First Syrian Republic

(Redirected from Mandatory Syria)

The First Syrian Republic,[2][a] officially the Syrian Republic,[b] was formed in 1930 as a component of the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, succeeding the State of Syria. A treaty of independence was made in 1936 to grant independence to Syria and end official French rule, but the French parliament refused to accept the treaty. From 1940 to 1941, the Syrian Republic was under the control of Vichy France, and after the Allied invasion in 1941 gradually went on the path towards independence. The proclamation of independence took place in 1944, but only in October 1945 was the Syrian Republic de jure recognized by the United Nations; it became a de facto sovereign state on 17 April 1946, with the withdrawal of French troops. It was succeeded by the Second Syrian Republic upon the adoption of a new constitution on 5 September 1950.[4]

Syrian Republic
الجمهورية السورية (Arabic)
al-Jumhūrīyah as-Sūrīyah
République syrienne (French)
Anthem: حُمَاةَ الدِّيَار

"Ḥumāt ad-Diyār"
("Guardians of the Homeland")[1]
Territory of the Syrian Republic as proposed in the unratified Franco-Syrian Treaty of 1936. (Lebanon was not part of the plan). In 1938, Alexandretta was also excluded.
Territory of the Syrian Republic as proposed in the unratified Franco-Syrian Treaty of 1936. (Lebanon was not part of the plan).
In 1938, Alexandretta was also excluded.
StatusComponent of the Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon (1930–1946)
Common languagesArabic, French, Syriac, Armenian, Kurdish, Turkish
Islam (all branches incl. Alawite), Christianity, Judaism, Druzism, Yazidism
GovernmentFrench Mandate
Parliamentary republic[citation needed]
High Commissioner 
• 1930–1933 (first)
Henri Ponsot
• 1944–1946 (last)
Étienne Paul Beynet
• 1932–1936 (first)
Muhammad Ali al-Abid
• 1945–1949 (last)
Shukri al-Quwatli
Prime Minister 
• 1932–1934 (first)
Haqqi al-Azm
• 1950 (last)
Nazim al-Kudsi
14 May 1930
9 September 1936
7 September 1938
• Syrian sovereignty / UN admission
24 October 1945
17 April 1946
5 September 1950
• Total
192,424 km2 (74,295 sq mi)
CurrencySyrian pound
Preceded by
Succeeded by
State of Syria
Alawite State
Jabal Druze State
Hatay State
Second Syrian Republic
Today part of
Israel (disputed)



On 23 December 1925, Henri de Jouvenel was appointed as French High Commissioner for Syria, and on 28 April 1926, the High Commissioner appointed Ahmad Nami as Prime Minister and Head of State, who formed a government consisting of six ministers, three of whom were nationalists, and it was agreed with the French High Commissioner on the government's work agenda made known the ten points, the most important points were:

  • Election of the constituent assembly.
  • Replacement of the mandate by a treaty between Syria and France for a term of thirty years that would safeguard the rights, duties, and interests of both parties identically to the agreement between Iraq and Great Britain.
  • Completion of Syrian unity.
  • Creation of a national army so that French troops can gradually withdraw from Syrian territory.
  • France's aid in having Syria admitted to the League of Nations.
  • A general amnesty for all political crimes, especially those related to the great revolution.[5]

The three governments which were formed by Ahmed Nami between May 1926 and February 1928 were unable to fulfill their agenda. High commissioner Henri de Jouvenel’s replacement by Henri Ponsot in September 1926 with a change of direction regarding the Syrian question, and contrary to the general amnesty, the French arrested the three national government ministers in September 1926 and exiled them to Lebanon.[6]

The French High Commissioner began a series of discussions in Beirut with the main Syrian national leaders Hashim al-Atassi and Ibrahim Hananu on the future constitution, which failed to reach any agreement. On 15 February 1928, Ahmed Nami resigned, and the High Commissioner appointed Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hasani as the new interim head of state.[7]

The High Commissioner decreed an amnesty before the elections, terming it a general amnesty but excluding charges related to the great revolution and key Syrian-Lebanese nationalist leaders such as Shukri al-Quwatli, Abdel Rahman Shahbandar, Fawzi Qawukji, Ihsan Jabri (Syria), Amin Rouhaiaha and Mohamed Shureiki (Alawi region), Sultan al-Atrash (Jabal Druze), as well as Shakib Arslan, and Shaib Whab (Lebanon). Therefore, Syrian armed resistance leaders were unable to participate in the elections.[8]

The nationalists formed a new political grouping in preparation for the elections that included the former National Party, some members of the People's Party, and independent figures, most of which are local, and called themselves the National Bloc , and Hashim al-Atassi was elected as its president. Elections were held in April 1928 and 70 members were elected, and the results were not decided, but in favor of urban nationalists and rural moderates.[2]

The project of a new constitution was discussed by a Constituent Assembly elected in April 1928, but as the pro-independence National Bloc had won a majority and insisted on the insertion of several articles "that did not preserve the prerogatives of the mandatary power".

