According to Sa’adeh, Lebanon had never existed in the shape we know it today. He emphasized that "in history there was nothing called the Lebanese nation or the Lebanese state. This latter was created after the First World War."[1] In fact, although stirrings of a specifically "Lebanese" identity can be traced in the writings of some Maronite historians of the first half of the nineteenth century, Lebanon as a territorial state did not come into political existence until 1920, when areas of the coast and Anti-Lebanon mountains were annexed to Mount Lebanon. As Kamal Salibi points out:
Before that time there was a political entity called Mount Lebanon which was constituted as a privileged administrative unit of the Ottoman empire under international guaranty; but this mutasarrifiyya of Mount Lebanon, as it was called, had no existence before 1861. Earlier on, ‘Mount Lebanon’, or ‘the Lebanon’, was a geographical expression, which did not acquire internationally recognized political usage until the 1830s.[2]
Sa’adeh summed up the story of the partitioning of natural Syria that led to the creation of several political states, including Lebanon, in observing:
After the First World War the condominium of Great Britain and France over Syria resulted in the partition of the country according to their political aims and interests and gave rise to the present political designations: Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cilicia and Iraq. Natural Syria consists of all these regions, which constitute one geographic-economic-strategic unit.[3]
It would not be difficult to substantiate Sa’adeh’s claim that the partition of the country was carried out according to the aims and interests of Great Britain and France. As noted in the first part of this study, both Mandatory powers, but especially France, adopted policies that were in opposition to the interests of the people and designed specifically to prevent national unity. "The interests of the people themselves," as Nicola Ziadeh pointed out, "were a matter of secondary importance."[4] Thus, French rule was inevitably criticized and opposed by a large portion of the population.[5] Even France’s otherwise staunch allies, the Maronites, on certain occasions expressed criticism and opposition to French rule. In 1936, for example, the Maronite Patriarch, Antoine ‘Arida, addressed a memorandum to the Quai d’Orsay in which he criticized French administration of Lebanon. When this memorandum was published with a collection of memoranda, the Patriarchal secretary wrote in the introduction:
His Beatitude the Maronite Patriarch, as a friend of France, wished to draw to the attention of the authorities that the mandatory regime was being conducted against the interests of both the people of Lebanon and France; that opposition to it was growing stronger in Lebanon; that renewal of troubles in Syria was a matter he viewed seriously...[6]
The destiny of the nation (Syria), Sa’adeh argued, had not been determined by the people’s will. "The State of Lebanon," he said, "was not announced by a Lebanese institutional council elected by the people. It was announced by the leader of an occupying foreign army [General Henri Gouraud], in a conspiracy with some religious institutions, feudalists and beneficiaries."[7]
Was Lebanon really created by France "in a conspiracy with some religious institutions, feudalists and beneficiaries," as Sa’adeh claimed? The answer to this question is twofold. First, it can be said that France responded positively to Maronite demands for an independent Lebanon separate from Syria. The Maronites, particularly leaders of the Maronite Church, representatives of the Central Administrative Council (CAC)[8] and some intellectuals who escaped to Cairo, Paris and New York during World War I,[9] had actively solicited the help of France to extend Mount Lebanon to its "natural and historical boundaries" and to achieve their independence from Syria.[10] The prototype of what they claimed as the historic Lebanon existed during the Ma’ni imarah (princedom) period (1590-1697), particularly under the dynamic leadership of Fakhr al-Din II, whose princedom consisted of various parts of present-day Lebanon, Syria and northern Palestine (as far south as Safad).
Hence, the Maronite Patriarch, Elias Huwayyik, made it clear to the American King-Crane Commission[11] which visited the country in the summer of 1919, that "Lebanon demanded full independence, but that if assistance was to be extended to the country it must come from France."[12] Moreover, Maronite delegations, composed of both secular and religious leaders and headed by the Maronite Patriarch, pursued the same demands at the Paris Peace Conference.[13] Their aspirations were detailed in a memorandum presented to the Peace Conference on August 27. Two days earlier, the Patriarch gave the French Premier, Georges Clemenceau, a letter summarizing these aspirations as being:

1) The recognition of the independence of the Lebanon with full sovereignty, 'internal and external';
2) The restitution of her natural, historical and economic frontiers;
3) The help and support of France for the achievement of [these] aspirations in the light of the tradition of friendship which the Lebanon had always maintained towards France.[14]

For his part, Daud Ammun, the president of the Administrative Council of Mount Lebanon, appeared before the Supreme Council of the Allies on February 13, 1919. He demanded the independence of Lebanon and the extension of its territories to its "historical" and "natural" frontiers. As he put it:
The territories within the said frontiers are necessary to our existence. Without them, neither commerce nor agriculture is possible for us and our population is bound to migrate. The mere closing of our frontiers by administrative measures would drive us, as has happened during the war, to actual starvation.
The French attended to the Maronites’ demands and enlarged the country. The creation of Greater Lebanon, accordingly, was a fulfillment of both the economic needs of Mount Lebanon and the interests of a section of the Maronite sect. At this point, one may ask: "What made the French attend to the Maronites’ demands?"
