The History of the Middle East: A Short Summary
I. Islam and the Arabian Peninsula
In the early 600’s, Islam developed in the Arabian Peninsula, the only home of the Arab peoples at this time. This region was home to polytheistic nomads, who were ignored by the Sassanian (Iran, Turkey and Iraq) and Byzantine Empires (historical successor to Rome) as a cultural backwater. Mohammed (570-632) was born an orphan in Mecca to the Quraysh tribe, the aristocratic tribe of the area who could claim kings of Jordan and Morocco to their lineage. He was a fallible human person supposedly entrusted with messages from God, in his Time of Revelations, extending from 610-632. The core idea in his Koran was the idea of monotheism. God’s words were then subsequently laid out in eschatological predictions, inheritance and custody issues, basic moralities, and guides to social laws. Muslim law became an integrated code of practice combining Islamic law (the Shari’a) with regional codes. Thus, the Koran became highly politicized - the debate still lingers whether or not the Koran is a timeless message or a constantly interpreted work. In 622, Mohammed was kicked out of Mecca into Medina, a time that exists as the start of the Islamic calendar. From there, he built up influence using his Koran until he had enough power to return to Mecca, a victorious leader. In 632, he died and a succession crisis prompted the split of the Islamic religion into Shi’a and Sunni. Shiites (now 10% of the world’s Muslim population) said that Islamic leadership should stay within the family of the Prophet and exist mainly in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. Sunni’s (the other 90%) said that leadership should go to the most qualified individual by consensus, an otherwise democratic idea. However, this metamorphosed into dynasties very quickly. After 632, Islam quickly spread out of the Arabian Peninsula. As the Muslims conquered more territories, the ruling class converted rapidly to Islam. The popular conversion came later. Arab elites tended to intermarry in conquered territories and started many different Islamic empires, including the Umayyad, the Abbasids, the Seljuk, the Mamluks, and finally the Ottomans. However, after the 8th century, there were no more centralized Islamic empires, leading to the confusion that Indian Muslims felt when their hopes for centralized Islamic support with historical precedents were dashed by the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and dissolution into the country of Turkey.
II. The Ottoman Empire/ Turkey
The Ottoman Empire started circa 1300 in western Anatolia amongst Turkish cavalrymen that had migrated into the area in the 1000s; it ended circa 1920, after World War I. The head of the Empire was the Sultan, who ruled in dynasties that were not strictly father-son progressions. Within this empire, the Jews and Christians were legally protected, though they had to pay a tax to maintain these rights. Since this was a Sunni empire, the Shi’a Muslims had considerably more difficulty in maintaining their identity. Their first 300 years were ones of great expansion, moving into the Balkans, Iraq, Palestine, Georgia, Armenia, North Africa, Greece and Arabia. Though they conquered rapidly, they were lenient on the conquered, and non-Muslim areas were often allowed autonomy in internal affairs. This led to an increasing degree of decentralization over time. The Ottomans themselves were elite Muslims that were literate in Ottoman Turkish, a courtly language that had evolved over 6 centuries from Persian origins. Their high point came after 1453, when they overthrew Constantinople, and became the major European, Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern power within the next hundred years.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire came after the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66), a contemporary of the Tudors. He was the last conqueror, having sacked Vienna and parts of Iraq; there were no major land gains after him. Suleiman himself laid the groundwork for the decline of importance of the Empire. He negotiated the Capitulations, a series of commercial treaties with Europeans that allow tax exemptions for the merchants and the ability to be tried under European law instead of Islamic law - really another form of diplomatic immunity. Not only did this make it harder for the treasury to fill itself with trade revenues, it clearly outlined the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Capitulations were renegotiated in the 1700s to further loss, with Certificates of Protection being granted to non-Muslim groups, granting them exemptions from the jizya, or military exemption tax. After Suleiman, the Ottomans began to weaken by disregarding new technologies (after their intellectual Golden Age), allowing the ruling class to become merely cosseted princes (with their fighting skills rapidly diminishing because of guaranteed succession), stopping military action, losing importance in trade routes (after the Portuguese discover effective oceanic trade routes with use of the new cannon) and currency devaluations that prohibited them from paying their government salaries (the silver from the New World overwhelmed Ottoman economics), leading to greater reliance on tax revenue - which they were losing because of the Capitulations.
In 1683, the second siege of Vienna ended in a devastating loss, marking the beginning of their losses of territory. In 1699, they signed the Treaty of Karlowitz with the Hapsburgs, yielding Hungary to the Austrian empire. The 1774 Treaty of Kujuk Kaynarsa gave the Crimea to the Russians after another devastating battle. It also recognized the Russian role as “protector of Orthodox Christians” - who made up 25% of the Empire’s population. This allowed the Russians unparalleled ability to meddle in Ottoman internal affairs. A land-hungry Napoleon conquered Egypt in 1798, an easy feat since 98% of the population lived and still does, along the Nile River. Egypt had been an Ottoman territory since 1517. Napoleon does this to impede British advances, especially through their trade routes in India. The embarrassing loss is compounded when the French are decimated by fever and the combined attentions of the British, Ottoman and Egyptian armies after 3 years and leave the country. Russia is the biggest threat to the Ottomans through this time, though the French and British responses to Russian pan-Slavic needs are just as threatening.
Selim III (1789-1806) wanted greater army reform and better diplomatic relations. With radical steps that alienated the janissaries and the ulama (the religious scholars) as well as members of the population influence by anti-French (and anti-European) sentiments, he opened embassies in European capitals, promoted acquirement of foreign languages so as to lose the need for dragomans (minority groups that were used as translators), and started a new army in 1797. This Nizam-i-jedid, or the New Order, was trained by French experts and was drawn from the peasant Anatolian population - roughly 23,000 soldiers. The elite corps remained the janissaries, who were drawn from kidnapped slave children who were converted to Islam and trained in the military arts. The idea was that total indoctrination was more likely through total cultural alienation, so this program was put into place early on and paid for by the deusirme, a slave tax. These janissaries then had the highest social opportunity, for even Muslims could not attain the ranks that they could, which included Grand Vizier, highest minister to the sultan. The rank of janissary was non-hereditary, but it allowed the soldier’s family to become free Muslims. However, Selim’s reform of the janissaries (cutting down administration and increasing training) did not go well. After they had enlisted the ulama, they used Islamic discourse to discredit and execute Selim III, replacing him with a weaker cousin of his.
Mahmoud II (1808-1839) replaced the cousin of Selim III, who went insane. Being smarter, he was pro-reform but waited 18 years to being his campaign of reforms. He formed a new army in 1826 called the "Triumphant Soldiers of Muhammad", to forestall anti-Islamic charges. He also founded many new government schools to increase literacy within the Empire. He also sent students abroad to learn European standards, so they could fill his bureaucracy. The Greek Revolt (1821-32) began during his reign and brought a public outcry against the unreliable and incompetent janissaries, who on top of losing Syria, Serbia and the Ukraine, could not crush the revolt. This revolt occurred as a drive for a free Greece as led by Greek-speaking Christians, backed by British, French and Russian support, which was instigated by a growing contemporary European trend toward philhellenism. In 1826, Mahmoud II had the janissaries massacred without any public protest. Finally, in 1832, the Tripowers declared Greek free by force in a unilateral treaty; the 1832 Declaration for an Independent Greece declares the fact that this has a European blessing. After the loss of Greece, the Ottoman Empire population was 74% Muslim, 25% Christian (13% of whom were Greek Orthodox) and 1% Jewish.
The second period of reform came under the idealist Tanzimat era (1839-75). In 1839, the Hatt-i Sherif of Gulliare was released, protecting life, honor, private property and religious equality. The Hatt-i Humayun (1856) supported equal opportunity and reaffirms religious equality. The edicts themselves are ideal, but they were released in order to cool passions among the Balkan people. Army service was notched up and conscription was increased, as there were no longer any religious boundaries on conscription. This period also marked the end of the millet, or the "religious community", which was taxed as its own district - this was done in hopes that loyalties would be transferred to the state. Russia started the Crimean War (1854-6) with complaint that the Ottomans are not protecting Orthodox believers' rights in the Crimea; they expand into Wallachia and Moldavia, whereupon Britain and France respond. In combination with the Ottomans, they won a major victory against Russia, but Austria is the major winner, as it occupies the territory in dispute. In 1875, the Russians moved against the Ottomans again after anti-Ottoman demonstrations in Bulgaria.
The 1878 Congress of Berlin parceled out Ottoman territory, especially in the Balkans, demonstrating the power of Europe in arbitrarily determining borders. Similarly, Africa was parceled out to the colonial powers from afar. Europe recognized the Ottoman Empire as innately European; it is known as the "Sick Man of Europe" or the "Eastern Question". They did not think the Empire would last very much longer - to them, it was only a matter of when. Their fear was a free-for-all among themselves, so they assisted in trying to keep the Ottoman Empire alive for as long as possible. This included taking away Ottoman financial sovereignty. Previously, the Ottomans had started to borrow heavily to support Tanzimat. Debt rose and interest payments began to be hard to pay. At one point, 60% of expenditures went toward interest alone. In 1876, they declared bankruptcy, whereupon the European powers rushed in to protect their in and claim control of Ottoman finances. The last interest payment was made in 1954 by Turkey (in a bid to be recognized c. 1920, it paid off all outstanding Ottoman debts).
In 1876, through a desire to create a constitutional sultanate, the Ottoman constitution was accepted. Abdul-Hamid II (1876-1909) acceded to the throne thereafter and immediately suspended the constitution that had instituted him in 1878. He had an extreme paranoia about Europeans and disliked Westernization and religious equality. However, he wasn't completely regressive - he continued railway developments in 1883, strengthened Turkish ties with Germany, developed an elaborate spy network that included the telegraph and strengthened journalism in Egypt by his censorship of Ottoman media. He crushed another Greek revolt in Crete and was in favor of a stronger Pan-Islam, centralized government. Pan-Islam, as practiced by Abdul-Hamid II, was led by Jamal Al-Din (1832-1897), a Shi'a, and Muhammad Abdul (1860-1905), who became a dignified judge. A general disillusionment with Abdul-Hamid II brought the establishment of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in 1889. They were a bunch of idealists and pragmatists that formed and finally entered the public arena in 1908, when the Young Turks delivered an ultimatum to the Sultan to restore the constitution. It was eventually restored after a brief revolution, which members of the ulama and the military supported. Eventually, the sultan was deposed in 1909, and the CUP ruled the country as a "constitutional democracy" - basically, a military dictatorship.
At the start of World War One, the Ottoman Empire was left with parts of Greece, Anatolia, the Fertile Crescent (Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq) and nominal control of Egypt. The population was now much more homogeneous, and Arab Nationalist movements had begun to form. Elsewhere, the French and the British had expanded their Middle Eastern maritime empires. The French owned Algeria, while the British had Aden, Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain - if not by colonization, then by recognition and spheres of influence. In 1911, Italy attempted to start its own empire in Libya. It finally won over Libya after a brief war in 1911-12, after which it took Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
World War One started in August 1914, when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated and Austro-Hungary moved against Serbia in retaliation. Russia was then obliged to enter, whereupon Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the same side. The Ottomans joined in mainly as a reaction against Britain and France, who had been meddling in Ottoman affairs for many years. They cancelled the Capitulations during the War. The Ottomans finally entered into four theaters, including the Suez, Mesopotamia (the Tigris-Euphrates area), the Dardanelles (a victorious battle at Gallipoli, in which 200,000 soldiers died), and Eastern Anatolia, Armenia and the Caucasus, where the Armenian massacres of 1915 occurred. During the war, the powers sought other means of ending the war in their favor. Britain began campaigning to win over Sharif Husayn ibn-Ali (1855-1931), the amir of Mecca, as a counterweight allied with them against the Sultan. The amir of Mecca was very important because he was guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and thus responsible for the annual holy pilgrimage. The famous Husayn-McMahon correspondence (1915-6) provides direct evidence of a British pledge to support an independent Arab state which was then reneged upon. The agreement was to recognize this state containing the Arabian Peninsula, Greater Syria and Iraq; however, the Syrian coast became an issue as Britain could not guarantee it and Sharif demanded it. In addition, the British were to provide weapons and funding. Husayn was to denounce the Ottomans and start the Arab Revolt (1916-8). With the help of Lawrence of Arabia and British advisers, Husayn and son Faisal led a fairly unpopular revolt that managed to secure Damascus and a Syrian Empire for only 3 years before being ousted. At the same time, Britain negotiated the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement with France in mid-1916 that seemed to counteract the promises made to Husayn; it gave Iraq to Britain, and Syria, Palestine and Lebanon to France.
The 1919 Paris Peace Conference attempted to construct settlements that would remove all reasons for and possibilities of future wars. European issues were settled in four treaties, but Middle Eastern partitioning came out in two treaties that took longer to negotiate. The San Remo conference of 1920 implemented the Sykes-Picot Agreement, divided the Arabic-speaking countries from the Ottoman Empire and formalized the spheres of influence through the mandate system. The mandate system was meant to utilize the “authority to act for another” for countries “not able to stand on their own” with the ideal of eventual self-governance in mind. This same system was used for the German territories in Africa. The arbitrary borders set by the conference still exist to this day. The Treaty of Sevres from the same year acted as further punishment for the Ottoman alignment with the Germans. It severed Ottoman property to just Anatolia, introduced Italian and French spheres of influence and gave financial control to the British; it also made mention of “Turkey,” pretty much ending the influence of the Ottoman Empire. To draw the extent of European influence, we can see that all land separation from the Ottoman Empire came by European dictates and not from internal revolt or dissension.
A rebellion of sorts was led by Mustafa Kemal, otherwise known as Ataturk, who created an Assembly in Ankara that adopted its own constitution in 1921, declaring Turkish sovereignty. With the help of Russia, the new Turkey was able to invade Armenia and split it up between them. The 1921 Treaty of Friendship documented the Russian recognition of Turkey and forgiveness on all debts. France quickly followed, recognizing the Turkish coherency of structure and de facto control of its lands. In 1923, the British agreed to renegotiate the Treaty of Sevres in the Treaty of Lausanne, that recognizes Turkish sovereignty and claim to lands with the exception of Mosul, now Iraq’s 3rd largest city. With that, Turkey was definitely established with Ankara as its capital. A population exchange of Christians and Muslims was negotiated between Greece and Turkey. The Ankara government marched on Istanbul in 1924 and banished the Ottoman royalty after disbanding the sultanate. The Ottoman Empire ended in 1) 1920, when the treaty ended it; 2) 1914 or WWI, when the end was coming; 3) 1922, when the sultanate was abolished; or 4) 1908-9, when the Young Turks changed the sultanate to a figurehead ruler.
Ataturk's rule saw the increase of secularism, thought the civil code was still based on the shari'a, and also nationalism and populism. He crushed the 1925 Kurdish rebellions and spread his message to the people by establishing "people's houses" that offered recreation as well as a political voice, though obviously slanted toward only his government. Also, there was widespread educational expansion. In foreign relations, things were good except for a dispute with France over Alexandretta and its ownership; it was settled when France agreed it was for Turkey. His successor was Ismet Inonu. Under his rule, Turkey remained neutral during World War II until 3 months before the armistice; Turkey declared war on Germany and was thus able to enter the UN. Its neutrality was respected, unlike that of Iran.
