Anticolonialism in Middle East
Ottoman Empire And The Mandate System
With the exception of Morocco, the entire region either had been or still was in the early twentieth century at least nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, a multiethnic geopolitical unit that had been in existence since the late thirteenth century and that came to an end in the 1920s. Although it is misleading to regard the Ottomans as an imperial power, it is nevertheless the case that in spite of the Tanzimat reforms of the nineteenth century, which were generally intended to extend full citizenship to all subjects of the empire, the largely Christian provinces in southeastern Europe had become independent states in the course of the nineteenth century as a consequence of more or less bitter struggles to assert their various ethnolinguistic identities. In contrast, regardless of their ethnicity, the overwhelmingly Muslim population of the Arab provinces continued to regard the (Turkish) Ottomans as the natural defenders of Islam, with the result that most of the Middle East was barely affected by Arab nationalism until the early twentieth century.
On the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, Britain's concern with keeping the route to India safe and open led to a series of treaties with various local rulers between the 1820s and 1916, under which the rulers generally agreed not to grant or dispose of any part of their territories to any power except Britain. In 1839, Britain annexed Aden and turned it into a naval base. Exclusive treaties were signed with the tribal rulers of the interior, and in 1937 the area was divided into the port and its immediate hinterland (Aden Colony) and the more remote rural/tribal areas (Aden Protectorate). Principally because of their remoteness and their apparent lack of strategic importance, central Arabia and northern Yemen were never colonized.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, the empire's remaining Arab provinces were assigned by the newly created League of Nations to Britain and France as mandates, with Britain taking responsibility for Iraq, Palestine, and Transjordan, and France taking responsibility for Lebanon and Syria. The guiding principle of the mandate system was that the states concerned should remain under the tutelage of the mandatory power until such time as they were able to "stand alone," a period that, although not specified, was still understood to be finite. The mandate period was relatively short-lived, ending with the creation of Israel from the former Palestine mandate in 1948.
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