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Nationalist Movements Of The Middle East And South Asia After Ww1

1112 words - 4 pages

The years after World War One brought about vast changes to many parts of the world. Places like South Asia and the Middle East were able to see the need for self government away from foreign control. This sparked a number of nationalist movements during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Middle East had to Westernize to rid foreign control while India had to be united under non-violence and Hindu values.

Before WW1, the Middle East was dominated by outside powers. Egypt was under British control and Persia was divided in to Russian and British spheres of influence. The Ottomans tried to promote change with the Tanzimat reforms which allowed some industrialization and modernization. However, in 1908, the Young Turks took over and attempted faster change. Unfortunately, the Young Turks sided with the Germans in WW1, so the Middle East was directly involved in the war. The Ottomans were the losers and their empire was broken up. The Arabs were disappointed because they had rebelled against Ottoman rule and sided with the Allies in an effort to attain an independent Arab nation. Rather, the British and French placed a mandate on the Arab regions of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Under the Balfour declaration (1917), the British granted a Jewish tolerance in Palestine and alienated the Arabs in these territories in response to the persecution in Germany. Thus, the Jewish population rose by twenty percent and the World Zionist Organization was created to increase Jewish migration. In 1932, the conservative state of Saudi Arabia was created by Ibn Saud since he was able to rid the Ottomans out of the Arab peninsula. In 1938, the discovery of oil marked the beginning of economic modernization that only aided the elites of Saudi and foreign investors.

Additionally, during WW1, large forces of the Entente were stationed in Egypt because the British needed to protect the Suez Canal from the Turks. This led to scarce food supplies, forced labor, and mistreatment of the peasantry, so Egypt was ready for a revolt at the end of the war. The Egyptian nationalist elites decided to form a Wafd (meaning ‘delegation’ in Arabic) party under the leader Sa’d Zaghlul that rid the British in 1936 from the Suez Canal. However, they did very little to alleviate the misery of the majority. Rather, Egyptian politicians held office just to increase their own family fortune and had no time for land reforms and public works projects that the peasantry desperately needed. Thus, the Egytian revolution led to backwardness.

The peasantry of India similarly suffered during WW1. India was controlled by the British who pushed the peasantry for cash crops such as cotton (muslin), jute, and indigo. India’s budget was used for the expenses of the British army and the salaries/pensions of British administrators. Many Indians died on the battlefield for a conflict that had little to do with them. War led to inflation which affected all parts...

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