Colonial Constitutions and Treaties: Post-Ottoman Militarism, 1927-1936

Events in the Former Ottoman Realms, 1927 1935

October 1927 Lebanese Constitution ratified

October 1927 Syrian National Bloc formed

February 1928 Britain recognizes Transjordanian Emirate

August 1928 High Commissioner Ponsot closes Syrian parliament

and ignores new Syrian constitution July 1929 Major Palestine Disturbances

March 1930 Shaw Commission Report on Palestine released

March 1930 Nuri al Sacid forms Iraqi government as prime


June 1930 Anglo Iraqi Treaty

Mid 1930 High Commissioner Ponsot unilaterally declares Syrian

and Lebanese constitutions, including added clause devolving power to mandate High Commissioner 1931 Hizb al Ikhwa al Watani formed in Baghdad

1931 Iraq General Strike

October 1932 Iraqi independence and admission to League of


March 1933 Nuri al Sacid Cabinet resigns

March 1933 Rashid cAli Prime Minister and Yasin al Hashimi

Finance Minister in first Iraqi post independence government

June 1933 Faysal I state visit to London

July 1933 Assyrian Crisis

September 1933 King Faysal dead of heart attack at 48

March 1934 Palestine’s Musa Kazim al Husayni dead at 81

March 1935 Yasin al Hashimi forms new Iraqi government as

prime minister

1933 Increased radicalization and Pan Arab agitation

November 1935 Ibrahim Hananu dead of tuberculosis at 63

The Mandatory shall frame, within a period of three years from the com ing into force of this mandate, an organic law for Syria and the Lebanon. This organic law shall be framed in agreement with the native authorities and shall take into account the rights, interests, and wishes of all the populations inhabiting said territory. The Mandatory shall further enact measures to facilitate the progressive development of Syria and the Lebanon as independent states. Pending the coming into force of the organic law, the Government of Syria and the Lebanon shall be con ducted in accordance with the spirit of this mandate. The Mandatory shall, as far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.

Article 1, Mandate charter for Syria and Lebanon, August 19221

By 1927, the regional scene had begun to solidify. In 1925, Syrian rebels and nationalist politicians had rejected the mandate regimes, partitions, and borders, and insisted on the unity and independence of greater Syria, including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Transjordan. But by 1927, with the defeat of the revolt, the time to reasonably challenge colonial borders and arrangements had passed. While the successful movement in Anatolia had been the dream, Syrian nationalists came to see the compromise in Iraq as a more realistic aspiration. Exiled insurgents conveyed woefully their willingness to accept less than they had demanded. In greater Syria, the political horizons drew ever closer, and even the arrangement in place in Iraq seemed impossibly distant.

Eventually, civilian politicians of the major cities worked out variable accommodations with the mandate powers, and carved out a breathing space for limited political activity. The colonial governments and local politicians realized they needed each other. The colonial state also found it useful to allow civilian politicians to enrich themselves by the acquisition and control of what the Ottoman State had considered state property. Ex-Ottoman officer politicians in Iraq were working toward independence, but had already discovered the mandate High Commissioner was happy to buy their cooperation with state assets.

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