The Constituent Assembly convened on 9 May 1928, at the Government Premises, and unanimously elected Mr. Hashem al-Atassi as its president, and after the arrival of Henri Ponsott, the High Commissioner, and Taj al-Din al-Hasani, the Prime Minister and his ministers. The Constituent Assembly began to recite of the articles of the Constitution, then the meeting was suspended to the date of 11 August 1928, when the session opened again in the presence of the High Commissioner, the Prime Minister and his ministers, then the rest of the articles of the constitution were recited, and upon voting on it as a whole, approved by the Constituent Assembly for all its 115 articles, including the six articles (2, 72, 73, 75, 110, 112 and many relate to the authorities of the President and the Army), which was the men of the mandate are expecting for its abolition from the constitution, for inconsistency with the mandate system.

The High Commissioner withdrew from the session angry and followed by the Prime Minister and ministers, and he issued a decision to postpone the convening of the Constituent Assembly for a period of three months, hoping that an agreement would be reached on the six articles of the Constitution that contradict the mandate policy, and postponement of the negotiations were repeated to no avail. Then when the Constituent Assembly opened its session on 5 February 1929, the head of the political division of the High Commission surprised them and read to the deputies the High Commissioner's memorandum containing the eliminate the six articles opposing the mandate's policy and declaring the suspension of the Constituent Assembly indefinitely.[9] [5]



Mandatory Syrian Republic (1930–1946)


The first Syrian constitution

Title page of the 1930 "Constitution of the Syrian State"

On 14 May 1930 the French high commissioner promulgated a constitution for the Syrian State. On 22 May 1930 the State of Syria was declared the Republic of Syria and a new Syrian Constitution was promulgated by the French High Commissioner,[10] in the same time as the Lebanese Constitution, the Règlement du Sandjak d'Alexandrette, the Statute of the Alawi Government, the Statute of the Jabal Druze State.[11] A new flag was also mentioned in this constitution:

The Syrian flag shall be composed as follows, the length shall be double the height. It shall contain three bands of equal dimensions, the upper band being green, the middle band white, and the lower band black. The white portion shall bear three red stars in line, having five points each.[12][13]

During 20 December 1931 and 4 January 1932, the first elections under the new constitution were held, under an electoral law providing for "the representation of religious minorities" as imposed by article 37 of the constitution.[13] The National Bloc was in the minority in the new chamber of deputies with only 16 deputies out of 70, due to intensive vote-rigging by the French authorities.[14] Among the deputies were also three members of the Syrian Kurdish nationalist Xoybûn (Khoyboun) party, Khalil bey Ibn Ibrahim Pacha (Al-Jazira Province), Mustafa bey Ibn Shahin (Jarabulus) and Hassan Aouni (Kurd Dagh).[15] There were later in the year, from 30 March to 6 April, "complementary elections".[16] On 11 June 1932 the Syrian Chamber of Deputies elected Muhammad 'Ali Bay al-'Abid as president, the Syrian State was renamed the Republic of Syria in July 1932.[17]

In 1933, France attempted to impose a treaty of independence heavily prejudiced in favor of France. It promised gradual independence but kept the Syrian mountains under French control. The Syrian head of state at the time was a French puppet, Muhammad 'Ali Bay al-'Abid. Fierce opposition to this treaty was spearheaded by senior nationalist and parliamentarian Hashim al-Atassi, who called for a 60-day strike in protest. Atassi's political coalition, the National Bloc, mobilized massive popular support for his call. Riots and demonstrations raged, and the economy came to a standstill.

Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence and the Sandjak of Alexandretta


After negotiations in March with Damien de Martel, the French High Commissioner in Syria, Hashim al-Atassi went to Paris heading a senior National Bloc delegation. The new Popular Front-led French government, formed in June 1936 after the April–May elections, had agreed to recognize the National Bloc as the sole legitimate representatives of the Syrian people and invited al-Atassi to independence negotiations. The resulting treaty called for immediate recognition of Syrian independence as a sovereign republic, with full emancipation granted gradually over a 25-year period.

