Nationalism & Middle East 1800-1925

Nationalism & Middle East 1800-1925


I’m Barry Maxwell and I will be presenting
on Nationalism and the Middle East as the concept of nationalism forms in Europe and
makes it’s way into the empires and more modern states in the Middle East. So, a definition of what, starting off as
to what is means to be a nation. A group of people that feels themselves to be a people
with a name; with a commonality of ideas, attitudes and believes they are we and an
us. Often, but not always with some of these common things: language, religion, history
and/or culture and so on. Usually they’ll share some of these but they don’t need to
share all of them as a nation. Being a nation does not mean that you have
a plot of ground that you can call your own; it might or might not; not the same thing;
could be spread across existing empires or states. By states, we are not talking about
California, Washington; we are talking about states in the sense of being a sovereign country. Nationalism is the political movement that
happens when this group of people decide that in fact they do want their own state and are
willing to do quite a bit to get it to include pressing others with the need to become part
of the group and strive for this as the most important identity they have. Others might be allowed or might not; especially
if they seem to be competing for loyalty. Almost always there is some other person;
other group; foreigners; or just somebody that is not part of your group that repression
you or struggles against. There may be one other group or maybe the whole rest of the
world. Power of Nationalism grows substantially as
a concept and in practice out of the French Revolution and as a product of the Napoleonic
war that comes afterwards. So, where do these ideas of states come from?
It didn’t used to be there for most of peoples history. Everywhere in the world you had empires;
maybe kingdoms. The idea that you would have a fixed boundary with recognized borders and
would remain relatively constant with an agreed upon ruler was relatively new. The idea starts
to come out of 30 years of war in the early 1600s in Europe; horrible war; devastated
the people; the countryside; the economies. It was so awful that the survivors decided
that we needed a different way of doing business came the agreement they’d let the kings run
their own area without interfering with each other. Recognized boundaries weren’t completely
stable but much more so than every bit before and this idea to include to some extent you
would try to include within these boundaries groups of people that saw themselves as a
people; so the idea of starting to think about aligning nations with the states. Now, you have the revolution that happens;
a very emotional intense time. The French throw off their monarchy and start to feel
themselves to be united as Frenchman so much as that they are going to on the rest of Europe;
get rid of these other monarchies and spread this idea of self-government with no kings
throughout the rest of Europe. Napoleon uses this wisdom as being repressed by others because
the other monarchies tried to stop all this to build an army that the world has never
seen before; not because that he was a good general; but he had motivated the Frenchman
that wanted to fight; longed to fight; remember that up to this time most armies built out
of draftees, conscripts that were just grabbed and thrown into the army. These folks wanted
to fight for a country that was just formed and go off and spread the revolution. Now
when they do this and occupy all of Europe except Great Britain and parts of Russia;
the occupied come the “we” that want to get rid of the Frenchman; so you have Spanish
becoming Spainards; people in the Germanic areas becoming Germans and this goes a long
way to uniting peoples against the French occupations; it never would have happened
otherwise. And so much has been talked about; written about this formation of nations as
they then formed into states and countries. So, the Concert of Europe where again, the
survivors try to make sure that this does not happen again put together a system of
regulations; part of this which leads to a relatively peaceful formation of the state
of Germany out of smaller Germanic tribes; not completely peaceful but compared to the
big wars of previous times; yea. So, a map of the modern European state system
after the 1648 peace of westphalia. This is the beginnings of the modern map France, Poland,
Sweden up above, Spain at the lower left. A modern look of Europe as it evolves out
of the Concert of Europe by 1900; not that different than today’s map of Europe. This idea makes its way to the Middle East
after being so prominent in Europe. You have a lot of Middle Easterners who traveled to
Europe in the 1800s to learn about European ways; modern technology; modern economics;
modern business–trying to figure out with the Europeans were whipping their but all
over the place from Napoleon in 1798 all the way up the British occupation in the 1880s
and Egypt in other places. So, you have a lot of inhabitants in the Middle
East that don’t trust their own rulers and don’t like the occupiers and are looking for
something new. Nationalism is it for many of them. Their old identify of many of them of members
of the community of Islam as Muslims is still there but just doesn’t seem to be enough to
protect them from these outsiders and declining fortunes so they are looking something additional
to that and not all the Arabs or other inhabitants were Muslim. You had a significant Christian
community in many parts of the Middle East as well. Their Ottoman rulers which once upon a time
they could feel good about being part of the Ottoman empire but now the Ottoman’s were
not even able to hold their own without European help against the Russians and other invaders