The Cold War was to affect Turkey closely, as it was a direct neighbor of the Soviet Union. The US policy was to contain the Communist spread (the Eisenhower doctrine of 1957), and thus it offered itself as an influential force behind countries, with which the Soviet Union was spurred to respond. In this case, Moscow stepped up and demanded parts of Anatolia and control of the Straits; Inonu rejected their demands but accepted US assistance, as he knew Turkey was not strong enough on its own. Within the next 15 years, US aid totaled around $3 billion, enabling the equipage of an army as deterrence for Soviet efforts. Turkey joined NATO in 1952, signed a cooperation agreement with Pakistan in 1954, and signed the Baghdad Pact in 1955. This was an alliance between Turkey and Iraq, with which Britain, Pakistan and Iran were all party to. After the establishment of another party in Turkey in 1946, the stage was set for lawful elections, which swept Inonu out of office and the rival party in. The transition went peacefully in 1950, and Turkey was a convert: a quiet multiparty democracy. The next ruler was Adnan Menderes, who ruled until 1961. His government reduced secularism for popular support, undertook great cultural reform, opened highways – but when a recession came, people protested. He responded with media suppression, which earned only violent riots and finally ended with a military coup that restored the civilian government and entered a new constitution, to preserve the foundations on which Turkey had been built. For all the good he did, he was hanged in 1961. As the population grew, Turks began to migrate to other countries, where they were accepted as visitors until they tried to stay. The civilian governments were replaced two more times by the military, not for power, but to restore order. The one thorn in Turkey’s side was the status of Cyprus. Cyprus wanted freedom; Greece wanted it. Eventually, after some embarrassment, Turkey overran Cyprus and took it over. The US protested but later made up with Turkey. Also, Cyprus was able to declare its independence which has not been fully recognized, as Greece and Cyprus still argue the question
The rightist True Path Party, headed in 1993 by Tansu Ciller, Turkey’s first female prime minister, presided over efforts toward a free-market economy that allowed a new class of enormously wealthy entrepreneurs to grow. However, to promote a free market, the state had cut agricultural subsidies and restricted bargaining and worker’s rights, causing a huge income gap. This pushed mass of workers and peasants toward Islamist parties like the Welfare Party, as led by Necettin Erbakan. The True Path government had attempted to control Islamist activities through the well-funded Directorate of Religious Affairs, but its political repression backfired. The Welfare Party grew, and in the 1995 elections, won 21% of the vote within Turkey’s fragmented political system. Erbakan headed a coalition government that emphasized Islam, endangering Ataturk’s legacy of secularism. The High Command did not stand idly by; it demanded, in 1996, that the National Assembly pass a bill requiring students to spend more time in public schools before being allowed to enroll in religious schools. Erbakan refused to support it and he was pressured into resigning. The Constitutional Court then banned the Welfare Party in 1998 and barred a few people, including Erbakan, from political life for 5 years. In protecting secularism, the Court and army were ignoring democracy.
The Kurdish people, making up 20% of the population, began to push strongly for autonomy in 1984 through the creation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Throughout the 1990s, it engaged in assassinations that ground public life in Kurdish areas to a halt. To combat this, the government placed these areas under a state of emergency, and the military adopted a scorched earth policy. Through their efforts, 2,300 villages were destroyed and 2,000,000 Kurds had been forced to flee or relocate. Because of the military atrocities, their application to the EU was rejected, and was coupled with an admonition that the EU would not encourage Turkey to plan on ever joining. Another point against them was the question whether Turkey’s economy was developed enough to participate in the EU without large subsidies. Turkey pointed out that Greece had the same sort of problems, but it was a member. Turkey was still fighting with Greece over Cyprus at this point, as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus refused to surrender sovereignty. Relations with the US and Israel were much better, and there were talks with Israel over forging a long term military alliance.
The Mamluk dynasty (1250-1517) was started by Ottoman slaves of Turkish-Circassian descent who gradually rose to power and became entrenched in Egypt. They were soon overtaken by the Ottomans, who defeated them in 1517, but for the most part integrated with the Mamluk resident elite. These elite became powerful once more as Ottoman central rule waned in the 1700's. When Napoleon invaded and retreated, a power vacuum was created, which was soon filled by Muhammad Ali (1769-1849), a Northern Greek Ottoman officer who was recognized as wali, or governor of Egypt, in 1805. In 1811, Ali had all the Mamluks massacred, and then reformed the Egyptian army along Selim III lines. He drafted Egyptian peasants, mainly as cannon fodder, and amassed power such that Ali was called on to assist in revolt suppression in Mecca and Medina. He also opened up more schools, sent Muslim students abroad, radically transformed agriculture by introducing irrigation and promoting cash crops, embraced the printing press and published the first Arabic language periodical. The peasants suffered greatly throughout his rule, as he conscripted heavily and used the army to oversee his corvee system, or forced labor. State intervention in day to day affairs became more pervasive than ever before. In 1820, he sent his son to annex Sudan, a possession that lasts 41 years. He then assisted the Ottomans with the Greek revolt though Europe intervenes and prevents victory. During this time, he annexed more land in Lebanon to further build his empire. In a bold move, he turned against the Ottomans by sending his son Ibrahim to colonize Anatolia and Syria in 1831. He defeated the Ottomans and was about to march on Istanbul when he was stopped by the Russians. To save face, the Ottomans made Ibrahim governor of Syria. The Europeans didn't like the way he was disrupting the status quo, and so they marched against him and defeated his army. He was then forced to give up all territories outside Egypt by 1841, but by way of conciliation, they allowed him to make his governorship a hereditary position. Though Ibrahim died soon after his father and the grandchildren of the family were not as charismatic, the Muhammad Ali dynasty lasted until 1952.
Modernization of Egypt continued after Ali's death. In 1852, a railroad was built between Cairo and Alexandria, increasing tourism and also through the efforts of Thomas Cook. The Suez Canal was completed in 1869 by Ferdinand de Lesseps, increasing trade. Britain soon became the primary user of the Canal, using 80% of its yearly capacity by 1882. Nationalism was further articulated by Rifaa al-Tahtawi (1801-73), a member of the Egyptian ulama. The Khedive Ismail (1863-79) loved Europe and implemented many European reforms - such as an increase in educational opportunities for women, a Paris-ized Cairo, and opera commissions. The US Civil War assisted Egypt's cotton trade during his reign, but eventually helped in its disastrous fall. Ismail, to alleviate the situation, began to take loans and sell shares in the Suez Canal company, but nevertheless, Egypt went bankrupt by 1876. A public debt commission was installed by the British and the French, but when Ismail balked, he was deposed and a tamer leader inserted. The heightened taxes during the last years of his reign caused increased crime, frustrated the intelligentsia and caused the army elites to become irate, especially when tax cuts eliminated their jobs. The 1881 Urabi revolt attempted to take Egypt for the Egyptians as a beginning for Egyptian nationalism. Ahmed Urabi led discontented peasantry throughout the country, leading a distraught khedive to placate Urabi by making him Minister of War. After a June 1882 anti-European riot broke out, the British army occupied Egypt, to the annoyance of the French.
The first British ruler was Evelyn Baring, Lord Cromer, who tried to expand agricultural production and improved irrigation and rail transport for restoration of economic status. It worked, and standards of living also began to rise. The old Egyptian bureaucracy was maintained, but alongside the multitudes of British advisers - this created much frustration. However, with budget cuts, education went downhill. Sudan began to be a problem as the Egyptian occupation was routed by the Mahdi in 1881, and resulting forces sent to regain the Sudan were massacred. After Gordon's failed attempts, the Sudan was abandoned until Kitchener's attempt in 1896, spurred by the scramble for African territories. When the Sudan was won, Egypt received nothing as the Sudan was put under separate British control - this remained a platform for political candidates until 1955. The press spread these nationalistic ideas (such as al-Liwa, al-Hilal and al-Ahram) as well as other major cultural and social ideas. Mustafa Kamil (1874-1908) was a great force in the process. Egyptian rulers like Abbas II (1892-1914) supported these papers and directly challenged authority to reduce his figurehead role. Along with a large recession in 1907, the Dinshaway incident brought harsh protest and an abandonment of conciliation with the British. The accidental injury and subsequent death of two British soldiers at Dinshaway after their wounding of a prayer leader's wife and a set fire brought upon excessive punishment, from which 32 were convicted and punished with hanging, floggings and hard labor. Cromer resigned, leaving Sir Eldon Gorst and then Kitchener, in 1911, to take over. Gorst brought about reconciliation and more equality for Egyptian workers. Kitchener revived the public works program and put the Five Feddan Law of 1912 into place, prohibiting the seizure of land under 5 feddans for debt. Opposition still grew, under the Constitutional Reform Party of Shaykh Ali Yusuf (1863-1913); the People's Party of Lutfi Al-Sayyid (1872-1963); and the National Party of Mustafa Kamil. They each had their own papers and were all across the board in political spectrum. When WWI started, Britain declared Egypt a protectorate and imposed martial law, deposing Abbas II in favor of Husayn Kamil.
After the war, Egypt was seen to have suffered much hardship - its crops and peoples were requisitioned to assist and accompany the British into Syria and Gallipoli. There were no domestic politics for a while, and discontent simmered because of this lack of self-rule, as well as its participation in a war against another Islamic state. Sentiments for self-rule were furthered by Wilson's self-determination pronouncements, but Britain saw Egypt as vital (Suez Canal) and wanted to hold on. The Wafd, a delegation of educated Egyptians, was founded in 1918 and toured Egypt raising support after they were disallowed from going to the Paris Peace Conference by the British. It was led by Sa'ad Zaghlul (1857-1927), who became a popular leader who was finally arrested and exiled to Malta in 1919. This prompted riots; the British response of force increased tensions until the 1919 revolution started. At the end of 1919, there were 800 dead and 1400 wounded Egyptians. Finally, General Allenby, the high commissioner, allowed Zaghlul to go to the Paris Peace Conference. Their voices were not heeded in Paris, but the British started to include them in their talks. In 1922, the British declared unilateral independence for Egypt, but reserved responsibility for defense of Egypt and Sudan from foreign aggression. A constitution was introduced in 1923 and Zaghlul was elected as PM in 1924. However, King Fuad still ruled (1917-1936) and his ability to dismiss governments, his support of the British and the petty power struggles among the elite limited any attention to serious domestic issues. The 1936 treaty and 1937 Montreux Convention formalized Egyptian acceptance of their independence under British “protection”. Politics became corrupt after King Faruq took over and Zaghlul died. European ideas began to circulate, and tradition began to die out in favor of modern movements, such as feminism (as led by Huda Sharawi and the Egyptian Feminist Union). Response from the public included the popular acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928. It grew large and had tens of thousands of members; it promoted modernizing without compromising Islam through support of an Islamic order, not Islamic state. Its message of Islamic social responsibility and direct support through monies and conciliatory talks was popular and cut across class lines - from the urban poor to college students, to the elite.
World War II saw the amount to which Egypt was dependent on Britain. Egypt was not required to declare war even if Britain did; it did break off diplomatic relations with Germany and declare martial law. However, Egypt was the center for the defense of the Mediterranean; as many as 500,000 troops passed through Egypt. Because of this, most Axis military operations in the Middle East were targeted on Egypt. The end product was rampant inflation, low supplies, and forced industrialization. In consequence, labor also grew. During the war, many unstable coalitions ruled the country, and when the last coalition broke up in 1942, the clamor for a stable leader had grave repercussions. The February Fourth incident saw Sir Miles Lampson surrounding the king’s palace with tanks and ordering him to invite the Wafd to form a government, instead of King Faruq’s choice – who was an Axis sympathizer – or abdicate. This ruined the Wafd’s credibility, though they did enact needed social and labor laws and joined the Arab League. However, the other parties looked just as bad. Later that year, General Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps drove the British back to al-Alamain, close to the Suez. A few months later, the British launched a counteroffensive that pushed Rommel into Libya and Tunisia before defeating them in 1943. From then on, the Allies delivered blow after blow to Germany until they surrendered. During that time, the Muslim Brotherhood began to become increasingly influential; King Faruq and the ruling landowner class were not providing decisive leadership. In this atmosphere, the Brotherhood began to become more militant, assassinating the prime minister in 1948. In retaliation, the army killed the leader of the Brotherhood. In another round of elections, the Wafd was again victorious and abrogated the 1936 treaty with England. The English were in no mood to discuss things, and they destroyed a police barracks. In return, they got Black Saturday, in 1953 – a day where angry mobs burnt down Cairo’s business district. Later that year, some military officers were able to overthrow the government.
The Free Officers were a group of 9, later 14, men under Colonel Gamal Abd al-Nasser (1952-70). He was motivated, along with the others, through vague ideas on reform and an end to the occupation. They got the respected General Naguib to be their representative and prepared goals including destruction of colonialism, end of collaboration and feudalism, establishment of social justice, formation of a strong army, and healthy democracy. They formed the Revolutionary Command Council before they sent King Faruq packing in 1953, and turned Egypt into a republic. They then banned political parties, dissolved parliament and abolished the 1923 constitution. Their “Liberation Rally” didn’t get much support as it was the only forced alternative; that was turned into the National Union. Eventually, they turned their hand to destroying the Muslim Brotherhood after a failed assassination attempt on Nasser. Nasser put his friends in higher roles, but maintained a suspicious relationship with Naguib. Eventually, he accused Naguib of collaboration and had him put under house arrest. The Nasser era saw much land reform, under the 1952 Agrarian Reform Law.
It signed the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement in 1953, recognizing the Sudan’s right to self-determination, but before it could implement its plan to create a political union with the Sudan, that country proclaimed its independence. It then signed another treaty with Britain that saw the withdrawal of troops from the Suez Canal. However, they soon came to blows because of Nasser’s rejection of Western standards because of fears of imperialism. Nasser refused to join the Baghdad pact and persuaded others to not join. At the same time, it needed new arms which he needed to buy from the West. Eventually, he bought weapons through Czechoslovakia, essentially dealing with the Soviet Union. That ticked the West off, and eventually when he needed a loan to build the Aswan dam, the US withdrew its offer. In an act of revenge, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and became a hero among the Arab nations. Britain, France and Israel gathered and agreed they had to overthrow Nasser, so they attacked on October 29 of 1956, starting the Suez Crisis. Anglo-French forces had reached the canal when Britain and France both agreed to a UN-sponsored ceasefire. Both the United States and the Soviet Union condemned the attacks; the Soviet Union threatened rocket attacks and the US would not allow any one of them to benefit, so all forces finally left by March of 1957. The one result was to confirm the undesirability of Israel, Britain and France.
Nasser, partially because of his new found prestige, soon began to meddle in foreign affairs with pan-Arabism in mind. Politicians from Syria proposed, in 1958, the development of a union of Syria and Egypt, known as the United Arab Republic (UAR). It was a rousing success to the public, but its main effect was subordinating Syria to Egypt. In 1961, Syrian officers brought an end to the UAR. Another disaster came with their appearance in the Yemen civil war on the side of the Yemeni army. Their army was soundly defeated, and it presented the first spectacle of Arab fighting Arab. Egypt still had the pan-Arab movement, as its Radio Cairo Voice of the Arabs was broadcast all around the world, and its film industry was respected widely. Nasser then championed the Soviet side and the Arab cause against Israel, while pushing through his brand of “Arab socialism”, which included limiting the birthrate, developing industry, and social equity-based land split. In 1962, he formalized this program with the Charter for National Action, which was supposed to be utilized through the ASU – the Arab Socialist Union. Though Egypt also did have spies and secret police within everything, there was not the oppression present in Iran, so most Egyptians continued to respect him because they believed he was working for them. Nasser then expanded education, abolished tuition fees and improved university conditions, on the hopes that some of them would end up working in scientific or technical fields. However, most did not.
