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Middle Eastern and African History Middle Eastern and African History Forum - Egypt, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and all nations of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula


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Old December 26th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #21

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Originally Posted by DreamWeaver View Post
To the OP. The failure of the UAR comes to mind. Was a pan arab nation feasible?
That was due to the Nationalist atmosphere at the time

Under the Hejaz kingdom ? Perhaps.
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Old December 26th, 2011, 12:34 PM   #22

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Originally Posted by Mohammed the Persian View Post
That was due to the Nationalist atmosphere at the time

Under the Hejaz kingdom ? Perhaps.

Why do you think that, if you dont mind me asking?
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Old December 26th, 2011, 12:55 PM   #23

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Does anyone here think the west has had the intent of keeping the ME unstable since WWI? Does the west want peace and stability in the ME or just the right balance of warfare and strife so that Arabs are essentially unable to form a cohesive Arab state? A caliphate?

I think so. It's just one of the ways empires try to control the situation around them. Of you keep your potential enemies fighting amongst themselves, they can't stand against you.
Are you aware of how many countries there are in the Middle East? Are you suggesting the British are to blame for all Middle Eastern disputes? Sorry but I totally disagree, regardless of the Israel/Palestine situation, you can't blame the British for 'trying to keep down' the Arabs.
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Old December 26th, 2011, 12:57 PM   #24

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The British did not betray whom?
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Old December 26th, 2011, 02:51 PM   #25

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Are you suggesting the British are to blame for all Middle Eastern disputes?
Not entirely but the UK had/has certainly got a spoon in the pot, especially after WW1. The US, Russia, France and some others to a lesser extent have always meddled there. In all fairness, there are plenty of Arab leaders more than willing to step on their own people by doing the bidding of foreigners.

Would I lie to you?
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Old December 26th, 2011, 02:53 PM   #26

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Could one say that the UK had a spoon before c.1950 and the US after it?
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Old December 27th, 2011, 10:09 AM   #27
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I'd go with dont put to planing and scheming what can put down to idiocy as far as western policy in the middle east in the post ww1 period.
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Old January 29th, 2012, 07:09 PM   #28
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Sorry if I'm reviving an old thread but I just have to comment on this.

First of all, yes, the British did betray us - Arabs risked grave perils to even speak out against the Ottoman Empire, let alone rebel against it.

There were secret Arab nationalist organizations in the underground negotiating with Sharif Hussein of Mecca, such as the Young Arab Society in Syria and Covenant Society in Iraq. The Damascus Protocol was a negotiated confederation of Arab states or unitary Arab state between Iraqi, Syrian, and Arabian nationlists prior to WWI.

With the outbreak of the war, the Ottomans asked the Sharif to declare a jihad against Europeans, which he took his time with as the British had approached him. He was contacted by Henry McMahon in what became known as the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence in 1915 which said:

"The districts of Mersina and Alexandretta, and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, cannot be said to be purely Arab, and must on that account be excepted from the proposed limits and boundaries. With the above modification and without prejudice to our existing treaties concluded with Arab Chiefs, we accept these limits and boundaries, and in regard to the territories therein in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to interests of her ally France, I am empowered in the name of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurance and make the following reply to your letter: Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca."

Of course he said "districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo", so he couldn't have been referring to the viyalets/provinces of Damascus and Aleppo because there were no such viyalets as Homs and Hama. So anyone who knew his geography back then would interpret only Lebanon as excluded from the Arab state, with Palestine included.

After the war ended, King Faisal - future King of British Iraq, Hussein's son, set himself up in Damascus, and planned to install his brother, King Abdallah - future King of British Jordan, in Baghdad. This lead to minor disputes with their father but they showed solidarity with each other against the British and French regardless.

In 1919 King Faisal signed the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement where he agreed to cooperate with Jews establishing themselves in Palestine conditioned on Arab independence - which was never fulfilled. The Syrian National Congress held elections in 1919 and included the Palestinians - I don't know how democratic these were. But the King-Crane Commission in 1920 found that the majority of Arabs in Palestine and Syria supported being part of a unitary Arab state, so it advised against the French mandate and Jewish state (the British and French, while initially accepting a commission, changed their minds afterwards and ignored it). The Commission found Arabs preferring an American mandate to assist them, or at least a British one. They absolutely rejected the French.

