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Alexanderetta and Colonialist Policies

"Iskenderun(Alexanderetta) and Colonialist Policies… From Occupation to usurpation from the Syrian State” is the title a book recently issued by the Syrian General Organization of Books and written by history researcher Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Bitar.

The 247-page book discusses the stages and procedures adopted by the French occupation in this part of the Syrian land which eventually led to the separation of Iskenderun from Syria in 1939.

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."

Alexandretta is Syrian

Patrick Seale: that "by disregarding its pledge to protect the integrity of Syria, France had committed a flagrantly immoral political act.”

Alexandretta covers an area of 4.805 square kilometers of the Levant coast along the Eastern Mediterranean. It is located on the Western section of what is known as the 'Syrian Saddle'. Its port (namely, the port of Alexandretta) is said to be "the first natural harbour in the Eastern Mediterranean". It offers safe anchorage for large ships in a gulf over 35miles in length. Furthermore, it is "the natural outlet for the vasthinterland of Aleppo and the Upper Euphrates valley and is connected by rail with Osmanich(Ottoman Empire) and thus with the main lines running west to Ankaraand Istanbul, east to Baghdad, and south, through Aleppo, Damascus and Haifa, to the Suez Canal". Within the boundaries of the sanjak (administrative division) of Alexandretta, however, lie, in addition to the port of Alexandretta, the ancient historical town of Antioch (Antakya) that has become the sanjak's capital; the fertile valley of the Orontes; and the Southern section of the Amanus Range.