In May 1967, after incorrect Syrian intelligence said Israel was preparing to strike Syria for sponsorship of terrorism. Nasser responded by moving into the Sinai and building forces up; the UN evacuated without a word. Quickly, both Jordan and Iraq signed mutual defense pacts with Egypt. After the Six-Day War was over, Egypt had lost the Sinai; Nasser refused to sign a peace agreement and Israel would not leave the area. Continued shelling of Israeli targets resulted in forays deep in to Egypt by the Israeli forces. This did not stop until the Rogers Plan ceasefires went into effect, during 1970. During those three years, Nasser focused on political survival by dropping the emphasis on Arab unity, creating relations with King Hussein of Jordan and receiving much needed weapons from the Soviet Union, who were getting Egypt back into their fold. He was going to resign after the war, but popular support kept him on. Nasser was mediating ceasefire discussions between the Palestinians and King Hussein in late 1970 when he died of a heart attack after concluding the agreements. He was mourned by all.
Anwar Sadat (1970-81) took over after the death of Nasser. He first purged the government to remove rivals, and then tried to curry US favor by expelling most of the Soviet military mission. He then figured that proof that the Israel army was not all that would persuade the US to the bargaining table. So, along with Syria, Sadat posted 80,000 men across the Suez Canal into the Golan Heights and was successful in retaking the Canal area back. His forces dug in and Israel counterattacked under General Ariel Sharon. The US would airlift supplies to the Israelis and the Soviet Union to the Egyptians; their leaders also came to the table to present a ceasefire agreement to the 3 nations involved in the October Yom Kippur War of 1973. It was accepted. Most of the foreign involvement was a demonstration that superpower conflict would follow wherever Arab-Israeli conflict did, but it also showed the dependencies on oil. During the short duration of the war, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed a gradual embargo on oil shipments until Israel withdrew; soon enough, Saudi Arabia withdrew all shipments to the US. The embargo sent prices way up and US policymakers realized this was a problem and that Israel needed to stop immediately. In 1974, Kissinger was able to negotiate a disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel, and then in 1975, the Sinai II, which provided for Israeli withdrawal from West Sinai. As persuasion, US aid increased toward both Egypt and Israel.
Sadat had become a hero to the Egyptian public, who had regained the Suez Canal and part of the Sinai. However, Sadat still had economic restructuring to go through with: with the October Paper, he introduced al-infitah, which took apart some of Nasser’s socialist policies and enticed foreign investment. Banks were given tax exemptions, foreigners could import equipment easily, and it was much easier to transact land and land rents. Those companies who would help rebuild the Suez would reap much profit. In the end, those that invested only did so with low-risk and non-productive investments, because the industry-related investments were rife with bureaucracy. But too much defense debt and a 20% inflation rate had brought no benefits to the population, and the IMF warned that they probably could not get any more loans unless his subsidies on basic consumer items were invested elsewhere. He canceled them for a second, but devastating riots in 1977 and the use of the army to quell the riots forced him to put the subsidies back. He had to fix his horrible economy, but how? Sadat addressed the Knesset in November 1977 and accepted peace. At the Camp David Peace Accords, Egypt and Israel discussed the conditions of peace, which included “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East” that endorsed UN Resolution 242 and proposed a plan in stages for Palestinian autonomy within 5 years. It was signed in March 1979, and Israel began to fully leave the Sinai, which it finished in 1982 following a $3 billion contribution from the US. Israel refused to do anything about the West Bank and Gaza Strip afterwards, so Sadat had only settled a separate peace and nothing more. He was kicked out of the Arab League, and all the Arab states except for Oman and the Sudan, broke diplomatic relations. Afterwards, the people began to turn back to Islamic principles of justice because they were disillusioned by Sadat. Student leagues at the universities had done so since 1974. The moderate centrist Muslim Brotherhood and more militant groups drew many supporters. After 1977, when an Islamic group was brutally dismembered after its kidnapping and killing of a government minister, the Islamic groups declared war on Sadat and announcing his pending assassination. In 1981, Sadat was assassinated by some of the armed forces, who were affiliated with al-Jihad. No riots followed.
His successor, Hosni Mubarak (1981- ), wanted to ensure the survival of his regime by basically doing nothing, while appearing to be liberalizing political and economic practices. He had more free elections in 1984, which were won by the Wafd. It soon became divided among itself. After, the state began to control the elections through fraud and violence. He did not continue privatization, though encouraged by the US and IMF, and offered employment to many Egyptians for the bureaucracy. Corruption was widespread, and Mubarak crushed most of the loudmouthed opponents and balanced the rest against each other. Egypt began to be dependent on US aid, which was second only to Israel, because of US weapon purchases and internal needs. In 1989, Egypt was accepted back into the Arab League. Egypt’s acceptance and support of US aims in the Gulf War resulted in US forgiveness of half of the debt and maintaining a $2.3 billion aid package. Economic performance was still horrible, as there was low productive capacity that could not compete internationally, rising unemployment, low wages and a growing income gap. As well, Mubarak’s family seemed corrupt and 1995 elections had given his party 94% of the vote, even as he continued to leave the office of vice-president unfilled. Outside the government, moderate Islamic activism was building under the Muslim Brotherhood that extended the Islamist phenomenon into all social classes and into women’s groups. The violent end of Islamic activism reared its head starting in 1992, when groups like al-Jamaat Islamiyyah conducted operations against the state by assassinating both public officials and disrupting the tourist industry. Made of mostly poor people from the shantytowns, the extremists were able to lower tourism revenue by a billion dollars, especially after the Luxor massacre of 1997. The armed revolution was put down brutally by Mubarak’s forces.
With the support of Mubarak’s regime and others like it in the Middle East, the US got caught up in a great contradiction. It had said it was in favor of establishing democracy and freedom, but its allies in the region were all undemocratic with very little political legitimacy.
IV. Zionism, Israel and Palestine
Throughout the 19th century, Jewish-Muslim relations were relatively harmonious. However, by the late 19th century, European intellectuals began to respond to "anti-Semitism" by turning to Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. The term comes from Mt. Zion, the center of ancient Jewish civilization. Leo Pinsker articulated an early form of Zionism in his work, "Auto Emancipation". The first Russian pogrom (state-sanctioned mob violence against the Jews) occurred in 1881 - not organized by the government, but it certainly wasn't limited, either. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a contemporary of Pinsker's, wrote "The Jewish State" in 1896 without any influence from Pinsker. The Dreyfuss Affair (1894) convinced Herzl that anti-Semitism was as virulent as ever after Albert Dreyfuss was accused of selling secrets to the Germans using false evidence. In 1897, the First Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland. Several recommendations for homelands were introduced, including Argentina, Uganda and Palestine, but by 1903, immigration to Palestine had already begun. In 1906, immigration was supported by the Zionist Congress. During Ottoman rule, there had been no explicit term for the area now known as Israel/Palestine, but Syria is used by historians to correspond to this region historically. Formerly, the Jewish presence in Palestine had been small, but this new immigration, combined with the large waves that had come after the vicious Russian Jewish pogroms, helped the population to grow to upwards of 12% within the British occupation years.
World War I helped to signal a brand new redistribution of land. Palestine was given over to League of Nations management in 1916. In 1917, the Balfour Declaration, conveyed in a letter to Lord Rothschild, pledged support of a Jewish settlement in Palestine, in return for a continued British occupation of Palestine. This was made partially to secure control of areas adjacent to the Suez Canal. This, however, seemed to Arab eyes a violation of the promise made to Husayn, and a cause of enmity toward Europeans that exists to this day. Arab leaders gathered together as the Palestinian Arab Congress in 1919 and developed the Arab Executive in 1920, which the British didn’t always acknowledge. It eventually died. Also, the British maintained the leading Arab rivalry for political power as much as possible, between the Nashashibis and the al-Husaynis, which came to detrimental effect in 1920 when a Nashashibi became Jerusalem’s mayor, and the British purposely chose an al-Husayni for mufti. They categorically opposed every move the other took. The mufti regulated Islamic affairs. By 1921, with the creation of the Supreme Muslim Council, the mufti’s powers were greatly expanded over the shari’a courts, the waqfs and Islamic education. This religious authority was extensively political as well. Jewish leadership developed from the World Zionist Organization into the Palestine Zionist Executive of 1921 that eventually became the Jewish agency, which managed banking, health care and settlement for the Jewish people with extensive support from British officials. The Jewish national assembly was constituted in 1920, whose members selected the national council (Va’ad Leumi) from among themselves.
In 1922, the Mandate of Palestine was finally released by the League of Nations, giving the British full power over the territory to ostensibly protect self-autonomy and the rights of the people, and breaking the land area into Transjordan and what was to become Israel. A white paper was released the same year that stated that a Jewish national home didn’t impose on all of Palestine, though the Jewish people did have a right to be in Palestine; this made no one happy. The high commissioner’s first proposal, a constitution, was duly rejected by Arab leaders who wanted only annulment of the Balfour Declaration. The radical leanings of the certain Zionist camps, like the Jabotinsky movement, called for massive increases in Jewish immigration that were extremely controversial; the number of Jewish people subscribing to that philosophy didn’t ease Arab minds. The Arabs rapidly grew disgruntled of Zionist influences and induced a large riot in 1929, in Hebron, reputedly about access to the Wailing Wall. When the violence stopped, over 100 Jews and 100 Arabs had been killed. The Shaw Commission of 1929 was sent after this tragedy, concluding that obligations to the Arab community should be better defined and that immigration should be controlled. The founding of a collective defense organization, the Haganah, rapidly alarmed the Arabs, who had finally lost trust in Britain after the repudiation of the 1931 Passfield White Paper. This document had supported the setting aside of land for Arabs displaced by Jewish settlement. Gradual increases in tension led to the founding of an Arab High Committee in 1936 to coordinate protests and a bloody strike against Jewish products which only stopped after a thousand Arabs had been killed. The Peel Commission of 1937 decided that the Mandate was no longer tolerable and cooperation impossible; it suggested a tighter control of Jewish immigration to stem bad feeling. Its publication prompted further Arab violence, to the tune of 6000 total killed and 20,000 troops poured into Palestine, and forced the authorities to follow through on immigration controls in 1939. Later that year, Britain released a white paper stating that it was not British policy any longer that Palestine should become a Jewish state, and that immigration would be severely limited.
This harshly enforced policy began to anger many as the Holocaust began during World War II; family members were often unable to enter Palestine and were deported back to Europe and certain death. These atrocities began to horrify international Jews, and many began to organize in support by volunteering for the Allied forces and creating the Jewish Brigade, which later provided the Haganah with much needed skilled veterans. They also acquired arms, which was illegal, but was allowed anyway by the British administration. American Zionists developed the Biltmore Program in 1942, which called for unrestrained immigration and the establishment of a Jewish state. Truman eventually supported this measure as policy and thus started a formal American support for the Zionist effort. Jewish leaders began to move toward the immediate establishment of a Jewish state in 1945 through the sabotage and terrorism of British forces by the Irgun and the Haganah, two separate Jewish military units. With US support of Zionism, the British were at a loss and had to refer the matter to the UN in 1947. The UN finally recommended a partition with Jerusalem as an international district, which the rulers of the larger Arab regimes in the area refused to accept in lieu of the nonexistent Palestinian leadership at the time. Britain then announced that the Mandate was over by May 15, 1948, which prompted a mini civil war – as Arabs began their resistance, the Jewish began to secure territories still under British command by use of Plan D, a controversial directive which allowed field officers to conquer and level Arab settlements within the “Israeli state” to protect its borders.
On May 14, 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence, following which the combined armies of Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attacked the new state, starting the first Arab-Israeli War. At least 600,000 Arabs (67% of the Arab population) left Israel during the war, ending the Arab majority in Palestine - most of these ended up in refugee camps or in the rare nations like Kuwait who would let them in. Not all that were displaced ended up elsewhere; 160,000 Arabs who were displaced chose to remain in Israel. As a side note, there are at least a million Arabs who have Israeli citizenship, descending partially from those that stayed decades earlier. The Arab armies lost due to bad organization, low morale and low resources; only Jordan performed well, taking the West Bank. Overall, Israel was able to expand its territory.
Following the Arab-Israeli War and World War II, the Haganah was reorganized as the Israeli Defense Force. Many veterans came back from battle with valuable skills for the various wars that were ahead. With the Suez Crisis, the June War of 1967 and later skirmishes, Israel increased Arab enmity, left Egypt en masse, and was able to expand its territory into the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Many countries intimidated resident Jews in their own cities and adapted Nazi films to promote anti-Semitism to its residents. Jewish communities tended to exist in cities - if they ran, they escaped to Israel, especially Moroccan Jews and those suspected of Zionism, which could be anyone. Israel as a state was more Ashkenazi, as it was founded and maintained by European Jews who tended to be more socialist. Even with religion, there were sects; some believed in keeping kosher to the T, others believed in other things, including a free kibbutz movement. Those Sephardic Jews who did exist tended to be discriminated against because they had some Arabic Muslim customs and tended to be much poorer.
Following the Arab-Israeli War and World War II, the Haganah was reorganized as the Israeli Defense Force. Many veterans came back from battle with valuable skills for the various wars that were ahead. David Ben-Gurion (1949-1963), as PM of Israel, solidified military authority by ordering the IDF to shell the Altalena, an Irgun supply ship. After this episode, the remaining units were absorbed into the IDF. To maintain their army, mandatory conscription was put in place. This was effective, as the population knew the dangers of being unprepared. Ben-Gurionism was the belief that Arabs would only drop the hostility after being constantly reminded of Israel’s military power. After the Soviets gave weapons to Nasser, Israel played the Cold War card and were able to receive large amounts of economic and military assistance from the US. Israel finally established a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral legislature (the Knesset), with Chaim Weizmann (who had lobbied the British government in London for the Zionist cause) as president. Within this system, people voted for parties and not for individuals, and positions were assigned by party leadership. Parties could only form governments with the help of coalition partners, requiring compromise and concession.
The forging of a national identity was important as well to the young nation. With the large influx of Jews running from other Middle Eastern countries after the 1930s and 1940s, politics had to fulfill its duty to Zionism; with the Law of Return of 1950, every Jew was given the right to immigrate to Israel. There were mostly Ashkenazi Jews in Israel, as it was founded and maintained by European Jews who tended to be more socialist. Sephardic or Asiatic Jews were in the minority and discriminated against because they kept some Muslim customs and tended to be poorer. By 1970, their numbers made up half of the Jewish population and they were able to right that wrong. To deal with the Arab population, the Knesset passed the Nationality Law of 1952, giving citizenship to new Jewish immigrants and to Arabs who had lived there awhile – as they were also sources of cheap labor. Arabs weren’t given a chance to be heard politically, but as their population grew, they were able to meet the 1% vote requirement needed for a political party to be represented in the Knesset.
After Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, Israel joined with Britain and France to overthrow Nasser. This was known as the Suez Crisis. After a UN-sponsored ceasefire, Israel left Egypt in March of 1957. The Palestine violence continued throughout the 1960s, attacking through Jordan. Israel retaliated by attacking sites in Jordan, though many of the groups were based in Syria. In May 1967, incorrect Syrian intelligence said Israel was preparing to strike Syria for sponsorship of Palestinian terrorism. Nasser responded by forceful verbal attacks, and then moving into the Sinai and building forces up; the UN evacuated without a word. Quickly, both Jordan and Iraq signed mutual defense pacts with Egypt. Israel decided this was intolerable and attacked on June 5, 1967, destroying the air force of Egypt and then Syria and Jordan after they entered the war. Then, Israel defeated land units of Egypt in the Sinai, Jordan in the East Jerusalem and West Bank area, and Syria in the Golan Heights, all in six days. The June Six-Day War tore away the valuable Sinai oil fields from Egypt, and East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip from Syria and Jordan, while discrediting the military regimes running those three nations. After the war, there was increased Palestinian guerrilla activity and Nasser, trying to salvage Egyptian pride, continued attacks on Israeli positions.
