Greater Lebanon

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State of Greater Lebanon
État du Grand Liban
دولة لبنان الكبير
Mandate of the French Third Republic

1920–1943


Flag

Location of Greater Lebanon (green) within the Mandate of Syria and Lebanon.
Capital Beirut
Languages French
Religion Christianity
Islam
Political structure League of Nations Mandate
Historical era Interwar period
 -  Mandate issued 1920
 -  Independence 1943

The state of Greater Lebanon, the predecessor of modern Lebanon, was created in 1920.

The French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon was a League of Nations Mandate created at the end of World War I. When the Ottoman Empire was formally split up by the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, it was decided that four of its territories in the Middle East should be League of Nations mandates temporarily governed by the United Kingdom and France on behalf of the League. The British were given Palestine and Iraq, while the French were given a mandate over Syria and Lebanon .

On September 1, 1920, General Gouraud proclaimed the establishment of State of Greater Lebanon (Arabic: دولة لبنان الكبيرDawlat Lubnan Al-Kabir; French: État du Grand Liban) with its present boundaries after splitting few Syrian villages on the southern and western borders with Lebanon and adding them to Lebanon and with Beirut as its capital.[1] The new territory was granted a flag, merging the French flag with the Lebanese cedar.

Background[edit]

Map of Greater Lebanon's borders compared with the border of the previous territory of the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate (black dashed line), overlaid on a map of modern day religious groups distribution.

The name Greater Lebanon refers to the incorporation of the former Ottoman districts of Tripoli and Sidon as well as the Bekaa Valley to the existing former autonomous region of the Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon, which had been established in 1861 to protect the local Christian population.

On October 27, 1919, the Lebanese delegation led by Maronite Patriarch Elias Peter Hoayek presented the Lebanese aspirations in a memorandum to the Paris Peace Conference. This included the extension of the frontiers of Lebanon to include the districts of Akkar and Beqaa. These districts were argued to be natural parts of Lebanon, but had been administratively separated by the Ottoman rule.

Following the peace conference, the French were awarded the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, under which the definition of Lebanon was still to be set by the French. On August 24, 1920, following the Franco-Syrian War, French Prime Minister Alexandre Millerand wrote to Archbishop Khoury: "Your country's claims on the Bekaa, that you have recalled for me, have been granted. On instructions from the French government, General Gouraud has proclaimed at Zahle's Grand Kadri Hotel, the incorporation into Lebanon of the territory that extends up to the summit of the Anti-Lebanon range and of Hermon. This is the Greater Lebanon that France wishes to form to assure your country of its natural borders.

Lebanon gained its independence in 1943 and the French left the country in 1946.

Government[edit]

The first Lebanese constitution was promulgated on May 23, 1926, and subsequently amended several times. Modeled after that of the French Third Republic, it provided for a bicameral parliament with Chamber of Deputies and a Senate (although the latter was eventually dropped), a President, and a Council of Ministers, or cabinet. The president was to be elected by the Chamber of Deputies for one six-year term and could not be reelected until a six-year period had elapsed; deputies were to be popularly elected along confessional lines.

A custom of selecting major political officers, as well as top ranks within the public administration, according to the proportion of the principal sects in the population was strengthened during this period. Thus, for example, the president ought to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies a Shia Muslim. Theoretically, the Chamber of Deputies performed the legislative function, but in fact bills were prepared by the executive and submitted to the Chamber of Deputies, which passed them virtually without exception. Under the Constitution, the French high commissioner still exercised supreme power, an arrangement that initially brought objections from the Lebanese nationalists. Nevertheless, Charles Debbas, a Greek Orthodox, was elected the first president of Lebanon three days after the adoption of the Constitution.

At the end of Debbas's first term in 1932, Bishara al-Khuri and Émile Eddé competed for the office of president, thus dividing the Chamber of Deputies. To break the deadlock, some deputies suggested Shaykh Muhammad al Jisr, who was chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Muslim leader of Tripoli, as a compromise candidate. However, French high commissioner Henri Ponsot suspended the constitution on May 9, 1932, and extended the term of Debbas for one year; in this way he prevented the election of a Muslim as president. Dissatisfied with Ponsot's conduct, the French authorities replaced him with Comte Damien de Martel, who, on January 30, 1934, appointed Habib Pacha Es-Saad as president for a one-year term (later extended for an additional year).

Émile Eddé was elected president on January 30, 1936. A year later, he partially reestablished the Constitution of 1926 and proceeded to hold elections for the Chamber of Deputies. However, the Constitution was again suspended by the French high commissioner in September 1939, at the outbreak of World War II.

The first Lebanese flag, hand-drawn and signed by the deputies of the Lebanese parliament, 11 November 1943.
A Greater Lebanon five-piastre coin, 1924.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]