The Middle East The Creation Of The Colonialism History Essay

thus the map of the middle east is then both recent and frequently

The impact of the rivalry between Soviet Union and United States in the Cold War distorted internal politics and exacerbated or complicated regional conflicts. Indeed, the grafting of the USA/USSR competition over pre-existing Middle Eastern rivalries in several cases intensified them. At the same time, though, and in some cases, the Middle Eastern political élites themselves made use of the Cold War to pursue their own interests of hegemony, security or colonial emancipation. Following Khalidi (2009) in assuming that during the Cold War the level of penetration of the Soviet and American influence was proportional to the degree of the strategic importance of the region, I will first discuss the strategic and geopolitical features of the Middle East. Secondly, I will describe some significant historical events, in order to show how the Cold War logic affected the area and how it shaped the region’s political reality, both from a regional and a domestic point of view.

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The Cold War and the Middle East

The Cold War dominated world politics from the end of the WW2 to the collapse of Soviet Union. On 5 March 1946, when Churchill pronounced its famous speech at Westminster University, in Fulton, Missouri, describing Europe as divided by an iron curtain, with eastern Europe subjected to the “Soviet sphere” and the West under American influence, the Cold War was already on going. For more than forty years, superpowers competed ideologically, militarily, technologically and diplomatically. The effects of the rivalry extended all over the World, generating high degree of polarization and aggravating pre-existing conflicts. Although there were no wars fought directly by the two superpowers, proxy confrontations occurred in Southeast Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East.

The Middle East was a primary area of contention (Khalidi, 2009). Since WWII, superpowers were aware of its importance, in terms of its strategic geographic location and its vast oilfields and gas deposits. In fact, from a geopolitical point of view, the region lays at the junction of three continents, immediately south to the border of Russia and the Caucasus and it is surrounded by four major seas, namely the Mediterranean, the Black and the Caspian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Before the end of the war, both United States and Soviet Union were already strategically interested in the Middle East’s oil reserve. In fact, not only at the time were the great powers the World’s major oil producers (Khalidi, 2009), but also the war made them increasingly aware of the strategic role oil had acquired in warfare. Their motorised forces, in fact, were crucially dependent on oil for their propulsion, as were their navies and air forces (Khalidi, 2009). Consequentially, they become intensely concerned about the risk of their supplies being denied by their enemies and about preserving them.

Nonetheless, the region’s importance in terms of military strategy and oil supply further established throughout the Cold War. In the late 1950s and until the Cuban missiles crisis of 1962, American missiles launching submarines were based in Turkey; in the 1960s and for about a decade, when a longer range missiles technology became available, American submarines were in Spain, with Soviet antisubmarine naval forces and air units based in Egypt and Turkey. During the 1970s, the military and strategic territorial concern of both powers moved to the Arab Peninsula and the region bordering the Indian Ocean, where the new generation American missiles launching submarines were positioned (Khalid, 2009).

Anyway, in the aftermath of the WWII, United States and Soviet Union were already militarily and diplomatically engaged in the region, respectively in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. The Middle East, thus, became a major theatre of bitter rivalries between the great powers, the effects of which would deeply influence and shape its politics and historical dynamics.

Conflicts, alliances, nuclear threats and the complex events which occurred in the Middle East during the Cold War were determined by the following underlying forces: fear of the superpowers of being excluded from the control over the region; their attempt to replace Britain’s power in the Middle East; anti-colonialism and the struggle of Middle Eastern states for the emancipation, which led to their alliances with the superpowers; the emergence of Arab nationalism and the diffusion of the communist ideology. Ideology, indeed, played a fundamental role. It was adopted both in terms of appeal made to potential allies and in terms of economic, political and social models they offered to them (Halliday in Sayigh and Shlaim, 1997).

One of the events which reveal the pervasive effects of the international competition in the Region is The Arab cold war of 1958-1970, as Malcolm H. Kerr (1965) has called it. In the aftermath of the Suez crisis, in which both superpowers have supported Egypt and the Arab states against Israel, French and Britain, the pre-war Saudi-American relationship was cemented by the “Eisenhower Doctrine” and Saudi adherence to it. In his famous speech of January 1957, Eisenhower admitted the strategic importance of the area and denounced the Communist threat in the Middle East and Soviet Union’s interest in power politics, which have become clearer with its involvement in the Suez crisis. Soviet political, economic and military aids were depicted by President Eisenhower as ‘International Communism’s instruments of domination’ (Eisenhower, 1957), apparently harmless means to manipulate local instability for Soviet power-purpose. Thus, he authorized ‘the employment of the armed forces of the United States to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid, against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by International Communism’ (Eisenhower, 1957).

