Prior to World War I, mainly due to the protection rights of the Great Powers stemming from the capitulations and the balance of forces in Ottoman politics, a number of de facto autonomous communities had been created by the different components of Ottoman society in Syria. Before the increase of Western influence, those rights had been provided by the Ottoman millet system.1 However, in the modern era Western intervention played a significant role in the protection of the privileges of non-Muslim communities. Consequently, among those communities a certain sympathy toward these European powers emerged and Ottoman authority was considerably weakened, especially over non-Muslims, as in the case of some sections of the Jewish and Christian communities. The Christian clergy and internal Jewish organizations motivated by Zionism had gained substantial independence from state control and the ability to “conduct the conduct” of their communities. For that reason, the existence of such structures that were resistant to the effective control of the government created a barrier between the state and the people living under its rule, preventing the diffusion and penetration of the state in geographical Syria. By the outbreak of the war, from Cemal’s perspective, the administrative organization of the Zionist movement within Jewish society in Palestine and the position of the Christian clergy for the Christians, especially those of the Maronites, constituted such an obstacle. Furthermore, the government in Lebanon was another autonomous body,

largely free from Ottoman control, administratively. It had been established and guaranteed by the Great Powers following the incidents of 1860.2 Quite the reverse of the Unionist idea of a unitary state, the Lebanese government had its own administrative organs, gendarmerie, and tax collection system within the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire. As will be indicated below, all of these, in the eyes of Cemal, were interlayers that had to be eliminated or checked for the proper establishment of state control in Syria, similar to the case of Arabism. In this chapter, the analysis will focus on how Cemal Pasha intended to limit the authority of these autonomous bodies and increase the control of the Ottoman government among the different peoples living in its lands, and on the extent to which he succeeded in the elimination of these structures and the shaping of the behavior of the citizens living under them.