Southern Asia 1920: Franco-Syrian War

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 25 Jul 1920 (Anglo-French Overreach: Franco-Syrian War), showing the following events: 1920 Iraqi Revolt; Greek Summer Offensive; Azadistan; Outbreak of Zhili-Anhui War; Franco-Syrian War.

At the end of World War I, Syria had been divided between the French on the coast and the Arabs in the interior. By mid-1920 the French were ready to assert their control over the whole country and invaded, occupying Damascus.


Changes to the map 18 May 1920–25 July 1920

Franco-Syrian War: The French have just entered Damascus, effectively bringing an end to the Arab Kingdom of Syria. King Feisal has fled south into British Palestine.

Iraqi Revolt: Revolts have broken out against British rule in Mesopotamia - first at Tel Afar, on the Syrian border, and then, more seriously, in the middle Euphrates region.

Greco-Turkish War: Greece has launched a full-scale invasion of Turkey, occupying much of western Anatolia from Usak to Bursa as well as taking control of posts along the Sea of Marmara in cooperation with Britain. Additional Greek forces have landed in eastern Thrace and taken Adrianople.

Persia: The republic of Azadistan has broken away from Persia, providing a haven for troops fleeing Soviet Azerbaijan.

Warlord China: The Zhili-Anhui War has broken out, ending any pretense of national unity in China.

Africa: The British East African Protectorate has become the Colony of Kenya and the East Africa Protectorate - informally it is just called Kenya.

British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India's influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

4 Jun–19 Oct 1920 1920 Iraqi Revolt

After mass demonstrations in Baghdad against the British occupation of Mesopotamia, Iraqi rebels seize control of Tel Afar, near the Syrian border. Although Tel Afar is soon recaptured, more insurgents seize Rumaythah, south of Baghdad, triggering rebellion across the middle Euphrates. British reinforcements arrive, finally suppressing the revolt in October with the support of the wikipedia

22 Jun–3 Sep 1920 Greek Summer Offensive

The Greek army, with the cooperation of British forces, advances from Smyrna into western Anatolia against the Ankara-based Turkish Nationalists. The Turks fall back, allowing the Greeks to reach a line from Usak to Bursa. In the north, the Greeks occupy eastern Thracein wikipedia

24 Jun 1920 Azadistan

Mohammed Khiabani establishes the republic of Azadistan—the Land of Freedom—in the Persian province of Azerbaijan. The republic becomes a haven for troops fleeing Soviet Azerbaijan, but is suppressed by the Persian government in wikipedia

12 Jul 1920 Outbreak of Zhili-Anhui War

The Zhili clique denounces the Anhui clique, which currently dominates the government of the unstable Republic of China, in the widely circulated Paoting-fu Telegram. The denouncement has been signed by a number of generals from both the Zhili and Fengtian cliques, and brings the rivalry between Zhili and Anhui into the open in the Zhili-Anhui wikipedia

14–25 Jul 1920 Franco-Syrian War

General Gouraud, the French high commissioner for Syria, demands that King Feisal of Syria accept a French mandate within two days. Feisal accepts after four days, having requested an extension, but Gouraud invades anyway. On July 24, French tanks and aircraft overwhelm the Arabs at Maysalun, occupying Damascus the following wikipedia