The famous UN Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, asserted the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and called for the withdrawal of forces from all occupied areas, while acknowledging peace and a “just settlement of the refugee problem”. This was endorsed by Egypt, Jordan and Israel, but rejected by Syria and the Palestinians. It was still controversial, as it did not recognize Palestine as a state but as refugees, and it recognized Israel with pre-1967 borders. Israel held on to the territories and only returned the Syiran Peninsula in 1980, after a peace accord. The combined city of Jerusalem was declared as the new capital, but because of its unclear state, most embassies are placed in Tel Aviv. Finally, the Rogers Plan of 1970 settled on a 90-day ceasefire. It was renewed several times and thus was successful, but Israel refused to leave occupied territory and Egypt refused to sign a peace agreement. The war had affected the 300,000 Arabs displaced by the violence and also many of the nations whose trade depended on the Suez Canal, like Ethiopia and other African nations.
Palestinian activists placed their hopes on themselves after their rejection by other Arab nations. They became even more angered by the Israeli stance that Palestine was not allowable: Golda Meir would later say that “Palestinians don’t exist,” referring to the nation. The Palestinian Liberation Organization, founded in 1964 under the Arab League, was at first made up of Cairo-based wealthy men who supported Palestine from afar. However, after the war, it began to be entrusted by Palestinians of both Christian and Muslim backgrounds with the mission of achieving independence for all of Palestine. The most successful of the groups under the PLO umbrella was al-Fatah (meaning “victory”), which was founded in the 1950s in Kuwait and led by Yasir Arafat. It then moved into Jordan after the Six-Day War where it was able to recruit young angry Palestinians en masse. It stressed Palestinian nationalism above all else, and was constant in its refusal to endorse UN Resolution 242, because it recognized Israel’s right to exist and didn’t include Palestine as a state. This created a ready message that bred a Palestinian identity. In 1969, Arafat was elected chairman of the PLO Executive Committee. His leadership, along with the support of the founders of the PLO, who all had university degrees and were refugees like him, was important in the prominence of the PLO. Al-Fatah was one of the more mainstream groups; Arafat had to juggle the other ideological movements within the auspices of the organization. Some, like the PFLP and DFLP (founded by the Christians in the PLO; the Popular and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), embarrassed the PLO by their continual adherence to just global Arabism and independent terrorist activities. The PLO began to be like a government in exile, and it provided services for the displaced Arabs like health care, schools, industry and diplomacy, that would win recognition and some money for the Palestinian cause. In 1974, Arafat spoke to the General Assembly and earned the PLO observer status, whereupon European nations began to recognize it. The US was last to recognize the PLO, in 1988.
Palestinian commandos within the refugee camps continued their activities over many years, and acted outside of Jordanian authority, though they were based in Jordan. The breaking point came after PFLP hijacked 4 planes and threatened to kill everyone on board and blow the plane up if there was any interference. King Hussein decided that was it and thus started Black September, on September 15, 1970. The Jordanian army, for 10 days, bombed refugee camps and pursued commando groups, killing 3,000 Palestinians. The PLO was able to recover from this and it settled in Lebanon. Terrorism would increase in the following years as more plane hijackings, airport massacres and suicide bombings would take place. In 1972, in Munich, members of the Israeli Olympic team were held hostage and killed. The Israeli government was harsh against terrorist groups, killing scores of people during forays into Jordan and Lebanon.
Israelis began to support the Likud party, whose party line supported the permanent retention of occupied territories and advocated accelerated settlement within the territories, in razed villages and such. In 1977, the Israeli government was not committed yet on this point, and the elections saw Likud and Menachem Begin (1977-83) rise to power. Begin had headed the Irkun, and had hated Ben-Gurion for destroying it. Begin immediately commenced settlement, and increased the Jewish population by 25,000 in the occupied territories. These movements were aimed to break up heavily concentrated Arab areas – this idea had been pioneered by the Gush Emunim group, who had done this illegally for many years. The land was all claimed then for security purposes, or by a 1980 law that said all unregistered land would become Israel’s property, over 500,000 acres. Expansion still continues today. For the Arab population, arrests, business closures and deportations awaited those who would not leave. Some of the settlers practiced vigilante justice on the Arabs, who turned to the PLO for help
Begin disliked the presence of the PLO within Lebanon, so he conspired with Bashir Gemayel of the Maronite leadership in Lebanon. In 1982, Israel entered Lebanon with the intention of kicking both the Syrians and the PLO out of the country, so they could secure the West Bank and hopefully stabilize the Beirut government without the PLO there. It was supposed to be a short war, but they could not defeat the PLO, they laid waste to civilians and the whole of Southern Lebanon, and they attacked Beirut, which was beyond their stated objectives. Israel was reluctant to enter, and thus just bombed away. After a while, an agreement was made, calling for the US and France to lead a force supervising PLO evacuation and guaranteeing Palestinian civilian security. Gemayel became president and it would seem that the war had been successful; however, Gemayel was then assassinated and Israel then allowed the Phalange to enter refugee camps and massacre Arabs not protected by the PLO evacuation. Israeli and international opinion turned against Israel and the Kahan Commission was sent to investigate. Ariel Sharon was forced to resign, and Begin’s career was ruined. He resigned in 1983 and withdrew from public life. Ariel Sharon, for some mysterious reason, is now prime minister of Israel. Who let a sadistic loser like him become ruler of a country? Violence continued, in the Israeli occupied zone, and between religious groups and the PLO all over the country. Evacuation finished in 1985.
Following the war, Israeli opinion shifted to both extremes of the political spectrum, denying majority to either Labor or Likud (the two major parties). They were forced to rule together as the National Unity government. Labor favored territorial compromise, but Likud was adamantly opposed. Likud’s leader Yitzhak Shamir intensified construction of settlements within the West Bank and Gaza Strip and prepared for annexation by forcing measures on the Palestinians that included land confiscation, identity cards, special taxes, bureaucratic obstacles, and no tolerance for political activism. This angered Palestinians and began a popular uprising known as the intifada, which began on December 9, 1987 in Gaza. After an incident in which a couple Arabs were killed, demonstrations arose. When the Israeli army fired upon the crowd, Gaza burst into revolt. The intifada (shaking off) spread into all strata of Palestinian society and the Unified National Leadership (UNL) rose to guide it, representing some of the major local factions of the PLO. The objectives were released in a fourteen point program that demanded and end to Israeli settlement and confiscations, as well as its recognition of an independent Palestinian state. To support this, the Palestinians practiced civil disobedience in such a way to become a financial burden on Israel. At first, they tried to stay away from mass violence, but soon enough, there were stabbings and shootings galore. Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, grew as a challenge to the UNL and declared that Palestine was for Islam and could not be abandoned or conceded. The Israelis tried to crush the uprising through army effort and collective punishment, but it only garnered international criticism and more support for the movement. In 1988, Arafat realized the United States was the only country capable of persuading the Israelis to give up the annexation; thus, the PLO accepted Israel’s right to exist while also proclaiming an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The US then entered negotiations. When a splinter PLO group raided Israel, the negotiations collapsed. By 1990, after 40,000 had been arrested and at least 1,000 killed, the intifada died down. Arafat then sided the PLO with Saddam Hussein before the Gulf War.
The Madrid Conference of 1991, sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union, was a momentous occasion in that it brought, for the first time, Israeli and Palestinian representatives, as well as those from countries that had not yet accepted Israel’s right to exist, to the table to discuss peace. The sticking point was Israeli settlement policies in the occupied territories. The US, under Bush, adopted a firm stance against settlement. Israel’s continued refusal to heed US requests to stop settlement throughout these years prompted Bush to declare, in February 1992, that the US would not approve a $10 billion loan to Israel unless Israel froze construction. Shamir was defiant, but the government badly needed the money. Elections in June 1992 pitted him against Labor and Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin won, and consented to stop new construction, but not those already started. The US agreed, and surrendered financial leverage without gaining a complete freeze. Rabin also proclaimed his willingness to meet with Arab heads of state and PLO representatives. In 1993, the PLO had finally come to terms with itself and realized that years of rejectionism had won nothing, and that they needed a diplomatic victory desperately to survive. The Israelis too needed to end the limitless violence of the occupation. A Norwegian research institute had discovered that well-placed officials in both regimes were receptive to talks, and got the Norwegian government to offer facilities for secret talks. Two agreements spreading from the Oslo talks were a document of mutual recognition and removal of clauses calling for elimination of Israel, and the Declaration of Principles on Palestinian Self-Rule, or Oslo I. This document was a five year program for interim Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. It called for Israeli troop withdrawal and Palestinian assumption of immediate administrative control, followed by establishment of an elected Palestinian Council for social welfare and taxation over the occupied territories. The Israeli military would protect Israeli settlers. Negotiations would be settled with a permanent agreement in 1998; this has obviously been delayed.
After the proposal was released, Arab leaders agreed and Clinton offered his full support to the agreement, plus reestablishment of contact with the PLO. However, inside Israel and Palestine, there was much opposition. In 1994, Israel and Palestine were able to address things more specifically with two agreements dealing with economics and transfer of authority. Yasser Arafat set up shop in Gaza in July 1994. With elected support, Arafat established the Palestinian National Authority PNA) that became rapidly dictatorial. Profiteering was common, and Arafat used foreign aid to pay for his security forces rather than paying for infrastructure development. Hamas also staunchly opposed his rule, and continued to bomb Israeli targets. Israel demanded he stop Hamas, but to do this, he had to become more authoritarian and lose more public support. Within Israel, there was violence as well. Baruch Goldstein, in February 1994, fired upon Palestinian worshippers in the Mosque of Abraham near Hebron. He was a member of a militant settler group that had been popular within some circles in Israel. The Interim Agreement, or Oslo II, was signed in September 1995. It was tediously long, and spelled out how redeployment, power transfers and other matters would occur. The redeployments showed that Israel would continue to maintain total control over significant portions of land that cut up the Palestinian-owned lands to little hamlets here and there. No one was happy with it. In November 1995, Yigal Amir, a devout Jew, assassinated Rabin because he had, against Jewish law, turned over Jewish land to the enemy. This suspended negotiations.
Benjamin Netanyahu, of Likud, was elected in 1996. He pledged to slow down the peace process, which was what the intense Hamas bombings and Yigal Amir had campaigned for. His coalition government assured Israelis of a peaceful coexistence but continued to construct new low-priced subsidized settlements throughout the West Bank, as well as encroaching on Arab East Jerusalem. Israel’s intention was to make sure that any later negotiation would have to deal with substantial Israeli demographics in any of the occupied territories. The United States just looked on without doing anything, though Israel was violating every one of the agreements in the Oslo Accords. In frustration, Hamas bombed Israel, which prompted Israel to seal off the occupied territories more tightly. Arafat was reduced to being Israel’s policeman without any benefits. The United States finally brought Arafat and Netanyahu to the table for the 1998 Wye River Accords, which merely elaborated a little on Oslo I. This achieved little, as Netanyahu declared it was a forced call when he returned to Israel. Sharon, the Defense Minister, asked Israelis to seize as much as they could before final negotiations ended. Netanyahu’s government fell in December 1998, when the Knesset rejected the Wye Accords and dissolved itself. So far, Likud’s refusal to continue peace had cost Israel its economic gains and brought unemployment and labor unrest. Netanyahu had also catered more to the religious right by giving the ultra-Orthodox greater subsidies and allowing debate of a Conversion Bill that would give the Orthodox rabbis greater power in determining who was a Jew in Israel. On May 17, 1999, Ehud Barak with his Labor coalition, “One Israel”, won an Israeli landslide victory against Netanyahu (56%). Also, the two parties with the largest gains in the Knesset were the secular party Shinui and the ultra-Orthodox Shas, which became the 3rd largest party in the Knesset. Barak, to look like leader of all of Israel, accepted Shas into his coalition, and raised the possibility that Barak would have to deal with the same pressures that Netanyahu had to deal with. The Peace Now movement also gained much public support, which called for a return of some of the territories in exchange for peace. Currently, Ariel Sharon (2002- ) is now prime minister.
Iran was one of the earliest territories of the Ottoman Empire. It never became arabicized, spoke Farsi rather than Arabic, and had a shah as king rather than a sultan. Strangely enough, North Africa became more arabicized than several Middle Eastern countries closer to Arabia - if you speak Arabic as a first language, you can for all intensive purposes be called an Arab. The Safevid dynasty (1501-1722) becomes the archrival of the Ottoman Empire, with Shi'a as the state religion. In 1722, Afghani invaders cause chaos, allowing religious leaders to take control in Iran, known as ayatollahs. The ulama took unprecedented political power at this time because of the raging debate about the role of religion in Iranian power politics. The Agha Mohammed Khan then set up the beginnings of the Qajar Dynasty (1796-1925) with a brutal rule. Iran was then a severely heterogeneous population with lots of rural mountain hamlets. The European powers were mainly interested in Iran as a gateway to India, so many treaties were signed and broken. Russia fought a war with Iran over Georgia; after Iran lost, the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan was signed, ceding areas of the Caucasus and Azerbaijan to the Russians. The 1828 Treaty of Turkomanchai allowed Russia privileges similar to those of the Capitulations.
Under Nasir al-Din Shah's long rules (1848-1896), there were many economic problems, as there was an extremely inefficient tax collection system in place, in addition to the trouble caused by the separate ulama tax. Power was held regionally, and the shah had trouble collecting taxes. To counter this, the shah did open a "university" in 1951, known as Dar al-Funun. It was taught using European teachers and ideas, but its graduates could not attain the most important posts, as those were reserved for the ulama. They started growing cash crops such as tobacco and opium, but this limited subsistence agriculture, as shown by a widespread famine from 1869-72. The British and Russians were accorded the same low tariffs and extraterritorial privileges; their entrance into European trade lowered their economies because of the high competition. They were desperate for money, and also aware that they had to keep both powers happy, so they assigned concessions to both. The 1872 British Baron de Reuter concessions were massive, and had to be canceled. The later tobacco concession to Britain in 1891 angered the public after the religious men outlawed it; Nasir al-Din canceled it in 1892. Finally, the shah created the Kazakh Brigade, an elite military force coached by Russians. This made the Iranians more dependent on Russia.
The rule of Muzzafir al-Din Shah (1896-1906) was bad for business. He was weak, and allowed a concession in 1901 to the Englishman William D'Arcy, which was for oil rights in the entire country except a few provinces in return for 16% of the company's profits. In 1908, when lots of oil was discovered, Iran wanted to back out but could not. The constitutional revolution started in 1905 and included a call for less reform, as a way of protecting religious independence. When it was over in 1906, the religious had won with an announcement of an official state religion and mandatory religious approval for new legislature. 1907 saw the establishment of a detente and establishment of new spheres of influence. A counterrevolution, started by Muhammad Ali in 1908, was crushed by the Cossack Brigade. Eventually, it ended and the constitution was put back in place. Constant friction ruled the next couple years, as ulama and reformers clashed. The British intervened in 1911, followed by the Russians, and the Majlis (the reformers) were then shut down.
