entrusted to [an] advanced nation’.
Mandatory: An ‘advanced nation’ ‘entrusted’ with the ‘tutelage’ of a mandated territory. ‘Mandatory Power’ is also sometimes used.
Mandate: (‘M’ not ‘m’) The formal written objectives and terms under which a Mandatory administered a mandated territory on behalf of the League of Nations - as described in Article 22, paragraph 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Tutelage: The capacity or activity of a guardian. The act or office of a guardian or tutor.
Guardian: One who looks after, protects, or defends. One who is legally responsible for the care and management of the person or property of an incompetent or a minor.
Tutor: One who gives additional, special, or remedial instruction.
Principal Allied Powers: The British Empire, the French Third Republic, the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Italy, and the United States of America - the major Allied Powers of World War I.
The Principal Allied Powers usually acted and made decisions together but were also able to act or make decisions individually or together with any, or all, of the other Principal Allied Powers.
The Principal Allied Powers assigned mandates to individual Principal Allied Powers, and had the power to determine the borders of mandated territories - as was announced in the San Remo Conference Resolution.
Allied Supreme Council: The collective decision making body of the Principal Allied Powers.
The Allied Supreme Council directed and controlled the post-war peace process and determined the disposition of the defeated World War I Central Powers - the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire - and their territories.
The Allied Supreme Council also determined the general objectives and terms under which each mandate would operate - as was also announced in the San Remo Conference Resolution.
The Empire of Japan often did not participate in the meetings of the Allied Supreme Council, and the United States generally did not participate in the decisions of the council regarding the Ottoman Empire as it had never declared war on the Ottoman Empire.
The Council of Ten: Referred to the Presidents or Prime Ministers and the Foreign Ministers of the five Principal Allied Powers who directed the Paris Peace Conference and made or approved all major decisions at the conference. Later the council was reorganized and became known as the Council of Four - the heads of state of the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Italy.
Council of the League of Nations: The executive decision making body of the League of Nations. The original permanent members of the Council of the League of Nations (Britain, France, Italy and Japan) were also members of the Allied Supreme Council. The United States was going to be the fifth member of the Council but never became a member of the League of Nations.
The Mandate for each mandated territory was approved by the Council of the League of Nations before it went into effect - as was described in Article 22, paragraph 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Mandatory Syria and the Lebanon: A recognized civil governing entity created by the assignment of the mandate for Syria to the French Republic by the Principal Allied Powers and the acceptance of the mandate by the French Republic.
The entity, at first, exercised its governing authority directly and acted according to the general terms which had been determined for the mandate by the Allied Supreme Council.
Full and final authority was held by the High Commissioner who was the representative of the French Government.
Later this entity continued its activities on behalf of the League of Nations under the supervision of the Council of the League of Nations according to the terms of the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, but this began only after the Mandate had been approved by the Council of the League of Nations.
The Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire: Even though people of many different races, religions and ethnicities lived in the area, during and after World War I the territories of the Ottoman Empire south of what is now the Republic of Turkey were referred to in this manner.
OETA: Occupied Enemy Territory Administration, also O. E. T. A. The administrative zones established by General Allenby on October 24, 1918. Originally there were three zones; South, North and East. On December 18, 1918 the North zone was renamed the West zone and a new North zone was created.
OETA South: (Palestine) The Ottoman District of Jerusalem, and the Nablus and Acre Districts of the Ottoman Province of Beirut; was under British Military Administration.
OETA West: The Alexandretta District of the Province of Aleppo, the Latakia District of the Province of Beirut, the Tripoli District of the Province of Beirut, the District of Lebanon, the city of Beirut, and most of the Sidon District of the Province of Beirut; was under French Military Administration.
OETA East: The areas east of OETA South and OETA West - All of the Ottoman Province of Syria, the southern half of the Ottoman Province of Aleppo, and the Ottoman District of Deir Ez-Zor; was under Arab Military Administration.
OETA North: The Ottoman Province of Adana and the northern half of the Ottoman Province of Aleppo; was under French Military Administration.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement:
The allocation of British and French interests in, or control over, the territories of Mandatory Syria and the Lebanon according to the terms of the agreement:
OETA West, OETA North, and areas to the north of OETA North were included in the French blue area mentioned in article two of the agreement.
All of OETA East except for the southern districts of the Ottoman Province of Syria - the areas southeast of the Sea of Galilee, east of the River Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, and east of the Dead Sea - was included in the French area (a) mentioned in article one of the agreement.
