Legacies of World War I in the Middle East


The vast majority of the world tends to identify with World War II as being the defining conflict for much of the future and it’s respective waters to tread. However, what has lent more to the sculpting of the Middle East is actually World War I. Although the changes that ensued can be interpreted and viewed in a number of ways, it was largely because of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Things in this region would forever be changed. In the wake of the war, the Ottoman Empire essentially became Turkey, which occupied far less land. Subsequent changes ensued in Turkey, such as population and the like. But, as for the rest of the Middle East, much of the land would be divided by European super powers Britain and France. In this European run Middle East society, the two countries made it clear that they wanted to help the land and it’s people to regain some sense of livelihood.
In the “efforts” of Britain and France, they began to enforce, perhaps too many ostentatious regulations. They were responsible for overseeing infrastructure projects, creating land borders and other political decisions that many Middle Easterners would begin to resent. The significant changes that came with this European interjection include the formation of countries such as Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Many of the issues that the region has today are a direct reflection of geo political friction that began during this time.
Also of particular importance are three important diplomatic agreements made during this time. These agreements include The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, in which Arab and British leaders, respectively, made an agreement that the Arabs would begin control of the region without the (then) current foreign involvement. The second agreement was between France and Britain that stated that the lands would be divided between the two. The third agreement was that the British would honor the stateless Jewish people by granting them a nation of their own, Israel. All of these agreements were in seeming conflict with each other. After the British were victorious in WWI, it became their goal to deal with these agreements. Which, some would say, have never really been resolved. This contributes greatly to the turbulence experienced by much of the modern Middle East today.

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