Imperialism is generally defined as a phenomenon that began with the overseas expansion of Europe in the fifteenth century. That expansion did not seriously affect the Maghreb or Egypthowever, until the nineteenth century, and, except economically, it did not affect the most populous areas of southwest Asia until the early twentieth century. The major reason for this delay was the power and durability of the Ottoman Empire.
The Memoir of Wallace Lyon in Iraq, — The result is a work that offers both some fascinating broader insights into the place of the Middle East in the broader pattern of Western imperialism, and some detailed thoughts on the individual mandates themselves. So, Fieldhouse argues that in the broader sense the pattern of British and French rule in the Middle East was similar to that followed elsewhere.
Both imperial powers tried to rule through established elites, although the British were much more willing than the French to move their mandates forward towards a qualified form of independence.
At the specific, local level, though, Fieldhouse finds no parallel in his wide knowledge of imperial practice elsewhere to compare to the disastrous experiment in social and political engineering undertaken by the British in Palestine.
Here, he pulls no punches in his criticisms. As Fieldhouse himself acknowledges, this study is essentially a work of synthesis, although one which enriches the existing scholarship by offering a series of astute assessments of the existing state of historiographical debate in the field.
Beginning with the Ottoman legacy, Fieldhouse traces the developments in the early years of the twentieth century, including the genesis of Arab nationalist sentiment and the reform of the Ottoman system.
In essence, he concludes that, despite its military defeats in the early years of the twentieth century, by the Ottoman Empire was in the course of reconstruction. The great majority of Ottoman subjects remained loyal to the empire and fought for it during the First World War.
For Fieldhouse, Antonius makes a huge jump from charting the revival of cultural interest in the Arabic language, and the development of Arab nationalist secret societies in Syria, to broader claims about the awakening of a widespread Arab consciousness and desire for independence.
Dawn, who attacked the notion of a dominant and ideologically based Arab nationalist movement beforeand held that the majority of Arab notables remained loyal Ottomanists.
For Imperialism in the middle east, and subsequent commentators including Mary Wilson, the Hashemites were in essence pursuing the defence of their own interests via alliance with the British under the banner of Arab revolt.
That Antonius overstated the unity of the Hashemite Arab Revolt, and the role of Arab nationalist ideology in its instigation, is perhaps no surprise in view of the support he received from the Hashemite family in his research. Indeed, the Great Arab Revolt, as formulated by Antonius, remained an ideological reference point for the Hashemites until at least the end of the twentieth century.
If the Ottoman Empire was reviving itself beforeand if the appeal of Arab nationalism was by no means widespread in the region, then the First World war emerges as the key event, which shattered the existing order, led to the creation of the mandates system, and originated much of the contemporary instability of the region.
In terms of the impact and outcome of the war, probably the most interesting and important question Fieldhouse addresses is why, in view of their wartime promises to the Hashemites about Arab independence, the British ended up cooperating with France in the establishment of a League of Nations mandates system for the former Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire?
Antonius too, in his original analysis of the correspondence, was scathing about the British missives, particularly, with his astute eye for style and dignity, the inappropriate and fawning terms in which the Sharif was addressed.
In terms of the substance of what was offered to the Sharif by the British, the correspondence certainly provided a weak and imprecise foundation on which to base subsequent claims to Arab independence. The apportionment of mandates agreed between the powers at San Remo, which saw the British given Mesopotamia hereafter Iraq and Palestine sub-divided in into Palestine and Transjordanand the French given Syria and Lebanon, was dictated by Anglo-French relations and interests.
The British establishment of the new state of Iraq, and its political development under the mandate, is a matter of more than academic interest from the perspective of the early-twenty-first century.
Most wisely, Fieldhouse avoids indulging in any misplaced attempts at drawing comparisons between the British imposition of political authority in the wake of their military conquest, between andand the singular Anglo-American failure to do likewise in the wake of the contemporary invasion of Iraq, between and Nevertheless, book reviewers have the licence to be more self-indulgent than serious authors, so I trust readers will forgive me one or two comparative sallies in this direction.
First of all, it is clear that at the end of the First World War, the British in Iraq were regarded not as deliverers, but as infidel invaders. There was no clear plan for Iraq between andand thus political developments were prey to competing pressures on the ground, bureaucratic competition back in London, and political tensions in the international arena.
The result was drift, and it should have been no surprise when, in Julya major revolt broke out in the Euphrates valley against British rule.
The costs of suppressing the insurgency were high. The British lost dead, 1, wounded and missing or taken prisoner. There were around 8, casualties among the insurgents. What mattered more, though, in terms of securing the relative political stability which subsequently prevailed in Iraq through the s and s, was the British political response to the crisis.
Here, the essence of the subsequent British strategy was to co-opt, as far as possible, the existing elites. Fieldhouse is unsentimental about the realities of the political system established by the British in Iraq.
Parliamentary elections produced little more than a shuffling of the existing pack, while, even after independence inthe British remained the dominant influence behind the scenes until the revolution swept away the existing social and political order. In essence, what the British did in Iraq was to rule through, and depend on, what H.
This characterization reminds me very much of the comments of one Arab official from the former mandate administration in Palestine, who described for me the disappearance of his British superiors almost overnight.
It is nevertheless refreshing for those of us who are used to having to deal with as the supposed terminal date for the British imperial role in the Middle East, to see it thus subtly revised.
While the British achieved some limited, if transient, success in Iraq, Fieldhouse finds nothing to recommend either the conduct or legacy of the mandate in Palestine.Blowback: British Imperialism in the Middle East Though the influence of Great Britain on Middle Eastern politics may be said to begin from the gaining of Cyprus from the Ottomans in , the occupation of Egypt was the decisive moment in the geopolitical history of British imperialism in the Middle East.
The Middle East was all united together, in terms of war and conflict, before imperialism and before the complete fall of the Ottomans. Every nation including the Turks, Iranians, and Arabs were satisfied. Imperialism brought in new techniques and ideas and brought cultural change to most countries.
Guest: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The relationship between European, North African, and Southwest Asian nations that border the Mediterranean stretches back to antiquity and reflects a long tradition of trade, colonialism, and acculturation.
D. K. Fieldhouse’s goal in this major comparative study of British and French imperialism in the Middle East is to consider the effects of the imposition of the mandate system on the former Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. BRITISH COLONIALISM, MIDDLE EAST (Western Colonialism) Historians date the beginning of British imperialism in the Middle East to , the year Napoleon invaded Egypt.
Concerned that France would block British access to the eastern Mediterranean and thereby threaten critical trade routes to India, the British navy collaborated with .
Guest: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies. World War I had a profound impact on the Middle East and North Africa.
With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, European powers carved the region into mandates, protectorates, colonies, and spheres of influence.