The answer to the above question, it can be argued, lies in the special relationship the French had with the Maronites. They had long boasted of cultural affinity with the Maronites and harboured strong sympathies for them. In the 12th century, the Maronites, then confined to Mount Lebanon, began to associate openly with the Church of Rome. In the spring of 1099, it is recorded, they descended from their mountains to offer their services to the Crusaders who were heading towards Jerusalem.[16] The advice and support they rendered the Crusaders was later appreciated by the Pope and helped them develop their relationship with the Roman Papacy. By the year 1578, they had given up their Monothelite doctrine[17] and united with Rome. In 1584, Pope Gregory XIII established a Maronite college in Rome for the education of Maronite clergy. This college trained Maronite priests and produced many distinguished scholars. Most of them returned home and contributed to the development of religious education and the modernization of their church organization.[18]
In sum, the early relationship of the Maronites with Rome, their support of the Crusaders, and Catholic missionary activities among them, particularly those of the Jesuits, in addition to their minoritarian feelings, to be discussed later, have made them identify themselves with the "Christian" West, and in particular with France. In return, France’s concern for the Maronites and for the Christians of the Levant in general showed itself not only in the work of the missions, but also in continuous assurances of protection. Hence, Louis IV of France assured the Maronites of his protection in a letter dated May 21, 1205.[19] In addition, acting as protector of European commerce in the Ottoman Empire that was carried out almost exclusively by Christian merchants, both European and Levantine, and by Jews, France sought, in 1535, capitulatory privileges[20] from the Ottoman Sultan, and consequently came to be recognized as the guardian of Catholicism in the Sultan’s realm.[21] After 1639, France claimed the right to protect Ottoman Christian subjects-especially Catholics-throughout the Asian provinces. Hence, the "adoption" of the Maronite community in Lebanon by Louis XIV as proclaimed in 1649. In a circular dated April 28, 1649, Louis XIV instructed his diplomatic representatives to treat the Maronites with all possible charity and gentleness and accord them French protection.[22] France’s concern for the Christians of the Levant further manifested itself in the Treaty of Berlin of July 13, 1878. This treaty granted formal international recognition to French protection over the Catholics in the Holy Places.[23] On November 10, as the Peace Conference was being held in Paris and the Maronites were actively working to preserve Lebanese independence under French protection, Clemenceau wrote to the Maronite Patriarch Elias Huwayyik replying to his letter of August 25, 1919. Clemenceau assured the Patriarch that "France was in full agreement with the Lebanese aspiration and would give them the full support."[24] The French government considered this letter as "a binding agreement which the government intended to carry out."[25]
Second, although the creation of Greater Lebanon was largely in accord with Maronite political demands, this action by France could still be considered inconsiderate and ultimately unjustifiable. For this action was not determined in accordance with the wishes of the population in geographical Syria. France did not consult other communities in Mount Lebanon and the coastal towns that were added to it. In this context, Kamal Salibi asserts that:
When Greater Lebanon was created in 1920, only the Maronites were consulted. No other community really was. The Druzes were taken for granted, because they had already been living quietly in the Lebanese mutasarrifiyya since 1861, without voicing any special political demands or grievances. The Shi’is at the time were not yet in a position to express an opinion on the matter. Where the Sunnis were concerned, the new Lebanese state was actually created against their declared wishes.[26]
Indeed, France disregarded the wishes of many Lebanese Christians and especially Muslims and their strong expressions of Syrian national feeling as well as their repulsion at the idea of a French mandate. These wishes and expressions were described in a report submitted to President Wilson by the King-Crane Commission.[27] This Commission concluded that:
In Mt. Lebanon... the Druzes and the Greek Orthodox desired union with Syria because they were afraid of Maronite domination and also feared France. But so did the Protestants and some other Christians, who sincerely believed in Syrian nationalism... Finally the [Muslims] of Mt. Lebanon, like those of Syria proper, desired union.[28]
In their report, moreover, the commissioners indicated that the people of Syria preferred national independence; but that if this were not possible, they preferred to have their country assisted by or placed under an American mandate or, failing that, under a British mandate, but on no account did they want a French mandate. A French mandate in Syria, the report indicated, was unpopular among the great mass of the population.[29]

[1] Antun Sa’adeh, Al-In’izaliyyah ‘Aflasat (1947-1949) (Isolationism Has Gone Bankrupt), op. cit., p. 115.
[2] Kamal Salibi, "The Historical Perspective," in Nadim Shehadi & Dana Haffar Mills (eds.), Lebanon: A History of Conflict and Consensus, London: The Centre for Lebanese Studies, in Association with I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. Publishers, 1988, pp. 3-4.
[3] Ibid., p. 43.
[4] Nicola A. Ziadeh, Syria and Lebanon, New York: F.A. Praeger, 1957, p. 50.
[5] Albert Hourani, Syria and Lebanon: A Political Essay, London: Oxford University Press, 1946, p. 9.
[6] Quoted in Nicola A. Ziadeh, Syria and Lebanon, op. cit., p. 58.
[7] Antun Sa’adeh, Mukhtarat fi al-Mas’alah al-Lubnaniyyah (1936-1943) (Selections on the Lebanese Question), 1st edition, 1976, p. 181.
