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Coll 6/15 'Syria: Administration. Question of offer of throne to King Feisal of Iraq.' [‎96r] (191/497)

The record is made up of 1 file (247 folios). It was created in 13 Jun 1928-15 Dec 1939. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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EASTERN (Syria).
iV July 28, 1933.
Section 1.
[E 4159/120/89] No. 1.
Acting Consul Todd to Sir John Simon.—{Received July 28.)
(No. 37.)
Sir, Damascus, July 20, 1933.
I HAVE the honour to inform you that the local press comments on the
appointment of M. de Martel as the successor of M. Henri Ponsot are generally
2. The Fata-el-Arab (Moderate) hopes that the new High Commissioner
will use his abilities and experience in oriental affairs to bring about a complete
solution of the Syrian question, so that Syria will realise that she is at last a
country having the same rights as other independent countries and able to treat
political and social questions as she understands them. The journal hopes that
he will not spend too much time studying a question which has already been
studied in all its aspects by previous commissioners and by the Quai d’Orsay.
Franco-Syrian collaboration is inevitable, and this collaboration should be
directed towards enabling Syria to realise her known claims, and enabling France
to consolidate her moral and material interests in this part of the Near East.
Syria is at present menaced by a policy which can be described as an economic
blockade, the centre of which is Haifa. In such circumstances, the regime of
M. de Martel should comprise economic and political competition. Nothing, this
paper asserts, could be more effective in eradicating the influence of Haifa than
a comprehensive and well-conceived plan of political and economic action in which
France and Syria would act in common.
3. Al Chaab (Moderate) thinks that France, noticing that M. Ponsot was
unsuccessful in untying the Syrian knot in spite of a programme prepared very
thoroughly, has had recourse to another man of experience, in the person of M. de
Martel, who is an expert in oriental politics and possesses a deep knowledge of
the oriental character, customs, traditions, &c. The journal hopes that M. de
Martel will not come to Syria before he has mastered every question, large and
4. The Alef Ba (anti-Nationalist) says that the new High Commissioner
will not arrive in Syria without his “ new costume,” which is now being made
in Paris. In other words, it is very probable that he will not spend months and
years in studying the question, as his predecessors have done, but will proclaim
what has already been accomplished and keep an eye on its application.
5. The reaction of the extreme Nationalists to the new appointment is not
clearly defined as their organ, Al Ayyam, was indefinitely suspended a short
while ago. However, the following statement of one of their number no doubt
sums up the general opinion of their party.
6. The Nationalists, he said, see in the appointment a proof that France
desires to rid herself of Syria, to conclude a treaty with her, and to introduce her
as a member of the League of Nations. One of the factors, he continued, which
has induced France to make the change is that she considers that M. Ponsot,
having brought matters to the point of a treaty, is no longer capable of taking
the last hurdle, i.e., that of the actual negotiation and conclusion of a treaty.
7. The press does not contemplate the possibility of the whole question being
put into the melting-pot and the progress achieved up to the present largely
dissipated as a result.
8. I am sending copies of this despatch to His Majesty’s representatives in
Beirut and Aleppo.
I have, &c.
[851 ee—1]

About this item


This file relates to the administration of Syria and the possibility of the French Government installing a King of Syria.

The file mostly contains copies of Colonial Office and Foreign Office correspondence, much of which consists of copies of the minutes, memoranda and correspondence of the Committee of Imperial Defence's Standing Official Sub-Committee for Questions Concerning the Middle East, which discuss how the British Government should respond to rumours that the French Government has been approaching both King Feisal of Iraq [Fayṣal bin Ḥusayn bin ‘Alī al-Hāshimī] and his brother, Ali [‘Alī bin Ḥusayn al-Hāshimī], as candidates for the throne of Syria.

Related matters discussed in the correspondence include:

  • The British stance on whether Iraq and Syria should be ruled by one king.
  • The possibility of Syria becoming a republic rather than a monarchy, with a Syrian as President (an outcome which is deemed to be more suited to British interests).
  • Reports in the Turkish press that the ex-Khedive of Egypt, Abbas Hilmi [ʿAbbās Ḥilmī II] has aspirations for the Syrian throne, and that the Turkish Government also favours the ex-Khedive as a candidate.
  • Reports that the French Government is contemplating ending its mandate over Syria and is negotiating a treaty with Syria, using the 1930 Anglo-Iraqi Treaty as a basis.
  • Details of the Treaty of Alliance between France and Syria (signed on 16 November 1933), and of its suspended ratification.
  • Details of the Franco-Lebanese Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, signed on 13 November 1936.
  • Egypt's preference for Prince [Muhammad] Abdul Moneim to be installed as King of Syria.
  • Ibn Saud's [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd's] concerns that the throne of Syria might be offered to a Hashimite candidate (i.e. a member of the Hāshimī family).

The principal correspondents are the following: His Majesty's Consul at Damascus (Edwyn Cecil Hole, succeeded by Gilbert Mackereth); the High Commissioner for Iraq (Sir Francis Henry Humphrys and his Acting Commissioner, Hubert Winthrop Young); His Majesty's Ambassador in Baghdad (Humphrys again, and later, Basil Cochrane Newton); the Secretary of State for the Colonies; the British Consul-General at Beirut (Harold Eustace Satow); the High Commissioner for Egypt (Percy Lyham Loraine, succeeded by Miles Wedderburn Lampson); His Majesty's Ambassador in Angora [Ankara] (George Russell Clerk, succeeded by Loraine); the British Minister at Jedda (Sir Reader William Bullard); His Majesty's Chargé d’Affaires, Jedda (Alan Charles Trott); officials of the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office.

The French material in this file consists of several items of correspondence, a copy of the Franco-Syrian Treaty of 1933, a copy of the Franco-Lebanese Treaty of 1936, and copies of extracts from two French language publications (the Lebanese newspaper, L'Orient , and the Damascus newspaper, Les Échos de Syrie ).

The file includes two dividers which give a list of correspondence references contained in the file by year. These are placed at the back of the correspondence.

Extent and format
1 file (247 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence for this description commences at the inside front cover with 1 and terminates at the last folio with 248; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An external leather cover wraps around the documents; the front inside of this cover has been foliated as f 1. A previous foliation sequence, which is present between ff 12-247 and is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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Coll 6/15 'Syria: Administration. Question of offer of throne to King Feisal of Iraq.' [‎96r] (191/497), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2081, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 24 October 2019]

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