Aim of Middle East policy-makers Following World War I
Q: What was the aim of Middle East policy-makers in the aftermath of World War I?
In the years following World War I, it is widely recognized that the formulation of a coherent Middle East policy was made difficult by two fundamentally opposed schools of thought. As Mehran Kamrava suggests, the inevitable collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I left a “power vacuum” in several Middle Easter regions that were previously under Ottoman rule. As a result, Middle East policy-makers had to decide what to do with the territories. One school of thought favored Arab national ideals and backed the Hashemite family for rulership positions in the region; the other was thought to reflect that direct British rule in the Middle East was essential and that Hashemite leadership should be opposed. This first school of thought advocated the establishment of an independent Arab state while the second was aimed to protect British interests and expand British influence in the Middle East following the Ottomans’ death. In examining these two conflicting views, it becomes apparent that the formulation of a Middle East policy following World War I can be perceived from two largely different perspectives.
By as early as 1915, in the controversial McMahon-Husayn correspondence, Britain had pledged support for Arab independence after the war. British policy in the Middle East during and immediately after World War I was largely determined by its concern for the protection of its two most important possessions, India and Egypt. In order to protect these interests during the war, Britain relied on an alliance with Hussein ibn Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, who agreed to monitor the threat that the Ottoman Empire posed on Britain’s primary interests in the region. In addition, the Arabs agreed to revolt against the Ottoman Empire (which had... [continues]
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