King Faisal conceded to French demands, but after riots hit Syria targeted the French, and unilateral actions taken by the Prime Minister and the Syrian cabinet in rejecting the French, King Faisal backtracked and turned defiant himself. It's worth comparing this king, who enjoyed popular symbolic support, but was powerless to act without nationalists regardless. He had every right to call himself "King of Arabs" because he had widespread popular support from both nationalists and the public. It's also worth noting that it was the British that installed despotic unilateral monarchs, the likes of which we see today in Jordan.

However, after a French ultimatum, he caved, but his Minister of War Yusuf al Azma lead a suicide mission to hold off the French, and perished at the Battle of Maysalun. Yusuf is still (imo) Syria's greatest national hero, even today where he has a statue and square named after him in Damascus.

The British and French turned the Middle East into pieces of land run by despots, most of which were overthrown by nationalist military officers starting 1949. King Abdallah I of Jordan was attacked by several Bedouin revolts, as well as by the fanatical Ikhwan of what became Saudi Arabia, and was protected by the British. Sharif Hussein, now King Hussein of Hejaz, however, became a liability to the British and was allowed to be conquered by the Saudis in Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. I still see this as a tragedy; had the Hashemites been allowed to keep all of Iraq and Syria, I doubt the Saudis would have even succeeded in capturing Hejaz. Can you imagine no Saudi Arabia? Not to mention that Saudis were assisted by the British in their war against Ottomans, just like the Hashemites.

Now in regards to the UAR; Egypt and Syria were never that culturally close to each other. However, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and even Kuwait, would have made a great unitary Arab state, if not two states. Add to that a third state in Hejaz, and I really don't mind three Hashemite states run by nationalists. Egypt and the rest of Africa can sort out their own issues; Egypt's already a huge country to begin with. Not to mention, living within the same borders for 40 years by 1960 did instill a distinct nationalism in Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, etc. Interesting to note that the Lebanese Muslims waned to join the UAR, but the Christians refused, leading to a rebellion that was quelled by Americans in 1958 (the monarchy of Iraq had just been slaughtered by nationalists), which reminds me a lot of the Saudi intervention in Bahrain last year.

A lot of Western despots were overthrown by military officers, who turned out to be even more merciless than their predecessors. However, there's no denying that without the British' less than honorable history in the Middle East, none of THIS would be happening. Not to mention the CIA's regime change in Iran 1953, or funding the Baathist coup in Iraq 1963.

To name a few, there'd be no Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian conflict, no Lebanese and Syrian conflict, and no Kuwaiti and Iraqi conflict. Kuwait was detached from Iraq before WWI, but it had treaties keeping it an Ottoman territory till the end of the war. It had started off as an emirate within the Ottoman province of Basra, but with British support the Ottomans recognized it as independent from Basra. The British were negotiating with the monarch of Iraq a return of Kuwait but the 1958 coup killed any chances of that, and Kuwait was admitted in the UN in 1963.
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Old January 29th, 2012, 07:34 PM   #29

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Thankyou AEB, very informative.
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Old January 29th, 2012, 08:59 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Mohammed the Persian View Post
We know that the British promised the shaikh (or mufti, I can't remember!) of Mecca an independent and unified Arab land under his dynasty in exchange for him to use his influence and power to get the Arabs to revolt against the Ottomans in WW1.

Now after WW1 ended, guess what, the Arabs didn't get their lands. In fact, their lands were divided into little puppet kingdoms like Transjordan , Iraq and Egypt. Syria did try to become independent but since the French had a problem with it, it failed.

So can we say that the British betrayed the Arabs ?
(This isn't a hate thread! )
Blame, the French, and UN aswell. So to sum up, the British betrayed some Arabs but not all. Like the Saudi family.
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