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Middle East/All : Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 4: ALAOUITES

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Retired Ap. Book Mod, Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Hi Tech Consultant
24 Jul 2016

Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 4. ALAOUITES

This is a multi part series.

Part 1, summarizes the historical context (a bit long, and complicated), and looks at the stamps of Ile Rouad (prior to the French Mandate).
Part 2 looks at the Syrian Arabian Government of 1918-1920 (prior to the Mandate).
Part 3 looks at Cilicia, the French Administered territories of the Armenian part of Turkey (prior to the Mandate).
PART 4 looks at the ALOUITES area under french Mandate.

More sections will be issued in the future.
The region is coastal and mountainous, home to a predominantly-rural, mixed ethnic population. During the 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 were Sunni Muslim. More than 90 percent of the province's population was rural, and 82 percent were Alawites.
The Alawite State bordered 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 is with Syria.

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From Wikipedia

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I brought on a scramble for control of the disintegrating empire's provinces. As of 1918 France occupied Lebanon and Syria, which was under the leadership of the Emir Faisal I. By 1920, growing anti-French sentiment in the region led to the establishment of the Arab Kingdom of Syria under King Faisal I. On 5 May 1920 the Allied Supreme Council published a Mandate for "Syria and the Lebanon" to the French Republic with French and Arabic the official languages. General Gouraud was appointed high commissioner of the Syrian territories.
The population of Lebanon was pro-French; that of Syria was anti-French, with a pan-Arab-nationalistic bent. Syrians were forced to accept the mandate when King Faisal left the country in July 1920, after Great Britain withdrew support for his rule in the face of French claims.
The French rejected the call for the unification of Syria. In early September 1920, the French divided the territories of their mandate based on heterogeneous population to grant "local autonomy" to demographic regions. The French Mandate period thus started. In September 1920 a "Territory of the Alawis" (or Alaouites) was created in the coastal and mountain country, comprising Alawi villages; the French justified this separation by citing the "backwardness" of the mountain-dwellers, religiously distinct from the surrounding Sunni population. The division intended to protect the minority population from more powerful majorities.
After the end of the failed independence Kingdom under Faisal I's rule, French colonialism was unwelcome in Syria as the divisions were thought to serve the interests of a Christian minority over a Muslim majority, favoring colonial rule and stifling dissent.
The French instituted an elected government made up of councils of representative of the states of Aleppo, Damascus and the Alawite territory. In June 1923 the French administration, headed by General 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 elections).
The 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). The Alawi preferred to be grouped with the territories of Lebanon, in contrast to Sunnis and Christians populations demanding Syrian unity. The majority of French support in these first elections came from rural populations.
1925–27: Great Syrian Revolt
On 1 January 1925, the State of Syria was born from a French merger of the States of Damascus and Aleppo. Lebanon and the Alawi State were not included.
Perhaps inspired by the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1921), the Great Syrian Revolt began in the countryside of Jabal al-Druze as a Druze uprising, the movement was adopted by a group of Syrian nationalists and spread to the states of Aleppo and Damascus. Lasting from July 1925 to June 1927, it was an anti-French, anti-imperialist response to five years of French rule; to the Druze it was not a movement toward Syrian unity, but simply a protest against French rule.
The rural Alawite territory was largely uninvolved in the Great Revolt. The French had favored religious minorities such as the Druze and the Alawi, attempting to isolate them from mainstream nationalist culture. Many young men from rural Alawi communities joined the French troops, enlisting in the troupes speciales (part of the French forces in Syria at the time) for social advancement. These troops, regional forces recruited from minority populations, were often used to suppress civil disorders.
The Alawi people were uninterested in the Great Revolt, because Alawi predominance in the Alawi state was not absolute": In contrast to the Christian and Bedouin minorities of the Druze region, the Alawite territory was home to sizable Sunni and Christian groups (most of whom lived in the capital, Latakia). The Alawi were hardly enthusiastic over the nationalist sentiments of their Sunni landlords. Also, isolation, poverty, and social structure inflicted backwardness on the Alawi area. This coexisted with a strong feeling of solidarity with an attachment to the community and a sense of exclusiveness.
The Alawite State was run by a succession of French governors from 1920–36:
1920 – 1921: Colonel Marie Joseph Émile Niéger
1921–1922: Gaston Henri Gustave Billotte
1922–1925: Léon Henri Charles Cayla
1925 –1936: Ernest Marie Hubert Schoeffler
The Sunni landowners, primarily living in the province's cities, were supporters of Syrian unity; however, the French were supported by the rural Alawite communities to whom they catered.
In 1930 the Alawite State was renamed as the Government of Latakia, the only concession by the French to Arab nationalists until 1936. On 3 December 1936 (becoming effective in 1937), the Alawite state was re-incorporated into Syria as a concession by the French to the Nationalist Bloc (the ruling party of the semi-autonomous Syrian government).
In 1936, the Palestinian Arabs began a three-year revolt. While some trade with Jewish merchants was uninterrupted, pan-Arab sentiment in Syria and ties "of kinship, culture, and politics" 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 to continue as a base for radical pan-Arab activities, in particular those associated with the revolt in Palestine", and it cracked down on Syrian nationalism. By 1939 the Nationalist Bloc party fell out of favor with the Syrian people because of its failure to increase the autonomy of the Syrian government from French influence. the Prime Minister resigned at the end of 1938, the French filled the power vacuum, dissolving Parliament, suppressing Syrian nationalism and increasing the autonomy of the French-supporting Alawite and Druze territories (thwarting Syrian unification).
World War II established a strong British presence in Syria. After the French surrender to the Axis powers in 1940, Vichy France controlled Syria until Britain seized the country (and Lebanon) in July 1941. In 1942, the Latakia and Druze regions were returned to Syrian control. By the end of the war, Arab nationalists in Syria were ready to make another play for power. The French left Syria in 1946
The new, independent government of Syria lasted for three years (until a 1949 military coup). The Syrian army was dominated by recruits from Alawite, Druze and rural Kurdish Sunni communities, a holdover from the French Mandate Levant Army (which became the Syrian army after independence). Beginning after the 1949 coup, Alawites dominated the officer and governmental corps during the 1960s. Former president Hafez Asad and his son, Bashar (the current president), are of Alawite descent.

