Syria and Lebanon are often in the news. Most people are at least vaguely aware that they are troubled countries in a troubled part of the world, but almost no one is aware of how these two countries came into existence.

The process was long, complex, repressive, violent, and full of broken promises and missed opportunities.

The mandate system which was imposed by the victorious Allies of World War I on the people of these two countries, along with the people of the countries which are now Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Palestine, was ostensibly to aid and assist them in making the transition from being almost ready for independence to being independent countries, and do so while taking into account the rights and wishes of the people in the mandated territories.

After almost two years of military occupation following World War I, the territories which are now Lebanon and Syria were placed under the Mandatory administration of the French Government and remained under this administration for more than 24 years.

During this time little was done to fulfill the stated objectives or observe the written terms of the mandate.

Instead the people of Syria and Lebanon were governed according to the whims of the French Government, which showed little interest in their making the transition to full independence.

This is a timeline of how Lebanon and Syria came to be independent but troubled countries under the mandate system.

By better understanding this period I believe that it is easier to better understand what has happened since the mandate era ended and is happening now in Syria, Lebanon and the region.

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The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 is quite long and complex,
so it will be in six installments:

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part I
- Introduction
- Terms
- Excerpts from Documents Relevant to the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part II
- The Sinai and Palestine Campaign at the End of World War I
- OETA North - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920
- OETA North - August 10, 1920 to January 7, 1922

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part III
- OETA West - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920

• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part IV
- OETA East - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920

• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part V
- Lebanon - August 10, 1920 to December 31, 1946

• The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part VI
- Syria - August 10, 1920 to April 17, 1946

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Please take the time to go over the ‘Terms’ section in Part I.
Understanding the information in it will make it easier to understand the timeline.

• OETA East - From the end of the war to August 10, 1920

July 14, 1915 - January 30, 1916 - In an exchange of letters, which came to be known as the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the Emir of Hejaz, and Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, negotiated Sharif Hussein’s joining the Allies and leading an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, and British support for Arab independence following World War I.

May 16, 1916 - The British and French Governments finalized the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement in which their spheres of influence and control in the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire were defined. The agreement also included Russian and Italian spheres of influence and control; however, these were predominately in areas which are now in the Republic of Turkey.

June 6, 1916 - The Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire began in Hejaz when Emir Hussein ordered his forces to attack the Ottoman forces in the Hejaz cities of Ta’if, Mecca and Medina. Four days later Hussein declared the independence of Hejaz, which was recognized by the British Government.

The Arab forces, commanded by Sharif Hussein’s son, Emir Faisal, gradually advanced northward and in the summer of 1917 joined forces with the British forces, commanded by General Allenby, which had advanced northward through the Sinai.

November 23, 1917 - The Bolshevik Government, which had just come into power in Russia following the collapse and overthrow of the Russian Empire, published the full texts of the, until then, secret Sykes-Picot Agreement in Izvestia and Pravda. The Manchester Guardian then printed the texts on November 26, 1917.

June 16, 1918 - The Declaration to the Seven was made by the Arab Bureau in Cairo on behalf of the British Government to seven Arab leaders who had submitted an inquiry regarding the future of the Ottoman Arab territories. The declaration stated in part that ‘the future government of these regions should be based upon the principle of the consent of the governed’.

October 1, 1918 - British and Arab forces occupied Damascus without resistance.

British and Arab forces had begun advancing northward toward Damascus after defeating the Ottoman forces in the areas around Haifa, the Sea of Galilee, Amman and Dera’a in the battles which came to be known as the Battle of Megiddo.

October 3, 1918 - General Allenby and Emir Faisal met in Damascus and discussed the formation of an Arab provisional government in OETA East.

October 5, 1918 - Emir Faisal, with the permission of General Allenby, formed a government in Damascus to administer OETA East.

October 19, 1918 - General Allenby reported his communications with Emir Faisal to the British Government:

"I gave the Amir Faisal an official assurance that whatever measures might be taken during the period of military administration they were purely provisional and could not be allowed to prejudice the final settlement by the peace conference, at which no doubt the Arabs would have a representative. I added that the instructions to the military governors would preclude their mixing in political affairs, and that I should remove them if I found any of them contravening these orders. I reminded the Amir Faisal that the Allies were in honour bound to endeavour to reach a settlement in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned and urged him to place his trust whole-heartedly in their good faith".

October 30, 1918 - The Armistice of Moudros was signed, ending hostilities between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies at noon on October 31, 1918.

