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Coll 6/15 'Syria: Administration. Question of offer of throne to King Feisal of Iraq.' [‎128r] (255/497)

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).
[E mQ/i20/S9]
April 5, 1933.
Section 1.
19 3 c
No. 1.
Lord Tyrrell to Sir John Simon.—(Received April 5.)
(No. 482.)
Sir, Paris, March 31, 1933.
I HAVE the honour to report that in the course of a debate upon the
estimates for overseas defence which took place in the Chamber yesterday
M. Daladier, President of the Council of Ministers, made a noteworthy speech
in reply to a Socialist motion that the French mandate for Syria should be
terminated. M. Sixte-Quenin, who was the principal Socialist speaker, had
pointed out that Great Britain had terminated her mandate over Iraq, and urged
that it was the duty of France from every point of view to do the same. He had
claimed that the sacrifices, particularly in the monetary sphere, which France
was being called upon to make in Syria were out of all proportion to the beneficial
results which were being obtained.
2. M. Daladier, in his reply, said that France's mission in Syria was to
bring the country to the point where political independence could be accorded to
her, and it was that sole consideration which was shaping French policy in
Syrian affairs. The situation differed entirely from that which obtained in the
neighbouring country of Iraq. England had been able to grant independence to
the latter on account of the homogeneity of the population, who had evolved in
the course of centuries what might be called a collective conscience. In Syria,
however, there existed an extensive variety, almost a mosaic it mi^ht be termed,
of races and religions. Religious disputes always had a more serious aspect in
Eastern than in Western countries, and religious difficulties in this case marched
hand in hand with economic and ethical difficulties, all of which increased the
task which faced the Administration.
3. M. Daladier recalled that in October 1932 M. Ponsot, the High
Commissioner, had been instructed to begin negotiations at Damascus for the
signature of a Franco-Syrian Treaty of Alliance, an indispensable preliminary
to the admission of the new State into the League of Nations. The budget for
Syria was certainly no light one, but he would observe that it had decreased by
34 millions since 1932 and by 68 millions since the year before that. To reduce it
still further would be to run the risk of allowing serious internecine warfare to
break out. If that happened, then either another Power would be forced to
interfere, perhaps with no ultimate advantage to Syrian liberty or, alternatively,
a large and costly expeditionary force would have to be sent from France. The
Government were determined not to do anything in Syria to compromise the
beneficial results which had already been obtained.
4. M. Daladier concluded by pointing out that France had scrupulously
observed the engagements upon which she had entered with the League of
Nations. Syria would as soon as possible take her seat at Geneva with her sister
nations, but it was essential, particularly in the interests of the numerous units
which made up the Syrian population, that the treaty of alliance should be
signed first.
I have, &c.
[767 e—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.' [‎128r] (255/497), 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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