890D.00/951: Telegram

The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Beirut (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

119. Reference last paragraph my 116, March 24, 9 p.m.24 Three decrees closely similar to those issued in Beirut, March 18 (see my 109, March 19, 10 [11] p.m.) were issued by General Catroux in Damascus today. The Syrian Constitution of May 14, 1930, is re-established as of the day a newly elected Chamber of Deputies elects a President of the Republic. A provisional government under Ata Bey el Ayoubi [Page 966] as “Chief of State, Chief of Government” is established. It is to proceed within 3 months to the holding of elections, meanwhile exercising the executive and legislative powers.

The cited authority for these decrees is, with appropriate variations, the same as that on which the Lebanese decrees were based, i.e., primarily Catroux’s declaration of September 27, 1941,25 proclaiming the independence of Syria and the French National Committee’s decision of January 24, 1943, authorizing him to take all necessary measures to reestablish constitutional regimes in Syria and Lebanon.

Ayoubi, himself a respected statesman, former Premier and Syrian patriot, has appointed as his collaborating Ministers of State three moderate Nationalists not members of the National bloc: Faydia Tasi of Horns, Naiman Taki of Aleppo and Mustaf Ashehabi member of the outgoing government.

I issued invitations over a week ago to all leading Damascus notables, including Ayoubi, to a reception to be held March 31 to mark the formal opening of our Legation there; and unless the Department perceives reason to the contrary I shall arrange to call on him March 3 [30?], the transfer of power to his government having taken place without popular or official protest or untoward incident.

  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 381, September 28, 1941, 10 p.m., from Beirut, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iii, p. 786.