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Critical Analysis: Understanding the Middle East: Contemporary Challenges and Historical Background

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Critical Analysis: Understanding the Middle East: contemporary challenges and historical background



            Middle East is widely utilised to refer to those nations that are members of the League of the Arab States including Israel and the non-Arab nations of Iran and Turkey. Such nations were clustered and group into three sub-regions. Accordingly, Middle East has been covered with different historical backgrounds and contemporary challenges.  Primarily, the main purpose and objective of this paper is to analyse how far was the decline of Britain’s Middle East Empire a consequence of the rise of the Arab nationalism in the region.

Decline of Britain’s Middle East Empire and its Consequence to Arab Nationalism

The context which conquered the Arab region for most of the 20th century was deliberated as Arab nationalism. This context has been deliberated as the most essential aspects that happened in the Middle Eastern Timelines and records nationalisms as their response to the outlook of European powers and control and under the effect of European notions and concepts regarding nationalism. The existing context, whose central principle was which the Arabs are and have been a country which have been united by language and a shared sense of historical backgrounds (Porath, 1986), nonetheless long divided and conquered by outside controls and dominion, drew on at none less of the Arab as well as Islamic heritages. Such incorporated them into a contemporary narrative of Arab timelines and records and pride in the Arab past which was dispersed in the history.

Accordingly, most of the actions’ rage, at this period, was intended for against the Ottoman Empire, which was known as the overlord of the Arab world. During the start and beginning of the World War I, Turkey shed its lot with Germany as well as the Central Axis. In this regard., , Great Britain as well as its Entente partners and associated required to foment Arab revolt as opposed with the Ottoman (Khalidi, 1993). In return for Arab assistance, the British government promised to realize the dearest of all pan-Arab aspirations--the creation of an independent, unified Arab state. However, as the policy aims of their Turkish all the pan-Arabs were incongruent, any German hope of attaining collaboration with the Arabs was hindered by its alliance with the Ottoman Empire (Khalidi, 1993).

The degree of Britain’s pledges, prior to the commencement of the Arab revolt in June 1916, were establish and originate in an tremendously indistinct series of letters to an Arab leader, Sharif Husayn, from the British High Commissioner based in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon.  While the general idea and substance of the missives showed London’s eagerness to convene Arab needs  for independence, McMahon was cautious as well as vigilant to comprise a number of states and provisions. The most essential of which relevant to the Government of France’s need to hold a certain degree of influence in the Levant. To be able to consider their allies and partners, the British deliberately excluded the coastal band of Syria from their  pledge to Husayn.

During the times that the leader of the Arab has founded and originate the French require repugnant, the conflict was postponed until after the war. Hence, as things situated and positioned in the summer of 1916, Arab rebels has been able to establish and founded themselves wary of two objects as they prepared to act: first, how dependable as well as consistent were McMahon’s promises and assurance for independence. On the other hand, how likely was the plausibility of a renewed foreign presence in the Middle Eastern region.

During the spring of the 1916, and unfamiliar to Arab nationalists, Great Britain, France, as well as Russia have been able to conclude the notorious Sykes-Picot Pact. This treated known as the partitioning of the Asian sections of the old Ottoman Empire into regions of power and pressure. Universally, speaking, the pact assigned to France, Britain, as well as Russia, respectively, the regions of Syria, Mesopotamia, as well as Turkish Armenia (Humphreys, 2005).

Accordingly, Arab nationalism was deliberated as a hegemonic context of the eastern Arab world in 1920s and its effect pursued to disperse in succeeding years.  By the 1950s up to 1960s, the espousal of Arab nationalism which has been lead by the charismatic leader Gamal Nasser and with the help of the capabilities of the organizations, mobilization as well as clandestine actions of different parties as well as the Movement of Arab Nationalists, this appears to be rising and growing all over the 20 independent states of the Arab region.  Accordingly, one of the deliberated reason for the rise of Arab nationalism is the decline of the Britain’s Middle East Empire.

It can be noted that the involvement of the British in the Arab region was long antedated First World War, nonetheless Britain's "moment" in the region, as it has been deliberated - the era and phase in that it was the leading and prevailing  power in much of the area was during 1914 to 1956 (Louis, 1984). The alliance of Britain's Middle Eastern empire extended from the Suez Canal leading to the Persian Gulf. At its pinnacle involving the two world wars, the ascendancy and reign of the Britain was almost uncontested either by other governing dominions or by indigenous driver and forces. Nonetheless, after 1945, the dominance of Britain dominance rapidly startled and deteriorated which leaves few relics of any kind (Sea right, 1970).

