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Iskenderun .. Arab land in the cave of the Ottoman sultan

In Iskenderun, food, songs, folklore, and books on the shelves of the libraries are all in Arabic. The Ottoman occupier criminalizes the population who speak their Arabic language so they are speaking it secretly.  Despite all the attempts of the Turks to erase the identity of Iskenderun and obliterate the Arabic identity of it, Iskenderun has remained as a thorn in the neck of the sultanate of blood, seeking salvation and return to the map of the Syrian state. Iskenderun is a beautiful region that is best known for its history and remarkable cuisine.

Returning back to that period, we have to ask the question about the reason behind France’s decision to   abandon Iskenderun to Turkey? A French General called Wigan told a French journalist that the presence of a strong Turkey on the borders of the Arab countries eases their enthusiasm and hinders their development and progress, while a French researcher said about the treaty in which France abandoned the region to Turkey by saying: "This treaty is a grave in which we buried the dream of the Arab Empire."

Since ancient times, Iskenderun was part of Syria, a precious piece in the heart of every Syrian. Muslim Arabs arrived and entered it in 16 in year of the Hijra. It is considered one of the most important areas of Syria. The Syrian government did not recognize the inclusion of it to Turkey based on Article 4 of the Mandate Instrument which prohibits The Mandatory State has to relinquish any part of the Mandatory territory, and non-recognition remains.

The Syrian people have never gave up Iskenderun even if the Turks called it Hatay and considered it to be a Turkish province. Iskenderun is an internationally recognized Syrian Arab land. In the Sykes-Picot Agreement, it was within the Blue Zone of the French Mandate. 1920 The Ottoman Sultanate recognized the Arabism of Iskenderun and Cilicia (Adana and Mersin) and their association with the Arab countries (Article 27) .After the unification of the Syrian states formed by the French Mandate, Iskenderun was annexed to the Syrian Central Authority. On January 10, 1936, Iskenderun became a governorate like the rest of Syria.

The Treaty of Sèvres between France and Turkey about Iskenderun did not satisfy the Turkish government. It rejected its provisions and provoked a dispute with France over the fate of it and submitted the dispute to the Council of the League of Nations, which issued a fateful UN resolution to separate the region from Syria and the appointment of a French governor on May 29, 1937, and for a whole year the work of the French ruler in the region to create the situation for the secret scheme between Turkey and France.

Facts about what happened in 1998

After  an Iranian-Egyptian mediation and a personal intervention from the then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and former Egyptian Hosni Mubarak, a security agreement signed between Turkey and Syria on October 20, 1998, which includes: controlling security on both sides of the border, clearing mines and stopping military threats to Syria from Turkey, and providing that a ministerial committee from both sides on the level of the ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries  shoot meet with the aim of developing relations between both sides.

Finally, what one can conclude from all what have been said that Iskenderun was, and still is, Syrian territory that no Syrian can forget.

Haifaa Mafalani