The southern districts of the Ottoman Province of Syria in OETA East were included in the British area (b) mentioned in article one of the agreement, and therefore not part of Mandatory Syria and the Lebanon.
Baghdad Railway: A project to build rail lines between Konya and Baghdad, and by doing so, connect Berlin to Mosul and Baghdad.
Rail lines had been completed up to Konya, and construction of rail lines in two main sections to connect Konya and Baghdad was begun in 1903.
The first main section was the Konya-Pozanti-Adana-Aleppo-Nusaybin line. By 1915 it had been completed except for the tunnels through the Taurus Mountains in the Konya-Pozanti section. These tunnels were completed enough to carry rail traffic in 1917 and fully completed on October 25, 1918.
A spur line from Adana to Mersin, a port on the Mediterranean, was also completed during the construction of the Konya-Nusaybin section.
The second main section, Nusaybin-Mosul-Baghdad, was completed many years later.
Ultimately this project’s aims were to connect Berlin to the Mediterranean Sea at Mersin, to Aleppo, to Mosul, to Baghdad, to Persia, and to Basra.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha: Later took the name Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Pasha was the equivalent to the military rank of General.
Cilicia: the Ottoman Province of Adana.
Cilicia and southern Armenia: OETA North, and areas to the north of OETA North.
Sis: a city - Kozan in Turkish.
Alexandretta: the city or gulf - Iskenderun in Turkish, the province - Hatay in Turkish.
Alawites: An ethnoreligious group historically centered in Syria and a branch of Shia Islam.
Druze: An ethnoreligious group historically centered in southern Syria and popularly considered to be a branch of Shia Islam.
Maronites: An ethnoreligious group historically centered in the Mount Lebanon area and part of the Catholic Church.
• Excerpts from Documents Relevant to the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon
The Sykes-Picot Agreement
May 16, 1916
Articles 1 and 2:
It is accordingly understood between the French and British governments:
That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab state or a confederation of Arab states in the areas (a) and (b) marked on the annexed map, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief.
That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall have priority of right of enterprise and local loans. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall alone supply advisers or foreign functionaries at the request of the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.
That in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.
The Covenant of the League of Nations
Approved by the Paris Peace Conference - April 28, 1919
Came into effect - January 10, 1920
Article 22, paragraphs 1, 2, 4 and 8:
To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.
The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.
Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.
The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council.
The Treaty of Versailles
Signed - June 28, 1919
Came into effect - January 10, 1920
TREATY OF PEACE WITH GERMANY
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE BRITISH EMPIRE, FRANCE, ITALY and JAPAN,
These Powers being described in the present Treaty as the Principal Allied and Associated Powers,
The San Remo Conference Resolution
April 25, 1920
Section (b), paragraph 1:
The High Contracting Parties agree that Syria and Mesopotamia shall, in accordance with the fourth paragraph of Article 22, Part I (Covenant of the League of Nations), be provisionally recognized as independent States, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The boundaries of the said States will be determined, and the selection of the Mandatories made, by the Principal Allied Powers.
Section (c), paragraph 1:
[Translation] The mandatories chosen by the Principal Allied Powers are: France for Syria, and Great Britain for Mesopotamia and Palestine.
The Treaty of Sevres
Signed - August 10, 1920
Did not come into effect
Superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne
THE TREATY OF PEACE WITH TURKEY
THE BRITISH EMPIRE, FRANCE, ITALY AND JAPAN,
These Powers being described in the present Treaty as the Principal Allied Powers;
Articles 94, 95, 96, 97 and 132:
SYRIA, MESOPOTAMIA, PALESTINE.
The High Contracting Parties agree that Syria and Mesopotamia shall, in accordance with the fourth paragraph of Article 22. Part I (Covenant of the League of Nations), be provisionally recognised as independent States subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.
A Commission shall be constituted within fifteen days from the coming into force of the present Treaty to trace on the spot the frontier line described in Article 27, II (2) and (3). This Commission will be composed of three members nominated by France, Great Britain and Italy respectively, and one member nominated by Turkey; it will be assisted by a representative of Syria for the Syrian frontier, and by a representative of Mesopotamia for the Mesopotamian frontier.
The determination of the other frontiers of the said States, and the selection of the Mandatories, will be made by the Principal Allied Powers.