Postage stamps and postal history of Alawite State - 1925-1930

The Alawite State or the Alaouites is located between the Turkish province of Hatay (formerly the Syrian province of Alexandretta) and Lebanon. Geographically within Syria, the Alawite state was administered under a French mandate between 1920 and 1930 and as the Sanjak of Latakia from 1930. After December 1936 (effective in 1937) it was fully incorporated into Syria.
France never designed postage stamps specifically for the Alawite state. There was an initial period in which Syrian stamps were used, inevitably causing accounting difficulties between the Alawite and Syrian postal services. In 1925, French stamps were overprinted "ALAOUITES" followed by a denomination in piastres (French stamps being denominated in francs) and this was followed by the same information in Arabic.
Later between 1925 and 1930, similar overprints were used on stamps of Syria. Airmail overprints included the word "AVION" and after 1926 a picture of a monoplane.

Although the French never issued stamps specifically printed for Alawite State, stamps of France and Syria were overprinted in both French (Alaouites) and Arabic and used for postage. The large varieties of the overprints make a great subject for collecting. The first stamps for the state were issued on 1 Jan, 1925, consisting of stamps from the “liberty” series and the “Pasteur” series of France overprinted, and surcharged with the currency of the region.
Shortly afterwards, in March of 1925, stamps of Syria replaced those of France as the issues overprinted for use in the Alawite State. The Syrian stamps, which featured beautiful engraved pictorials within the region, were overprinted in various fonts and colors with the name “ALAOUITES” in both French and Arabic.
Beginning in 1926, due to changes in postal rates and currency fluctuations, Syrian stamps were surcharged with new, higher values, and these new rates were also reflected in Alawite State.
Additionally, air post and postage due stamps were overprinted on both French and Syrian Stamps. Initially the air post stamps merely were overprinted “Avion”, but soon replaced with the well known monoplane overprint (in black or red), which adds a distinct interesting feature for stamps of this region.
Since all Alawite stamps are overprints, there are a myriad of interesting variations, many of which are rarely seen. Inverts, double overprints, variations in color, and more are recorded in the catalogues.
Stamps of Alawite State were replaced with stamps of the Government of Latakia in 1931.

These are complete and are from my collection. There are 5 pages. Varieties are not included. They fetch considerably more, but one has to be aware of counterfeits.
Excluding the varieties such as double overprints, inverted overprints and overprint color variations, there are 46 General use postage stamps, 21 Air Mail stamps, and 10 Postage due stamps. Scott Catalog (2016) prices range from a few US Dollars to $80.00. Stamps are readily available and should not offer major problems to the collector. Varieties could be problematic due to counterfeits.


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End of Part 4. Next section Part 5, will be LATAKIA

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