890d.00/192: Telegram

The Consul at Beirut ( Knabenshue ) to the Secretary of State

[Paraphrase]

The principal causes of the present Druse uprising are: (1) the failure of Sarrail1 … to grant Djebel Druse a native governor; (2) the refusal to recall French governor who has treated the Druses in a manner which they consider intolerable; and (3) the arrest and deportation of notables of importance who were called, on the pretext of a conference, to Damascus.

On August 3d the French in their initial advance to relieve the garrison besieged at Souada were repulsed and forced to withdraw from Djebel Druse to their base at Ezraa. Many were killed and wounded and a great deal of artillery, ammunition, and supplies was abandoned. The defeat was due: (1) to a formidable attack of the Druses on the French main column as well as on the line of communications; (2) to exhaustion of the troops, caused by inadequate water and excessive heat; and (3) to the desertion of some of the Syrian and colonial units.

In the whole of Syria the French forces number only 8,000 colonial troops and 6,000 Syrian legion. The only French troops are technical units.

The French military situation here is fraught with dangerous possibilities. Increasing disaffection with resulting dangerous situation would probably follow the circulation of propaganda by Arab Moslems among the colonial and Syrian troops.

It is feared that unless important reenforcements arrive, the present forces will be insufficient to cope with the Druse uprising and at the same time to repel probably increasing raids along the Turkish frontier and the widespread brigandage which will undoubtedly prevail throughout the country as a result of the present situation.

[Page 106]

Fearing serious disorder, the French authorities at Damascus have sent their families to Beirut and have advised the American and Italian consuls to do likewise.

Knabenshue
  1. French High Commissioner for Syria and the Lebanon.