The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory to be selected by the said Powers. The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
The Mandatory undertakes to appoint as soon as possible a special Commission to study and regulate all questions and claims relating to the different religious communities. In the composition of this Commission the religious interests concerned will be taken into account. The Chairman of the Commission will be appointed by the Council of the League of Nations.
The terms of the mandates in respect of the above territories will be formulated by the Principal Allied Powers and submitted to the Council of the League of Nations for approval.
Turkey hereby undertakes, in accordance with the provisions of Article 132, to accept any decisions which may be taken in relation to the questions dealt with in this Section.
Outside her frontiers as fixed by the present Treaty Turkey hereby renounces in favour of the Principal Allied Powers all rights and title which she could claim on any ground over or concerning any territories outside Europe which are not otherwise disposed of by the present Treaty.
Turkey undertakes to recognise and conform to the measures which may be taken now or in the future by the Principal Allied Powers, in agreement where necessary with third Powers, in order to carry the above stipulation into effect.
The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon
Draft submitted to the League of Nations - December 1, 1920
Approved by the Council of the League of Nations - July 24, 1922
Went into force - September 29, 1923
Preamble, Recitals 1 and 2:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed that the territory of Syria and the Lebanon, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire shall, within such boundaries as may be fixed by the said Powers, be entrusted to a Mandatory charged with the duty of rendering administrative advice and assistance to the population, in accordance with the provisions of Article 22 (paragraph 4) of the Covenant of the League of Nations; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have decided that the mandate for the territory referred to above should be conferred on the Government of the French Republic, which has accepted it; and
The Mandatory shall frame, within a period of three years from the coming into force of this mandate, an organic law for Syria and the Lebanon.
This organic law shall be framed in agreement with the native authorities and shall take into account the rights, interests, and wishes of all the population inhabiting the said territory. The Mandatory shall further enact measures to facilitate the progressive development of Syria and the Lebanon as independent states. Pending the coming into effect of the organic law, the Government of Syria and the Lebanon shall be conducted in accordance with the spirit of this mandate.
The Mandatory shall, as far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.
The Treaty of Lausanne
Signed - July 24, 1923
Came into effect - August 6, 1924
TREATY OF PEACE WITH TURKEY
THE BRITISH EMPIRE, FRANCE, ITALY, JAPAN, GREECE, ROUMANIA and the SERB-CROAT-SLOVENE STATE,
of the one part,
of the other part; Being united in the desire to bring to a final close the state of war which has existed in the East since 1914,
Being anxious to re-establish the relations of friendship and commerce which are essential to the mutual well-being of their respective peoples,
And considering that these relations must be based on respect for the independence and sovereignty of States,
Have decided to conclude a Treaty for this purpose, and have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries:
Articles 3, 16 and 27:
From the Mediterranean to the frontier of Persia, the frontier of Turkey is laid down as follows:
(1) With Syria:
The frontier described in Article 8 of the Franco-Turkish Agreement of the 20th October, 1921
(2) With Iraq:
The frontier between Turkey and Iraq shall be laid down in friendly arrangement to be concluded between Turkey and Great Britain within nine months.
In the event of no agreement being reached between the two Governments within the time mentioned, the dispute shall be referred to the Council of the League of Nations.
The Turkish and British Governments reciprocally undertake that, pending the decision to be reached on the subject of the frontier, no military or other movement shall take place which might modify in any way the present state of the territories of which the final fate will depend upon that decision.
Turkey hereby renounces all rights and title whatsoever over or respecting the territories situated outside the frontiers laid down in the present Treaty and the islands other than those over which her sovereignty is recognised by the said Treaty, the future of these territories and islands being settled or to be settled by the parties concerned.
The provisions of the present Article do not prejudice any special arrangements arising from neighbourly relations which have been or may be concluded between Turkey and any limitrophe countries.
No power or jurisdiction in political, legislative or administrative matters shall be exercised outside Turkish territory by the Turkish Government or authorities, for any reason whatsoever, over the nationals of a territory placed under the sovereignty or protectorate of the other Powers signatory of the present Treaty, or over the nationals of a territory detached from Turkey.
It is understood that the spiritual attributions of the Moslem religious authorities are in no way infringed.
• The Series
• Treaties, Resolutions, Etc.
I used many sources to collect this information and there is no way I can list all of them.
I have tried to present the information so that anyone who wants to look for more information can do searches easily.