Middle East Politics

Posted: November 27th, 2013

Middle East Politics







Middle East Politics

The Ottoman Empire began in July 1299 and ended in October 1923. It included 27 provinces and several states during the 16th and 18th centuries. The empire controlled many territories including Southern Europe and some parts of Asia and Africa. The Ottoman Empire began as a small Turkish state and developed to include many new states. The break up of the Ottoman Empire was caused by the poor economic structure and inadequate communication, which created difficulties in many regions. The empire lost economic independence during the 16th and 18th centuries through a series of treaties of defeat. In addition, its breakup led to the formation of numerous Arab nations that have now hardened into fiercely self-governing, separate states. There are numerous reasons that prevented these new states from merging into a concrete union. These include post-revolutionary chaos, political instabilities within the Arab nations, political sovereignty, and religious problems.

The first reason that prevented the Arab States from merging into a concrete state after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire is independence. Many of the Arab states wanted to have their own self-governing nations. This contributed to war in order to struggle for independence. The reason they wanted to be independent is that they experience economic development problems as well as economic and social inequalities. Thus, they had to struggle for independence through engaging in war thus led to the spread of many Arab states instead of forming together (Milton-Edwards 231). When the Ottoman Empire departed, the Arab states started proclaiming for an independence nation and every state wanted to be independence and their own separate constitutions. This made many Arab states not to form together but rather move towards independence.

Political problems are another reason that prevented the Arab nations from merging. Most Arab nations wanted to gain for themselves political power after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. This hindered the Arab states from merging due to political problems. Many of the parliamentary institutions remained weak and ineffective due to competition from diverse parties. Need for power sparkled off war because of diverse political parties, which were formed, and each party had its own powers and rules (Fortna 45). Additionally, political parties wanted to move away from kingdoms movement and create their own political government with new political systems.

Nevertheless, some of the parties were comprised of landowning elites and urban notables. This contributed to mismanagement of the economy as well as politics. The philosophers of the anti-colonial period created the fertile ground for several Arab nationalists and they demanded radical change. In 1956, Syria, one of the Arab states signed an agreement with the Soviet Union, which required that the government provide them with military equipment. The technology in Syria increased, making Turkey worry that Syria may retake Iskenderun city, a factor that contributed to disputes between the two parties (Stephan 91).

It was costly to keep the empire intact through internal and external wars, which contributed to reforms of the Arab states thus a reason, which made the Arab states not to form together. An attempt was made to rebuild the Arab nations but the economy did not flourish due to internal and external wars (Fortna 62). Two Frenchman diplomats agreed secretly to split the Ottoman Empire to diverse zones at the end of the war. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, plans of breaking up the Ottoman territory began. The territories were separated, forming new states because it was costly to keep the empire intact due to wars. Redevelopment in many areas especially in the military sector was needed in order to create a concrete state but it was inevitable. Thus, many Arab states decided make change through controlling their own territories (Stephan 47).

Religion problems prevented the Arab states from merging. For instance, Muslims consisted of a large percentage of a bout 94 %, followed by Christians with 43% and then Jews with 13%. These groups could not join as one religious nation because of religious differences that led to conflict with each other (Fortna 74). Religious issues made the Arab states not to merge because of the dominant spread of Islam, which created religious problems in many tribes. In addition, due to western influence, which penetrated into the Muslim society, many organizational reforms were formed as well as Islamic practices, which became widespread. The organizational reform contributed to separation of the Arab states and with different religious issues (Williams 96).

Additionally, the post-revolutionary chaos hindered the Arab states from merging. This chaos prevented many states from joining into a concrete union, as many people had to escape to places where there was security. Many of the immigrants became pioneers because of their experience in agriculture and their proficiency in establishing independent sustaining economies. Most parts of the Jezreel and Heifer plains were drained and turned into agricultural use. In 1920 and 1921, Arab rioting emerged; this has led to ratification of the immigration quotas system (Milton-Edwards 99). In spite of Arab opposition, the number of Jews increased due to persecution of the Jews in Europe. Due to evolution of fascist regimes in all parts of Europe, the Jews changed into non-citizens, deprived of their civil and economic rights. The immigration increased, especially during the Nazi rule whereby persecution increased, even though the British restricted the immigrants due to increased rates of migration (Tripp and Beverley 123).


