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The Alawite
Alawite
State (Arabic: دولة جبل العلويين‎, Dawlat Jabal al-‘Alawiyyīn, French: Alaouites, informally as État des Alaouites or Le territoire des Alaouites) and named after the locally-dominant Alawites, was a French mandate territory on the coast of present-day Syria
Syria
after World War I.[1] The French Mandate from the League of Nations
League of Nations
lasted from 1920 to 1946.[2] The use of "Alawite" instead of "Nusayri" was advocated by the French early in the Mandate period, and referred to a member of the Alawi religion. In 1920, the French-named " Alawite
Alawite
Territory" was home to a large population of Alawites.[3]

Contents

1 Geography 2 History

2.1 1918–1920 2.2 1920–22 2.3 1923-24 2.4 1925–27: Great Syrian Revolt 2.5 1927–36 2.6 1936–1945 2.7 1945–present

2.7.1 Syrian civil war

3 Population 4 Postage stamps 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Geography[edit]

Physical-political map of Alawite
Alawite
region

The region is coastal and mountainous, home to a predominantly-rural, heterogeneous population. During the French Mandate
French Mandate
period, the society was divided by religion and geography; the landowning families and 80 percent of the population of the port city of Latakia
Latakia
were Sunni
Sunni
Muslim. More than 90 percent of the province's population was rural, and 82 percent were Alawites.[3] The Alawite
Alawite
State bordered Lebanon
Lebanon
on the south; the northern border was with the Sanjak of Alexandretta, where Alawites made up a large portion of the population. To the west was the Mediterranean. The eastern border with Syria
Syria
ran roughly along the An-Nusayriyah Mountains and the Orontes River
Orontes River
from north to south. The modern Latakia
Latakia
and Tartus Governorates roughly encompass the Alawite
Alawite
State. Both have majority Alawite
Alawite
populations; parts of modern-day Al-Suqaylabiyah, Masyaf, Talkalakh and Jisr ash-Shugur Districts also belonged to the state. History[edit] 1918–1920[edit] The collapse of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
at the end of World War I
World War I
(with the Armistice of Mudros
Armistice of Mudros
on 30 October 1918) brought on a scramble for control of the disintegrating empire's provinces. As of 1918 France occupied Lebanon
Lebanon
and Syria, which was under the leadership of the Amir (Emir), Faisal I.[3] By 1920, growing anti-French sentiment in the region led to the establishment of the Arab Kingdom of Syria
Syria
under King Faisal I[4] on 7 March 1920. The Arab Kingdom of Syria
Syria
was initially supported by the British, despite French protests.[2] The British withdrew support, and on 5 May 1920 the Allied Supreme Council published a Mandate for " Syria
Syria
and the Lebanon" to the French Republic[4] with French and Arabic the official languages. General Gouraud was appointed high commissioner of the Syrian territories and commander-in-chief of French forces.[4] The population of Lebanon
Lebanon
was pro-French; that of Syria
Syria
was anti-French, with a pan-Arab-nationalistic bent.[4] The French insisted that the Mandate was not "inconsistent" with Syrian self-government; Syrians were forced to accept the mandate when King Faisal left the country (under pressure from France) in July 1920,[4] after Great Britain withdrew support for his rule in the face of French claims.[2] 1920–22[edit]