October 31, 1918 - When the armistice came into effect the major cities in OETA East had already been occupied by British and Arab forces. The British and Arab forces gradually extended their control over unoccupied areas.

November 7, 1918 - The Anglo-French Declaration was released by the British and French Governments. The declaration was similar to the Declaration to the Seven and stated in part:

“... France and Great Britain are at one in encouraging and assisting the establishment of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria and, Mesopotamia, now liberated by the Allies, and in the territories the liberation of which they are engaged in securing and recognising these as soon as they are actually established.”

November 20, 1918 - Emir Faisal and his delegation departed Beirut by ship to attend the Paris Peace Conference.

December 1, 1918 - British Prime Minister Lloyd George and French Prime Minister Clemenceau reached an informal agreement that the French Government would give up its claims to Mosul, which was in the French sphere of influence according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in exchange for 25% of the oil in Mosul and British assistance for the French in Syria. The French also agreed to move the border of British occupied and administered Palestine (OETA South) farther to the north.

January 1, 1919 - Emir Faisal submited a Memorandum explaining Arab perspectives to the Paris Peace Conference.

January 3, 1919 - The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement was signed in London by Emir Faisal and Dr. Chaim Weizman of the Zionist Organisation. The agreement called for collaboration, goodwill and understanding between Arabs and Jewish people in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and for the implementation of the Balfour Declaration in Palestine.

The agreement never came into effect because it was conditional on the Paris Peace Conference’s acceptance and recognition of the independence of the Arab State mentioned in it.

January 18, 1919 - The Paris Peace Conference officially opened.

January 29, 1919 - Emir Faisal presented a second Memorandum to the Paris Peace Conference. His Memorandums explained why the Arabs should have an independent confederation of countries in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and Iran, including the Arabian Peninsula, and how this could be achieved.

January 30, 1919 - A preliminary decision was made by the delegates at the Paris Peace Conference to implement a system of mandates in the territories of the defeated Central Powers which were outside of Europe.

Progress on the mandates issue went slowly during the conference due to conflicts between the Allies and objections by Arab delegates to the mandates being proposed for the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire.

The mandates being discussed were based on the Sykes-Picot Agreement (May 16, 1916) and the Balfour Declaration (November 2, 1917), while Arab objections to them were based on the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence (July 14, 1915 - January 30, 1916), the Declaration to the Seven (June 16, 1918) and the Anglo-French Declaration (November 7, 1918).

February 6, 1919 - Emir Faisal met with the Council of Ten to discuss his Memorandums and the perspectives and expectations of the Arab people.

March 25, 1919 - The Council of Four agreed to send an International Commission on Mandates in Turkey to investigate the conditions and public opinion in OETA North, East, West and South, in accordance with the Anglo-French Declaration of November 7, 1918 and the Draft Resolutions in Reference to Mandatories adopted at the Paris Peace Conference on January 30, 1919, particularly the last sentence of Article 6.

"6. They [the Allied and Associated Powers] consider that certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory power until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the mandatory power”.

The British and French Governments initially supported the plan but disagreements between them about OETA East and OETA West eventually caused them both to withdraw from the commission.

April 30, 1919 - Emir Faisal and his delegation arrived back in Beirut after attending the Paris Peace Conference.

May 31, 1919 - After receiving warnings from General Allenby that serious unrest would occur in the region if the International Commission on Mandates in Turkey were not sent as had been announced to the people in the region, the Governments of France, Britain and the United States decided to send the commission, even though it now only consisted of the members sent by the United States Government. The commission was greatly anticipated and preparations for it were being made in the region.

June 10 - July 21, 1919 - The American Section of the International Commission on Mandates in Turkey conducted its inquiries in OETA South, East, West and North.

July 2, 1919 - The General Syrian Congress (also referred to as the Syrian National Congress), which had been elected in anticipation of the arrival of the commission, presented the resolutions it had passed to the American Section of the International Commission on Mandates in Turkey.

The resolutions requested independence for and the establishment and recognition of a constitutional monarchy in OETA South, West, East and North with Emir Faisal as its King, and stated that the new country would seek technical and economic assistance first from the United States, and if the United States were unable to provide this assistance, it would be requested from the British. All French claims to the region and any possible French assistance were rejected. The resolutions also requested independence for Mesopotamia and an economic union with it.

The resolutions rejected Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration.

The members of the Congress had been elected in June, 1919 using the elector lists which had been used in the last Ottoman elections, before the war, because this was the only system available to them under the current conditions.

