a1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For urban politics in Syria, the interwar years were pivotal. The country was in a transitional phase, uncomfortably suspended between four centuries of Ottoman rule and national independence. Although the Empire had collapsed and new forms of social and political organization were available, there remained a distinctive Ottoman cast to Syria's urban elites. Meanwhile, France had occupied the country, but was ruling clumsily and with a growing measure of uncertainty. The Mandate system itself dictated that the French could not remain in Syria indefinitely and Arab nationalism, however inconsistent and inarticulate, had become the reigning political idea of the age. The cry of independence rang across much of Syria, and nowhere more loudly and clearly than in her cities, the traditional centers of political life.