Southern Syria (سوريا الجنوبية, ''Suriyya al-Janubiyya'') is the southern part of the Syria region
, roughly corresponding to the Southern Levant
. Typically it refers chronologically and geographically to the southern part of Ottoman Syria
The term was used in Arabic primarily from 1918–20, during the Arab Kingdom of Syria
period. Zachary Foster in his Princeton University
doctoral dissertation has written that, in the decades prior to World War I, the term “Southern Syria” was the least frequently used out of ten different ways to describe the region of Palestine in Arabic, noting that “it took me nearly a decade to find a handful of references”.
Throughout the Ottoman period, prior to World War I, the Levant was administered and viewed locally as one entity, divided into provinces. Geographically southern Syria included the southern sub-provinces of Ottoman Syria
administrative region, including by the end of 19th and early 20th century the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem
, the Nablus Sanjak
and Acre Sanjak
(under Beirut Vilayet
from 1888 and previously under Syria Vilayet
), and a short-lived Mutasarrıf
ate of Karak (split as a new administrative unit from Syria Vilayet
in 1894/5). In 1884, the governor of Damascus proposed the establishment of a new Vilayet in southern Syria, composed of the regions of Jerusalem, Balqa'
and Ma'an though nothing came out of this.
At the start of Faisal’s reign in the Arab Kingdom of Syria
, the term Southern Syria became synonymous with Palestine. After 1918 it would take on an increased political significance as a way of rejecting the separation of the British Mandate from Syria.
Usage during British and French occupation
In early 20th century, the term "Southern Syria" could imply support for the Greater Syria
nationalism associated with the kingdom
promised to the Hashemite
dynasty of the Hejaz
by the British during World War I. After the war, the Hashemite prince Faisal
attempted to establish such a Greater Syrian or pan-Mashriq
state—a united kingdom that would comprise all of what eventually became Syria
, and Palestine
, but he was stymied by conflicting promises made by the British to different parties (see Sykes–Picot Agreement
), leading to the French
creation of the mandate of Syria and Lebanon
According to the Minutes of the Ninth Session of the League of Nations
' Permanent Mandates Commission
, held in 1926, "Southern Syria" was suggested by some as the name of Mandatory Palestine
in the Arabic language. The reports say the following:
"Colonel Symes explained that the country was described as 'Palestine' by Europeans and as 'Falestin' by the Arabs. The Hebrew name for the country was the designation 'Land of Israel', and the Government, to meet Jewish wishes, had agreed that the word "Palestine" in Hebrew characters should be followed in all official documents by the initials which stood for that designation. As a set-off to this, certain of the Arab politicians suggested that the country should be called 'Southern Syria' in order to emphasize its close relation with another Arab State".
In 1932, an Arab party named "the Arab Independence Party in Southern Syria" was established in Mandatory Palestine to emphasize the reaffirmed support for Arab pan-Syrianism.
[Pipes, D. ''Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition.'' Oxford University Press. 1990. p.69.]
Helsinki.fi−Levant internetcourse: Brief history of Southern Syria
Category:History of the Levant