Al-Jazira Province

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This article is about the former province. For the de facto canton, see Jazira Canton.

Al-Jazira Province (Arabic: الجزيرة‎‎, Kurdish: Cazire‎, French: Djézireh) was an administrative division in the State of Aleppo (1920–25), the State of Syria (1924–1930) and the first decades of the Syrian Republic (1930–1958), during the French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon. It encompassed more or less the present-day Al-Hasakah Governorate and part of the former Ottoman Zor Sanjak, created in 1857.


Syrian censuses of 1943[1] and 1953[2] in Al-Jazira Province
Religious group Population
Muslims Sunni Muslims 99,665 68.26% 171,058 73.70%
Other Muslims 437 0.30% 503 0.22%
Christians Assyrians 31,764 21.76% 42,626 18.37%
Armenians 9,788 6.70% 12,535 5.40%
Other churches 944 0.65% 1,283 0.55%
Total Christians 42,496 29.11% 56,444 24.32%
Jews 1,938 1.33% 2,350 1.01%
Yazidis 1,475 1.01% 1,749 0.75%
TOTAL Al-Jazira Province 146,001 100.0% 232,104 100.0%

Among the Sunni Muslims, mostly Kurds and Arabs, there were about 1,500 Circassians in 1938.[3]

In 1949, there were officially 155,643 inhabitants. The French geographers Fevret and Gibert estimated that there were about 50,000 Arabs, 60,000 Kurds, a few thousands Jews and Yezidis, the rest being Christians of various denominations.[4]


In February 1935, the Italian Consul Alberto Rossi wrote from Aleppo:[5]

The Assyrians immigration in the High Jazira (...) goes on and is supported by the Mandate Power as it facilitates a secret but even more visible tendency: that of the creation of a new autonomous State, in spite of the theoretical discussions on the unity of the mandate. Some ‘mazbata’ have circulated by means of the same authorities (who know how to use this kind of popular petition when it is convenient for them) among the minority populations (Armenians and Kurds). They are asking the Mandatary Power for separation from Syria in order to create their own administration with their center in Deir ez-Zor. The French interest in the ‘Bec de Canard’ has increased after the railway prolongation (built on the back of the Syrians) of Baghdad...

In 1936-1937 there was some autonomist agitation in the province among Assyrians and Kurds, supported by some Arab Bedouins. Its leaders were Michel Dôme, the Armenian Catholic president of the Qamishli municipality, Hajo Agha, the Kurdish chief of the Heverkan tribal confederation[6] and one of the leaders of the Kurdish nationalist party Khoybun (Xoybûn), and the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Gabriel I Tappouni. They wanted the French troops to stay in the province in the hypothesis of a Syrian independence, as they feared the nationalist Damascus government would replace minority officials by Muslim Arabs from the capital.

The French authorities, although some in their ranks had earlier encouraged this anti-Damascus movement, as emphasized by the Italian Consul, refused to consider any new status of autonomy inside Syria and even annexed the Alawite State and the Jabal Druze State to the Syrian Republic. The new government in Paris since June 1936 was headed by a Socialist, Léon Blum, after the victory of the Popular Front at the April–May 1936 Parliamentary elections and had a different vision on the future of Syria than the precedent right-wing government that led to the Franco–Syrian Treaty of Independence, signed in September 1936 (but never ratified).[7][8][9][10][11]


  1. ^ Hourani, Albert Habib (1947). Minorities in the Arab World. London: Oxford University Press. p. 76. 
  2. ^ Etienne, de Vaumas (1956). "La Djézireh". Annales de Géographie (in French). 65 (347): 64–80. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  3. ^ M. Proux, "Les Tcherkesses", La France méditerranéenne et africaine, IV, 1938
  4. ^ Fevret, Maurice; Gibert, André (1953). "La Djezireh syrienne et son réveil économique". Revue de géographie de Lyon (in French) (28): 1–15. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  5. ^ Galletti, Mirella (July 2007). "Some Italian and Catholic sources on Jazira (1920-1950)" (PDF). Kervan – Rivista Internazionale di studii afroasiatici (n. 6). 
  6. ^ the Heverkan tribal confederation included Sunni Muslim Kurds, Armenians, Syriac Orthodox and Yezidis
  7. ^ "La situation des chrétiens de Syrie après les affaires de Djézireh", Centre d'études et d'administration musulmanes (CHEAM), November 1937,
  8. ^ V. Vacca, "La questione dell'el-Gezirâh secondo il memoriale del Partito Communista Siriano", Oriente Moderno, 1938, 18, pp.197-211
  9. ^ Jordi Tejel Gorgas, "Les territoires de marge de la Syrie mandataire : le mouvement autonomiste de la Haute Jazîra, paradoxes et ambiguïtés d’une intégration « nationale » inachevée (1936-1939)" (The territory margins of the Mandatory Syria : the autonomist movement in Upper Jazîra, paradoxs and ambiguities of an uncompleted “national” integration, 1936-39), Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, 126, November 2009, p. 205-222
  10. ^ Jordi Tejel Gorgas, "Un territoire de marge en haute Djézireh syrienne (1921-1940)", Études rurales, July–December 2010, 186 : 61-76
  11. ^ Gunter, Michael (2010). Historical dictionary of the Kurds. Scarecrow Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780810867512.