The Saudi-American relation exacerbated Saudi relations with Nasser’s Egypt, a former non-aligned state which was moving closer to the Soviet Union. At the same time a heterogeneous agglomerate of political forces supported by the Soviet Union was formed, including not only communist and radical parties, but also nationalist, pan-Arab, anti-colonialist and “bourgeois-democratic” groups. In order to balance the secular and radical wave of Arab regimes, as Khalidi (2009) pointed out, Saudi Arabia and its ally United States adopted Islam and religious propaganda as ideological counter-weapon. In this way, Islam became a crucial tool of the American intelligence during the Cold War. The result was a high degree of polarization in the Region, with the Soviet Union aligned with authoritarian nationalist regimes and USA supporting absolute monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Arab Gulf States and authoritative regimes in Pakistan, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco.

Another instance of the superpowers influence over regional politics in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although the origin of the conflict has little to do with superpowers rivalry (Halliday, the Cold War competition generated polarization around the issue, fuelling arms race and leading several times to the risk of a nuclear strike. In the first phase of Israel life, namely from its birth in 1948 to the Suez Crisis of 1956, superpowers competed in supporting Israel. Polarization occurred after 1956, with USA supporting Israel and Soviet Union supporting Arab States. The competition took place in terms of armaments supply and economic aids, with the stakes escalating and culminating with the 1968-1970 and the 1973 wars, when Washington declared nuclear alert for the last time in the history of the Cold War.

Internally, cold war rivalries distorted economic decisions, domestic policies, social, military and political balances, with the superpowers being responsible of – or supporting – coups and internal rebellions (Khalidi, 2009). Religion and ideology have been instrumentalised in order to pursuit the Cold War logic of balance of power, with some impacts also on the growth of democracy. Indeed, there was no stress by the United States to promote democracy or Human rights in the area. USA itself covered or supported actions to subvert Middle Eastern democracies – such as the American-British’s coup in Iran, which brought down the elected Mossadeq government and reinstalled the autocratic Mohammad Reza Shah in 1953. This behaviour was coherent with the American security tasks to preserve the Middle East from Communism and export the capitalist logic of free market; tasks which could be effectively pursued by aligning with the wealthy and conservative local elites. Soviet Union, instead, worked attentively to encourage the development of socialism and distributive logic in the area, trying to appeal to the working classes and local communist parties (Khalidi, 2009).

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An instance of the pervasive effect of rivalry at the domestic level is the case of Iran. Due to geographical contiguity, Iran felt continuously menaced by the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the war, though, communism was not perceived by the élites as good option for the development of the country. Thus, at the beginning of the Cold War, United States security interests, coincided with the Iranian ones (). US supported Shah, whose conservative government led to absolutism, corruption and to political stagnation, which, combined with fast modernization and social disruption, contributed to the rise of the Islamic Revolution. USSR also played a role in undermining the power of the Shah. As Rubinstein tells us, although Soviet Union did not directly interfere in the fall of the Shah, communist agents played an important role in spreading discontent in the Iranian oilfields, contributing to the economic paralysis, which undermined the pro-American government.

However, concerning the case of Iran, two considerations must be done, which, to different extents, could be applied to several other cases in the region. First, the Cold War did not represent the first case of influence and penetration by a hegemonic power in Persia. In fact, for example, both Russia and Britain had great security and economic interest in the Persian Gulf and intervened several times in the country, both militarily and not. In 1907, in order to balance their influence, the two states agreed to divide Iran; 1942, unsatisfied of its neutrality, they agreed to invade it.

Secondly, not only the rivalry logic diverted Iranian domestic policy, but also Iranian (and not only) élites made use of the Cold War and of USA support in order to pursue their security goals and keep itself independent from the Soviet threat, which, as previous events show, had worried them long before the beginning of the USA/USSR competition.

