Discuss the idea that the Middle East is a colonial invention

It is worth acknowledging that the Middle East refers to some place in which history keeps undergoing remake often. It is for this reason that it has had a lot of consistency alongside being the battle-space for the empires in search of gaining control over tactical riches, a consistently regenerating birthplace concerning faiths and civilizations. It is also a home for the incredible myths with regards to ambiguity (Lee " Cho 2012).

The fall of the Ottoman Empire

Worth acknowledgment is the fact the European postwar imperialists established the concept. Therefore, the current Middle East refers to a rough definition but a distinct bandage of territory extensions from Turkey to Iran via Egypt. Notably, it came into place only after the Ottoman Empire’s fall together with the vanishing of the previous and currently out-of-date sounding of “Near East”.

Prior to the First World War, the British already had encountered divisions with regards to what is currently known as the Middle East to be Near East. The latter refers to the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans while the former entails the location around Persian Gulf and Iran. There existed some particular strategic and geographic essence towards the division. Additionally, Middle East between the Far and Near East. Also, Near East was closer compared to the middle one. According to the British colonial masters, the essentiality of Middle East facilitated the security of India (Sytch " Tatarynowicz 2014). On the Other hand, Near East lied within Ottoman Empire’s control.

France and Britain’s rise within the Middle East

It is remarkable that the entire scenario changed after the collapse of the Ottoman’s Empire almost a century back. Together with modern Turkey, the Balkans starting becoming more Western whereas the rest of the sections with the Near East got into the British control and eventually became victims of the bureaucratic reorganization of the empire. Winston Churchill is extensively recognized for his service as the colonies’ state secretary. He established the Middle East’s department which acquires the recently attained territories in line with Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. As a result, this region turned out to be a portion of Britain’s plans concerning the defense of the colonial holdings it had throughout the Suez Canal’s eastern side. In consideration of Roderick Davison’s dramatic words, Middle East encounters an extension all the way to the famous Mediterranean Coast.

Therefore the First World War came along with a lot of transformations to the Middle in various ways that it never encountered before. During the nineteenth century, Europeans colonized a larger portion of Ottoman’s Empire. They accomplished the takeover via the territories connected to Syria, Palestine, Arabia, Lebanon, and Iraq. The present Middle East boundaries originated from that war. The contemporary Islamic movements that are embryonic and Arabic nationalist movements happened in a similar manner. According to the NPR’s reports by Mike Shutter concerning the war together with its repercussion while he progressed with his series concerning the history associated with the Western indulgence within the Middle East (Hughes 2016).

The protectorates and mandates

As the War commenced, the British and French directed their own agents and armies into the Middle East as a way of fomenting revolts within the Peninsula of Arab as a way of seizing Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. In the year 1916, the diplomats of Britain and France secretly agreed to Sykes-Picot agreement which classified the Middle East region into influence’s spheres in line with their respective nations.  Worth acknowledgment is the fact that another agreement superseded this Sykes-Picot one and established some mandate system structure alongside British and French control under the sanction of the League of Nations. It is under the system that both Lebanon and Syria made their way towards the French. On the other hand, British controlled Palestine, as well as the three Mesopotamian Ottoman provinces, then established a contemporary Iraq.

Zachary Lockman is extensively recognized for being a professor in line with the history of Middle East at the University of New York. His argument is that everyone had an understanding that such was a slightly concealed and new form in line with colonialism. It is worth acknowledging that both the French and British had no idea about traveling extensively soon. It is for this reason that they entirely remained within the control of such territories for an infinitely long time. However, just after the war ended, the resistance movements of Arab rose to challenge the dominance of the European.

The mandates were given to the victorious powers upon the termination of the First World War under the efforts of the League of Nations. It is important to acknowledge that this League of Nations forerun The United Nations. They include France situated in Syria in Britain via what was referred to as Palestine’s mandate. Apparently, these refer to the territories that gained freedom with regards to Ottoman rule even though they were perceived to be unable to protect/govern themselves thus the Allied powers could be referred to as guardians. The independence associated with such mandates was very little if at all any.

Protectorates refer to the developmentally weak nations which need the help of a significant power in relation to the purposes of the military or economy. This makes them share a number of aspects Mandates. Generally, they possess a certain degree with regards to the local autonomy even though their foreign matters were under the handling of the protecting power. The distinguishing factor, in this case, is that their formation was bi-lateral and not through the League of Nations.

The Balfour Declaration

This refers to the British administration’s role with regards to the creation of a homeland to benefit the Jews within the Israel land. At the end of about two-thousand years, the declaration gave hopes concerning the likely flourishing one more time with regards to the Jewish state. Additionally, it protected the promise until it became a law. Many acknowledge the late Abba Eban for being an Israeli statesperson. On his side, he terms the declaration to be a decisive and diplomatic triumph associated with the Jews in the present-day history. 

