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“Liberal Colonialism” And Martial Law In French Mandate Syria

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Chapter Summary

The influence of European legal theory and so-called liberal imperialism on the post-colonial state is rarely examined, except in normative law codes or the presence of secular constitutions. This chapter examines a single episode in the history of mandatory Syria to suggest some of the more subtle traces of European occupation. France occupied Syria and Lebanon in 1920. Agitation against the post-World War I Middle East settlement was widespread in the region, and each of the new French and British colonies, carved from the former Ottoman realms and euphemistically styled ?Mandates? under nominal League of Nations supervision. Colonial claims to rule were based on military domination rather than on consent. The chapter also seeks to ask: what were the long-term prospects for ?liberal? state institutions introduced in an atmosphere of profoundly illiberal rule, and designed to legitimate, or shroud, authoritarian military government?

Keywords: European legal theory; European occupation; liberal imperialism; mandatory Syria; martial law; military government



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