The dawn of the twentieth century marked the beginning of a new era for the Arab East in more senses than one. Throughout the nineteenth century, when European power dominated almost the entire world, all the countries of the Arab East were, at least formally, part of the Ottoman Empire. But at the turn of the twentieth century the European states had made huge inroads. France had been in an unchallengeable position for decades in the North African countries, as well as powerful in nominally Ottoman Syria. The Ottomans entered World War I on the side of Germany and Austria- Hungary.
The Arabs, led by Husein ibn Ali, ruler of the Hejaz( now part of Saudi Arabia), revolted against the Ottomans. Earlier negotiations with the British had led Husein to believe that an independent Arab state which would include Syria and other Arab lands, would be set up at the end of the war. In March 1920 a Syrian congress in Damascus proclaimed Feisal I, a son of Husein, king of an independent Syria. However, the following month an Allied peace conference gave France a mandate over an area corresponding roughly to present day Syria and Lebanon, and Feisal was forced to abdicate.
A British mandate was established over Palestine and Transjordan (now Jordan). Under the French, Lebanon was made a separate State. Discontent with French rule resulted in an uprising of the Druzes in 1925. The rebellion soon spread to many parts of Syria. (The Jabal al-Druze was one of the internal States created by France. ) The severance of Lebanon was indeed a most fiery issue, which Syria considered to be as the stumping of an elemental part of Syrian land. Mandate Syria had been unsuccessful in preventing the maiming of greater Syria and its consequent division.
However due to nationalist demonstrations, in 1945, turned actual fighting with the requirement of British troops to restore order; the French refused to accept the total independence of Syria and, after anti French demonstrations, bombarded Damascus in May of the same year, was threatened by Great Britain with military intervention. Syria which had been become a charter member of the United Nations after becoming a subsequent Allied base in WW II , brought a complaint over the continued presence of French troops before the UN General Assembly.
Finally, in April 1946 the French withdrew their forces from Syria. After becoming independent, Syria was troubled by internal disunity. On Feb 1 1958, Syria joined with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic (UAR). Gamel Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt was named president of the UAR. The union soon encountered serious economic and political problems. A three- year drought in Syria, ending in 1960, severely reduced Syrias wheat and barley crops. The attempt to create a state-controlled economy alienated Syrias landowners and businessmen.
Inasmuch as the coagulation with Egypt was triumphant in its primary end of obviating a communist coup in Syria, the hostility of Nasserist Egypt provoked Syria which had long thought itself to be the total embodiment of Arab Nationalism. Furthermore, the government of UAR was reorganized in a manner that gave greater power to Egypt, and after three years of Egyptian tyranny rather than the supposed equal alliance, on Sept 28 1961, a group of Syrian army officers, supported by a large part of the public, revolted and proclaimed independence from Egypt.