Finally, as Halliday (1997) pointed out, the Cold War competition had also another role in the region. It worked as a distraction, diverting attention from domestic problems, which could otherwise be earlier observed and solved. What emerged from the end of the competition and the victory of the West, thus, is just a not distorted and more grasping picture of the region and its pre-existent complexities.

Work Cited (Eisenhower doctrine)


a cause of conflict The term Middle East was the creation of the colonialism during the second world war, when the most powerful countries had an interest in their nature resources

In my essay I would like to tackle the history and the creation of the new map of the Middle East during the Ottoman Empire which had controlled since 1518 for 400 hundred years. with its decade of flourishment to the time to the western refer to the sick man of Europe ,I will mention the colonizing period before and after the world war I and how the Colonist, helped in easing the occupation in the region especially in Palestine, most of the country is still suffering from the colonized period though the Education system, infrastructure and control of the western into the internal polices of the All Arab nations view colonized in the early twentieth century , prior to this colonization , the ottoman empire controlled the middle east for some 400 years precede by several centuries of Islamic governance (hourani,1991). The region featured no European style nation-states but rather local communities that identified with ethnic or tribal cohesiveness-asabiyya(lapidus,1983).

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The term Middle East is itself an unabashedly Eurocentric term. It seems to have been used first in 1902 in reference to British naval strategy in the Gulf at a time of increased Russian influence around the Caspian sea and German plans for a Berlin-to Baghdad highway. The term achieved wide circulation and came to denote an area of strategic concern to British lying between the Near East (another Eurocentric designation , essentially synonymous with the area remaining under the control of the Ottoman Empire). During the World war I the British expeditionary force to Mesopotamia was generally referred to as “Middle East Forces” as distinct from British “Near East Forces” which operated from bases in Egypt. After the war these two military command were integrated as an economy measure but the “Middle East ” designation was retained. Moreover the term is still widely used in discussion of geopolitical strategies in the region.

I would like to highlight and view the changes that happened to the Political map of the Middle East, during the end of the sixteenth century the authority of the Ottoman Empire extended from the borders of Morocco in the west and to the borders of Iran in the east and from the Red Sea in the south to the northern and eastern shores of the Black Sea. In Europe the Ottomans twice laid siege to Vienna .But the eighteenth and nineteenth century saw a gradual retreat, the Ottoman sovereignty was replaced by Russian domination; in the Balkan , the Ottoman confronted growing nationalist aspirations and a concerted assault by Austria and its allies, in North Africa, the Ottomans had to deal with expansion of colonial authority involving the French in Algeria(1830) and Tunisia (1881) and the Italian in Libya (1911).

In other area, Ottomans power was greatly weakened by the emergence of strong local rulers. After the unsuccessful invasion Napoleon to Egypt. An Ottoman military officer named Mehmet (Muhammad) Ali, an Albanian regiment sent to Egypt, he took control of that Ottoman province. He established a dynasty that made Egypt virtually independent of Ottoman rule. Mehmet Ali used a French advisers and equipment, to built the region’s strongest army and navy, he subordinated the rural aristocracy to the state by taking control of all farmland. Under his rule, Egypt became the Middle Eastern country to make the transition from subsistence to market agriculture. Tobacco, sugar and cotton become Egypt cash crops, earning revenue to fund his ambitious project for industrial development and military expansion. The first non-Western ruler to recognize the Industrial Revolution, he built a textile mills and weapons factories, sent hundred of his subject to Europe for technical or military training, and imported European instructors to staff schools and military academic in Egypt.

Egypt became the military power force , that Mehmet Ali’s son Ibrahim conquered Syria in 1832, and he would have taken the Ottoman Empire in the 1839, if Britain had not intervened. Although the country was remained nominally under Ottoman sovereignty and the monarchy remained part of Egypt’s political structure until king Farouk was overthrown in 1952.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the West gained military, political and economic superiority over much of the Middle East, by nineteenth centuries Europe sold its manufactured goods to the Middle East in exchange for raw materials and agriculture products, the great intervention of the colonialism in the Middle East and ease its way to intervene is the Europeans in Muslim lands were exempted from local taxes and legal jurisdiction; in the Ottoman Empire this exemption was guaranteed by treaties called Capitulations .

