The Emergence of the Modern Middle East

[ Index ]
helpful vocabulary:
Alawite--mystical Muslim sect prominent in Syria, connected with Twelver Sh'ism; Alawites comprise
a minority in Syria, but Bashar al-Assad is Alawite
Druze--Also a sect that broke off from Sh'ia, with presence in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan
Fatah--Palestinian revolutionary organization, broke off from PLO, usually associated with
the more militant leadership of Yasser Arafat
Gaza Strip--autonomous area bordered by Egypt and Israel, governed by Hamas since 2007;
area of dispute between Israel and Egypt, also between Palestinian Authority and Hamas
Golan Heights--part of the British mandate after World War I, granted to newly independent state
of Syria, 1944, lost to Israel in 6 Day War (1967,) loss confirmed October/Yom Kippur
War, 1973. One of the "occupied territories."
Hamas--militant, Islamist (in contrast to more secularly oriented PLO) group that has governed
Gaza since 2007
Hashemite--dynasty that came to power in Jordan (and remains there) after World War I; trace their dynasty to
the ancestors of the Prophet; King Abdullah is present monarch
Kurds--
Maronites--Eastern Christians, primarily located in the Lebanon
Palestinian Authority--
PLO--Palestine Liberation Organization
Sh'ia--
Sunni--
Wahabi--conservative religious sect within Sunni Islam, focused on puritanical adherence
to the dictates of the Koran and Hadith; Saud dynasty in Saudi Arabia supports Wahabism
West Bank--contested area originally part of Jordan, now Israel; site of Intifada, Palestinian Authority, and Hamas.
West Bank is focus of Islamist acts of rebellion and terror as well as expansion of illegal Israeli settlements

 

 

Professor Susser began "The Emergence of the Modern Middle East," by defining what it was, with an emphasis on the Ottoman Empire. He noted that people identified religion--Islam-- not language or territory--as their unifying principle. The Middle East, a term coined by foreigners, referred to North Africa (including Morocco and Algeria--not depicted here--) as well the areas designated in yellow. The World of Islam was not synonymous with the "Arab World." Turks and Iranians are not Arabs.


image source < http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/hsh/whitec/litr/5731copo/lectures/pre09lectures/forster2.htm >

Despite defeats in Central Europe, the Ottomans were a dominant European power in the 17th century.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire >

 

The first chink in the armour of Ottoman legitimacy and claim to the caliphate came with its loss of Crimea to the Russians (Catherine II) in 1783. This was a traumatic occasion when Muslims came under Christian rule. Although the Ottomans had been hurled back from Vienna in 1683, defeats in Christian Europe by Christian troops were less catastrophic than the loss of Crimea.


image source < http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140305-maps-crimea-history-russia-ukraine/ >

Professor Susser also identified Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign (1798) as a turning point in the emergence of the modern Middle East, introducing a long, complicated, and tortuous period of change, including the rise of a new kind of nationalism. Modern warfare came to Egypt and Syria, galvanizing a generation of modernizers. Subsequent challenges to Ottoman hegemony escalated in Christian, Southeastern Europe.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_campaign_in_Egypt_and_Syria >
According to Professor Susser, Selim III (r.1789-1807)--sultan and caliph--fully acknowledged the importance of the loss of Crimea and the Napoleonic invasion. Selim brought in foreign advisors and established contacts with the West, addressing reform of the military as the first order of business. From his reign dates the ubiquitous role of officer elites as architects of reform; these reforms were vehemently opposed by the Janissary vested interests and the Ulema: A modern, conscript army would displace and demote the Janissaries, hence their revolt and overthrow of the Sultan in 1805. It was unacceptable to Ulema and Janissaries to solicit and or accept innovation from the infidel.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selim_III >
Sultan and Caliph Mahmoud II (r. 1808-1839) moved forward expeditiously with a reforming agenda but within an Islamic context that did not violate Sharia or antagonize the Ulema. The shoddy performance of the Janissaries in the Greek revolt led to their abolition (an "auspicious event") and a top-down strengthening of the central authority, cloaked in Islamic rhetoric. It was Mahmoud II who launched the Tanzimat (reorganization.) Go to google for details on Tanzimat, this movement, which established schools, reformed the administration, sent students abroad, etc. Mahmoud's Tanzimat had as its goal the preservation of the empire, certainly not its democratization. However, despite his reforming agenda, it was on Mahmoud II's watch that the Greeks secured their independence


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmud_II >

While Mahmoud II and his successors struggled with reform (which did not really touch the devout rural masses,) Muhammad Ali (1769-1848) in Egypt worked tirelessly to rebuild the army on the European conscript model, develop agriculture (cotton,) industry, manufacturing, and commerce, and to send talented youth to Europe. Of Albanian birth, Muhammad Ali acted as an Ottoman vassal and aided the Sultan during the Greek Insurrection. As a dynasty founder, some historians consider him a key figure in Egyptian modernization, and his descendants ruled Egypt (more or less) until 1952. Professor Susser spent quite a bit of time on Muhammad Ali as a kind of role model of how secular modernization proceeded under the direction of military elites. In Week II, Professor Susser explained how difficult was the juxtaposition of secular modernization v. Islam: the secular view postulates toleration of other points of view, while traditionalists viewed Islam as the one True Faith. Reconciliation of these perspectives continued to challenge leaders of the Middle East.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali_of_Egypt >

   

 

The Modern Middle East

image source < http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/modernmap.html >

 

Moving right along

 


image source < https://www.google.com/search?q=israel+jordan+map&client=firefox-a&hs=YbN&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=9eRiU4-GLYKpyATRoIKoCg&ved=0CDMQ7Ak&biw=1031&bih=593#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=8KTQ_epEjslF1M%253A%3BNAIwvj2Rl5KvvM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Ffollowingtheancientpaths.files.wordpress.com%252F2010%252F10%252Fisrael-jordan.gif%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwp-imgs.blogspot.com%252F2014%252F02%252Fjordan-post-4.html%3B600%3B532 >

another version

image source < oops? >

Egyptian army crosses into Sinai, October, 1973
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-66seomf2K4 >

Egyptian food riots 1977 bring Sadat to bargaining table with Begin
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4RZTm87vi4 >
Sadat and Begin < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww0_lQu8Qi8 >
Arafat aligned with Iraq in First Gulf War (Saddam invasion of Kuwait)
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0tbZ3iYgCs >
Return of Khomeini < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1PdGQzADkE >