In 1936, the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence was signed, a treaty that would not be ratified by the French legislature. However, the treaty allowed Jabal Druze, the Alawite region (now called Latakia), and Alexandretta to be incorporated into the Syrian Republic within the following two years. Greater Lebanon (now the Lebanese Republic) was the only state that did not join the Syrian Republic. Hashim al-Atassi, who was Prime Minister during King Faisal's brief reign (1918–1920), was the first president to be elected under a new constitution adopted after the independence treaty.

The treaty guaranteed incorporation of previously autonomous Druze and Alawite regions into Greater Syria, but not Lebanon, with which France signed a similar treaty in November. The treaty also promised curtailment of French intervention in Syrian domestic affairs as well as a reduction of French troops, personnel and military bases in Syria. In return, Syria pledged to support France in times of war, including the use of its air space, and to allow France to maintain two military bases on Syrian territory. Other political, economic and cultural provisions were included.

Atassi returned to Syria in triumph on 27 September 1936 and was elected President of the Republic in November.

In September 1938, France separated the Syrian Sanjak of Alexandretta, despite its territory being guaranteed as part of Syria in the treaty, and transformed it into Hatay State, which joined Turkey in June 1939. Syria did not recognize the incorporation of Hatay into Turkey and the issue is still disputed until the present time.

The emerging threat of Nazi Germany induced a fear of being outflanked by it if France relinquished its colonies in the Middle East. That, coupled with lingering imperialist inclinations in some levels of the French government, led France to reconsider its promises and refuse to ratify the treaty. Riots again broke out, Atassi resigned, and Syrian independence was deferred until after World War II.

World War II and independence


With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of the Vichy Government until the British and Free French invaded and occupied the country in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence again in 1941 but it was not until 1 January 1944 that it was recognized as an independent republic.

In the 1940s, Britain secretly advocated the creation of a Greater Syrian state that would secure Britain preferential status in military, economic and cultural matters, in return for putting a complete halt to Jewish ambition in Palestine. France and the United States opposed British hegemony in the region, which eventually led to the creation of Israel.[18]

On 27 September 1941, Free France proclaimed, by virtue of, and within the framework of the Mandate, the independence and sovereignty of the Syrian State. The proclamation said "the independence and sovereignty of Syria and Lebanon will not affect the juridical situation as it results from the Mandate act. Indeed, this situation could be changed only with the agreement of the Council of the League of Nations, with the consent of the Government of the United States, a signatory of the Franco-American Convention of 4 April 1924, and only after the conclusion between the French Government and the Syrian and Lebanese Governments of treaties duly ratified in accordance with the laws of the French Republic.[19]

Benqt Broms said that it was important to note that there were several founding members of the United Nations whose statehood was doubtful at the time of the San Francisco Conference and that the Government of France still considered Syria and Lebanon to be mandates.[20]

Duncan Hall said "Thus, the Syrian mandate may be said to have been terminated without any formal action on the part of the League or its successor. The mandate was terminated by the declaration of the mandatory power, and of the new states themselves, of their independence, followed by a process of piecemeal unconditional recognition by other powers, culminating in formal admission to the United Nations. Article 78 of the Charter ended the status of tutelage for any member state: 'The trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality.'"[21] So when the UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, after ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent members, as both Syria and Lebanon were founding member states, the French mandate for both was legally terminated on that date and full independence attained.[22]

On 29 May 1945, France bombed Damascus and tried to arrest its democratically elected leaders. While French planes were bombing Damascus, Prime Minister Faris al-Khoury was at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco, presenting Syria's claim for independence from the French Mandate.[7][6]

Syrian independence was de jure attained on 24 October 1945. Continuing pressure from Syrian nationalist groups and British pressure forced the French to evacuate their last troops on 17 April 1946.[2]

Independent First Syrian Republic (1946–1950)


Constitutional amendments


The constitution of 1930 was amended in 1947.

In 1947, Syria joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and pegged its currency to the U.S. dollar at 2.19148 pounds = 1 dollar, a rate which was maintained until 1961. The Lebanese and Syrian currencies split in 1948.

1948 Arab–Israeli War and aftermath


The Arab League failed in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

Husni al-Za'im took power in 1949 but died later that year. He was succeeded by Atassi.

