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Arab Kingdom of Syria

Official brochure of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, with King Faisal and the flag.
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Official brochure of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, with King Faisal and the flag.

Arab Kingdom of Syria

The flag of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which is the same as the flag for the Arab Revolt, but with a star in the red triangle.

Faisal at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
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Faisal at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

State of the Levant existing only for 4 months in 1920, from March 8 until July 24.
It was established to be the realm of king Faisal with a court located to Damascus. Faisal is best known by his role in the Arab Revolt (1916-1918) and as the later king of Iraq (1921-1933).
The theoretical territory of the kingdom reached far beyond the borders of modern Syria, and included former Ottoman lands in northern Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Jordan.
Due to its brief existence, the state never managed to form any stable forms of governance, in particular beyond Damascus. In and around Damascus a basic government was established and the remaining troops from the Arab revolt were shaped into a national army, although relatively small

The Arab Kingdom of Syria was formed from the Arab Revolt and promises from the British, as a reward for Arab resistance against the Ottomans in the Levant. Contrary to this aim, was the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, dividing the lands that the Arab Kingdom would claim, between the British and France.
At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Faisal participated. He demanded Arab independence, and received some support from the USA. The USA suggested that an international commission should determine whether the population wanted the an Arab kingdom or submitting to French and British mandates. The findings showed support of the Arab kingdom, but the French and British would reject this.

1919 June 3: Local nationalists puts together the Syrian Congress, which this day holds its first official session, electing Hashim al-Atassi to its president.
July 2: The Syrian Congress passes several resolutions to form Syria into a fully independent constitutional monarchy with Faisal as king.
1920 January: Negotiations between Faisal and the French secure that France does not act military in Syria in exchange of France being the to supply advisers, counselors and technical experts to the Syrians.
March 8: The Syrian Congress assembles to declare Faisal king of Syria, and Hashim al-Atassi prime minister.
April: The Syrian call for independence is rejected by France and the British, that demands the establishment of a French mandate of Syria.
July 14: French general, Henri Gouraud, presents Faisal with an ultimatum to surrender. Considering the difference in military power between Syria and France, Faisal accepts. Still, Gouraud conisders Faisal's surrrender as insufficient, and groups around Faisal rally to resist the French.
July 24: French and Syrian armies clash at Maysalun: Syrian military is heavily defeated, and the French march into Damascus.

  • After this begins the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon.

  • Faisal would first find exile in Britain, but in 1921 he is made king of Iraq under British supremacy.

  • By Tore Kjeilen