After World War I, Iran came under the tutelage of Britain after Russian withdrawal following the 1917 revolutions. Britain's manipulations infuriated the public and led Reza Khan, a colonel in the Cossack Brigade, to intervene and take over for reform's sake. In 1923, he became prime minister and was quickly loved by the people. In 1925, the majlis deposed the Qajar dynasty and the shah ran away for good. This marked the beginning of the Pahlavi dynasty, after the majlis voted Reza Shah (1926-1941) in. His reforms included better control of the army and placement of a bureaucracy, which allowed him easy ways to influence or put off his troubles. He secularized much of Iran, ignored religious law that got in the way and lowered the financial independence of religious groups. He also increased education and promoted nationalism and industrialization. He was successful in removing most of Iran's economic bondage, but he could not remove the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company that was a state within a state - it had no choice but to agree to its continuing presence, only receiving a slightly higher concession in return for a long extension of the 1901 D'Arcy's concession. This was to bring Iran and Britain to bitter arguments.
Germany was a close partner of Iran due to its hatred of the British. However, Iran claimed it was neutral when the war broke out, and caused the USSR and Britain to be suspicious of it. To keep supply lines open, they both attacked in late 1941, whereupon the shah had to flee and leave the country to be ruled by his son, under British supervision. Iran, during the war, became merely a tool of the Allies and the reckless use of the country's resources produced inflation and profiteering that ruined Iran. The entrance of US occupation forces was the start of rehabilitation and US postwar involvement in Iranian affairs. Like Turkey, Iran shared a border with the Soviet Union, and Soviet hostilities within Azerbaijan, an Iranian province, angered Iran. The following declaration of independence by the provisional government of Azerbaijan and the Kurds angered them further, so that they appealed to the United States and then to the UN. After some pressure, the Soviet Union finally agreed to withdraw. The United States and Britain’s support also maintained the throne for the young Muhammad Reza Shah (1941-79), though it left him little room to maneuver. The fight for power included the ulama, the officer corps, the reform organizations like Tudeh, and labor groups. Tudeh, among all the groups, became a great political engine during the 1940s. The Allies didn’t help these local politics either, as they supported opposing causes. The shah was no pushover though; he curried favor where he could and crushed opponents to national security without mercy.
The cultural disrespect shown by European powers showed itself greatest in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The company was massive, and was seen as a tool of the European powers. Its founding in 1909 and the deal that followed gave 16% of profits to the Iranian and the rest to the company. In 1933, the percentage was raised to 20%, but the concession was lengthened to 1993. Muhammad Mossadiq (1951-53) called for the cancellation of the concession and nationalization of the oil industry through his group, the National Front, which consisted of the ulama on the right and the people on the left.. The Majlis then did exactly that, and asked him to be the new prime minister. AIOC called for a worldwide boycott which was supported by both the British and the United States. As the shah vacillated on what to do, Mossadiq obtained emergency powers and took control of the army and of the nation; however, without oil revenue, he couldn’t pay for the running of the country, and this provided room for his opponents to attack him. The CIA gave $100,000 and some assistance to his opponents who were planning a coup. It took two tries for the coup to work, and the shah was finally able to return to power and consolidate his hold over the throne. US involvement had ruined all chances for constitutional government and inspired anti-US feeling that would build.
The shah became more autocratic, viciously shutting down the National Front and the Tudeh party, and establishing an internal security organization known as SAVAK, that kept surveillance on everybody and was incredibly brutal to its prisoners. In 1960, the US pressured the shah to liberalize elections, so he allowed the National Front to participate – but their criticism and his obvious manipulation, all during a recession, combined in a fury of protest eventually led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1979-1989), who denounced the shah. He was arrested by SAVAK in 1963. Vicious riots broke out that were crushed with thousands of lives lost. The shah spent lots of money on court patronage and building up the army, so as to keep the army corps and the bureaucracy loyal to him. After spending $10 billion, Iran, in 1972, had more tanks than the British had themselves. The shah started the White Revolution, meant to imply reform without bloodshed. It did provide most sharecroppers with land, but it is not clear if the land was actually worth any benefit. Literacy and health care was increased, as were the rights of women. However, for all the good it did, the focus on industrialization destroyed the handicraft industry in Iran, which cut down popular loyalty. He tried to link his house to the great houses of the past, and spent ludicrous sums on festivals in honor of the monarchy, but it earned him nothing but laughs. The country had no channels to express grievances, as closed politics and SAVAK kept them firmly out of peaceful means, leaving them no option but violence. Large terrorist groups existed, and the ulama provided religious reasoning for defending their “treasonous” actions.
Next, the shah eliminated the National Front and only allowed one party, the Resurgence Party. He forced the party into the bazaars and then attacked the religious establishment by attempting to reduce Islam’s role in daily life. The ulama and the merchants began to ally against him, though SAVAK could still control them. However, their economic situation was a mess. After the flush times caused by the oil embargo in 1973, Iran caused high inflation through excessive spending. After the middle class began to be threatened, the obvious well being of the shah’s family offended them. Also, the number of foreign experts in the country helping out on military and development projects seemed to remind the people of the shah’s dependence on the West. When Amnesty International published the shah’s violation of human rights in 1977, the US began to pressure the shah to liberalize his regime, again. He then relaxed police controls, introduced legal reforms and released prisoners, allowing some opposition to speak out. Highly important in the opposition were Mehdi Bazargan’s Freedom Movement and its most influential ideologue, Ali Shariati, who proposed a return to Islam with an extremely popular “secular faith” that combined a need for loyalty to the faith with a modernism based on revolution. Bazargan himself believed that Islam was a reformist ideology and had to incorporated into any Iranian modernization. Shariati’s mysterious death in London during 1977 was attributed to SAVAK, and he became a martyr for the cause.
Within the religious movement, one group supported ideas similar to the Freedom Movement, one believed that clergy should not take action, and the last believed in militancy; that is, overthrow of the monarchy and creation of an Islamic state. This group was led by Khomeini who had previously been exiled to Turkey, Iraq and then Paris, in 1978. He had kept a network of students throughout all those years, who had achieved prominent positions in the religious establishment and could thus pass along his message. Khomeini passed along his philosophy in a book called Vilayat-I Faqih: Hukomat-I Islami (Government of the Islamic Jurist), published in 1971. The book argued that men of religion should manage the affairs of state as they knew Islamic law – thus, a handbook for revolution. After a January 1978 government article was released touting a scandalous attack on Khomeini, students and merchants in Qum rioted. The army came in and crushed the riots, killing a few people. It was customary to mourn 40 days later for deaths of loved ones, so the ayatollahs used this occasion to call for a general mourning – they were mostly peaceful, but in Tabriz, it turned violent. The same thing was repeated. After this, the government had happened to adopt an economic policy that failed miserably; to reduce inflation, they canceled construction projects and imposed wage freezes, which caused a recession and much labor unrest. This led to a demonstration calling for the death of the shah and asking for Khomeini to be returned. The government called martial law, which was ignored, and led to Black Friday, in which hundreds of unarmed individuals were murdered by all the forces of the army. This was the last straw, and so the Iranian Islamic Revolution started.
The people were firmly in Khomeini’s camp and called on the Freedom Movement to do the same or else. Strikes followed in all the sensitive industries, paralyzing the Iranian economy. The shah could not decide what to do. He was also terminally ill with cancer at the time. During Muharram, the most important holiday of the Shia calendar, thousands and thousands of protestor took to the streets donning white shrouds. 700 protestors were killed the first three days, but that didn’t stop the final procession of 2 million people in Tehran. The troops began to be disgusted at what they were doing and firing at the officers instead of the people. The shah left Iran in 1979 after Khomeini’s proclamation that any government with support from the shah was illegal and a betrayal of Islam. In February 1979, Khomeini returned to Iran in triumph.
Mehdi Bazargan was named prime minister in early 1979, and limited in his rule by the Council of the Islamic Republic as led by Khomeini, which was the supreme administrative and legislative body in Iran, with the power to pass laws, decrees and vetoes. Bazargan The government had to also deal with the uncontrollable actions of Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guards and the many vigilante tribunals who executed hundreds of members of the previous regime. The major force in Iranian politics became the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), as put together by ayatollahs close to Khomeini. They sought to discredit the Freedom Movement and other moderates. In March 1979, a referendum approved establishment of an Islamic Republic. The government drafted a proposed constitution which the ulama reviewed and rewrote to be the opposite: all the laws would be solely based on Islamic standards. This new constitution provided for an elected president, an appointed PM and a national assembly or Majlis of the people; their decisions were reviewable by the Islamist Council of Guardians. Khomeini, the new ruling jurist and representative of the Hidden Twelfth Imam, ensured the following of the vilayat-I faqih principle which was laid out in his book. He had the power to appoint half of the Council, select the armed forces and guards chiefs, confirm the presidency and ok anything and everything. The first president of the Islamic Republic, Abol Hasan Bani-Sadr, had to deal with the American embassy hostage situation of November 1979 in which 57 personnel were kept for 444 days by Khomeini supporters, which elevated American hostility towards Iran and Iran toward the US after the US launched a rescue attempt that failed. The beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 compounded their other troubles, as the tribunals were purging the army at the time. Bani-Sadr was finally impeached after his supporters were scared away by the IRP.
After his departure, the Islamic left under the Mujahedin-I Khalq bombed dozens of religious and political leaders in 1981 and threatened to destabilize the regime; in retaliation, Khomeini started a reign of terror to combat the threats. He then imposed ideological conformity on the population, requiring loyalty tests for all jobs and clean slates with no left leanings to enter colleges. The successful outcome of the Iran-Iraq War, though it killed 260,000 and crippled the financial reserves of the government, spurred Iranian patriotism and pride and a sense of self-reliance out of self-sacrifice. However, not everyone was happy. The taking of lands by some of the ulama clashed with the land reform of the Council, and thousands of peasants remained landless. Jurisprudence was based on Islamic law, which had to be fully reviewed, as it was not specific in all areas of legal processes. Women were forced to wear the hijab, and music, dance, drugs and illicit sex were all targeted. Iran’s Arab neighbors were alarmed by Khomeini’s call for a universal Islamic order that seemed to tell of extending his revolution. They had supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and left him alone when the US confronted him about the Lebanon kidnappings of US and European hostages. The US did not know how to handle this, so they laid an international arms embargo on Iran while secretly selling them weapons and parts through Israel. This became known as the Contragate scandal of 1985, which tarnished the Reagan presidency. It also prompted Arab questioning of the sincerity of US diplomacy.
Khomeini was not a greedy man, however. He acted as a guide and ruled by balancing factions as to gain social justice in Islam without having any dominant group. The IRP was dissolved in 1987, so as to not develop as a center of power. At the same time, there was little chance of active opposition, as the Council’s veto prevented any opponents from being elected – though the voters were offered the choice of candidate. Popular opinion could be exercised and discussed, but not implemented. Also, SAVAK had been removed, but there was still the possibility of being pursued by organizations outside the government who could act with the state’s approval. Khomeini died in 1989, but the succession was smooth, as he had picked his successor, the Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
Khameini formed an alliance with president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani to prevent the more radical ulama from gaining greater control of the state. They began by eliminating the post of prime minister and increasing presidential authority in 1989. To improve the economy, Rafsanjani privatized most of the companies that had been nationalized, and brought in qualified technocrats to manage the economy. It then reestablished relations with Saudi Arabia and declared that its revolution was not exportable. It also applied for an IMF loan and encouraged foreign investment. Within the Majlis, debate between the progressive and conservative ulama showed the country what opinions were available. The progressive opinions were part of a response to popular disillusionment with the performance of the ulama, and the percentage of ulama elected to government fell from 50 to 24% by 1992. In the 1997 elections, the Islamists lost to the hands of independent Muhammad Khatami (1997 - ), who received 69% of the vote with a platform of tolerance and social reform. 70% of Iran’s population was 25 or younger, and thus had not experienced the aggressive anti-Western attitudes of the ulama. They resented the Islamicization that prevented their modernization; revolutionary Shi’ism had not fulfilled any of the promises that it had made to help the lower classes. Khameini stayed as supreme Islamic jurist, and existed as large opposition to Khatami’s modernizing policies. He denounced Khatami’s attempts to grow closer to the United States. It was not clear how this gap could be bridged. His new ayatollah is Ali Hoseini Khomeini.
Under a 1920 British mandate, the 3 provinces Basra, Baghdad and Mosul became the state of Iraq. These provinces were very diverse and thus difficult to reconcile for nation building. There were large Kurdish Christian and Jewish minorities present, as well as many tribal federations. In June 1920, a large uprising broke out to protest the change in political structure, and became a symbol of Iraq’s rejection of foreign rule. It was crushed at large expense. The British decided it was better policy to let the country rule itself as much as possible, so they selected Amir Faysal, son of Sharif Husayn, to rule the country in 1921 – though he was selected by referendum. The 1923 settling of the Iraq-Kuwait border led to disagreement with the Kuwaitis; the British had given Kuwait more territory and better coastline for naval base formation than to Iraq. This was to prevent Iraq from becoming a major naval power. Iraq was forced to rely on Basra as a port, and until 1963, did not acknowledge that Kuwait was a state. Even after that, official propaganda maintained that Kuwait was a part of Basra province. The Organic Law of 1925 gave Iraq a hereditary constitutional monarchy with an elected bicameral legislature with Islam and shari’a as state religion and precedent. An army was also founded, as well as a school system. By a 1930 treaty, Iraq would become shortly independent but allow Britain some military privileges. Britain was nice like this because it needed to get at Iraq’s oil without great expense. In 1925, the Iraqis signed a 75 year contract with the Iraq Petroleum Company, and this became an irritant within relations, just as the oil company in Iran did. Faysal was a skilled ruler, but he died in 1933, handing the reins over to his lazy son Ghazi. After 1933, a bunch of politicians including Yasin al-Hashimi and Nuri al-Said (the prime minister) ruled the country. They lost interest in reform as soon as they had power and eventually started fighting. They were all accommodating, however, toward Britain, but this began to make Iraqis unhappy. A coup led by General Bakr Sidqi in 1933 succeeded, but started a bad trend in coups that lasted till 1941. Rule was still left to civilians though, who gained and kept power by allying themselves with factions in the officer corps.
After King Ghazi died in 1939, his son Faysal II took the throne, ruling through a regent. Nuri was still PM but resigned in 1940 as his pro-British stance was unpopular. The Four Colonels staged a successful coup d’etat in April 1941 that placed Rashid Ali on the throne. In May 1941, after the British expanded the Basra military base even though the Ali government disagreed, the Four Colonels ordered the army to surround the British base at Baghdad, thus starting the Anglo-Iraqi War. At the end of that month, the revolt was defeated and Nuri al-Said was back on top, though he was tarnished by his previous stances. In 1953, King Faysal II came of age, but the regent still held the power. There were still sectarian differences within Iraq: the majority Shi’a were politically underrepresented and the Sunni Kurds were constantly demanding an end to pan-Arabism and demanded a Kurdish state. Also, 80% of the population was rural and poor and a form of feudalism still existed. The government had so little support among them that social reform was too touchy to handle. It was during this time that Saddam Hussein (1979- ) joined the Baath party as protest against the monarchy, after he turned 20. He was born in Tikrit of the lower classes, though he was a Sunni - whom had controlled the administration of the region from Ottoman times. His uncle had participated in the 1941 Rashid Ali uprising that was crushed, and helped breed a hatred of the British in Hussein.
