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Coll 6/15 'Syria: Administration. Question of offer of throne to King Feisal of Iraq.' [‎140r] (279/497)

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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Consul-General Sir H. Satow to Sir John Simon.—[Received December 3.)
(No. 87.)
WITH reference to Mr. Urquhart’s despatch JNo. &3 ot ttie ^ntn uctooer
relative to the return of the French High Commissioner, I have the honour to
report that M. Ponsot left again yesterday for Geneva via Rome and Paris in
order to present to the Permanent Mandates Commission his report on the
situation in this mandated territory. Normally his report would only deal with
the year 1931, but, as the commission did not this year meet in June, it will
cover most of the year 1932 also. As stated in the official communique issued
on the occasion of his departure, M. Ponsot, who is expected to be absent for a
month or six weeks at the most, will take the opportunity to make known to
the commission the result of his first contact with the Syrian Government, which,
since the vote of confidence of the 5th November, is now constitutionally
responsible. He will also attempt to forecast as to the political evolution of
Syria and the terms on which a treaty with the Syrian Government can be made.
2. I saw M. Ponsot on the 21st, when I introduced to him Mr. Ogilvie-
Forbes, Counsellor of His Majesty’s Embassy at Bagdad, who had arrived that
morning and left later in the day for Damascus. M. Ponsot seemed to be in good
health and spirits. He remarked that it was, on the principle that “ absence
makes the heart grow fonder,” a good thing to leave his Nationalist friends at
Damascus to their own devices for a time. The position would in future be
simplified by the creation of two regimes only, that of a treaty and that ol a
mandate. His remark presumably implies that there can be for some time at
least no question of a treaty with the Lebanon, and that the coastal districts will
continue to be administered under the mandaie. At present things are quiet in
the Lebanon, and M. Debbas seems to be displaying unexpected energy in intro
ducing economies and dealing with some of the worst abuses, such as the recent
scandal in the Public Works Department. Possibly later some agitation for a
treaty may manifest itself, as the winter and spring are seasons more propitious
for local political activities than the hot weather.
3. As Mr. Urquhart remarked in his despatch, the Lebanon is at present
a political backwater. The whole political staff of the High Commission has until
the last day or so been concentrated at Damascus. M. Chauvel, the Political
Director, has left with M. Ponsot for Geneva. M. Helleu. who has been left in
charge, is to spend half the week in Damascus and the other half here. The High
Commission offices in Beirut are now only occupied by officials who do not seem
qualified to take decisions on their own initiative, and the chances of getting
business put through quickly seem to be even smaller than in the past.
EASTERN (Syria).
December 3, 1932.
Section 1.
[E 6347/171/89]
No. 1.
I have, Ac.
11. E. SATOW.
J655 c—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.' [‎140r] (279/497), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2081, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 17 October 2019]

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