from Europe. Egyptians had been occupied by the British and inhabitants (1) don’t like
that and (2) not cool being an Ottoman any more because they can’t even take care of
themselves much less everybody else. So, everybody’s looking for something new. And, yea, this rule by others is not cool.
Arabs don’t like having the Turks tell them what to do. They don’t like the British telling
them what to do either and the Persians are getting tired of the British presence and
dominance in the oil rich area of Kurziestan in southwestern Persia. So, ethnicity Arab, Persian, Turkish becomes
a main progress for this idea of nation locally. Turks do start to distinguish themselves;
yea, they are Ottomans but we are Turks too which bothers the Arabs because they feel
that they are second class citizens in the Ottoman empire. So the nationalist movement
starts. The Arabs recall have these glory days when
they were the rulers and the Arab empire that they have looked back on fondly, if you recall
from earlier discussions. They have their common language of Arabic; have common culture
of Bedouin culture and others. The Persians have their own separate culture
and language Farsi. They are not Arabs by the way, very much see themselves as separate
and they have recollections of the earlier historic times of empire; the Great Persian
Empire under Xeres versus the Greeks and the 300 Spartans at Thermoplye. A 1900 map–Egypt is already controlled by
the British who controls some other places. The Ottoman’s are still holding onto Syria
which is up in here and the main parts of the Arabs peninsula controlled by the Ottomans
also; Mecca being here. The nationalist movement picks up speed as
a product of World War I; especially the British conflict with the Ottoman empire. The British
having a hard time winning that war especially again the Ottomans in the Middle East had
the idea of trying to split the Arabs from the Turks and try to get the Arabs to revolt
against the Ottoman rulers with some success. Think of Lawrence of Arabia. Also the British
had to really clamp on the Arab aspirations in Egypt which creates a lot of resentment
for the future in order to protect the Suez Canal. So, to get through this war difficult as it
is for them, the British makes a bunch of promises to the people to hold their own alliances
together. One of the earlier ones, yea, Arabs revolt; we’ll help you get a country, actually
promises them parts of Syria; parts of Palestine, vague as the promises are, but none the less
they are there. They promised the French various parts of
the Ottoman empire; they’ve now double promised pieces of Syria as well as other parts of
the Ottoman territory–we will look at a map in a minute– To get Jewish support back home during British
elections and hopefully Russian support in what they thought was a Jewish faction in
the emerging Communist party there they had the idea of promising Jews a home land in
Palestine. Jews by the way; many are now considering themselves a nation who want their own country
also; not all; but many. They, along with others have agreed to divide
up Turkish homeland of Anatolia, modern day Turkey, the Greeks are going to get a piece,
the French, the Kurds and Italians and these problems cause a lot of problems with the
Turkish inhabitants also. Again, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the blue
area in what the French believe they are going to get some of which they do. The British
believe that they are going to be able hold on to the red areas and the yellow one at
least in the interim and this goes into some of the mandates that they create later through
the League of Nations. The Ottomans are defeated in World War I–their
empires are dissolved and carved up by the victors. The Turks led by Ataturk, that you heard quite
a bit about, fight a post WWI war against these invading Greeks, Armenians, the French,
the Kurds to carve out a modern day Turkey much to everybody’s surprise. Armenia did get a small one established but
it’s immediately dominated by both the Turks on one side the Russians on the other so they
don’t get quite what they are hoping for. The Kurds who had great hopes and promises
of getting their own state — that’s southeastern part of Turkey and parts of Persia and Mesopotamia
wind up with nothing, a problem that still persists today. The Arabs don’t get much out of this whole
thing either–not nearly what they thought they were going to get. The British hold onto
Egypt and establish mandates through the League of Nations that promise future independence
but really become a long term colonial rule on the part of the British and French which
allows the British, especially, to hold onto Palestine and the newly created Jordan and
the country of Iraq, as well as Kuwait. The French come in and occupy Syria and this
made the Arabs revolt and is brutally put down. The Arab and French eventually split
off Lebanon and make it a separate country and rule that also up until the World War
II conflict. The only ones that eventually come out with
a country of their own in Arabs in Arabia eventually under King Saud who forms Saudi
Arabia. Here is a more modern map–again out of all
this the French controlled Syria and Lebanon up in here; the British in Egypt, Palestine,
Jordan, Iraq and parts of Iran still, states here and wanting to hold on to their control
here of the Red Sea and onto the Suez Canal. A little about some of the leaders we have
talked about. Upper left Kermal Ataturk; also known as Mustafa Kermal who helped lead the
Turks to their eventual nationhood. King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabi. Upper right Reza Kahn
who takes over Persia and areas of Iran eventually. Abdullah of Jordan. Faisal of Iraq put in
place by Britain but they became a national rulers in their own right although still under
a lot of British influence.

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