Colonial policies

The society

It is worth acknowledging that political Islam rose in reacting against modernization and westernization which significantly altered the further advancements of such nations. Additionally, significant changes happened in the society and the latter possessed no direct connection with colonialism. Improved urbanization and reduced death rate led to the increase in population between the world wars. According to Ayubi, unity is essential for a powerful state governance. It is, for this reason, Arab lands’ division into the colonial states under no consideration of the tribal and ethical differences already had a significant impact on the states and societies. Additionally, increased manipulation of such ethnic differences via the colonial powers already brought down the states more significantly. There is no evidence of the way the society encountered a significant effect as a result of westernization and whether it resulted from colonization.

The economic management

European entry into the Middle East had a lot of advantages towards upper-middle-class’ small commercial together with the landowning elites. However, it disrupted several peasants, handicraft industry, and the local merchants. Its further dislocation of the small industry is a result of the machines and products from Europe.

The Empire of Ottoman traditionally depended on agriculture and trade. The loans and the capitulations alongside foreign powers offered them influence with regards to the economic state of Ottoman. The main interest of European powers was in line with the raw agricultural products which made incredible investments within the sector and a reduced amount within the industry. This policy remained standstill when the Middle East underwent division into the colonial mandates and states. It is for this reason that the firm remained young and mostly confined towards building materials, textiles and food processing. The impact associated with this is that the states of the Middle East became economically reliant on the western. Additionally, state formation never accounted for the economical state thus some cities couldn’t access their hinterland. Colonial powers emphasized agriculture as a way of ensuring that the landowners of Ottoman remained in power. During the year 1952, just a population’s 1% owned a 7/10 fraction of the cumulative Egyptian cultivated land. This went on until 1952 when the power and wealth that these elites had broken up after which land distribution happened in favor of the peasants. At the end of 1952, the state of Egypt acquired a more significant control with regards to the economy via the launch of state capitalist initiative concerning the importation of substituent industrialization. Despite the prosperity of state intervention, the expense remained high. 

The fact that this colonial rule was interested in the Middle East nation’s economic base is the reason as to why it changed the economic center. At that point, the permission of the Middle Eastern nations happened via a peripheral stand. This expressed the way in which the colonial heritage guarded the development associated with sociological states. It is important to note that the late industrialization weakened the nations in relation to external disturbances. The colonial policies are the basis to the base associated with economic challenges alongside the states of Middle East. 

The politics

Despite the fact that Ottoman rule took an entire century, the occupants of Middle East was left by the rule with no significant experience with regards to diplomatic affairs. It acted as an excuse that the European powers utilized in their procedure aimed at making the newly established nations their mandates. However, no mark had been left by the European powers in 1918 via a slate. Initially, there already existed certain reforms concerned with modernism and a statehood sense emerged. However, the region underwent division into mandates. When the nations gained independence, their diplomatic experience was little.

The British were in line with the establishment of some local government as an approach towards the domestic matters. Iraq and Egypt turned out to be constitutional monarchies. For both nations, the formally democratic but practically different. Looking at Egypt, monarch sustained a lot of powers because he has the ability to appoint the prime minister, dismissing the government and calling off parliament. With Iraq, on the other hand, the importation of King Faysal was done. The British did this as a way to ensure that the Hashimite family did not significantly affect the people. Additionally, there existed a consistent effort between the state cabinet and the monarch (Bhattacharya-Panda 2012). It is also important to note that the political conspiracies existed in abundance.


There existed variations amongst the foreign heritages associated with the states of the Middle East. It is remarkable that most of such states passed through the military path associated with authoritarian and dictatorial monarchies. This implies that it isn’t right to entirely put the blame on the colonial strategies associated with the European power before the Second World War with regards to weakening the states of the Middle East. For example, Iran and Saudi Arabia are two nations never colonized and aren’t an example of the strong and liberal democracies. The conclusion is, therefore, the basis alongside state weaknesses within the Middle East could be found within the colonial plans before the Second World War. On the other hand, elites alongside the imperial interventions and policies at the end of the WWII have a substantial blame with regards to the question under consideration. As well, the economic limitations ensured that the nations of the Middle East stayed reliant on the Western. Up to date, the army’s power is not only striking but also determines the stance concerning the Middle East (Landes et al. 2012).


Hughes, G., 2016. Militias in internal warfare: From the colonial era to the contemporary Middle East. Small Wars and Insurgencies, 27(2), pp.196–225.

Landes, D.S., Mokyr, J. " Baumol, W.J., 2012. The invention of enterprise: Entrepreneurship from ancient Mesopotamia to modern times, Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84924980634"partnerID=tZOtx3y1.

Lee, H. " Cho, Y., 2012. Introduction: Colonial Modernity and Beyond in East Asian Contexts. Cultural Studies, 26(5), pp.601–616.

Sytch, M. " Tatarynowicz, A., 2014. Exploring the locus of invention: The dynamics of network communities and firms’ invention productivity. Academy of Management Journal, 57(1), pp.249–279.

Bhattacharya-Panda, N., 2012. Appropriation and Invention of Tradition: The East India Company and Hindu Law in Early Colonial Bengal.

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