Britain and French helped Mahmud II Son’s that came after the death of Mehmet I to defeat the Russia in the Crimean war (1853-1856), the European then made the Ottomans issue another decree that gave Christians and Jews legal equality with Muslim. Britain and France forced the Ottoman Sultan to establish the semiautonomous province of Mount Lebanon with Christians governor to be appointed with European power after the Massacre of Maronite Christians by Druze in 1860 and the landing of French troops in Beirut, these two decree was the direct intervene of Britain and France in the structure of the Ottoman Empire policies.

Another direct intervene in the country’s affairs , is when Mehmet Ali’s grandson Ismail (1863-1879) resumed westernizing reforms and secured Egypt’s autonomy from the Ottoman Empire. He sent explorers to find the source of the Nile River and army expeditions to conquer the Red Sea coast and the southern Sudan. During his period sections of Cairo and Alexandria transformed by broad boulevards, Public gardens, and huge mansions. Factories and public works built up the economy as a cotton boom caused by a drop in US production, the growing available of European capital and the construction of the Suez Canal made Egypt an Attractive field for investment.

Isma’il set up representative assembly to advise his government and raise revenue, later he incited by burgeoning press, however the new body began calling for constitutional government. Ismail borrow vast sums from foreign banks to cover his expenditure. Unable to repay his debts, he sold his government Suez Canal shares to Britain, accepted British and French control over Egypt’s finances, and finally admitted representative of these two creditor states into his cabinet. In 1879 Isma’il dismissed his European cabinet and named one that heeded the assembly’s call for constitutional government, whereupon the European powers ordered the Ottoman sultan to replace Isma’il with his son Tawfiq.

The bankruptcy of the Egyptian administration after efforts to modernize the country’s economy and infrastructure in turn opened the way to more direct European intervention in the country’s affaires though a French -British debt commission.

Thus even when European powers did not control territory outright, by the end of the nineteenth century they had become deeply involved in the region’s commerce and governance, with the defeat of the Ottoman Turkey in the World War I helped to create the current map of the Middle East. In the final dissolution of the Ottoman Empire , the remaining Arab province were reconstituted into territories of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Palestine and subjected for a brief period to direct British and French administration.

World War I competed the continuing subordination of Middle Eastern people to Western domination. Since the eighteenth century , Russia had won control over the lands north of the Black sea, the Caucasus mountains ,most of the Caspian sea coast , and vast stretches of Muslim central Asia, Persia was virtually a Russian protectorate. France ruled North Africa . Britain held Egypt, the strategic Mediterranean island of Cyprus and Aden at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Britain and France capitalists had a huge investments in the Middle Eastern land, buildings, factories ,railroads, and utilities. Between the mid-nineteenth century and World War I, most of the Middle East and North Africa either already was, or later came, under different forms of colonial rule. In 1914 Germany was the likely protector of the remain Ottoman Empire, German capital (Berlin) was financing constriction of a rail from Istanbul to Baghdad raising its influence in the ottoman interior, and German military mission was recognized its army.

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After the war , the British managed to keep their communication links across the region to India, Egypt revolutionary did not win the independency they had sought in 1919, however British did promise in 1922 to end the protectorate and let the Egyptians draw up a formal constitution, creating a parliament that would vie the king for power, British troops remained to guard Cairo, Alexandria, the Suez Canal and vital infrastructure as airport and radio transmitters. Sudan remained under a formal Anglo-Egyptian condominium but British held all the power. London also reserved the right to defend Egypt against outside aggression and to protect foreigners and minorities from nationalism or Muslim extremists.

Palestine came under the direct control of Britain’s colonial office, with a high commissioner governing in Jerusalem. The Zionists were pressing the western powers to recognize their claim to Palestine, since the beginning of the 1880, some European Jews settled in Palestine which was under the Ottomans rule and inhabited mainly Arabs. during the world war I a Zionist leader living in England made his view know to cabinet , which authorized Foreign Secretary Sir Arthur Belfour to declare the British government support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. The 1917 Belfour declaration was a major victory for the Zionist movement. The Jewish community had a Jewish Agency and an elected assembly to manage its internal affairs. The Muslim and Christina Arabs had no such organization, and their leaders rejected a proposed legislature in which they would not have been given majority control reflective of their population. Arab and Jews Spoke a different language, lived in distinct villages or separate neighborhoods and related as little as possible to each other as communities. Jewish immigrants from war-torn revolutionary Russia or central Europe Viewed local Arabs as threatening brigands, greedy landlords, and backwards peasants. The Palestinian Arabs feared that the Zionist movement would dispossess them of their lands and their homes. Jews and Arabs, both having long memories of powerlessness.

