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Q7. Explore the European transgressions in the Middle East and its consequences?


In 1798 Egyptian expedition of Napoléon Bonaparte was the first major European involvement in this region. He wanted French blow to British Indian Empire and easily defeated Ottomans’ Mamluk Cavalry. British however retaliated by destroying the French fleet. This incident exposed the weakness of the Turks in that area and opened up this area for imperial expansion.

In 1805 Muhammad Ali a Turkish military commander drove out the Ottomans and gained absolute control of Egypt. He also conquered the Sudan, Syria, southern Anatolia, and Arabia. His son Muhammad Said (1854–63), opened to greater foreign economic involvement with the granting of the Suez Canal concession to France. The canal was opened in 1869 when ruler was Ismail Pasha who had to sell his shares in the Suez to the British because of his financial problems. Egypt was heavily indebted and this led to European control and in 1882 Egypt was placed under direct British control.


Persia before Islamization had Zoroastrian religion. Under Safavid dynasty (1502-1736) modern nation-state of Iran, its borders and contemporary Shia character developed. The rise of Qajar dynasty (1794–1925) led to increasing European involvement and economic submission to Russian and British interests. In 1905 a Constitutional Revolution of Iran broke out directed at the elimination of foreign interests and rule of Muhammad Ali Shah . In 1907 the Anglo-Russian Entente was concluded under which Britain and Russia divided Persia into spheres of influence—the northern half Russian and the southern British. The discovery of oil in 1908 by the British increased great interest in this region.

During World War I, the country was occupied by British, Ottoman and Russian forces but was essentially neutral. In 1919, after the Russian revolution and their withdrawal, Britain attempted to establish a protectorate in Iran, which was unsuccessful. Finally, the Constitutionalist movement of Gilan and the central power vacuum caused by the instability of the Qajar government resulted in the rise of Reza Shah Pahlavi and the establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925. In August 1941, Iran was invaded by Soviet, British and other Commonwealth armed forces. In August 1941, Iran was invaded by Soviet, British and other Commonwealth armed forces to secure Iranian oil fields and ensure Allied supply lines. Iran was officially neutral, according to the Allies its monarch Rezā Shāh was friendly toward the Axis powers and was deposed during the subsequent occupation and replaced with his young son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ruled until 1979.

In 1914 the Ottoman Empire signed a secret treaty of alliance with Germany. Within months of that treaty Russia declared war on the Ottoman state and Middle East became one of the battlefields of World War I.

A long struggle for nationalization of the British-controlled Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1952–54 led to the establishment of a nationalist government led by Premier Muhammad Mosaddeq. Mosaddeq was given dictatorial powers. A conflict between Mosaddeq and the shah in 1953 ended in victory for the shah. The shah’s repression and pressure to modernize Iran, however, united leftist groups and Shiite religious elements against the government. Unrest culminated in the ouster (1979) of the shah and the establishment of an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.


British-inspired revolt of the Arabs, led by Hussein ibn Ali which made the collapse of Ottoman Empire on the southern front. The British promised Hussein that an Arab state would be established south of the 36th parallel. It was to include Syria, Iraq, and Arabia but leave the coastal areas of Lebanon and Palestine to future determination.

At the same time, the government of India—a separate part of the British administration—promised Ibn Saud that he could have control of all of Arabia; he was the leader of the puritanical Muslim sect of the Wahhabis and ruler of central Arabia. The British also promised the Jews support in establishing a national home in Palestine.

At the end of the war, the British received League of Nations mandates over Palestine (including the area soon to be called Transjordan) and Iraq. The French received mandates over Syria and Lebanon. By this time the foundations of a stronger Arab nationalism were laid. The struggle for independence from European rule and against Jewish immigration to Palestine became the central themes in the development of Arab nationalism between the wars.


The State of Israel. 

The emergence of the Jewish state of Israel in Palestine is the most dramatic development in the modern Middle East; it is also the one causing the greatest continuing unrest in the region. Despite the obligations undertaken in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to aid in the establishment of a Jewish homeland, the British did all in their power to frustrate Zionist aims in the interwar years. At the same time, they did not fulfill all their commitments to various Arab leaders. Jewish settlement in Palestine and the creation of quasi-governmental institutions by the Jewish community between 1920 and 1948 came into conflict with newly emerging Arab nationalism; with the concept of a Greater Syria held by many Arab Christians in the area; and with Islamic ideas about the inviolability of Islamic territory. It was in 1948 that the British relinquished their mandate over Palestine under growing pressure from both Jews and Arabs. Palestine, as the Holy Land of Judaism and Christianity and also a sacred area to Islam, was therefore a center of religious and nationalist conflict.

Sporadic Arab riots against Jewish settlement broke out in Palestine in 1921 and 1929. They flared up into a protracted period of almost open warfare in 1936. The conflict continued until World War II put a temporary end to it. British proposals to settle the question mostly called for a curtailment of Jewish immigration—at a time when Nazi persecution of European Jews meant that a haven was desperately needed.

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