August 28, 1919 - The American Section of the International Commission on Mandates in Turkey presented its report, the King-Crane Report. The report basically recommended independence for and/or strong United States involvement in the region and was ignored by the British and French Governments.

September 15, 1919 - ‘... the British and French agreed on the 15th instant, that the British garrisons in Syria west of the Sykes-Picot line in Cilicia and southern Armenia will be replaced by a French force; that the garrisons at Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo will be replaced by an Arab force; and that after the withdrawal of the British forces neither the British Government nor the British commander-in-chief shall have any responsibility within the zones from which the army has retired. (From a September 22, 1919 U. S. State Department report on the post-World War I peace process)

The Anglo-French Accord of September 15, 1919 was a result of the French Government’s insistence that it be allowed to send its forces into OETA East and the British Government’s desire to withdraw and demobilize its troops from OETA North, OETA West and OETA East. The British had grown tired of having to carry the financial weight of the occupation.

The Arab forces and the Arab provisional government which had been established in October, 1918 would now be solely responsible for occupying and administering OETA East.

The Accord also meant there would also no longer be a British buffer between the French Occupation Forces in OETA West and the Arab forces in OETA East.

September 16, 1919 - Emir Faisal, who had been invited to London by British Prime Minister Lloyd George, arrived in France. He was unable to meet with French Prime Minister Clemenceau and went on to London for meetings with the British Government.

Upon learning of the Anglo-French Accord, Emir Faisal tried to convince the British to cancel or delay the implementation of the Accord but the British would not agree to do so.

October 2, 1919 - Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, suffered a serious stroke and the United States was essentially only an observer during the remainder of the post-war peace process.

November 21, 1919 - General Henri Gouraud became the French High Commissioner in Syria and Armenia. His administration was based in Beirut and he began building the strength of the French Occupation Forces in OETA West.

November 26, 1919 - British Occupation Forces withdrew from Damascus as they continued to withdraw from all of OETA East.

January 7, 1920 - Emir Faisal left France to return to Damascus. He had been in Europe for almost four months trying to reach an agreement which would provide for the independence of Syria, but the French demanded the implementation of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and French control of all of Syria. Emir Faisal arrived in Beirut on January 14, 1920.

The British Government’s decision to support the French Government’s demands, French Prime Minister Clemenceau’s being replaced by Alexandre Millerand, and the wide gulf between the expectations of the people of Syria and the demands of the French Government made an agreement impossible.

January 10, 1920 - The League of Nations officially came into existence.

January 16, 1920 - The Council of the League of Nations met for its first session in Paris.

January 21, 1920 - The Paris Peace Conference officially ended.

February 12, 1920 - April 10, 1920 - At the Conference of London, which was an extension of the Paris Peace Conference, the Allied Supreme Council met to discuss mandates, the Ottoman Empire, and the completion of the Peace Treaty between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire.

March 7, 1920 - The General Syrian Congress reconvened in Damascus.

As clashes between French and Arab forces along the frontier between OETA West and OETA East increased and the French Government’s insistence on taking full control of OETA East grew stronger, anti-French sentiment in OETA East deepened and the possibility of an agreement with the French Government evaporated.

As a result, the General Syrian Congress declared the independence of the Arab Kingdom of Syria and proclaimed Emir Faisal the King of Syria.

The declaration included a clause which stated that Mount Lebanon, which was also trying to establish its independence, would be preserved as a separate administrative region in the Kingdom on the condition that it was not under any foreign influence.

The declaration was rejected by the British and French Governments.

April 25, 1920 - The French Republic was selected to be the Mandatory for Syria by the Principal Allied Powers during the San Remo Conference.

The San Remo Conference (April 18-26, 1920) was a meeting of the Allied Supreme Council. The conference was a continuation of the Paris Peace Conference and was held to finalize the terms of the peace treaty between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire.

Britain, France, Italy and Japan participated. The United States attended as an observer because the United States had not declared war on the Ottoman Empire and would not be a party to the peace treaty between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire.

At the San Remo Conference France formally agreed to the inclusion of the Ottoman Province of Mosul, which had been included in the French sphere of influence in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in the mandate for Mesopotamia in exchange for the 25% of the Turkish Petroleum Company which had belonged to Germany and an agreement that oil from Mesopotamia and Persia would be transported through Syria to a port on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC) was a British dominated company formed in 1914 and held the concessionary rights to the oil in Mosul. The last sentence of Article 7 of the agreement reached between the French and British Governments at the San Remo Conference stated “It is also understood that the said petroleum company [TPC] shall be under permanent British control.”