The French accepted control of Syria but resented having to forgo Palestine and oil rich western Iraq. France was determined to parlay its league of Nations mandate over into a colony. After the French troops had driven out the Arab nationalists, France divided the country into districts :Damascus , Aleppo, the north Mediterranean coast for the Alawis, the highland south of Damascus for the Druze and a special Republic of Lebanon.

The French hoped that, by enlarging Lebanon , they could preserve a Maronite plurality large enough to give them effective control over its other inhabitants, be they Druze, Sunni or Shi’i Muslim, Greek orthodox , or adherents of other Christians sects. The republic of Lebanon , which had a slight Christian majority , soon won substantial autonomy under Maronite leadership. French rule in Syria benefited farmers and merchants as the mandatory regime invested in roads and other public.

As in North Africa the French treated Algeria as an integral part of France . European settler held most of the cultivable land , dominated political life, and controlled Algiers and the other major cities The Algerians Muslims had no political right especially the Berber , the real power was by the France in the case of Tunisia , they had a Muslim ministers with no power, the European presence had less visible than in Algeria.

The Morocco case which unlike the rest of the North Africa had never been under Ottoman rule, which was divided between Spanish enclave in the north, the international city of Tangier, and the French protectorate over most of the country . the French invested heavily in agriculture and mining expecting to remain.

Italy which had seized Tripolitania from the Ottoman Empire in 1911, slowly took Cyrenaica and Fezzan as well, creating what is called now Libya. Efforts to colonize Libya with Italians displaced many Arabs but attacked few setters.

In conclusion

The Middle East area faced a direct control from a different forms of European colonial rule in the beginning of the nineteenth century and continuing until World War II, it lasted till the twentieth century until each country had its independent from the European hegemony over the region, the colonialism create a negative impact over the country like the case of North Africa Tunisia Morocco and Algeria all three were “colonial settler states” which most of the French families remained there until they were forced out by the independence struggles of the 1950’s and early1960, the dominate language of most of these countries is French, as French colonial treated especially Algeria as an integral part of France. The colonialism is responsible for the problem of the Middle East today the most important factor is; it facilitate the birth of the occupation, in the case of the Palestine-Israeli conflict by supporting the Zionists movement which like the other colonizers, they carved out territory to create a haven for persecuted Jews from Europe. Zionist started as a movement but turned into a colonialist one once its leaders(Hertzil) decided to implement their vision of national revival in the land of Palestine. the British government declared it support for establishment a national home for the Jewish people, through Sir Arthur Belfour, this declaration is known as Belfour Declaration in 1917, this declaration was the great victory for the Zionist movement to establish home land for the Jews in Palestine.

The colonial power had a negative impact they managed to control all the resource of the country while the original people were servant to convey , they enslave the people, destroyed the culture and generation, killed people, confiscate lands from farmers, immigrate them and create poverty in the society. Moreover the Italian colonialism in Libya from 1911 until their independence in 1945 people were not allowed to learn , they destroyed the education system in the country damaged the schools and university, left the generations illiteracy. However, in Egypt was the most popular Arab state after the World War II , in education it had the most newspaper and magazine, the leading universities, the largest cinema and record companies and the most influential writers.

The Italian colonialism and the Spanish colonialism is a very bad example of the colonialism through history, by destroying all the infrastructure of the country, were as the British colonialism promote educate, built infrastructure of the country and railway, as example is India. Finally the colonialism had its negative and positive on the nation it brought war to the region and draw borders between countries that was one country before the intervention, Moreover, what we can say the positive side is the methods of better farming through the new technology , by founding a new resource to create Jobs and by improving heath care system and curing sickness and disease with medical techniques. the the most important is the creation of a resistance movement it unified people to have independency. However , Most of the countries had had their independency in the twentieth century , there is a big interference in the decision- making either director indirect to serve the own interest in the region, that why the Palestinian- Israeli conflict is not solved yet, because it still serve the interest of the west in the Middle East, in the Arab region, in addition Israel doesn’t have common language or culture with the Arab but it still get the support of the West, and from unipolarity power the United State.


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