The new Arab states could not also merge because of the influence of socialism and colonial aspects, which contributed to new ideological ideas in the Arab nation. Zionism leaders saw nothing wrong in assimilating colonialism with socialism, nationalism and utopianism ideas but these ideas made the Arab nations to separate. Socialism influenced many Zionists thus embarrassing the colonialists’ aspects. Zionism was formed to describe the new ideologies as well as incorporating the ideologies of the earlier thinkers. This movement caused conflict with other states such as Britain. This is because the British government believed the mandate obligations of the Zionists were unpopular in the Arab world. The Zionist movement organized to rescue the Jews from the Nazi by organizing illegal immigration. By the 1980s, this movement had already accomplished its mission of creating the Jewish state during the post-Zionism period (Tripp and Beverley 122).

Moreover, the emergence of new political ideologies contributed to the split of the Arab states. Many politicians came up with different political ideologies and they formed different movements that led to separation of the Arab states. These political ideologies emerged after the fall of the Ottoman Empire contributing to political wars. Political gatherings were formed and every politician wanted to form his own independent state. For instance, Theodore Herlz came up with ideologies of the Zionist movement in 1897. He incorporated them with the ideologies of the earlier thinkers as well as those of the organization formed by Hovevei Tziyon. Theodore’s ideas became popular and were influenced by social and cultural popular movements in Europe. Thus, multiple political ideologies separated many Arab states (Goffman 69).

Another reason that keeps Arab states separated is independent border disputes. This arose in some states especially in Yemen between the north and the south, leading to armed clashes. In 1972, Yemen assigned an agreement to end clashes between the two regions. However, the agreement was not implemented for decades and the Yemen government suffered severely particularly when some of the top officials were killed in an airplane clash. In 1978, the former president of Southern Yemen, Abdalfattah Ismail, signed a 20-year agreement with the Soviet Union (Williams 66). This treaty became dominant in Southern Yemen, which was one of the Arab states. The clashes broke out again in Northern Yemen but were settled after one month. In addition, the political rivalry erupted after two weeks when Ali Nasser tried to abolish the internal party opposition. This incident contributed to separation of the North and South Yemen states because of political issues where leaders struggled to gain political powers (Milton-Edwards 142).

In addition, recognition of sovereignty as well as land resources prevented states from merging. Many states wanted to gain independence, which contributed to border disputes. This contributed to negotiation of sovereignty by signing treaties. The treaties were signed between 1820 and 1916 in order to recognize the sovereignty of different rulers in specified borders (Williams 105). These helped to put tribal coalitions into pure concrete terms of landownership. However, land ownership became a major problem when oil was discovered in some parts. Some leaders wanted to take over the land and control the business activities of oil carried out in Saudi Arabia. By 1993, regional alliances had already changed drastically and individual political systems remained unchanged, thus many Arab states were granted ultimate powers Williams 126).

Lastly, administrative problems and unstable leaderships are another reason that made the Arab states not to join. Due to powerful military and religious elites who did not want to lose their traditional powers, many Arab states separated themselves. Nevertheless, some of practices weakened leadership of the empire especially the methods used to rule the nation became unstable. Thus, some of the Arab states were forced to make leadership and administrative reforms, which led to separation of the states instead of joining as one state. Some states refused to sign peace treaties that were meant to create peace after the prolonged war for powers. Treaties such as the Adrianople Peace Treaty led to Russo-Turkish war between Russians and the Ottoman Empire. The war lasted for one year until the treaty was reviewed whereby the Russian court decided to guarantee the previously promised independence to countries such Serbia, Moldavia and Romania. Drastic reforms resulted during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but this was still rather late. Many congresses were formed in order to recognize independence. In 1839, a verdict containing the civil reforms followed whose regime witnessed the rise of the liberal party (Goffman, 119).

In conclusion, there are diverse reasons that prevented these new states from merging into a concrete union. One of the reasons that prevented Arab States from merging into concrete states is independence, instability and economic growth. In addition, political instability contributed to this, whereby many wanted to gain political powers and many kingdoms were separated because of instabilities. Religious problems made the Arab nations not to join as one nation because of different religious issues. Muslims had their own religious believes that were different from the Christians and Jewish which conflicted each other. Additionally, emergence of new political ideologies and independent border disputes led to separation of states. Lastly, recognition of sovereignty as well as land resources separated Arab states. This is because each state wanted to gain political sovereignty and access to land resources such as oil hence contributed to war, which made the Arab nations not to come together.

Works Cited

Goffman, Daniel. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge

University Press, 2002. Print.

Fortna, Benjamin C. Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman

            Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.

Milton-Edwards, Beverley. Contemporary Politics in the Middle East. Cambridge, UK: Polity,

2006. Print.

Stephan, Maria J. Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization, and Governance in the

            Middle East. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Internet resource.

Tripp, Charles, and Beverley Milton-Edwards. “Review of Contemporary Politics in the Middle

East.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 64.1 (2001): 122-123. Print.

Williams, Mary E. The Middle East, Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000.





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