The Making of the Modern Middle East: Term Definition
Most historians trace the making of the modern Middle East right before the 1918 fall of the Ottoman Empire all the way to the 1956 exit of European powers from the Middle Eastern region; consequently, the time span is between 1914 and 1956. 1918 marked the entry of Britain and France into the Middle Eastern region. One can assert that the British were motivated to eliminate the Ottoman Empire after the latter group chose to side with their enemies in the First World War i.e., the central powers.
A number of events took place within this time frame. The major western forces; Britain and France entered into an agreement with each other to take a number of territories in the Ottoman Empire. This agreement occurred during 1916 and came to be identified as the Asia Minor agreement. Ottoman had Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria under its wing and these areas were to be made colonial territories under the agreements. In that same year – 1916, the British also chose to involve an influential Arab leader; Sharrif Husein Ali who was an Emir in Mecca. The Britons promised that they would guarantee Arab independence.
This prompted the latter Arabic leader to engage in a revolt known as the Great Arabic revolt which led to the conquering of Syria, Jordan and other areas of the Peninsula. In 1917, the British also came to an agreement with the Jewish people through the Balfour declaration pledged after the First World War. At the time, the foreign secretary of Britain promised all the Jews of the US and central Europe that there would be a nation state for Jewish people within the Middle Eastern region. This declaration eventually led to the creation of Israel as a state in the period after the Second World War. It should be noted that the latter three agreements were totally different in their approaches and this ultimately caused rising political and social tensions in the Middle East from 1917 to 1956.
The Suez crisis of 1956 is worth mentioning because it eventually led to the termination of British and France occupation of the Middle East. The latter nations found themselves in a tricky situation when they were pressured by other western powers such as US and the Soviet Union to cease fire. Eventually, the former nations had to succumb to the pressure. They left room that would later be filled by the United States. Nonetheless, it can be said that the exit of European powers in the region is what led to the creation of the modern Middle East. This territory would soon be identified with increased dependence on oil as an economic driver.