How the Aftereffects of WWI and the Mandate System Affected the Middle East


How the Aftereffects of WWI and the Mandate System Affected theMiddle East

The first world war greatly affected the Middle East, and NorthAmerica when the Ottoman Empire split and gave in to the European powers which divided the region into mandates , protectorates ,colonies and spheres of influence. Nevertheless, the influence wascut short following the effect of the Second World War, which leftthe new territories bankrupt, and had to find ways to break rank with the business empire.1

Events preceding the First World War began because of rivalry betweenSpain and the Ottoman Empire that lasted to the seventeenth century. Egypt by virtue of being a British colony had immense influence, andlargely controlled the Ottoman Empire in the courses of the 19thcentury. However, the autonomy of the protectorates did not work infavor of Europeans colonies who overtime sought ways to divide thecolonies. During this time, scramble for colonies was at its peak,with Britain and France fighting for colonies, that pitied the Arabworld, thereby setting stage for the great Arab revolts, whichplaced Egypt strategically to command the influence of the Greater Syria that included major regions in Palestinian and Iraq whojoined the forces in revolting. The agenda was to setstage for the second front of the Ottoman Empire, which was toprevent the dominance of f the Russian territory.2

The battle centre stage was set when Britain and France, appointed aHashemite to rule Mecca, who eventually commanded the wholesettlement. In addition, Britainreassured their support for thecountry independence, which led to a second agreement called theSykes –Picot signed secretly in 1916, The new agreement split the colony into different areas which was strategic for thecolonial officers to govern from their headquarters in London, andParis, whose impact was not felt on the grounds. However, twocolonies in Jordan, and Lebanon shared the colonial mindset byserving the interest of the various groups. For instance, Christianswere given Lebanon as a safe haven for their activity, which laterseparated from Syria when the French divided Christians from Muslims. The new country Lebanon was adversely affected since it had fewinhabitants, with the majority of the population remaining plural, which largely contributed to growing internal hostility in thecountry .later the Muslim group separated from Lebanon, and becamepart of Syria again.3

Jordan as a country emerged following specific proposal sighed byLawrence of Arabia and the other two sons of Hejaz rulers who wanteda share of the kingdom. In the arrangements, the first ruler was tobecome Iraqis king, a fete that he achieved shortly, however,following the 1950 revolutions he was overthrown. The second sonwanted to command Syria following the signing of the Sykes –Picotagreement, however the agreement failed to materialize when Syriaseparated from the kingdom, and instead partnered with the Frenchcolony that later became its protectorate.The British lattersettled the initial agreements, and agreed to the demand of thesecond ruler forcing them to carve out Jordan from the map, and gaveit to the second ruler who had began to rebel against the British.4

Colonization and the process of decolonization meant a lot to theMiddle East, given that many countries were under autocraticgovernments. Apart from India and a few African countries notcolonized by European, the rest were protectorates, and wereprincipally under the mandate colonial power. In this arrangement, the colonial powers began teaching their colonies modernlifestyle in the pretext of sharing a superior culture, but in realsense wanted to benefit from the raw materials which they tradedin, and repatriated the profits back to their home countries.Thelocal systems would in turn adopt the colonial style of leadership,meant to replace the civil rule, which failed to take place, sincesocialism was widely practiced after independence.5

The post war challenges in the Middle east has been a topic ofdiscussion for policy makers given that reconstruction efforts wereneeded, and it was important to learn from the history of Britainrole in the region. Following the events of the First World War,for instance, the Ottoman Empire became a British protectorate, and had assumed their own mandate over the territory given the protectorate were considered incapable of governing themselves. An important event that safeguarded the interest of Iraq was when theBritish army successfully prevented the threats of the rival groups-Kurdish and Shia, who had organized a coup that failed to takeplace.6

Nevertheless, we cannot underestimate the growing dissent by theinhabitants of the country who have continued to protest against therule of unpopular regime, an event that led to the end of autocraticleadership in 1979, when Sadam Husseinascended to power.

America is committed to democratic governance, and intervenes incases where there is gross violations of human rights, and whendemocracy is not upheld. To date there is little evidence of Americas involvement in the affairs of Iraq , but it is worthyacknowledging that accommodating the interest of divergent groups isnecessary for fostering genuine local leadership which should formpart of vibrant democracy, and a political culture that America iscommitted to.7


BBC. Saudi Arabia profile Timeline, (2015). Accessed August27, 2015 from

Beveley, Milton-Edwards. Iraq, past, present and future: athoroughly modern mandate? 2003. Accessed August 27, 2015from:

Islamopedia online. The Formation of Modern Egypt Pre-1952,(n.d) Accessed August 27, 2015 from

Jordan History. The Making of Transjordan, (n.d). AccessedAugust 27, 2015 from

Middle East Policy Council. The Troubles in Syria: Spawned byFrench Divide and Rule.(2011)

Rose, Christopher .Episode 24: European Imperialism in the MiddleEast (part 2), 2013. Accessed August 27, 2015 from

1 Christopher Rose, Episode 24: European Imperialism in the Middle East (part 2), 2013. Accessed August 27, 2015 from

2 Milton-Edwards Beveley, Iraq, past, present and future: a thoroughly modern mandate? 2003. Accessed August 27, 2015 from:

3 Jordan History. The Making of Transjordan, n.d. Accessed August 27, 2015 from

4 Christopher Rose, Episode 24: European Imperialism in the Middle East (part 2), 2013. Accessed August 27, 2015 from

5 BBC. Saudi Arabia profile Timeline, 2015. Accessed August 27, 2015 from

6 Ibid 3-4

7 Ibid 7-9.