The primary impetus through deeper involvement of Britain in the Middle Eastern region happened from the entry of the Ottoman Empire into First World War on the section of the Central Dominions at the on the last quarter of 1914. Britain did not look for issues and stresses with the Turks, considering it as a distraction from the primary mission of beating and overthrowing Germany; they nonetheless moved rapidly both to confront Turkey in the battleground and to makes plans for the post-war indulgence in the Middle East. The "Eastern question" in its conventional type completed abruptly, as well as contemporary stage began in that the Allied dominions resisted over the post-war division of the Ottoman Empire.

It can be said that the assault on the Straits resulted in one of the great catastrophes of British military timelines and records. A primary naval challenge to driver and force the Dardanelles was clearly repulsed. Succeeding landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula by British as well as their empire alliance have achieved no essential military purpose and led to a bloodbath.  In the Mesopotamian region, also, British were shamed and disgraced; An army was dispatched from India to conquer the nation from the Persian Gulf. Nonetheless in April 1916 General Charles Townshend's Sixth Division was end river and forced and strained to surrender at Kut al-Amara. The British nonetheless brought in contemporary driver and forces that advanced to conquer Baghdad by March 1917 (Monroe, 1981)

The British conquest had sponsored as well as funded a revolt of tribesmen in the Arabian Peninsula opposing the Ottoman Turkish overlords. Organised by a Cairo-support group of British Middle East experts regarded as the Arab Bureau, the revolt started in June 1916. It involved, specifically the followers of the Hashimite ruler of the Hijas, Sharif of Mecca (Husayn ibn Ali), including his sons. Align with the British officials who provide advice to the rebels was T. E. Lawrence, who battled with bands of Arab guerrillas opposing their targets in Arabia. The group has been able to blew up the installations of the Turkish involving the Hijas Railroad, captured Aqaba in 1917, as well as harassed and pursued the enemy on the eastern flank of Allenby's army as it go ahead the north toward Damascus. To recognise their driver and forces , and as a concession and offering to their  Arab nationalist feeling, Allenby stage-managed the conquer of Damascus on 1 October 1918, which permits the Arab army to be able to enter the city in victory, though the triumph had been chiefly the work of Australian cavalry which was lead by General Sir Harry Chauvel.

The politicians and the Muslim philosopher’s in1911, from all over the Levant have been able to form al-Fatat ("the Young Arab Society") which are known as a small Arab nationalist club in France.  The main purpose of this club was to raise the degree and degree of the Arab nation to the level of contemporary nations. During the first years of its emergence, al-Fatat called for better and larger independence and self-government within a combined and integrated Ottoman state rather than having an entire Arab independence from the empire.  In addition, the group also attempt to consider that Arab conscripts to the Ottoman army should not be deliberated o serve in non-Arab regions except during the times of wars.  Nonetheless, as the Ottoman dominions cracked down on the organisation's operations and as well as members, al-Fatat went subversive and required the entire independence and unity of the Arab regions (Choueiri, 2000). Nationalist people have been more well-known during the waning years of Ottoman power and control, however the notion of Arab nationalism had almost and practically no effect on the majority of Arabs as they deliberated themselves loyal subjects of the Ottoman Empire (Karsh, 2006). The britain for their division and share, have been ale to encouraged the Sharif of Mecca to introduce the Arab Revolt in times of the World War I (Karsh, 2006). On the other hand, during those times the Ottomans have been defeated while the rebel driver and forces that have been loyal to the Sharif's son Faysal ibn al-Husayn go through Damascus in 1918. In this regard, Faysal together with most of the Iraqi philosophers as well as military officials had been able to join al-Fatat which would  shaped and developed the backbone of the newly-created Arab state that composed of much of the Levant as well as the Hejaz (Choueiri, 2000).  Herein, Damscus have been the coordinating centre of the movements of the Arab Nationalists as it was considered as the birthplace of the principles, the seat of Faysal—the primary and initial Arab "sovereign" after nearly 400 years of being under the Turkish reign and because the nationalists of the  whole and complete Mashreq region were familiar with this aspect.  Nonetheless, Jerusalem, Beirut, and Baghdad have stayed essential bases of support. Following the formation and establishment of Faysal's state, a serious stress within the Movement of the Arab nationalist became noticeable; the issue involving the principle's highest notion of forming a single independent constituent consisting all nations which shared the Arabic language as well as heritage, and the tendency to provide precedence to local ambitions (Choueiri, 2000).

