EXPLANATIONS? (EVERYBODY HAS AT LEAST ONE) The wave of political change is due to… Globalization! (of ideas, of media, of facebook and youtube,… A Demographic shift! A youth bubble, rising education, rising middle class, or, alternately, a falling middle class, diminished expectations, unemployment, Economics! Liberalization of the economies! Monopolization of the economies,… Democratization! The expansion of public space, the narrowing of public space, the awareness of democratic systems abroad, anger with foreign involvement in supporting dictatorships at home… And many others: rise of extremist narratives, rise of religious models, failure of religious models, anger with corruption, failure of nationalism, resurgence of nationalism….
Things I plan to explore in this series: The Problem of Nationalism Economics The Role of Global Politics The Challenges to the State (We are starting with Nationalism)
Nationalist Explanations emphasize 3 turning points in the past century: 1. “Arab Nationalists of the WWI era were betrayed by Britain, puppet regimes were established as the region was divided for the convenience of European interests” 2. Frustration with the UN over the establishment of Israel led to a new wave of Nationalists (Pan Arabism/Baathists) who were then derailed by Cold War politics, leading to authoritarian governments. 3. Frustration with internal and external issues in early 2000s leading to new wave of nationalist sentiment shared through new media channels.
The 19 th century an age of European Colonial Expansion
A Collision Course: European Interests and Nationalist Movements under the Ottomans Greek Nationalism Balkan Nationalists Armenian Nationalists Turkic Nationalists Arab Nationalists Jewish Nationalists (Zionists)
The Rise of Arab Nationalism and the Damascus Protocol, 1914
Secret treaties and WWI Europeans jostled for advantage in WWI by encouraging nationalist movements and promising their allies pieces of the Ottoman lands. The British signed three separate documents promising the same Arab lands to allies. McMahon-Husayn Letter, 1915 Sykes Picot treaty, 1916 Balfour Declaration, 1917
McMahon-Husayn letter, Oct. 1915. The districts of Mersin and Alexandretta, and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, cannot be said to be purely Arab, and must on that account be excepted from the proposed delimitation. Subject to that modification, and without prejudice to the treaties concluded between us and certain Arab Chiefs, we accept that delimitation. As for the regions lying within the proposed frontiers, in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to interests of her ally France, I am authorized to give you the following pledges on behalf of the Government of Great Britain, and to reply as follows to your note: That subject to the modifications stated above, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and uphold the independence of the Arabs in all the regions lying within the frontiers proposed by the Sharif of Mecca.  
Balfour Declaration 1917 November 2nd, 1917 Dear Lord Rothschild, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet. "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non- Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation. Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour
Faisal and Lawrence at Versailles, 1919, Paris Peace Conference. (The steps are about as far as they got)
Post Versailles Mandates, ratified by League of Nations 1922
Al Saud family, Rulers of Saudi Arabia since 1925
Other British Monarchical creations? Kuwait, Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen…you could certainly make an argument that Britain heavily influenced the establishment of monarchies in these states as they created coaling stations and forts in the Persian Gulf in the 19 th century.
And the one country not under European guidance after WWI is the one that established a Republic. Ataturk, realizing the danger from European colonization, led a military revolt that pushed Europeans out. (It also pushed out non-Turkic ethnic groups who were seen as a liability, like the Greeks in the West)
Some Suggested Reading on WWI Nationalism Anthony Kuhn, “Broken Promises: The French Expulsion of the Emir Feisal and the Failed Struggle for Syrian Independence.” 2011 Thesis, CMU. (A short but nice overview of the failed Syrian Revolt) http://repository.cmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1125&context=hsshonors Scott Anderson, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. 2014. Winner of National Book Award, 2014. N. Masalha, “Feisal’s Pan Arabism, 1921-33” Middle Eastern Studies, 27: 4, 1991, 679-693. A review of Feisal’s clandestine attempts to keep the dream of a unified Arab state alive. Andrew Mango. Ataturk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey, 2002. (a little outside our area, but great on World War I in the region)