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Coll 6/15 'Syria: Administration. Question of offer of throne to King Feisal of Iraq.' [‎135v] (270/497)

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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the 20th November, a report which would include something definite in the nature
of a draft treaty with Syria. His losing no time in coming to Damascus, and his
almost feverish haste in getting into touch, through the medium of the President
of the Republic, with the leaders of public thought, not only confirmed these
suspicions, but caused him to be regarded by the Nationalists in the light of a
postulant. The-time at his disposal was extremely limited. The occasion, there
fore, for the Nationalists to exert a form of blackmail was too good to be misse^^
7. Their first move was to abstain from attending Parliament. Secondly—
and this is much more important—they succeeded in extorting from M. Ponsot a
letter in which he agreed to the proposed terms of a declaration to be made by the
Government in regard to the treaty at the vote of confidence. The terms of this
declaration were so explicit that they practically bound M. Ponsot to accept as a
basis of the treaty, conditions at least as favourable as those accorded to Iraq.
The Nationalists, having by this time gained solid ground for their belief that
their immediate association with the Government was a matter of supreme
importance to M. Ponsot, became even more arrogant in their demands, and again
refused to take their seats in Parliament on the second day of the session. The
High Commissioner may then have realised that he had made an error of
judgment, and persuaded the Government to withhold the declaration which he
had previously approved, pending further negotiations.
8. Thus, it would appear that M. Ponsot, by his somewhat obvious
pandering to the Nationalists, has defeated the object of his too precipitate
activities, and has succeeded in antagonising his nominal supporters, the
“ moderates.” The latter, who cannot be expected to have those finer political
perceptions observed only rarely in countries which have passed through a long
evolution of parliamentary history, are naturally enquiring why, whilst holding a
large majority, they should continue to be saddled with a Government of which
two members out of the four are Nationalists, and be prevented, by the fractious
bickerings of a small minority, from carrying on the business for which they were
9. Whether M. Ponsot was actuated by motives of personal ambition, in the
hope that, in achieving some concrete result, he would be rewarded forthwith
with a post less inherent with unpleasant eventualities, or whether he was
inspired by a desire of his Government to create at Geneva, and possibly
elsewhere, an atmosphere less hostile than it would seem to be at present, is a
question on which I am not competent to express an opinion.
10. I am sending copies of this despatch direct to His Majesty’s Minister
at Bagdad, His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Jerusalem, the British
Resident at Amman, and His Majesty’s consular officers at Beirut and Aleppo.
I have, &c.

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.' [‎135v] (270/497), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2081, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 15 October 2019]

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