Arrete No 319 creating the Alawite
Alawite
State, 1920

Salih al-Ali, leader of the 1919 Alawite
Alawite
Revolt against French rule

At the time, the French rejected native outcry for the unification of Syria.[4] In early September 1920, the French divided the territories of their mandate based on heterogeneous population to grant "local autonomy" to demographic regions.[4] Some argue that the French acted to intentionally divide the population, limiting the spread of "the urban contagion of nationalist agitation".[2] On 2 September 1920 a "Territory of the Alawis" was created in the coastal and mountain country, comprising Alawi
Alawi
villages; the French justified this separation by citing the "backwardness" of the mountain-dwellers, religiously distinct from the surrounding Sunni
Sunni
population. The division intended to protect the Alawi
Alawi
people from more-powerful majorities.[4] After the relative independence of Faisal I's rule, French colonialism was unwelcome.[2] The divisions were thought to serve the interests of a Christian minority over a Muslim majority, favouring colonial rule and stifling dissent.[2] Salih al-Ali
Salih al-Ali
led the Syrian Revolt of 1919
Syrian Revolt of 1919
in the Alawi
Alawi
region east of the coastal city of Latakia.[2] Al-Ali was primarily interested in protecting Alawite
Alawite
regions from external meddling. His rebellions were not motivated by nationalist movement; however, they identified with it to further Alawite
Alawite
autonomy.[3] The rebels surrendered to French forces after two years of raiding French outposts in October 1921.[3] 1923-24[edit]

Arrete 2979 establishing the Alawite
Alawite
State as an Independent State, 5 December 1924

In 1922, the French administration instituted an elected government made up of councils of representative of the states of Aleppo, Damascus and the Alawite
Alawite
territory.[3] In June 1923 the French administration, headed by General Maxime Weygand, allowed individual states to elect their own representative councils. The primary election, a contest between French officials and the nationalists, was considered fraudulent by Syrians (many of whom boycotted the 26 October elections). The Alawite
Alawite
State, insulated from nationalist tendencies, elected 10 pro-French representatives to its 12-person council after a 77-percent voter turnout in the primary elections (considered a result of French bribery). Such numbers were not seen in the nationalist Damascus and Aleppo.[3] The Alawi
Alawi
preferred to be grouped with the territories of Lebanon, in contrast to Sunnis and Christians populations demanding Syrian unity.[4] The majority of French support in these first elections came from rural populations, whom the French had primarily benefited.[5] 1925–27: Great Syrian Revolt[edit] On 1 January 1925, the State of Syria
Syria
was born from a French merger of the States of Damascus and Aleppo. Lebanon
Lebanon
and the Alawi
Alawi
State were not included.[4][6] Perhaps inspired by the Turkish War of Independence
Turkish War of Independence
(1919–1921), the Great Syrian Revolt
Great Syrian Revolt
began in the countryside of Jabal al-Druze. Led by Sultan al-Atrash
Sultan al-Atrash
as a Druze
Druze
uprising,[6] the movement was adopted by a group of Syrian nationalists led by Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar
Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar
and spread to the states of Aleppo and Damascus.[2][7] Lasting from July 1925 to June 1927, it was an anti-French, anti-imperialist response to five years of French rule;[7] to the Druze
Druze
it was not a movement toward Syrian unity, but simply a protest against French rule.[6] The rural Alawite
Alawite
territory was largely uninvolved in the Great Revolt.[3] The French had favoured religious minorities such as the Druze
Druze
and the Alawi, attempting to isolate them from mainstream nationalist culture.[7] Many young men from rural Alawi
Alawi
communities joined the French troops, enlisting in the troupes speciales (part of the French forces in Syria
Syria
at the time) for social advancement.[6] These troops, regional forces recruited from minority populations, were often used to suppress civil disorders.[5] Itamar Rabinovich[6] proposed three reasons why the Alawi
Alawi
people were uninterested in the Great Revolt:

" Alawi
Alawi
predominance in the Alawi
Alawi
state was not absolute": In contrast to the Christian and Bedouin
Bedouin
minorities of the Druze
Druze
region, the Alawite
Alawite
territory was home to sizable Sunni
Sunni
and Christian groups (most of whom lived in the capital, Latakia). Many Sunni
Sunni
landlords oversaw Alawi
Alawi
sharecroppers. The economic dominance of the Sunni
Sunni
minority over the Alawi
Alawi
majority was a source of long-standing resentment. The Alawi were hardly enthusiastic over the nationalist sentiments of their Sunni
Sunni
landlords.[6] " Alawi
Alawi
society was divided. The Alawi
Alawi
peasant was individualistic and his allegiance was claimed by distinct spiritual and tribal leaders and often by a landlord as well."[6] "Its isolation, poverty, and social structure inflicted backwardness on the Alawi
Alawi
area. This coexisted with a strong feeling of solidarity with an attachment to the community and a sense of exclusiveness and mission."[6]

