Lebanon and Syria Imperfs

29/02/2012     Lebanon, Syria

This fascinating collection of imperforate stamps from Lebanon and Syria emanates from very limited issues supplied to the government to be used for presentational purposes, either for UPU delegate's booklets, visiting dignitaries or presented at the many International Fairs and Congresses which took place in the area.

The illustrated set of deluxe sunken die proofs commemorates the 1936 Franco-Lebanese Treaty, and each contains one example of the complete unissued set including the 10piastre airmail value. They are possibly a unique set and in superb condition.

Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, until 1918 when the area was mandated by the League of Nations to France. On 1 September 1920, France re-established Greater Lebanon after the Muslim Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria.

Lebanon was a largely Maronite Christian enclave but also included areas containing many Druze Muslims who wanted unification with Syria and under pressure from the Maronite leaders, France created the Lebanese Republic on 1 September 1926.

The Franco Lebanese Treaty of 1936 was a similar but separate Treaty to the previously signed Franco–Syrian Treaty, which gave independence to Syria. The essence of the The Franco - Lebanese Treaty was for France to guarantee the borders and Sovereignty of Lebanon and was regarded by Maronite Christians as being essential to prevent attempts by the Muslim controlled areas to link up and form a greater Syria.

Whilst under German Occupation the Vichy Government allowed the Germans to transport men and planes to Iraq where they attacked allied forces with the repercussion that British and Free French Forces took control of Syria and Lebanon in June 1941.

After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General de Gaulle under political pressure was forced to recognize the independence of Lebanon. Subsequently elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by throwing the new government into prison. In the face of Allied pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943 and accepted the independence of Lebanon.

The Allies kept the region under control until the end of World War II. The last French troops withdrew in 1946. Lebanon's unwritten National Pact of 1943 required that its president be Maronite Christian, its Speaker of the Parliament to be a Shiite Muslim, its Prime Minister be Sunni Muslim, and the deputy speaker of Parliament be Greek Orthodox.

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