Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 6. ALEXANDRETTA
This is a multi part series.
Part 1 summarizes the historical context and looks at stamps of Ile Rouad (pre French Mandate).
Part 2 looks at the Syrian Arabian Government of 1918-1920 (pre French Mandate).
Part 3 looks at Cilicia (the Armenian part of S. Turkey) (pre French Mandate).
Part 4 looks at the Alaouites area (under French Mandate).
Part 5 looks at Latakia (under French Mandate).
Part 6 looks at Alexandretta (under French Mandate)
More sections will be issued in the future.
The Sanjak of Alexandretta ( French: Sandjak d'Alexandrette) was a Mandate territory of Syria composed of the two areas of the former Aleppo Vilayet (Alexandretta and Antioch). Under Article 7 of the French-Turkish treaty of October 20, 1921 it became autonomous as "a special administrative regime for the district of Alexandretta". "The Turkish inhabitants of this district shall enjoy facility for their cultural development. The Turkish language shall have official recognition".
This was due to the presence of Turkish community along with Arabs of various religious denominations: Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Syriac Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Maronites. There were also communities of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Jews, and Kurds.
In 1923, Alexandretta was attached to the State of Aleppo, and in 1925 it was attached to the combined State of Syria, still with special administrative status.
The inclusion of the Sanjak in the French Mandate was never accepted by Mustafa Kemal AtatÃ¼rk, the leader of the newly formed Turkish Republic, who strongly felt that Alexandretta was a sovereign and historical part of Turkey.
AtatÃ¼rk aimed to re-unite the region with Turkey upon the expiration of the mandate in 1935, and internal Turkish politics worked towards this goal.
The 1936 elections in the Sanjak returned two MPs favoring the independence of Syria from France, and this prompted communal riots as well as passionate articles in the Turkish and Syrian press. The Sanjak was given autonomy in November 1937 in an arrangement brokered by the League.
Under its new statute, it became 'distinct but not separated' from the French Mandate of Syria on the diplomatic level, linked to both France and Turkey for defense matters.
1938 voter registration and "elections"
The allocation of seats in the sanjak assembly was based on the 1938 census held by the French authorities under international supervision: out of 40 seats, 22 were given to the Turks, nine for Alawi, five for Armenians, two for Sunni Arabs, and two for Antiochian Greeks.
This repartition was the result of a Turkish military intervention just beforehand, on July 5, 1938, with the ethnic cleansing of most of its Arab and Armenian inhabitants who constituted the majority of the population. Turkey had also crossed tens of thousands of Turks into the Sanjak of Alexandretta to register as citizens and vote. The results seemed to be questionable to many.
As threats of a second world war loomed across Europe, the Sanjak began separating from Syria in November 1937, looking more to France and Turkey for military defense.
END of ALEXANDRETTA and the forming of the HATAY STATE
On September 2, 1938, the assembly proclaimed the Sanjak of Alexandretta as the Hatay State. With a newly adopted constitution, Hatay Devleti (Hatay State) declared independence, and Turkish was declared as the national language, with French as a secondary language.
The State lasted for one year under joint French and Turkish military supervision. The name "Hatay" itself was proposed by AtatÃ¼rk and the government was under Turkish control.
Within months, Hatay had adopted all Turkish laws, made the Turkish lira as the official currency and even embraced a flag designed by AtatÃ¼rk himself.
This autonomy was short lived because on June 29, 1939, the Parliament voted to dissolve the state of Hatay and join the Turkish Republic. This process was finalized on July 23rd, when Hatay was officially added as a Turkish province.
This was not done without controversy, as Syria disputed Franceâ€™s right to cede the area to Turkey, and maintains to this day a claim to the territory. As the province is located near the present day border of Turkey and Syria, the ownership of the area is still disputed between the two countries.
The Hatay State became the Hatay Province of Turkey in 1939. (HATAY will be covered in the next section)
STAMPS OF ALEXANDRETTA
Syrian overprinted stamps were used.
One of the shortest-lived issuers of stamps was for the Sanjak of Alexandretta. This province of Turkey (sanjak is a type of Turkish district) issued stamps for less than one full year.
Stamps for the sanjak of Alexandretta were issued in 1938. All of the stamps issued were actually overprinted Syrian stamps; there are no stamps of Alexandretta where the name is actually printed as part of the design of the stamp.
On Sept 2, 1938, the assembly proclaimed the sanjak of Alexandretta as the Republic of Hatay, and Alexandretta stamps were no longer created. (see the next section on the stamps of Hatay). In 1939, France transferred the sanjak to Turkey.
Since that time, Syria has continued claims to the area.
The first regular issue stamp series consists of 12 stamps. It was followed by the second (and only other) regular issue stamp set memorializing the death of Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkey. This second set has 5 stamps with a black border.
Alexandretta also has 8 air post stamps and 6 postage due stamps . The 31 stamps make up the entire issue of stamps for Alexandretta.
ALEXANDRETTA ALBUM PAGES
These are complete and are from my collection. There are 2 pages shown. Varieties are not included.
There are 17 General use postage stamps, 8 Air Mail stamps, and 6 Postage due stamps. Scott Catalog (2016) prices range from $3 US Dollars to about $100. Used and Mint stamps are priced virtually identically, although used stamps seem harder to find than Mint.
Stamps are readily available and should not offer major problems to the collector.
Mint Never Hinged (MNH) stamps are however priced significantly higher.
End of Part 6. Next section Part 7, will be HATAY