1927–36[edit]

Statut Organique of the Alawite
Alawite
State, 14 May 1930

The Alawite
Alawite
State was run by a succession of French governors from 1920–36:[3] [8]

2 September 1920 – 1921: Colonel Marie Joseph Émile Niéger (b. 1874; d. 1951) 1921–1922: Gaston Henri Gustave Billotte (b. 1875; d. 1940) 1922–1925: Léon Henri Charles Cayla (b. 1881; d. 1965) 1925 – 5 December 1936: Ernest Marie Hubert Schoeffler (b. 1877; d. 1952)

The Sunni
Sunni
landowners, primarily living in the province's cities, were supporters of Syrian unity; however, the French were supported by the rural Alawite
Alawite
communities to whom they catered.[3] In 1930 the Alawite
Alawite
State was renamed as the Government of Latakia, the only concession by the French to Arab nationalists until 1936.[3] On 3 December 1936 (becoming effective in 1937), the Alawite
Alawite
state was re-incorporated into Syria
Syria
as a concession by the French to the Nationalist Bloc (the ruling party of the semi-autonomous Syrian government).[9] There was a great deal of Alawite
Alawite
separatist sentiment in the region, but their political views could not be coordinated into a unified voice. This was attributed to the peasant status of most Alawites, "exploited by a predominantly Sunni
Sunni
landowning class resident in Latakia
Latakia
and Hama".[3] There was also a great deal of factionalism amongst the Alawite
Alawite
tribes, and the Alawite
Alawite
State was incorporated into Syria
Syria
with little organised resistance. 1936–1945[edit] In 1936, the Palestinian Arabs began a three-year revolt. While some trade with Jewish merchants was uninterrupted, pan-Arab sentiment in Syria
Syria
and ties "of kinship, culture, and politics"[3] resulted in the extension of support to Palestine. In addition to pro-Palestinian strikes and demonstrations, Syrians smuggled arms into Palestine and led successful guerrilla groups. By the end of 1938 the French government "no longer found it advantageous to allow Syria
Syria
to continue as a base for radical pan-Arab activities, in particular those associated with the revolt in Palestine",[3] and it cracked down on Syrian nationalism. By 1939 the Nationalist Bloc party fell out of favour with the Syrian people because of its failure to increase the autonomy of the Syrian government from French influence. Prime Minister Jamil Mardam resigned at the end of 1938;[3] the French filled the power vacuum, dissolving Parliament, suppressing Syrian nationalism and increasing the autonomy of the French-supporting Alawite
Alawite
and Druze
Druze
territories (thwarting Syrian unification). World War II
World War II
established a strong British presence in Syria. After the French surrender to the Axis powers
Axis powers
in 1940, Vichy France
Vichy France
controlled Syria
Syria
until Britain seized the country (and Lebanon) in July 1941. In 1942, the Latakia
Latakia
and Druze
Druze
regions were returned to Syrian control.[3] By the end of the war, Arab nationalists in Syria
Syria
were ready to make another play for power. 1945–present[edit]

Distribution of Alawites in the Levant

The French left Syria
Syria
in 1946 and the new, independent government lasted for three years (until a 1949 military coup).[3] The Syrian army was dominated by recruits from Alawite, Druze
Druze
and rural Kurdish Sunni
Sunni
communities, a holdover from the French Mandate
French Mandate
Levant
Levant
Army (which became the Syrian army after independence). Beginning after the 1949 coup, Alawites dominated the officer and governmental corps during the 1960s.[3] Former president Hafez Asad and his son, Bashar (the current president), are of Alawite
Alawite
descent. Syrian civil war[edit] As a result of the Syrian civil war, speculation exists on the possibility of reprisals against the Alawites leading to the re-creation of the Alawite
Alawite
State as a haven for Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
and government leaders if Damascus falls.[10][11][12][13] King Abdullah II of Jordan has called this the "worst-case" scenario in the conflict, fearing a domino effect: fragmentation of the country along sectarian lines, with region-wide consequences.[14] Population[edit]

