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Creation of the Modern Middle East

The story of how the modern day Middle East came to be.
by

William McTaggart

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of Creation of the Modern Middle East

Enver Pasha As a junior officer of the Ottoman Army, Enver Pasha joined the Young Turks, an organization plotting against the Ottoman Regime. After killing the Minister of War in 1913 and becoming the Minister of War himself, Pasha married the Sultan's daughter. In 1914, as Germany was ready to invade Belgium, Enver created a secret treaty with Germany. Unaware of the treaty, the Allied Forces began wooing Turkey and persuading them to join the Allies. World War I After signing the treaty, Germany urged the Ottoman Empire to attack Russia. Enver entered a conspiracy with a german general, wanting to take part in the spoils of the Central Forces victory. The two lead two powerful ships, the Goeben and the Breslau, up the Black Sea and fired on Russia's coast. Russia, thinking it was Turkey firing on them, called in Britain and France to help and suddenly the Ottoman Empire was caught fighting the Allies. The Ottoman Empire lost, was overthrown and up for grabs. Lord Horatio Kitchener After the Ottoman Empire began battling the Allied Forces, Lord Horatio Kitchener led a diversionary attack on Enver Pasha's foolhardy charge on a fortified position under Russia's command. Russia had panicked at the charge and contacted Kitchener to aid them. The British Navy didn't know that Kitchener had defeated Enver and opened fire on Constantinople. Russia, fearing that Britain and France would control Constantinople and thusly their trade, had an agreement with Britain and France to not take Constantinople if Russia would support their claims in the Middle East. Remapping the Middle East The British Prime Minister appointed Kitchener to get Mark Sykes, Winston Churchill, and T.E. Lawrence to remap the Middle East after they had defeated the Ottoman Empire. Sykes saw the Ottoman Empire as a force that protected the roads to India from rivals and didn't want it to die, however for the next few years he continued to dismantle it. The Allies lost a battle at the Dardanelles but kept dividing the Middle East. Lawrence began to convince tribes that followed Emir Hussein to attack the Turks so the Allies could control the Suez canal. The attacks that these tribes made were known as the "Arab Revolts". Possible Allies Britain thought that Arab speaking peoples would join the Allies, but they didn't follow the Arab leaders or the Allied Forces. Sykes thought that they needed Jewish support and his efforts were published in a book on British/Jewish support. Campaigning Through the Middle East In 1917, the U.S.A. joined the Allies, inspiring British-India to tighten its grip on Iraqi areas. General Allenby fought from Egypt towards Damascus. Lawrence and Arab raiders captured the Red Sea and part of Aqaba, while other Arabs harassed the Turkish flank. Invasion of Turkey and the Peace Conference In October, 1918, Allenby captured Syria and Lebanon and was ready to invade Turkey. He couldn't, however, because on October 31 the Ottoman Empire surrendered. A Peace Conference took place in Paris in February 1919, and convened. Shortly after, Mark Sykes died. Nobody could take his place, so the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, personally over saw all Middle East affairs. Winston Churchill started taking matters into his own hands. Earlier in 1919 the Prime Minister asked Churchill to be the War and Air Minister, and the Middle East was one of his responsibilities. Winston Churchill Winston Churchill was not yet influential enough to inspire anyone like he would in 1940. He was famous and was put into a high office because of his father, but was distrusted for changing political parties.Winston's foresighted use of the Admiralty was praised, but the botched Dardanelles campaign was blamed on him. The Air and War Minister position was a chance for him to make a political comeback. Everyone was bickering over what Middle East land they would get, but Churchill thought that nobody should have any land because imposing a new rule would cause problems, but no one listened. Britain Pulls Back Their Soldiers An British army of a million men in the Middle East withdrew because they had been fighting for years and were too tired. Churchill said retreating would lose British influence in the Middle East. It took two years to impose a peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Britain, whose influence was completely gone. There were riots, demonstrations and protests in Egypt. Ibn Saud defeated Hussein and threatened to destroy him in Arabia. In Turkey Enver fled to Russia, where he was killed, and Mustafa Kemal led a rebellion against the Allied-imposed treaty, destroying it and proclaiming Turkey independent. Churchill's Vindication Lloyd George was under attack from all sides, proving Churchill right and putting him into even more power. Churchill was made Colonial Secretary and expanded his powers because he was responsible for Britain's domain in in Arab-speaking Asia. Churchill assembled a staff of the most able men he could find, including T.E. Lawrence. Stories of Lawrence's wartime exploits awed Churchill. Wanting to forge a consensus between his staff and men in the field, Churchill held a conference in Cairo on March 12, 1921. The Conference Agenda Items Egypt was being settled by Allenby, who set up Egypt as an independent nation, though still largely under British influence. Israel, West Bank, Jordan, and Iraq were on the agenda. The fates of Lebanon and Syria were very much discussed. Syria had been put in the command of Prince Faisal, a Comrade-in-Arms of T.E. Lawrence, because of insecure rule. French Retaliation After Syria declared its independence, the French fought back. Taking most of Syria and Lebanon, the French exiled Faisal. Churchill was occupied with Arab disturbances in Palestine, the Arabs were fighting the Jews there because there were too many people on the barren land. The fights, mainly east of the Jordan River, made Churchill redefine and keep Britain's commitment to Zionism. Since east of the river was lawless, Churchill temporarily relocated the Jews to the West. Prince Abdullah Churchill had devised a plan to use air power and armored cars to control the Middle East. It would take time, but tribal fighting needed to be contained. To add to the problems, Prince Abdullah left with a group of soldiers to go to Jordan. There were fears that he was going to attack the French, thus giving them a reason to invade. A Temporary Solution Churchill made Abdullah the governor of Jordan to keep Jordan quiet, and he had to do so without violence. The appointment was also to stop him from inciting a French attack. The decision was so effective that the borders have been in place for seven decades. Oil Revelations and Building Tensions Abdullah's appointment went partway to repay Britain's wartime debt to the Hussein family, however King Hussein was losing to his blood rival Ibn Saud, and Prince Faisal remained in exile. Meanwhile, present-day Iraq was thought to have vast oil resources and was home to the bloodiest postwar Arab uprisings. Churchill wanted to abandon the land, but Lloyd George said that leaving would be handing the Americans or French potentially a very oil-rich land. A Second Temporary Decision In order to make Iraq a country, Britain had to look at the area of Kurdish, Assyrian Christian, Jewish, Sunni and Shiite as a single unit. Faisal was put into power in Iraq and was to keep it quiet until British forces arrived, much like his brother, Abdullah. Ibn Saud To protect Abdullah and Faisal from Ibn Saud, Britain used their planes and armored cars. Britain gave Saud a substantial amount of land, later known as Saudi Arabia, and took some of Saud's won land and gave it to Iraq. Kuwait was used as an area between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to stop them from colliding with each other. The New Middle East In 1922, Winston Churchill succeeded in remapping the Middle East to borders suitable to Britain. However, the question is if the peoples there are willing to continue to live within these borders? Ottoman Empire The Janissaries The Creation of the Modern Day Middle East
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