Protest built up against the pro West stance of the monarchy, and finally Brigadier Abd al-Karim Qasim overthrew the regime during 1958 in a bloody coup that eliminated the royalty and Nuri al-Said. Qasim started much agrarian reform and withdrew from the Baghdad pact into the arms of the Soviet Union, with which it signed an assistance agreement. It also chose to remain outside of Nasser’s pan-Arab UAR. The West was not too happy with Qasim, who was only tolerated as a counter to Nasser. His eventual resumption of hostilities with Kuwait, threats against oil interests in the area and arms buildup angered the US, Britain and Israel. The CIA began to aid opposition groups like the Baath party and the Kurds, giving them money and arms. Saddam Hussein was involved in a Baath plot to assassinate Qasim in 1959, but when it failed, Hussein was forced to flee to Cairo. With US backing, the Kurds began a massive rebellion against Qasim when talks with talks with Kurdish leader Mustafa al-Barzani failed. Eventually, the eradication campaign cost Iraq $60 million and failed to stop the rebellion. Eventually, the Baath succeeded in overthrowing Qasim in 1963, putting Abd al-Salam Arif in the presidency – “almost certainly a gain for our side,” said a NSC aide to Kennedy. Immediately after the Baaths arrived in power, they began a bloody purge of the educated elite in Iraq. Saddam, returning from exile, purportedly was involved in many of the killings. In 1964, Arif led a coup against the Baathists, purging them from the government. When he died in 1966 in a plane crash, his brother Abd al-Rahman Arif took over. Arif started talks with Egypt and agreed they would combine – due to unrest over this decision, the alliance fell through. The US continued to pour in money and arms, and encouraged oil companies to continue operations in Iraq. Some of the weapons given to the new regime were used against the same Kurds that the US had backed and then abandoned. Saddam Hussein had been thrown in jail once the non-Baath Arif government has started, but he then was able to escape and resume party activities. The Baath party, though banned, was still secretly active and in the process of reorganization by Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, who was Tikrit-born and related to Saddam. In 1966, he appointed Saddam as deputy secretary general of the Baath party. He developed a secretive decision making style and was extremely suspicious and distrustful.
After the 1967 war, the public began to be disillusioned with the Arif military regimes, and looked to the parties for help. In 1968, Baathists and their allies were able to overthrow Arif and put al-Bakr in power. As well as being president and prime minister, he was also chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, who controlled decision making within Iraq. In 1969, Saddam became vice chairman of the RCC. The purges began anew. Al-Bakr and Saddam filled up the major posts within Iraq with fellow Takritians, leading a historian to remark that “the Takritis rule through the Baath party, rather than the Baath party through the Takritis.” Saddam also controlled a Baath militia as well as a network of security agencies that enabled him to control people in the regime. Al-Bakr used his army connections to expand Baathist influence in the officer corps. Eventually, the Baath were able to combine labor unions, student federations and women’s groups under party control, as well as promotion within the army. The Kurdish rebellions continued into 1970, when Saddam was able to negotiate an agreement recognizing Kurdish autonomy that was never implemented. A land reform law issued in 1970 redistributed much of the old large estates into smaller grants of land to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi peasants. In 1972, the Iraq Petroleum Company was nationalized, increasing oil revenues from a few hundred million to a few hundred billion – taking full advantage of the price revolution from the 1973 war. Iraqi industries grew extensively, investing in iron, steel and petrochemical development. Social welfare grew: taxes were reduced, food was subsidized, free health care was established, university tuition was abolished and jobs (because of industry) were plentiful. The regime had not been loved, but as it improved their quality of living, the Iraqi people accepted it. A fifteen year Iraqi-Soviet friendship treaty was signed during 1972. Iraq sent troops to the 1973 War and emphatically rejected UN Resolution 242, but it still had anti-Arabist intentions in that it wanted to expand into the Gulf. When Iraq moved on Kuwait to demand that Kuwait cede two islands to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League quickly stopped Iraqi hostilities.
In 1974, the Kurdish situation had returned to all out war. Iran, unhappy with a new regime that opposed its power in the northern Gulf, began to send weapons and trained contingents to the Kurdish rebels. In 1975, the Algiers Agreement was suddenly released, conceding Iranian boundaries along a key waterway in return for stopping Kurdish aid. After this, the Kurds were unable to run away and were decimated by the Iraqi air force. The remaining Kurds called for a ceasefire and were eventually spread throughout the country to pacify them and reduce their influence; however, they were still able to resurrect their resistance movement. Saddam was able to appoint himself as a general in the army during 1976. Increases in industry led to better relations with other nations, because of the need for technical expertise. Construction projects were led by the US, British and French, while arms were supplied by the Soviets as well as France and Italy. Officially, the Iraqis were still pro-Soviet and anti-US, but economic policy was pragmatic. In 1977, all members of the Ba’athist ruling council became members of the RCC, removing the party/state distinction. That same year, and again in 1979, massive Shia demonstrations, led by al-Dawa, or Islamic Call, called for overthrow of the regime and an Islamic government. After witnessing the ayatollah’s rise to power in Iran, the regime quickly crushed the protests, jailing hundreds and executing loud mouthed ulama. Starting in 1978, the Iraqi government increased opportunities for women by improving marriage law in their favor, opening access to education and attracting women to the workforce by establishment of day care, maternity leave and other such tactics. They also started a campaign against illiteracy, which required attendance at literary centers for a minimum of two years. These centers also spread Baathist ideology.
Al-Bakr resigned later that year to be succeeded by Hussein, who filled up all his old posts as well as becoming CinC of the armed forces. After it had denounced the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Iraq was in a position of regional prominence from which it could possibly assume the mantle of pan-Arab leadership. This brief moment was smashed by the Iran-Iraq war.
Khomeini’s universal Islam was anathema to the secular nationalism supported by the Baathists. His rise to power had alarmed Saddam, but Khomeini’s proclamations pushed Saddam over the edge. After the 1980 crushing of the Shia demonstrators, Khomeini had called for an overthrow of the Iraqi regime, denouncing the lack of Islam in the Iraqi state. Saddam felt Khomeini was seeking to destabilize his rule and incite Shia rebellion, so he decided to commence hostilities. He received support from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states, who had secular-type governments that were also threatened by Khomeini’s intentions. On TV, Saddam ceremoniously ripped apart the Algiers Agreement and invaded Iran. The Iran Iraq War would last from 1980 to 1988 and cost both countries hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. Iraq occupied a large stretch of Iranian territory during the first month. Miscalculation of Iranian forces, morale and civilian support for the Khomeini regime led to higher casualties and a retreat of Iraqi forces back into Iraqi territory. The war was then mostly fought in Iraqi territory, but air raids were maintained into Iranian cities. Iran, in return, destroyed Basra’s facilities and damaged the oil fields of Iraq. This lowered Iraq’s income at a time of need, so Iraq sought to do the same to Iran and attacked tankers bound for Iran. In return, Iran attacked Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian tankers. Alarmed, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia lent $60 billion together to Iraq’s war effort. Saddam began to change its attitude and restored relations with Egypt in return for military supplies and advisers. Though the Soviet Union was the largest supplier of arms, the West began to supply aid.
In 1984, the US reestablished relations with Iraq and supplied military intelligence to them, as well as using its muscle to dissuade others from selling arms to Iran or buying oil from them. In 1987, the US allowed Kuwaiti tankers to fly US colors, equating an attack on them as an attack on the US. Several times, US gunboats were engaged in direct military action against Iran. US strategy was to preserve the oil reserves of the Middle East; if Iraq were to fall, it was likely that the Gulf states would, or at least come under their influence. After the 1988 capture of an Iraqi town, Saddam used chemical weapons against the town, killing 5000 of the civilians. This showed Saddam’s resolve, and prompted the Khomeini regime to accept a truce. In August 1988, by a UN sponsored ceasefire, the war ended. It had only strengthened the ayatollah’s regime, but it had also solidified nationalism on the part of the Iraqi people. More influential posts were opened to the Shia minority, who overall chose to remain with the government rather than submit to their religious affiliation. Costs were large: debt was up to $80 billion, and all civilian development projects were destroyed. As the military had become the central focus during the war, society became militarized when the war was over, though Saddam’s power base remained within his family and friends. He also bolstered his personality cult by spreading his propaganda all over the nation.
In 1989, Saddam began a $10 billion spending spree on rearmament, ostensibly to combat Israel’s growing power after the failure of the Palestinian intifada and impending immigration of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was the only national leader to champion the Palestinian cause and warned that Iraq would retaliate against Israel for any Israeli aggression. He justified the arms buildup by saying that Israel would only recognize Palestinian rights if Arabs could achieve military parity. The billions in debt owed to Kuwait were also thorns to deal with; Saddam constantly pressured Kuwait to forgive the debt. Also, the fact that Kuwaiti oil overproduction led to drops in oil prices were also nagging issues. A dollar drop per barrel lost a billion in annual revenue for all the oil producers, and the only beneficiaries of the drop were the Western nations and Kuwait, who had large investments in the Western economy. Iraq also charged Kuwait with “stealing” oil from the Rumeila oil field that lay between the two countries. With Basra destroyed, Iraq had no sea contact and had to ship oil through Saudi and Turkish pipelines. Kuwait, in 1923, had been given most of the coastline which Iraq maintained was theirs. Their refusal to grant one of the offshore islands to Iraq for a port facility had caused trouble before, in 1973, and it only irritated the Iraqis more. The invasion of Kuwait seemed to be the smart idea, as Iraq would then control 20% of the world’s oil, access to the Gulf would be assured, the Kuwaiti debt would be terminated and funds for reconstruction and armament would be assured. Also, there was little call for response as Britain and the US had supported Iraq with billions despite the human rights abuses and nuclear weapons program.
The Gulf Crisis began after the invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, by Iraqi forces. Six days later, the Iraqis announced the annexation of Kuwait. The US could not abide this threat to the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, so after the Saudis issued a formal invitation, the US sent 200,000 troops in October to Saudi Arabia to begin Operation Desert Shield. They organized a trade embargo against Iraq and Kuwait and got most of the Western nations to commit forces. The Soviet Union joined in the criticism and also suspended arms sales to Iraq. In the Middle East, Egypt supported the US endeavor and sent troops, as did Syria. Egypt’s debts were then cancelled and Syria received huge loans. Jordan condemned the intervention, mainly because of pressure from the Palestinian community, who saw Saddam as a hero. The Arab League condemned the Iraqi invasion; the PLO voted against this at first, but to preserve diplomacy, declared it illegal later on. Saddam brought great attention to the Palestinian plight after he required Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip before he would leave Kuwait. The bloodiness of the Israeli occupation at this point and the US double standard in treating the two situations generated much resentment against the US and the Gulf states that were threatened. It seemed unfair that a few families should benefit so much from a quirk that gave 30% of the world’s oil to them.
Though Desert Shield was successful, Bush had decided to go to war and had doubled forces by November 1990. The UN Security Council passed a resolution setting January 15, 1991 as the deadline for the complete withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, with “use of all necessary means” to enforce the measure. During this time, Saddam was vilified by Bush rhetoric and compared to Hitler. The propaganda was so concentrated as to show Saddam alone as Iraq, and it drew support by focusing on one hated individual than pointing out consequences upon the downtrodden people of Iraq. All this was done to protect the oil reserves as well as Kuwait’s large investments in Western economies – they were truly significant in nature. The deadline passed Operation Desert Storm was started. Air raids quickly destroyed power plants, communications centers, water mains, highways, bridges, railroads, and air defenses. In a smart move, Iraq sent 12 Scuds into Israel. Though they did little physical damage, the consequences could have been vital. If Israel retaliated, the Arab allies of the US coalition would have to withdraw because it was intolerable to be part of an alliance with Israel against an Arab state. US pressure was so intense that Israel had to stop its plans for aggression. The ground war started on February 24 and lasted 100 hours – to justify the war, US reports had inflated numbers and abilities. In fact, Iraqi troops were demoralized and quickly retreated. Thousands of troops surrendered and thousands more were killed by air strikes as they attempted to flee back into Iraq. Bush declared the war over on February 27 without having ensured Saddam’s overthrow.
After the war, segments of the army and civilians within the southern Shia population rebelled against Saddam and quickly took control of Basra, Karbala and Najaf during March 1991. Mass killings of Baath officials occurred. Eventually, the Iraqi army was able to regain control and began mass executions of the rebels. The Kurdish rebellion in the north was successful until the army finished with the south; it quickly fell apart when the army moved up north. The retreat of the fighters induced panic among the Kurds, who fled to the mountains. At least 20,000 refugees died in the mountains. The survivors managed in camps that were supplied by overstretched relief agencies. US and European troops established safe-haven zones in Iraq under their protection; however, most were too afraid to return. On April 3, 1991, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687 as ceasefire terms, which Iraq accepted on April 6. Iraq was given 15 days to hand over locations and amounts of all chemical and biological weapons caches. As well, it was required to return Kuwaiti property, pay damage claims and accept a change in boundaries in Kuwait’s favor. By August 1992, two no-fly zones, above the 36th and below the 32nd parallel, had been established, under enforcement by allied air patrols. The resolution allowed for a return to oil production, so Iraq could regain its revenue. If Iraq did not comply, sanctions would be maintained. Until 1999, they remained in place.
Loss of life was extreme: up to 100,000 were killed during the war, 6,000 during the southern uprising, and 20,000 Kurds during the flight into the mountains. The UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) were sent into to enforce the weapons searches, but Iraqi deceit and US suspicion that Iraq was not revealing all led to a UN conclusion that the embargo would stay. A food for oil agreement was implemented in 1996, allowing $2 billion of oil to be sold every six months in order to buy humanitarian supplies – but first, the UN paid for Iraq’s war reparations, Kurdish supplies and UN operations in Iraq before giving the money to Iraq for food. Civilian infrastructure had been completely ruined and food and medical supply shortages caused great child mortality, malnutrition and disease. There was large health risk because of the inoperability of water purification systems and sewage plants. High inflation and currency devaluation reduced the middle class to poverty, and unemployment led to rises in crime and prostitution. Its isolation also deprived access to outside publications and modern technologies like the Internet, computers and satellite TV. Saddam, meanwhile, was firmly in control. His suspicious nature and ruthlessness discouraged all dissent. The humanitarian disaster within Iraq began to persuade Arab and Western nations that it was time to end sanctions; this left the US alone in its insistence on retaining them.
The US policy of dual containment, which consisted of harsh to moderate economic sanctions against Iraq and Iran, caused trouble with the US insistence that Iraq had weapons that it was not coming through with. In December 1998, the monitoring system and the good progress that UNSCOM had come up with was ended by Saddam’s demand that sanctions be ended before UNSCOM could continue. The US and Britain refused, bombing the country for 3 days as a show of its might. This produced no effect, and continued into a war of attrition extending into 1999. Saddam ordered his air defenses to fire on US and British aircraft, and in turn, the allied pilots returned fire. However, these return bombings destroyed the UNSCOM monitoring system and did not weaken Saddam’s power at all. European allies of the coalition denounced the bombing, and the consensus on the Security Council needed to maintain economic sanctions was terminated. It was also a large embarrassment to the Arab allies, who had to questionably support a superpower that could care less about the suffering of the Iraqi people while also ignoring Israel’s violation of the Palestinian peace accords.
