With the goal of achieving Indigenous sovereignty — the right and ability to exercise self-determination over their land, culture, politics, and economy — decolonisation is about “cultural, psychological, and economic freedom” for Indigenous peoples. Indigenous people and their resources are exploited by settlers as part of a historical and ongoing global project of colonization. It is a global endeavor.
Decolonistion of the middle east 1932 1971 will be discussed primarily in this series for clarity, though the movement for decolonization extends far beyond these national borders (imposed by colonizers).
We are entwined in relationships; interdependence challenges us to recognize how we are embedded in communities, networks, and systems as well as to question how we know what we know, fostering our ability to operate ethically within the communities and systems that support us.
In its ongoing and global scope, colonialism affects communities throughout the world. Communities all over the world are fighting for access to their land, grappling with the consequences of colonial borders, or defending land constantly threatened by forces seeking to profit from natural resources.
- The Middle-East in the early 20th Century
Various Middle-Eastern nations were under the control of the British, French and Ottoman Empires at the beginning of the 20th century. Arab Nationalism was a nationalist movement calling for independence from any and all forms of foreign influence in the region.
Despite Ottoman suppression, nationalists continued to gain momentum with clandestine support from other European nations.
As World War I broke out in 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers. In return for support against the Turks, the Europeans exploited the sentiments of Pan-Arabism among the Arab population of the Ottoman Empire and promised independence.
- The Middle-East post World War II
In the 1920s and 1930s, a few Middle Eastern states achieved independence from Britain and France. Between 1944 and 1971, the remaining countries gained independence. The Middle East was ruled by monarchies and dictatorships after independence.
Following World War II, the Middle East was the most unstable region in the world. A wave of Arab nationalism had swept the region decades earlier, with a burning ambition to create new Arab states.
In 1945 and 1946, Syria and Lebanon gained full independence from France. In March 1946, Jordan gained independence. By 1956, the Middle-East had become genuinely independent of European power, despite efforts to maintain a European military presence.
In 1920, the League of Nations granted Britain a Palestine mandate, which proved to be the most intractable issue of all. Arab nationalists considered this to be Arab land and demanded independence for it.
Arabs, however, were at odds with the Jews because they sought their own homeland in what they considered the historic homeland of Israel. The 1940s were a time of clashes between them and the British.
The British were reviled by both sides and struggled to maintain order. 91 people were killed when Jewish extremists bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July 1946. Public opinion in Britain turned against maintaining the mandate after this incident. Palestine was divided into a Jewish and an Arab state on November 29, 1947, after Britain asked the United Nations to resolve the issue. In May 1948, the British would withdraw from Palestine and gained independence.
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