[8] The CAC of the Mutasarrifiyyah was created in 1861 as an indirectly elected body to represent the various sects and ethnic groups that inhabited Mount Lebanon and to act as a quasi-legislative body helping the Mutasarrif in running the affairs of the Mutasarrifiyyah. Its power was stipulated in the internationally recognized and supported Règlement Organique and encompassed a variety of areas such as taxes, land tenure, local government and public works. See Abdo I. Baaklini, Legislative and Political Development: Lebanon, 1842-1972, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1976, pp. 49-57.
[9] Lebanese intellectuals living abroad founded societies with the aim of pressing their demands on the Western powers for the establishment of an independent Lebanese state. For instance, the League for the Liberation of Lebanon and Syria was established in New York under the leadership of Ayyub Tabet. The Lebanese Union was established in Cairo under the leadership of Yusuf al-Sauda. Similar committees were established in Paris, Argentina and Brazil.
[10] Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, Berkely: University of California Press, 1988, p. 25.
[11] This commission was sent to Syria on behalf of the Peace Conference in order to give an opportunity to the people of Syria to express their political wishes and aspirations, i.e., what form of government they desired and what power, if any, should be their mandatory power... The idea of sending out a commission was proposed by Dr. Howard S. Bliss, President of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut (now the American University of Beirut) and by President Woodrow Wilson, who pressed on the principle that all the peoples of the world had the right to national self-determination. Initially, this idea was accepted by France and Great Britain, but both refused to join the commission afterwards. The commission ended as a purely American body composed of two commissioners, Dr. Henry C. King and Mr. Charles R. Crane, and three advisers. For more details on this commission see: George Antonius, The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement, London: Hamish Hamilton, 1938, pp. 294-298; and Zeine N. Zeine, The Struggle for Arab Independence, Delmar, New York: Caravan Books, 1977, pp. 90-202.
[12] Nicola A. Ziadeh, Syria and Lebanon, op. cit., p. 48.
[13] The French government claimed to have received numerous petitions from Lebanese organizations and individuals appealing for her assistance in achieving the extension of Mt. Lebanon’s territories. See William I. Shorrock, French Imperialism in the Middle East: The Failure of Policy in Syria and Lebanon, 1900-1914, London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1976, p. 112.
[14] Quoted in Zeine N. Zeine, The Struggle for Arab Independence, op. cit., p. 112.
[15] Quoted in Raghid Solh, "The Attitude of the Arab Nationalists Towards Greater Lebanon during the 1930s," in Nadim Shehadi (ed.) Lebanon: A History of Conflict and Consensus, op. cit., p. 150.
[16] Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions, op. cit., pp. 92-93.
[17] From the point of view of Rome, the Maronites had originally been Monothelites who believed that Christ had two natures (human and divine) but one will and energy. This doctrine had been condemned as a heresy in 680 by the Sixth Ecumenical Council. The Maronites and their historians insisted that they had never had anything to do with the Monothelite heresy. Patriarch Duwayhi maintained that the Maronite Church was established from the very beginning in 680 as a staunchly Orthodox Eastern Christian communion recognizing the supremacy of Rome. See Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions, op. cit., p. 87.
[18] Iliya Harik, "The Maronite Church and Political Change in Lebanon," in Leonard Binder (ed.), Politics in Lebanon, New York: Wiley and Sons, 1966, pp. 31-55.
[19] Fahim. Qubain, Crisis in Lebanon, Washington: Middle East Institute, 1961, p. 10.
[20] Under the "capitulations" system, Western powers concluded commercial treaties with Middle Eastern and Asian states in which Western nationals were declared subject to the laws of their home governments and immune from those of host governments.
[21] France was the first of the maritime states of Western Europe to seek capitulatory privileges from the Ottoman Empire.
[22] For an English text of this letter, see J.C. Hurewitz (ed.), The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics-A Documentary Record, 2nd edition, Vol. 1, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975, p.28.
[23] For an English text of this treaty, see ibid., pp. 413-414.
[24] Zeine N. Zeine, The Struggle for Arab Independence, op. cit., p. 112.
[25] Ibid., p. 133.
[26] Kamal Salibi, "The Historical Perspective," in Nadim Shehadi and Dana Haffar Mills (ed.), Lebanon: A History of Conflict and Consensus, op. cit., p. 11.
[27] It is doubtful whether President Wilson ever read the whole report while still in office. However, by the time the report was ready, the Treaty of Versailles had been signed. Thus, the report was reportedly ignored at the time. As George Antonius stated: “In the three years that elapsed before it became public property, Great Britain and France had devised and imposed a ‘settlement’ of their own making, in which the advice of the King-Crane Commission had been totally and, as it turned out, unwisely disregarded. See Antonius, The Arab Awakening , op. cit., pp. 297-298.
[28] Quoted in Tabitha Petran, The Struggle over Lebanon, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987, p. 29.
[29] William I. Shorrock, French Imperialism in the Middle East, op. cit., p. 114.
The Creation of Lebanon as viewed by Sa’adeh
Dr. Edmond Melhem