However, this did not stop American and British aggression. Air raids and maintenance of no-fly zones continued into 2001, as did proposals, rejections and counterproposals for the sending in of weapons inspectors into the country. In 2002, Iraq offered several proposals for the entrance of weapons inspectors. These were refused, but Iraq accepted a later UN proposal as asked for by the US. After the discovery of several inconsistencies and unmentioned weapons caches, President George W. Bush prepared the United States for war with his January 2003 State of the Union address. In March 2003, during a concentrated US effort to go to war against Iraq, other Security Council members threatened to veto any US proposal to enter the UN. The United States gave up on finding support in the UN and declared war on Iraq on March 19 under Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ended in April, after Saddam Hussein’s regime fled Baghdad. Currently, US troops are maintaining order in Iraq until a provisional government can be stabilized and maintain power over all of Iraq.
VII. Jordan/ Transjordan
The Transjordan was founded by the British to give an emirate to Abdallah ibn al-Sharif Husayn, brother of Faysal, and to bring order to the Jordanian tribes. It was created with the Palestine Mandate; in 1928, Jordan’s rights were clarified in an agreement and the constitution was proclaimed. Most things were at the word of the British and local law was basically controlled by the king. The Arab Legion, formed in 1930 by the British, protected the area. A bureaucracy was created to maintain the state, led by mainly foreign workers who wouldn’t pull off power plays. Abdallah always wanted for land, and everyone knew this, but he knew his position. He catered to the British even during World War II, using his efficient army to good purpose, eventually achieving independence for the country now called Jordan in 1946 and earning him the title of king. After the first Arab-Israeli war, Jordan accepted Palestinian refugees, making the country 2/3 Palestinian. This led to Abdallah’s assassination, as the Palestinians were unhappy with his pro-British views. His grandson became King Hussein (1952-99). He was educated in the West but spoke eloquent Arabic and was a remarkable pilot, horseman and marksman. He also withdrew from the Baghdad pact and in pace of the British subsidy on which Jordan’s economic survival rested, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia contributed their own money. After a wave of unrest from his Palestinian citizens promoting more intense pro-Arab politics, it was apparent to him that it was too dangerous, and so he declared martial law and suspended the constitution. He requested US military support and economic assistance, which he received. As the last ruler of the British installed Hashimite dynasty in 1958 (after Iraq fell to Qasim) and noting the immense amounts of anti-Hashimite propaganda, he feared the worst and called in British support. He kept his throne, received millions in aid from the US, was also a member of the Arab League, and was home to the largest concentration of Palestinians in the world – while directly beside Israel. Jordanian prestige was battered by its quick defeat in the Six-Day War, and it also received many of the refugees fleeing the West Bank and other occupied areas. It was also the site of many of the clashes between Israel and Palestinian terrorists. Nasser helped draw up a ceasefire that ended much of the violence in 1970. The current leader is King Abdullah II.
The French claimed Syria based on its role as religious protector and the need for the ports and facilities of the area to counterbalance British influence. To maintain rule, they promoted regional and ethnic fragmentation. They started this by creating Greater Lebanon in 1920. During the war, France collapsed and the collaborationist Vichy regime ruled. Rule was taken up by Vichy officials; politics were frustrated by the diplomatic struggle between Vichy, the Free French and the British. The Free French allied with Britain to crush Vichy forces in the two countries, and eventually the Free French were able to regain control. Though they had agreed that both countries were now independent, they reneged on their word and returned the ruling system back to normal. After intense British pressure, they restored government and allowed elections that ended up against them. In Syria, National Bloc came back to power with Shukri Al-Qawwatli as president. The French continually refused to transfer power for two years, until 1945. It began to bolster its forces and after riots broke out, they attacked. Britain stopped the violence and agreed that France would leave Syria and Lebanon.
After Israel won the first Arab-Israeli war, the Syrian army blamed the fiasco on the civilian regime under al-Quwwatli and finally ousted him in favor of army officers. A series of following coups replaced the leaders until Colonel Adib Shishakti was able to hold on to the throne until 1954. Under him, Syria became a centralized military dictatorship with a neutralist foreign policy and pan-Arabist stance. Eventually, the military ousted him and the civilians returned to rule. However, continued military interference, fractured regional loyalties, weak civilian organizations and factionalism within the army made rule impossible. The Syrian Communist Party soon became a strong force in political life; its leader, Khalid Bakdash, became the first Communist Party deputy in the Arab world. The Baath party (the Resurrection party) of Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar, who were Christian and Muslim, also grew strong during this time. It was dedicated to Arabism and Islam, and worked to extend unity, freedom and socialism – a stance which Nasser later adopted. Syria was being courted by both Egypt and Iraq, one anti West and the other pro West. In 1957, during the chaos, some military officers approached Egypt, who accepted the formation of the UAR union in 1958. It failed in 1961. While it lasted, it was a great model for Arab rebirth though it was an innately unhappy one.
Hafiz al-Asad (1970- ) carried out a coup d’etat under the banner of the Baath party, lending power to the Alawite group from which he came. He had been a skilled pilot and commissioned officer who mingled his army role with Baath politics. He admired Nasser’s Arabism, but not Egyptian domination and request that the Baath party be disbanded. After he was given a silly post in Cairo, he started a clandestine group to regain power in Syria, leading to the overthrow in 1963. The ruler was nominally the Sunni Amin al-Hafiz, but power was controlled by air force head al-Asad, Muhammad Umran and Salih Jadid. Social reform included nationalization of companies, redistribution of old estates and purging of the upper class from government service. Al-Asad took power in 1966 and ousted the original supporters of the party, including the two founders. This coup placed Jadid in power and al-Asad over defense and the air force, but after the June 1967 war, al-Asad believed the rest were incapable of ruling and took over as president in November 1970. In 1973, he introduced a constitution providing for a People’s Council, but he failed to include the usual clause requiring the president be Muslim. After large Sunni demonstrations, al-Asad quickly included it and had a Shi’a ulama affirm that Alawites were Muslims. He established the Baath party as central power with himself as secretary general. To retain power, he put relatives and friends into his cabinet, increasing Alawite visibility and the establishment of personal special forces such as the Defense Companies. He replaced cotton with oil as leading export, and started to liberalize the economy. Syria had a mini boom in the 1970s, but after al-Asad’s foreign policy failed to impress the oil nations, he was forced to change after the loss of their financial aid ruined Syria’s economy for a time. As well, he did not have enough trained managers for his expanding state services, the promotion b y loyalty tended to award inefficiency, and corruption was rife among his underlings. Al-Asad attempted to bring education, medicine and agricultural improvements to the peasantry, but was not so successful because of the large bureaucracy that placed more importance on paperwork than usefulness. Syrian population growth was large enough to overcome the supply of teachers, and literacy remained low; also, Baathist loyalty measures limited intellectual freedoms and in the end, limited any rapid growth. Al-Asad did begin to give equal rights to women, but had to limit it somewhat because of Muslim opinion.
Israel was the main enemy in Syrian eyes, as they were seen as aggressive expansionists. Al-Asad’s main goal was to recover the Golan Heights after the June War, so he began to build up weapons, spending 20% of Syria’s GNP on weapon purchases from the Soviet Union. The 1973 war he led along with Sadat ended in defeat, though it established that Syria was getting better – however, he could find no allies to restart hostilities after Egypt dropped out of the coalition to betray Arabism, in his eyes, by negotiating with Israel. He decided to make Syria the leading Arab state, and thus put Lebanon and Jordan within his sights, as they were direct neighbors. After a lengthy stay in Lebanon during the 1976 hostilities, he risked Arab disapproval by going against the PLO. His longstanding feud with Iraq furthered Arab hatred of Syria, after Syria supported Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Most Arabs backed Iraq. The Muslim Brotherhood branches in Aleppo, Homs and Hama started urban guerrilla warfare against al-Asad’s government because of the anti-PLO stance of the government during the Lebanon crisis; the Islamic Front joined in during 1980, destroying Damascus government installations. When Hama was taken over in 1982, al-Asad crushed the rebellion by razing large parts of the city and killing up to 10,000 people. A 1984 rebellion led by his brother Rifat, leader of the Defense Companies, was quickly put down by other army generals. Al-Asad’s rule (basically, a personality cult) was dependent on the loyalty of his army, who stayed with him during both oppressive operations against his own countrymen. Currently, Syria is ruled by Bashar Assad.
Lebanon was founded to protect the Maronite Christians but in such a way that they would always be reliant on Britain, by preventing the Maronites from being a majority. The country was extremely religiously diverse and required great cooperation. In 1926, a constitution was approved, providing for a chamber of deputies selected for religious representation. The National Pact of 1943 detailed this more, allowing for a president. There was no mention of independence, and the high commissioner could do what he wanted. The two main Maronite politicians believed in the Maronite homeland idea, but differed in acceptance of France. One, Emile Edde, was able to take power after an independence treaty was signed and Edde elected in 1937. He picked a Muslim as PM, a pattern not broken until the late 1980s. This allowed Muslims to realize that they could gain more by working in the system; these confessional politics was good for everybody. This didn’t mean religious differences were gone, or that the country was free – when World War II started, Lebanon’s constitution was suspended and parliament dissolved.
During the war, France collapsed and the collaborationist Vichy regime ruled. Rule was taken up by Vichy officials; politics were frustrated by the diplomatic struggle between Vichy, the Free French and the British. The Free French allied with Britain to crush Vichy forces in the two countries, and eventually the Free French were able to regain control. Though they had agreed that both countries were now independent, they reneged on their word and returned the ruling system back to normal. After intense British pressure, they restored government and allowed elections that ended up against them. In Lebanon, it was Bishara al-Khuri (1943-52), a Maronite. The French continually refused to transfer power for two years, until 1945. It began to bolster its forces and after riots broke out, they attacked. Britain stopped the violence and agreed that France would leave Syria and Lebanon.
Beirut, the Lebanese capital, was a great city of prosperity; there were little trade restrictions and it was an international banking center. It was also a political haven and a place for great free expression, plus a great draw for pleasure and nightlife. While surrounded by pan-Arabist states, the Lebanon system was one that prevented any sect from dominating. Though diversity flourished, it didn’t mean there were no communal loyalties, just that they were neutralized. Politics were dominated by established families led by a za’im that controlled the outcomes for their electoral districts. This made up many sectarian blocs, of which the most powerful was the Maronite organization known as the Phalange. The Progressive Socialist Party, founded in 1949 by the Druze Kamal Jumblatt, protected Druze interests, but attracted all the opposition to the Maronite supremacy, including the disgruntled Sunni Muslims. Al-Khuri’s reign invited opposition, as he overlooked corruption done by his supporters; his manipulations leading to an illegal second term in office led to his forced resignation in 1952. His successor, Camille Chamoun (1952-58) increased Lebanon’s attractiveness to investors, but as such, he had to choose between the West or the pro-Communist (not necessarily Soviet) Arabist states around him. He didn’t join the Baghdad pact but he remained neutral during the Suez Crisis, irritating Nasser. After Muslim opposition ended in a revolt, Chamoun asked for US help. The revolt was quelled, Chamoun stepped aside, and Fuad Shihab (1958-64) was put in place. He modernized the state and increased Muslim presence in government. He expanded presidential power but included much needed social reform.
In 1969, the Lebanese government signed an agreement with the PLO turning over the huge refugee camps in southern Lebanon over to the PLO, in exchange for the PLO asking permission in making armed incursions. The PLO ignored the restrictions and continued activities that brought Israeli retaliation to Lebanon, striking Beirut airport and assassinating Palestinian leaders in Beirut in 1973. The Lebanese Muslims grew angry at the government for not responding. Jumblatt formed the Lebanese National Movement to gather together these angry Muslims, and quickly things began to escalate. By 1975, everybody in Lebanon was armed, and in April, the Phalange struck the first blow in the Lebanese Civil War by killing 27 Palestinians. The PLO and Maronites fought until June, but they agreed to stop and the PLO withdrew. The National Movement took over, and their fight turned downtown Beirut into a war zone. In 1976, the Maronites joined the Lebanese Front and attacked a Palestinian refugee camp, which drew the PLO back into the war. The Lebanese army broke up and took sides. Syria joined in on the side of the Maronites, and by October, agreed with the PLO to stop in a ceasefire agreement. After that, Beirut was divided into sectarian enclaves, and violence continued.
Israel and Bashir Gemayel of the Phalange both disliked the Syrian and Palestinian presence in Lebanon, and so conspired. In 1982, Israel entered Lebanon with the intention of kicking both the Syrians and the PLO out of the country, so they could secure the West Bank and hopefully stabilize the Beirut government without the PLO there. It was supposed to be a short war, but they could not defeat the PLO, they laid waste to civilians and the whole of Southern Lebanon, and they attacked Beirut, which was beyond their stated objectives. Israel was reluctant to enter, and thus just bombed away. After a while, an agreement was made, calling for the US and France to lead a force supervising PLO evacuation and guaranteeing Palestinian civilian security. Gemayel became president and it would seem that the war had been successful; however, Gemayel was then assassinated and Israel then allowed the Phalange to enter refugee camps and massacre Arabs not protected by the PLO evacuation. Israeli and international opinion turned against Israel and the Kahan Commission was sent to investigate. Ariel Sharon was forced to resign, and Begin’s career was ruined. He resigned in 1983 and withdrew from public life. Ariel Sharon, for some mysterious reason, is now prime minister of Israel. Who let a sadistic loser like him become ruler of a country? Amin Gemayel took over in Lebanon. Violence continued, in the Israeli occupied zone, and between religious groups and the PLO all over the country. Shi’a Muslims also had Amal and Hizbollah fighting for them.
During this time, Gemayel was leaving office and appointed the commander in chief for the army as his acting prime minister, General Michel Aoun. The Muslim prime minister, Salim Al-Huss, resented this, and the religious breakdown threatened peace. To help correct the situation, the Arab League brought Lebanese politicians together in the town of Taif in Saudi Arabia, for the Taif Accords of 1989. The accords gave Muslims a larger role in Lebanese politics and acknowledged a special relationship with Syria. Before these could be implemented, Aoun, who resented the Syrian presence, declared war on Syrian troops in Lebanon, starting the bloodiest episode in Lebanon’s 15 years of war. He received support from Muslims and Christians, but lost many as he disregarded civilian lives. Eventually, Aoun was fighting Muslims and Christians who were sent to stop the madman from destroying Lebanon’s future. After that, mutual cooperation was taken up and Ilyas Hrawi became president. The conflict had deepend sectarian differences, so the problems were not gone, just smoothed them over. The current prime minister is Emile Lahoud.
X. Saudi Arabia
Sharif Husayn ruled as king of the Hijaz after the war, but after he took the title of caliph in 1924, he became extremely unpopular. After his kingdom was in danger of attack, Britain only helped out by escorting Husayn out. The Wahhabi movement continued under Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud (1902-1953). From 1902, after his capture of Riyadh, he brought the tribes of Najd under his authority; this victorious leader also had his religious status as head of the puritanical Wahhabis. He settled people in his own communities, where he demanded military service if needed in return for supplies. His army, the Ikhwan, had a strong religious motivation to win – he quickly seized the opportunity and in 1924 was able to seize Mecca and Medina. The British negotiated the Treaty of Jiddah in 1927 recognizing ibn Saud as king and sultan over his properties in return for his respect over the coastal domains. In 1932, his kingdom became known as Saudi Arabia. The king then used force, negotiation, marriage alliance, religion and charisma to make a country out of the warring tribes. He created an efficient administration staffed by people from other countries and his family (he had 41 sons). They were poor. Standard Oil signed an agreement with them in 1933 to find oil through the future Arabian American Oil Company. Though oil was discovered in 1938, the war postponed development of the industry. Throughout the war, they supported Britain, so they could obtain subsidies from both Britain and the US, who poured in money to later expand oil searches. Saud’s status was more legitimate as he had obtained power by himself and not with Europe, was based on Islam and tribal politics, and was devoted to the upkeep of the holy cities and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
In 1960, OPEC was formed, as was OAPEC in 1968, formed of only Arab countries. The goal in each case was to assert control of this valuable resource, which could not be found in great amounts elsewhere. As world demand rose, so did production from the Middle East.
