Recently declassified diplomatic documents reveal that at the tail end of World War II, Britain tried to broker a treaty with the Syrian regime that would have given the latter control of what are today Lebanon, Jordan and Israel in return for a Middle East Arab federation loyal to London.
The documents, which contain communications intercepted and overheard by a French agent Damascus, were archived until this year in Paris, according to Ha'aretz.
They reveal that while making a public show of trying to smooth relations between France and its former protectorate Syria, British diplomats were secretly pressuring Damascus to join an alliance with Iraq that would operate under the auspices of the British Empire.
In return, Damascus was offered the opportunity to realize the idea of "Greater Syria," an area encompassing Syria, Lebanon, and what were at the time Transjordan and the Palestine Mandate territory.
The deal fell through due to insurmountable obstacles, such as eliminating French influence in the region, mounting international pressure to establish a Jewish state in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust and deposing the recently-appointed Hashemite rulers of Transjordan.
The Syrian prime minister was also said to have opposed the overall British agenda, and sided with Egypt and Saudi Arabia in its diplomatic disputes with British-controlled Iraq.