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Coll 6/15 'Syria: Administration. Question of offer of throne to King Feisal of Iraq.' [‎119v] (238/497)

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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speculation took place on the rival merits of a “ monarchy ” and a republic. The
name of Emir Zaid was freely canvassed (amongst others) as a likely candidate
for the “ throne.” but the Nationalists were definitely in favour of a
“ President.”
11. The draft Constitution produced by the Assembly proved unacceptable
to the French Government, being incompatible with the terms of the mandate^
and international agreements. Exception was taken to the following six^
articles: (1) Unity; (2) National army; (3) power of President to conclude
treaties; (4) to receive Ambassadors; (5) to grant pardons; and (6) to declare
martial law. The Assembly was invited to revise their draft accordingly, and,
on their refusal to comply, was adjourned for three months, in the hope that
wiser counsels would prevail.
12. The Assembly, having failed to come to terms, was finally adjourned
sine die in February 1929. the Sheikh Taj Administration remaining in power.
In August there were slight demonstrations in sympathy with the anti-Zionist
movement in Palestine, but the country remained remarkably quiet.
13. In April 1930 Hashem Bey Atassi published a manifesto throwing the
blame of failure to endow the country with a Constitution on M. Ponsot. The
latter, in the following month, promulgated the Constitution drawn up by the
Assembly, with the addition of a qualifying clause (article 116) vesting certain
powers of veto in the French Government, in conformity with the latter’s
obligations to the League of Nations.
14. In a decree published the same date dissolving the “ Constituent
Assembly,” M. Ponsot pointed out that that assembly, in drawing up the
Constitution, had completed their labours and complied with that part of the
mandate which lays down that the views of the authorities and the population
should be consulted in regard to the form of Government.
15. Towards the beginning of 1931, interviews published in the local press
with Hashem Bey Atassi and Jamil Mardam Bey (at one time a super-
Nationalist) suggested that the Nationalists, recognising that article 116 of the
Constitution was merely a temporary safeguard pending the evolution of the
mandate, were prepared to participate in parliamentary elections, as a first step
to the negotiation of a treaty. But, whilst the serious leaders of “ nationalism ’
appeared to be gaining in wisdom and discretion, a new class of agitator—persons
who had nothing to lose, but everything to gain, from disorder and
violence—namely, the ” student-effendis.” found expression for their patriotism
in their dissatisfaction with the price of electric tram fares, and the usurpation
of the Hejaz Railway Station by a French-owned railway. They were sponsored
by Emir Said Jazairly, an unbalanced megalomaniac, completely discredited by
reasonable people.
16. For the first time on record, a group of Nationalists (including the type
of ” condottiere,” such as Fakhri Baroudi) travelled to Beirut to welcome
M. Ponsot on his arrival in November. Within a few days the latter accepted
the resignation of Sheikh Taj-ed-Din, and assumed the functions of Chief of
State. The air was cleared for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. A
Syrian Secretary-General was appointed to administer the country with the aid
of four Ministers of the previous Government. M. Ponsot declared that it was
necessary, in order to conclude a treaty, to negotiate with a representative
Government, in conformity with the Constitution, and held himself personally
responsible for ” fair ” elections.
17. Just prior to the elections, skirmishes between hired “ bravos and
the police were organised by certain Nationalists in order to raise a flagging
“patriotism”; and, by convincing oratory, the mind of “the man in the
street ” was poisoned, in advance, that the electoral proceedings would be faked
from beginning to end. ,
18. This form of “ mass-suggestion ” was bound to take eftect on an
ignorant populace; and it was not surprising that certain allegations of
“ tampering ” against one or two Syrian officials ended in scenes of disorder and
bloodshed at the polls. The elections in Damascus were suspended, but on the
same day, at Aleppo, the Liberal Constitutionals (or Moderates) swept the
board the allegations of “ tampering ” have never been proved, and the matter
was allowed to drop by the Commission of Enquiry set up by the new Parliament.
19 In spite of loose talk of a boycott by the Nationalists, the fresh
elections at Damascus took place in March and April 1932, and resulted m the
return of six Nationalists and three Model ates.

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Content

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)
Arrangement

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.' [‎119v] (238/497), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2081, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100049603987.0x000029> [accessed 14 October 2019]

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