The San Remo Conference was also held in response to the increasingly restive situation in OETA West and OETA East and the declarations of independence which had been made by the Administrative Council of Mount Lebanon and the General Syrian Congress.

During the conference the mandates for the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire were finalized and assigned even though the territories still belonged to the Ottoman Empire and were only under Allied occupation.

Three conditions were placed on the mandate for Syria by the Allied Supreme Council at the San Remo Conference, they were listed in Article (b) paragraph 1 of the resolution.

“The High Contracting Parties agree that Syria and Mesopotamia shall, in accordance with the fourth paragraph of Article 22, Part I (Covenant of the League of Nations), be provisionally recognized as independent States, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The boundaries of the said States will be determined, and the selection of the Mandatories made, by the Principal Allied Powers.”

Even though the fourth paragraph of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations stated that “The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.” and essentially nothing had been done to determine the wishes of the communities in the mandated territories of Syria, France was chosen to be the mandatory for Syria at the San Remo Conference as was stated in Article (c) of the resolution.

"(c) [Translation] The mandatories chosen by the Principal Allied Powers are: France for Syria, and Great Britain for Mesopotamia and Palestine.”

The borders of Mandatory Syria were not defined at the San Remo Conference, but the Principal Allied Powers were given the authority to determine them.

April, 1920 - June, 1920 - The High Commissioner in Beirut requested and received more French troops. Clashes between French and Arab forces continued and the French forces slowly advanced into OETA East from their bases along the Mediterranean coast in OETA West.

May 8, 1920 - The General Syrian Congress passed a resolution which rejected the San Remo Resolution and demanded independence.

July 14, 1920 - The High Commissioner sent an ultimatum to King Faisal’s Government ordering it to surrender or accept his terms for establishing French control over OETA East.

In order to prevent more bloodshed King Faisal accepted the High Commissioner’s terms on July 19, 1920, but this was rejected by the High Commissioner because it came after the deadline of July 17, 1920 which he had set in his ultimatum.

July 24, 1920 - In a brief but bloody battle west of Damascus, French forces defeated the Arab forces and occupied Damascus the next day. Aleppo had been occupied by French forces the previous day.

King Faisal then went into exile, first to Haifa in OETA South and then to live in Europe.

August 10, 1920 - The Treaty of Sevres was signed by the Allies and the Ottoman Empire.

In the treaty the Ottoman Empire gave up all rights to its Arab territories, agreed to the creation of the mandates of Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine, and agreed that the Principal Allied Powers would select their mandatories and determine their borders.

However, the treaty was never ratified by the Ottoman Parliament and never came into effect.

The Ottoman Parliament had become dominated by Members who sided with or participated in the resistance to the Allied occupation of Istanbul and large areas of Anatolia. Parliament was dismissed by Sultan Mehmet VI on April 5, 1920, and the growing resistance to the occupation made it impossible for a new parliament to be elected.

The Treaty of Sevres was superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923.

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• The Series

The Arabian Peninsula during and after World War I

The Mandate for Mesopotamia Timeline 1916 - 1932 Part I

The Mandate for Mesopotamia Timeline 1916 - 1932 Part II

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part I

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part II

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Timeline 1918 - 1946 Part III

• Treaties, Resolutions, Etc.

The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence - July 14, 1915 - January 30, 1916

The Sykes Picot Agreement - May 16, 1916

The Proclamation of Baghdad - March 19, 1917

The Declaration to the Seven - June 16, 1918

The Anglo-French Declaration - November 7, 1918

Memorandums by the Emir Feisal - January 1 and 29, 1919

The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement - January 3, 1919

Draft Resolutions in Reference to Mandatories - January 30, 1919

Council of Ten Meeting with Emir Faisal - February 6, 1919

The Covenant of the League of Nations - April 28, 1919

The King-Crane Commission Report - Syrian Congress - August 28, 1919

The Anglo-French Accord - September 15, 1919

Memorandum of Agreement at San Remo - April 24, 1920

The San Remo Resolution - April 25, 1920

The Draft of the Mandate for Mesopotamia - December 7, 1920

The Treaty of Ankara of 1921 - October 20, 1921

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon - July 24, 1922

The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance of 1922 - October 10, 1922

Council of the LoN Meeting Minutes - September 29, 1923

• Notes

I used many sources to collect this information and there is no way I can list all of them.

I have tried to present the information so that anyone who wants to look for more information can do searches easily.

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