World War I And Its Effect On Essay


¶ … World War I and its Effect on the Middle East The Europeans who had already colonized much of the area with post-World War I now spread further into the Middle East claiming further portions such as Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Palestine. The Constantinople Agreement followed by many more including the Sykes Picot agreement over and again implemented covert agreements regarding lands that would go to each of the Allies. After the war, France received Lebanon and Syria (

) even though Syria herself preferred an American mandate (2), and Britain received land that included Palestine, Israel, Transjordan, and Iraq (3). The indigenous people themselves were never consulted regarding whom they wished to control them, and colonization, consequently, prompted Arabic nationalism.

Nationalism was, furthermore, created by the fact that the peace settlements imposed by the Allies after World War I broke up nation states and created others, confusing many who, originally believing that they would be provided with their own state, now found themselves minorities in an alien region (4). This random carving up of nation-states across borders despite historical and original geographic parameters alienated, confused -- and then angered many. Treatment of the indigenous inhabitants was also bigoted, intolerant and, oftentimes, unjust, with the European powers more concerned for their own welfare than for the economic and political well being of their wards. Jordan, for instance, was compelled to rely on Britain for its sustenance for it was quickly depleted of its economic resources (5)


Nationalism was, essentially, uprooted nations seeking a sense of identity, be it Zionism that clung to the Balfour Declaration and called Israel its home, and the Palestinian national identity that developed in response to Zionism (6).
Nationalism also introduced nationally inspired violence. Violence had always been present, much of it in a religious form. Now it took new shape as nationalist or political status.

Unrest also festered in the Middle East due to perceived incompetence and corruption of the Arab leaders. The governments of Syria, Egypt, and Iraq surrendered to coups in 1949 and 1958, and nationalism in Egypt developed after Nasser usurped power leading to Pan Arabism in an attempt to transcend their borders and rise above imperialist influences.

It seems as though the Arab Middle East was never able to overcome the tumultuous changes introduced in the region by post-World War I. Used to living for centuries under their own leaders and a comparatively unvarying status of traditional life, the modern Middle East found themselves uprooted with borders confused, alien masters with an alien religion and threatening ways controlling them, and the different branches of Islam mixed up and compelled, against their will, to be subordinated to or to live one with the other. These changes bred dissension and caused identity problems that led to the fervor for nationalism: a land and an identity to call their own. Different nationalist movements mushroomed…

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