Jordan An The Middle East Essay

4371 words - 17 pages

This is an in-depth history of the economy, foreign relations and domestic affairs of Jordan. As well as a history of the evolution of the country as a major player in the Middle East.The history of what is known as Jordan today can be traced back to the fall of the Ottoman empire and its carving up by the emerging European superpowers. The East Bank, Jordan today, was a backwater of the Ottoman Empire. It had small garrisons and was economically weak since the transfer of the seat of the caliphate from Damascus to Baghdad . Although, the pilgrims to Mecca were still an important economic resource.It is important to note that nation states, nationalism and a national identity are all western concepts that were alien to the indigenous Arabs living in the Middle East. Land at the time was divided into provinces governed by governors loyal to the Sultan in Constantinople. "...the East Bank was largely forgotten by the outside world for more than 300 years until European travelers "rediscovered" it in the nineteenth century" . The story of Jordan doesn't pick up again until the Young Turk movement and the reactionary movement that is known as the Young Arabs. The Young Turks movement was a movement in which the consolidation of the empire was the goal. This is where Sharif Husayn (also spelled Hussein) and his three sons come into play, most prominently is Abdullah. "Hussein ibn Ali Al Hashimi, the grand sharif and amir of Mecca and hereditary custodian of the Muslim holy places" was the one who initiated dialogue with the British. Husayn did so because the Ottoman empire allied with Germany and Austria in the first World War and Husayn felt that his participation would grant him a bargaining chip. When the Empire did not want to allow him the autonomy that he demanded from them, he began talks with the British, from whom he felt he get more anyway. The Ottomans thought that granting Husayn his desired autonomy would spark a chain reaction in the empire. So in order to justify his alignment with a non-Muslim power and his defection from the Ottoman empire, Husayn needed to ask for something big. "The price he demanded from Britain for his rebellion was no less than an independent Arab kingdom" .On 14 July 1915, Sharif Husayn initiated what has come to be known as the Husayn-McMahon correspondence. This exchange of eight letters between him and Sir Henry McMahon, the British high commissioner of Egypt, from July 1915 to January 1916, laid down in general terms what he could expect from Britain on behalf of the Arabs in return for rebelling against the Ottoman Empire. The British accepted Husayn as the spokesman for the Arabs because it suited them to do so at the time.Sharif Husayn, fearing a backlash from his people, required a justification as to why it was acceptable to ally with a non-Muslim empire against the Ottomans. Arab Nationalism was the answer, Faisal and Abdullah (two of the three of Husayn's sons) were already in contact with Arab...

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