Lattakia census, 1921–22[15]

Religion Inhabitants Percentage

Alawites 253,000 70.7%

Sunni 50,000 14%

Christians 42,000 11.7%

Ismailis 13,000 3.6%

Total 358,000 100%

1923 Alawite
Alawite
census[4]

Alawi Sunni Isma'ilis Christian

Population 173,000 32,000 5,000 36,000

1943 Latakia
Latakia
population[3]

Latakia
Latakia
(capital) Urban Rural

Population 36,687 41,687 610,820

Postage stamps[edit]

A double overprint: "Alaouites" over an aeroplane (indicating airmail) on 10-piastre Syrian stamp

Main article: Postage stamps of Alaouites See also[edit]

Jabal al-Druze
Jabal al-Druze
State

References[edit]

^ Alawite
Alawite
Territory (Sanjak of Latakia
Latakia
1920-1936), From [1] ^ a b c d e f g h Provence, Michael. "The Great Syrian Revolt
Great Syrian Revolt
and the Rise of Arab Nationalism." Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Khoury, Philip S. " Syria
Syria
and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945." Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Longrigg, Stephen Hemsley. " Syria
Syria
and Lebanon Under French Mandate." London: Oxford University Press, 1958. ^ a b Burke, Edmund, III. "A Comparative View of French Native Policy in Morocco and Syria, 1912-1925." Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2: 175-186. May 1973. ^ a b c d e f g h Rabinovich, Itamar. "The Compact Minorities and the Syrian State, 1918-45." Journal of Contemporary History, Vol.14, No.4: 693-712. Oct 1979. ^ a b c Khoury, Philip S. "Factionalism among Syrian Nationalists during the French Mandate." International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4: pp. 441-469. Nov. 1981. ^ Complete list of governors, acting governors and delegates ^ Shambrook, Peter A. "French Imperialism in Syria, 1927-1936." Reading: Ithaca Press, 1998. ^ Syria
Syria
Conflict: Breakaway Alawite
Alawite
State May Be President Bashar Assad's Last Resort ^ Alawi
Alawi
split from Syria
Syria
would spell disaster - FT.com ^ Assads' family rule makes an Alawite
Alawite
state impossible - The National ^ Idea of an Assad Alawite
Alawite
state ^ Formation of a breakaway Alawite
Alawite
state may be Assad's 'Plan B' if he loses control of Syrian capital Damascus - Middle East - World - The Independent ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 2, page 301

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alawite
Alawite
State.

Map Flags of the World

v t e

French Mandate
French Mandate
of Syria

States

State of Syria

State of Aleppo State of Damascus Al-Jazira Province

Jabal Druze
Druze
State Alawite
Alawite
State Sanjak of Alexandretta Greater Lebanon

Conflicts

1919 revolt Franco-Syrian War

Battle of Maysalun

1925–1927 revolt

Capture of Salkhad Battle of al-Kafr Battle of al-Mazraa Battle of al-Musayfirah 1925 Hama
Hama
uprising

1936 general strike Syria– Lebanon
Lebanon
Campaign Levant
Levant
Crisis

Treaties

Sykes–Picot Agreement
Sykes–Picot Agreement
(1916) Paulet–Newcombe Agreement
Paulet–Newcombe Agreement
(1920) Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence
Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence
(1936)

People

Syrian

Hashim al-Atassi Shukri al-Quwatli Khalid al-Azm Jamil Mardam Bey Sultan al-Atrash Yusuf al-'Azma Ibrahim Hananu Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar

French

French High Commissioner Charles de Gaulle Henri Gouraud

Coordinates: 35°31′27″N 35°46′58″E / 35.524212°N 35.782646°E / 35

.