Although some received territory, they were embittered as a result of the perceived broken pledge. The result of this was an Arab uprising against the Turks in 1916.
The San Remo Conference nevertheless began to shape the post-war world (McKinney 2010). The result was that the Europeans were making impositions into country where the various nations were having unique conflicts of their own. According to Roberts (2007), for example, The Islam sects Shiite and Sunni were in conflict regarding the succession of Muhammad as the leader of Islam. Not having any understanding of the sectarian splits within the country, the British created the new nation of Iraq in ancient Mesopotamia. In so doing, the Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul were bound together quite uneasily, as the first was mostly Sunni, the second mostly Shiite, and the third generally Kurdish.
A further factor was that the invasion of the British meant a new type of rulership. Up until the time, Iraq was held together by autocratic kings and dictators. After the war, however, the British installed Feisal as king. He was the son of the ruler of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, one of the British allies during the war (Roberts, 2007). The monarchy started at the time was overthrown in 1958. Saddam Hussein took power from 1968 until 2003, when he was overthrown by a U.S.-led coalition. Since this time, little was done to contain the rising sectarian tension in the region, which has escalated violence and threatened civil war in the country. Things fared little better with Western involvement in the land east of the Jordan River. Here, Feisa's brother Abdullah was installed on the throne (Roberts 2007). Like his brother, Abdullah's rule also came to a violent end, with the king being assassinated in 1951. His great-grandson, Abdullah H. is currently on the throne.
To the west of the Jordan River, the issue of the promised homeland to the Jews was the cause of conflict and violence for the next two decades. The reason for this was the absolute disregard for the current rulership of the area when the promise was made. With Palestine being mostly Arab at the time, its leaders strongly opposed a new Jewish state in the are. Those who supported Zionism on the other hand claimed the right of the Jewish to a state in ancient Israel. The Holocaust during World War II brought further worldwide pressure to keep this promise to the Jews (Roberts 2007).
To compromise, the United Nations divided a narrow piece of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea into respective Jewish and Palestinian states. The problem was that, while Jewish leaders found this acceptable, the Arab states did not, and attacked the new state as soon as its British protectors left the region in May 1948 (Roberts 2007).
This was followed by a more or less constant state of turmoil between the Arabs and Israelis, including the Six Day War in 1967. A number of peace negotiations were effected, which virtually ended with the election of the militant group Hamas in Palestine during 2006).
The imposition of France within the Middle East was equally tumultuous. After making Syria a protectorate in 1920, the French claimed special responsibility to safeguard Christianity within the Ottoman Empire. To this end, the country created the separate state of Lebanon at the coastal region of the country. Even today, the Syrians do not recognize this state as legitimate. Nonetheless, Lebanon's independence in 1943 led to conflicts within the state, mostly religion-inspired. Strife between the Christians and Muslims for example led to a 15-year civil war in the country by 1975.
Finally Kuwait, once a district of Basra under Ottoman rule, was later overseen by Britain until its independence in 1961. Here also, conflicts pervaded, most notably in 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded the country and started the first Gulf War. Kuwait was liberated in 1991 (Roberts 2007).
The entire Middle East continues to suffer from internal conflict, some of which is threatening to become a global problem, such as the war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks worldwide. It therefore appears that the actions and promises made by the Allies during World War I sparked little more than increased conflict for all the countries involved. Despite President Wilson's dream of autonomous development for these countries, and despite the eventual independence that they received, it appears that Western influence had ruined them ever since the end of the War. At the bottom of the issue is the fact that these countries never had the opportunity to create a new identity for themselves. The identities imposed upon them now only serve to create more confusion and problems than they solve (Roberts 2007).
The Influence of the Nationalist Ideal
According to McKinney (2010), the rise of nationalism began after the First World War, both in the West and the Middle Eastern countries. Indeed, it began the drive that colonized so much of the Middle East and shaped their identities. The movement however gained momentum during and after the Second World War. The nationalism connected to Turkish nationalism, Arab identities and Zionism lies at the heart of a large amount of conflict that began with the invasion of European forces after the First World War. Nationalism in Palestine was also at the heart of the conflict it experienced with Zionism and the Jewish national identity. Even more than religion, nationalism lies at the bottom of a large amount of Middle-Eastern conflict.
It is not surprising that this is so. Indeed, McKinney (200y) notes that European colonialism further spurred the growth of Arab national sentiments. Such sentiments were largely based upon past resentments in terms of promises not kept. In addition, post-World War II coups resulted in the surrender of governments in Syria, Egypt and Iraq between 1949 and 1958.
In response, however, nationalism also became and increasing feature of these countries. Most notable is the nationalism espoused by President Nasser of Egypt after the Free Officers took over in the county. President Nasser advocated nationalism, a strong military, and the Non-Alignment Movement. The president then went on to nationalize the Suez Canal company owned by Great Britain, and attempted to obtain economic and military aid from the Soviet Union. Although Nasser failed in his attempt to overthrow imperialism in Egypt, he nonetheless was instrumental in awaking the nationalist sentiment in his followers and his successors. Indeed, his influence also stretched far beyond the borders of Egypt, where many Egyptians and Arabs joined in the movement against the British imposition of their national borders.
Because of this very imposition, along with that of France and the United States, the face of the former Ottoman Empire changed significantly; a change that was neither easy nor peaceful. The Allied forces imposed their influence in such a way that none of the Middle Easter countries involved could hope to achieve any sort of autonomous development, as President Wilson advocated. Instead, it simply became territory to be colonialized, although the term was no longer "politically correct" at the time.
There is little doubt that the Middle East might have been a much different place without the intervention of the Allied forces. Currently, issues already arising during and after World War I still persist with little solution having been found or applied. According to McKinney, current problems include resource problem in Jordan, the multi-ethnic nature of Iraq, nationalism and the drive to self-determination by means of the Zionist and Palestinian identities, and the Pan-Arabism that resulted from the imperialism imposed by Great Britain.
Clearly, much will have to be done towards finding a solution to this grim legacy. Most important is however the almost cliched adage that, unless we learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. The British effort in the Middle East appears to be a case in point.
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Roberts, Sam. How the Middle East got that way. New York Times Upfront, 15 January 2007. Retrieved from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/How+the+Middle+East+got+that+way:+the+seeds+of+much+of+the+conflict...-a0157946237
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