Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Death of the "Sick Man of Europe": Beneficiaries of a New Middle East


The major beneficiaries of the post-World War I territorial alignment which emerged from the Sykes-Picot Treaty (1915) and the Treaty of Sevres (1920) were the British and the Zionists.  Although, not categorized as an entity, early international free market capitalism also benefitted and grew stronger from the shifting balance of power on the international stage and the carving up of the Ottoman Empire.

Britain was an imperialist state that had transitioned from coal to oil, so the acquisition of the Ottoman territories henceforth known as Iraq, Palestine and the Transjordan were very beneficial to the British in controlling the Suez Canal and allowed access to the Persian Gulf.  Britain “needed to maintain control over the Suez Canal, and all the rest of the route to their prized colonial possession” (Fromkin, 1991) of India.  In addition, large Scale oil drilling in Iran had begun in 1908, and due to the British government holding a controlling stake in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Iran was one of Britain’s highest priorities (Wooten, 2010, p.55).

The Zionists benefitted from the British mandate over Palestine because it allowed Zionist efforts at establishing a Jewish state through the acquisition of land, and the large scale importation of capital and technology, to continue with the building of Jewish settlements despite immigration restrictions implemented by the Ottoman Empire after 1880, which had little impact on Jewish immigration into Palestine as the Jewish population grew from approximately 24,000 to 70-80,000 between the years of 1882 and 1908 (Benbassa, 1990, p. 128).  With the British taking control of Palestine, immigration restrictions were greatly relaxed for Zionist immigration, and British support for Zionism and a future Jewish state are easily identified in the Faysal-Weizmann Agreement and the various drafts of the Balfour Declaration.

Free market capitalism, which had defined as a system during the Industrial Revolution and naval trade expansion, also benefitted from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  In the aftermath of destruction in parts of Europe, the demand for raw materials and agricultural products increased which “led to an expansion of manufacturing industry in regions outside Europe” (World Trade Report, 2007, p. 40).  Those specified regions now included the newly acquired mandate territories which had once been under Ottoman rule: Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Transjordan, Egypt.

The negative consequences on these mandated territories were that the people of these newly created territorial entities were now defined by state borders that were created by foreign powers, and this combination often created ethnic and religious power struggles that turned violent within the newly created territory.  With European puppet governments installed over these newly mandated territories, the exploitation and exportation of natural resources was carried out in the same manner as it had been with colonial possessions for several centuries, only with new industrial technologies, expanded naval capabilities and a new western addiction for oil.  One example of the government puppetry from this period is Emir Faisal, who was a brief ruler in Syria in 1920 and would become leader of the the Iraqi territory from 1921 to 1933.

Benbossa, Esther.  “Zionism in the Ottoman Empire at the End of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century.”  Studies in Zionism 11, no. 2 (1990): 128.  Accessed on May 6, 2014.  http://www.estherbenbassa.net/716543FB-A19C-4CF0-B834-E886A7C6F122/FinalDownload/DownloadId-FFEFBDB4191922913EEEA3AFE6E8A2A7/716543FB-A19C-4CF0-B834-E886A7C6F122/SCANS/ZIONISM.PDF

Fromkin, David.  1991.  “How the Modern Middle East Map Came to be Drawn”  Smithsonian 22, no. 2, (May, 1991): 132-147.  Accessed on May 6, 2014.  http://www.tcnj.edu/~library/e-reserve/lowi/0369_001.pdf

Wooten, Paul.  2010.  “Trade and Empire.”  Boston College Undergraduate Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 3, no. 2 (2010): 50-59.  Accessed on May 6, 2014.  http://alnoorjournal.org/716543FB-A19C-4CF0-B834-E886A7C6F122/FinalDownload/DownloadId-2B4513E0CBA50A12C6059A5D8991B021/716543FB-A19C-4CF0-B834-E886A7C6F122/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Al-Noor-Spring-2010.pdf#page=51

World Trade Report.  2007.  The Economics and Political Economy of International Trade Cooperation: 35-110.  Accessed on May 6, 2014.  http://www.wto.org/716543FB-A19C-4CF0-B834-E886A7C6F122/FinalDownload/DownloadId-54E9602427D1A10BF6932DAD431ACFF8/716543FB-A19C-4CF0-B834-E886A7C6F122/english/res_e/booksp_e/anrep_e/wtr07-2b_e.pdf

 

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