The Independence Movement in Syria
The congress was organized towards the end of the OttomanRussian War, in 1878. It was attended by some 30 leaders and notables, among them representatives of the Shi'ites from Jabal 'Amil and Sidon. The congress participants formulated a plan for the secession of Syria from the Ottoman Empire as an independent state that would control the regions now called Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. As ruler of this state the congress participants chose Amir 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri, who had great authority in Syria at that time, because of his respected family background, because he was a national hero and a statesman of great stature in their eyes, and because he had already established a strong Arab state in Algeria and had fought to defend it from French occupation. It is noteworthy that the fact that he was an Algerian and not a Syrian did not bother the congress participants.