To further stress, a gap shaped and created involving the older nationalist members of diverse Syrian urban-class families as well as the universally younger nationalists who became close to Faysa as well as his Hejazi troops, Iraqi as well as Syrian’s military officials, and Palestinian as well as Syrian philosophers. The older guard was chiefly delegated y Rida Pasha al-Rikabi, who worked as the Faysal's prime minister, while that younger guard did not have a single delegation leader (Choueiri, 2000). Nonetheless, the younger generation within al-Fatat established the Arab Independence Party ("al-Istiqlal") in February 1919. Its purpose and objective was to attain unity as well as total and comprehensive Arab independence. Those popular and famous members comprised Izzat Darwaza as well as Shukri al-Quwatli. Centered in Damascus with twigs in diverse cities all over the Levant, al-Istiqlal have been able to have political as well as financial support from Faysal, nontheless, relied on the inner circle of al-Fatat to stay alive (Choueiri, 2000).

During the war the British had become a major support and benefactor of Arab nationalist ideologies and thoughts, as a weapon to utiliuse against the control and dominion of the Ottoman Empire. Nonetheless, the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement that happened involving France and Britain gave the division of the much of the Arab Mashreq involving the two imperial dominions. During the inter-war era and phases as well as the British Mandate era and phase, when Arab lands were still under the control of the British and French powers, Arab nationalism has become an essential anti-imperial opposition movement against rule of the European nations (Hiro, 1996).

Essential Arab nationalist philosophers and theorists in the inter-war era and phase involved Constantin Zureiq, Amin al-Rihani, Zaki al-Arsuzi, Sati' al-Husri and Michel Aflaq. Rival and challenging notions comprised Islamism as well as local nationalism, specifically the Lebanese nationalism which has been introduced by diverse, predominantly Christian, theorists and politicians in that nation. Greater Syrian nationalism established most remarkably by Antun Saadeh, a Lebanese Christian (Orthodox), also achieved a specific adherence in Syria and Lebanon. Communism have become an essential and important ideological driver and force, first and most remarkably in Iraq, nonetheless, ater in Syria and to a specific degree and level in Egypt. Nonetheless, while universally hostile for pragmatic reasons to specific pan-Arab political prospects, Arab communism was not altogether mismatched with the universal  requires of Arab nationalism.


            By and large, it can be said that because of the demands of the Arab people to have their independence, the context of Arab nationalism arise. However, there are some factors which affects the achievement of Arab nationalism and its understanding through the Middle East region. It can be said that the Britain’s Middle East Empire decline, Arab nationalism has emerged more and have become an important part of the historical background of the Middle eastern region. It can be perceived that as the Arab people are searching for their independence, even those countries who have dominated them for the past years have tried to help them in enhancing their nationalistic views and perceptions and help them to gain more strength to fight for the context of Arab nationalism.

Accordingly, in practice, majority of the Arab government have been able to consider the context of Arab nationalism but because of the challenges and issues that they faced in this generation, the battle for Arab nationalism is still in contest.  Hence, although it can be noted that British Middle East Empire declines has a greater influence with the context of Arab nationalism, Arab people should still continue to fight form this aspect.  In today’s generation, Arab nationalism is being put into diverse utilisation and perspectives that its employment by Nasser or the other people who fought for it during the dominion of European authorities as a means of masking party ambitions and personal needs.


Choueiri, Yourself (2000), Arab Nationalism – A History: Nation and State in the Arab World, Wiley-Blackwell

Hiro, Deli. "Arab nationalism." Dictionary of the Middle East. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. pp. 24–25.

Humphreys, R. Stephen (2005). Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age. University of California Press.

Karsh, Efraim (2006). Islamic Imperialism: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Khalidi, Rashid (1993), The Origins of Arab Nationalism, Columbia University Press,

Louis, William Roger (1984). The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945 - 1951. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

Monroe, Elizabeth.(1981) Britain's Moment in the Middle East, 2d edition. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.

Porath, Yehoshua (1986) In Search of Arab Unity. London: Cass, 1986.

Sea right, Sarah (1970). The British in the Middle East. New York: Atheneum, 1970.

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