A new constitution was drafted and adopted in 1950, marking the beginning of the Second Syrian Republic.


  1. ^ Arabic: الجمهورية السورية الأولى[3]
  2. ^ Arabic: الجمهورية السورية al-Jumhūrīyah as-Sūrīyah; French: République syrienne[citation needed]


  1. ^ "". Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Karim Atassi (2018). Syria, the Strength of an Idea. Cambridge University Press. p. 101-179. ISBN 9781107183605. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  3. ^ عزت, دروزة، محمد (1959). العرب والعروبة: من القرن الثالث حتى القرن الرابع عشر الهجري. p. 668. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  4. ^ George Meri Haddad (1971). Revolutions and Military Rule in the Middle East. Vol. 2. Robert Speller & Sons. p. 286. ISBN 9780831500603. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b Al- Hakim, Yousef (1991). Syria and the French Mandate (Arabic) (in Arabic) (2nd ed.). Beirut, Lebanon.: Dar Al-Nahar for Publishing. p. 148.
  6. ^ a b Arslan, Emir Chekib (1924). Syrian Opposition to French Rule (in Arabic). Beirut, Lebanon. pp. 239–247.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ a b Khoury, Philip Shukry (1987). Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920–1945. Princeton Legacy Library: Princeton University Press. pp. 148–215.
  8. ^ Atassi, Karim (13 April 2018). Syria, the Strength of an Idea: The Constitutional Architectures of Its Political Regimes. online by Cambridge University Press: Published online by Cambridge University Press. pp. 35–222.
  9. ^ Moubayed, Sami (1998). The Politics of Damascus 1920–1946: Urban Notables and the French Mandate (1st ed.). Damascus: Dar Tlass. p. 83.
  10. ^ Wikisource (26 April 2021). "Constitution of Syria (1930)". Wikisource. Archived from the original on 3 May 2023. Retrieved 3 May 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  11. ^ Youssef Takla, "Corpus juris du Mandat français Archived 2023-04-02 at the Wayback Machine", in: Méouchy, Nadine; Sluglet, Peter, eds. (2004). The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspectives (in French). Brill. p. 91. ISBN 978-90-04-13313-6. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  12. ^ "French: Art. 4 – Le drapeau syrien est disposé de la façon suivante: Sa longueur est le double de sa hauteur. Il comprend trois bandes de mêmes dimensions. La bande supérieure est verte, la médiane blanche, l’inférieure noire. La partie blanche comprend trois étoiles rouges alignées à cinq branches chacune.", article 4 of the Constitution de l'Etat de Syrie, 14 May 1930
  13. ^ a b The 1930 Constitution is integrally reproduced in: Giannini, A. (1931). "Le costituzioni degli stati del vicino oriente" (in French). Istituto per l’Oriente. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  14. ^ Mardam Bey, Salma (1994). La Syrie et la France: bilan d'une équivoque, 1939–1945 (in French). Paris: Editions L'Harmattan. p. 22. ISBN 9782738425379. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  15. ^ Tachjian, Vahé (2004). La France en Cilicie et en Haute-Mésopotamie: aux confins de la Turquie, de la Syrie et de l'Irak, 1919–1933 (in French). Paris: Editions Karthala. p. 354. ISBN 978-2-84586-441-2. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  16. ^ Tejel Gorgas, Jordi (2007). Le mouvement kurde de Turquie en exil: continuités et discontinuités du nationalisme kurde sous le mandat français en Syrie et au Liban (1925–1946) (in French). Peter Lang. p. 352. ISBN 978-3-03911-209-8. Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  17. ^ Arslan, Emir Chekib (1924). Syrian Opposition to French Rule. Current History 20 (May). pp. 239–247.
  18. ^ "הארץ – דף לא נמצא 404". Archived from the original on 8 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  19. ^ See Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1941. The British Commonwealth; the Near East and Africa Volume III (1941), pages 809–810; and Statement of General de Gaulle of 29 November 1941, concerning the Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1963) 680–681
  20. ^ See International law: achievements and prospects, by Mohammed Bedjaoui, UNESCO, Martinus Nijhoff; 1991, ISBN 92-3-102716-6, page 46 [1] Archived 2 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Mandates, Dependencies and Trusteeship, by H. Duncan Hall, Carnegie Endowment, 1948, pages 265–266
  22. ^ "History of the United Nations". United Nations. Archived from the original on 12 August 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2018.

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