At the time Abd died, his country was ruled under Islamic law, and had no governmental procedure. His son, Saud (1953-64), took over and had to face the growing wealth coming from the petroleum industry and Nasserism. He fouled things in both regards. He spent money from the state like it was his own and drove Saudi Arabia almost to bankruptcy, while rejecting Nasser and becoming one of Nasser’s “feudal reactionaries”. In 1964, the family deposed him in favor of Crown Prince Faysal (1964-75). Faysal introduced the oil embargo in 1973 which placed his country into the international spotlight and discovered their financial power; he also broadened government to develop the economy and administer social welfare. The Saudis also placed an embargo on the Netherlands, which was a popular routing place for oil to other parts of Europe. The EEC and Japan all released statements in favor of Palestinian rights and urged Israeli withdrawal. Prices quintupled, and Saudi profits went up by 75 billion dollars. More and more, the OPEC countries were beginning to control the oil rather than the oil companies, but their technology and expertise kept them there through lease-back arrangements and joint ventures. Thus, ARAMCO stayed in Saudi Arabia. Faysal also expanded the educational systems with new universities, to staff his bureaucracy. They benefited from the wealth and prestige, but could not influence policymaking, which the family did on its own.
A rebellion in Yemen during 1962, failed to capture the king, Imam Muhammad al-Badr, who raised an army in the north and fought for his throne. During the civil war, Saudi Arabia helped out the king while Egypt assisted the republicans in the south. By 1966, there were 70,000 Egyptian forces in Yemen, but Saudi Arabia would give no forces over. Eventually, Nasser agreed to withdraw following the Six-Day War. After Britain withdrew from the Aden Protectorate in 1967, it was replaced by the Marxist National Liberation Front that established the People’s Democratic Republic of South Yemen which pledged its support in the overthrow of Gulf monarchies. Now, there were two Yemens with radical governments supported by the Soviet Union. Faysal allied with the North and tried to both mend bridges and foment discord between the two. The Saudis also increased their defense budget because they realized they had a laughable army; by 1976, they were spending nearly 36 billion on the military. The military was led by senior officers appointed from the royal family, so there was no chance of rebellion. Even with the money spent, their army could not compare with Iraq and Iran. Soon enough, Faysal was killed in 1975 by his nephew. His successor, Khalid (1975-82), ruled through Crown Prince Fahd, who became king after him. From here on, the Saud family ruled collectively, and not individually. Fahd made sure that the numerous foreigners within the country were paid close attention to and kept isolated, so as not to incite the Islamic population. It also banned political parties, labor unions or any interest groups. So, the middle class within Saudi Arabia had no political voice, and it was only good positions with benefits that kept them in place. Saudi rule was legitimized by the ulama, who accepted the Saudi right to rule by their control of certain elements in education, television programming (after 1963) and the legal system. It also controlled the Mecca pilgrimage and the Morality Police, which monitored domestic Islamic practices. However, the Saudi pious image was ruined by the behavior of its princes, who number today in the thousands. As well, the 1979 Grand Mosque of Mecca seizure by a former National Guard officer embarrassed the regime at its failure of domestic intelligence and military skill at removing the pest.
In 1990, the two Yemens combined as the Republic of Yemen. Many Yemeni workers were working in Saudi Arabia by this point, so the Yemeni decision to stay neutral and not send forces ended in the expulsion of workers from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, putting a huge strain on Yemeni resources with the sudden 1,000,000 increase in population. A 1994 civil war started by sectarian southern politicians and military officers ended with a northern win and the reestablishment of a unified Yemen that was widely supported.
The Saudis, who owed $55 billion for the war, had to liquidate foreign investments to pay their costs. The country’s obvious pro-Western outlook forced the conflict between liberals and Islamists into the open. While liberals asked for more freedoms, the Islamist-dependent monarchy had to deal with Islamic protests. To satiate their demands, Saudi Arabia enforced its unwritten rule against women driving, and had 40 women who persisted in driving placed under house arrest, their jobs removed and their passports taken away. Islamist protests argued forcefully that Saudi Arabia was incapable of protecting itself and had to ask for the West’s help. In response, King Fahd released the 1992 Basic Law of Government which reinforced the monarchy as the central organization in the state. It did authorize the creation of a 60-member consultative council. In 1997, it was expanded to 90 people. Due to secrecy, it is impossible to tell how much influence they had. Overall, they were a highly educated group – but evidently one being used to broaden the political base of the monarch.
XI. The Gulf States
The Gulf states were founded and have survived as a result of British imperialism, oil concession agreements and their revenues. The smaller gulf states included Bahrain, the first to develop a petroleum-based economy, in 1934; Qatar, a wealthy Wahhabi state under Saudi patronage; and the UAE, a combination of many smaller states, each run by a different ruling family.
Kuwait was settled by migrating tribes from Arabia in the early 1700s. By 1756, the al-Sabah family controlled the county until the 1990s; though the Ottomans had claimed sovereignty for a while, it was still theirs to run. The ruling family and the country were maintained by the merchants, who ran the commerce that the economy depended on. Britain protected Kuwait on the condition that they not negotiate with other countries before obtaining British approval, through an 1899 agreement. However, the Ottomans got control of Kuwait when the British gave up the hold in return for the right to help develop the railroad in Baghdad, in the 1913 Anglo-Ottoman Convention. However, when the Ottomans aligned with Germany shortly later, Britain proclaimed Kuwait independent and under British protection. It then drew new borders for Kuwait, laying the groundwork for Iraq’s claim to the country during the Gulf War. The destruction of the pearling industry promoted a deep recession in the 1920s. In 1934, after the ruler, Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (1921-50), signed an agreement with Gulf Oil and BP, he let the Kuwait Oil Company into Kuwait, where they found the largest pool of oil in the world. Exports began in 1946 and increased in profit into the billions. Amir Abdallah al-Salim al-Sabah was able to guide Kuwait through independence in 1961, through the creation of a national assembly in 1962, and through his wise decision to invest rather than squander the revenues. He also reached an agreement with the merchants; by giving them lots of the money acquired by the oil, they gave up their political power.
All during the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait tolerated a moderate opposition and relatively free press and publishing industry. Genuine power stayed in the family, and Kuwaitis could only help out the bureaucracy – when the national assembly pointed out familial corruption, it was dissolved. Kuwaiti citizens paid no taxes and received all kinds of privileges, including the development of an advanced educational system at Kuwait University. Women were denied the right to vote, though. The Kuwaiti government was also very reliant on foreigners to man the oil fields and as sources for the equipment needed for the oil extractions and all the services that Kuwait provided for its citizens. Also, their prosperity rested on the stock markets and real estate values in other countries, whose income exceeded their oil incomes. To ensure their survival, they provided immense aid to the countries around them, like Iraq, though the Gulf War showed that they really did need a military force. Kuwait, after the destruction of the war, owed billions in payment for its part of Desert Storm and for reconstruction costs. The corruption of the ruling family did not make things better when they still had to pay for the entire social welfare system. To do so, they liquidated some of their overseas investments. After pressure from Washington, the ruling family restored the national assembly, whose elections in 1992 captured 70% of the assembly for the opposition, who included both Islamists and businessmen looking for democracy. The ruling family stayed in power, but agreed to take in some of the assembly into their Cabinet.
Similarly, Oman was founded under British auspices. The ruling family, the Al Bu Said’s, established itself in 1744 and ruled a maritime empire that declined with the advent of steamships. By the late 1800s, the rulers had lost power and were reliant on British loans to stay there. It wasn’t until after the 1930s that Oman was reunited by the British and the sultan could rule again. In 1964, oil exports began, but the sultan’s rule was so despotic and anachronistic that by 1970, there were only 3 schools and 6 miles of paved roads in Oman. His son took over in a coup and settled a bloody coup that had all the states around him and the Soviet Union involved, by giving money to projects in the province. This stopped the rebellion, and he began to build infrastructure and modernization by again relying on foreigners. He ruled as a personal dictatorship, unlike in Saudi Arabia.
In Flanders Field and the poems of Sir Wilfrid Owen both glorify the First World War and the idea of absolute sacrifice. The slogan dolce et decorum est was invoked many times during and after that war to indoctrinate to the soldiers and population that it was sweet, and proper, to die for your country. The First World War, however, was the first entirely devastating example of total war, where the fighting involved killing innocents and total destruction; where diplomacy was not used to end wars but to continue it; where so much was spent that the entire balance of power shifted from Europe to the Americas.
Von Clausewitz once stated that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.” Pro-war and pro-military types usually quote him, but they forget that he was also referring to the fact that the larger political goals should never be lost. In World War I, politics followed the war rather than by Clausewitz’s dicta. It was impossible to negotiate without one side winning, because the war had pitted civilization against civilization and raised the level of community involvement in the war effort. In order to keep fighting, the government had to remind the people continually of the war’s importance and the fact that they would not bargain away what the people thought they had worked hard for, and died for. They could not end the war by diplomacy, as that would give away this moral stance they had taken – but it did not matter, in the end, because the war destroyed the society they thought they were defending. It was an expensive war; in 1920, it was estimated that 338 billion dollars had been spent on the First World War, and their dollar was worth 10 modern dollars.
The First War began in 1914 after the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne by Serbian nationalists. Due to the extensive system of alliances, Germany joined Austro-Hungary, and Russia, Britain and France allied together. Thus began the first general war in 99 years. Diplomacy was pushed aside and war quickly declared, where it hadn’t been pursued during snafus in Morocco, the Balkans and again in Bosnia. The reason? Complicated war plans took precedent over political discussion. Russia mobilized to threaten Austro-Hungary, but this indirectly threatened Germany. Also, because of incomplete war planning, they could only enable complete mobilization and nothing in between, so the full mobilization inspired Germany to do the same. Germany quickly came up with the Schlieffen Plan, as set up by Count Alfred von Schlieffen. They had to face the possibility of a two front war against France and Russia. Their plan was to fight France first during the 2 months it would take Russia to reach the borders; it would be as easy as it had been during the Franco-Prussian War, they thought. As France massed its troops on the German borders, the plan was to sweep through the low countries with most of their forces and force France to surrender. There was a diplomatic problem, though, for Prussia had signed an agreement in 1839 to respect Belgium’s neutrality.
The German Kaiser had reservations about getting into the war in the West as well as the East, but Moltke and the other generals told him there was no other way. It quickly progressed to a large war, but the generals announced that it would be a short war because of the military technology that they had. The one problem? Technology makes the war longer, and not because it can kill more efficiently. Better food production makes countries last longer, and gives them time to rebuild defenses and continue mass production. Also, the other side had new technology, like barbed wire and machine guns. The one artifact they had not discarded was the use of cavalry. After the military saw their uselessness in wars against men with guns, they were withdrawn from use and sometimes used as feed for the soldiers.
During the sweep up from the low countries, the German got quickly bogged down, as the scale of attack had been decreased from its original conception, and fierce counterattacks slowed movement. At the Battle of the Marne, during November 1914, the French and the British stood up against the onslaught and dug frontlines that stayed similar throughout the next four years. Great battles were pitched over that time for mere yards. The September Program was a German offer to end the war under the condition that they be allowed a permanent occupation of Belgium, the coal fields of Lorraine, large economic expansion over Europe, and other obviously unreasonable requests that were quickly rejected.
During this time of uncertainty, the Allies and the German-Austrian alliance sought supporters from among the countries not yet involved in the war. Italy was willing to join in, if they were given Trieste and the Croatian coast on the Adriatic, which was part of Austro-Hungary at the time. The Germans would not give it, so the British and the French promised the Italians that boon and so Italy became one of the Allies and joined the war under the Treaty of London. It was secret: for the British proclaimed a belief in self-determination, yet the treaty traded away Slovak land in favor of Italian interests. Romania joined the Allies as well after they were promised Transylvania. Germany, on the other hand, courted Turkey successfully due to the efficiency of the German Navy in getting into Turkey, and the ever present Russian threat to Turkish security. They were also successful in getting Bulgaria to join by promising them Macedonia. They did not seek much help from the Middle East, as colonization had taken over much of it. In a 1916 secret treaty, the British and French split up the Middle East for themselves. However, they were able to buy more support for the war by supporting a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. The most obvious proof of the death of peace diplomacy was seen when Emperor Charles, the successor to Emperor Franz Joseph in Austro-Hungary, attempted to negotiate a separate peace with Britain. The British, instead of welcoming his proposal, refused the offer and exposed him for trying; as this was done without Germany’s knowledge, it was very embarrassing for the emperor.
The war saw a collapse of political authority and responsibility – it ushered in a new period of revolutionary upheaval and violence. A 1917 mutiny in the French army rendered it incapable of fighting; it was put down brutally. Thankfully, the Germans had been busy with the Russian front. At the same time, a new government in Germany was being organized, and a new secular state had been established in Turkey. One of the Turkish government’s more offensive projects was the genocide of the Armenian population. This was the first breakdown of political mores in a long time. Even Hitler admired the situation, as he often asked if anyone talked about the Armenians when he was criticized for his version of genocide. The failure of the European states to end the war weakened the European international system, devastated industries and the populace, and removed the “center of the world” designation, for they couldn’t control their international affairs. In 1954, Taylor observed that the war had allowed Bolshevism and American liberal democracy to rise as global spheres of influence rather than western Europe; and that they would eventually clash.
In Russia itself, though German propaganda screamed of the Russian Colossus, things only had the impression of being strong, like a Potemkin village. Really, it hadn’t recovered from its loss during the Russo-Japanese War. Tsar Nicholas, a weak ruler, would not change his position even though it was politically advisable – he had a strong focus on maintaining the autocratic powers to be passed on to his son. To remove the heat from himself, he joined in the war. At Tannenberg in September of 1914, a large Russian army contingent was crushed by a small German force; even though it was a huge loss, Russia was able to stay in the war because of the bungling of the Austro-Hungarian army and the various battles distracting military planners. Even though the monarchy pursued this course to make the people happy, it really just undermined support for the monarchy. As food prices skyrocketed because of low production, bread riots broke out across Russia during the spring of 1917; afterwards, Tsar Nicholas abandoned his throne to the provisional government, who were supposedly going to rally troops to finish the war, and then modernize the country.
Alexander Kerensky was the leader of the provisional government, and he was elected by promises that Russia would be assisted by the West, as promised by the Allies. However, the Allies demanded that Russia stay in the war. This was unpopular and offered an unhappy paradox: the Allies supported democracy, but they refused to help unless Russia violate democracy and stay in the war against its people’s wishes. The German government observed this and wanted to offer an alternative government that would quickly end the war. German agents approached Lenin and arranged for him to be transported back into Russia. Though they opposed Bolshevism, they knew that the Bolsheviks would end the war fast, as they saw it as a capitalist war. Lenin’s train was sealed for the trip, as if it were a teeming “jar of revolution.” Lenin rapidly won over the people, as his proclamations of peace, bread and land resounded better than Kerensky’s complicated explanations of political realities.
Soviets grew in number all over Russia until the time came for the Bolsheviks to take control as the organization behind the Soviets. As they grabbed power, they showed that they didn’t care about the war, as they started immediate peace negotiations with Germany and published all the war treaties so as to embarrass the Allies. This gave Russia time to consolidate power and promote their World Revolution. After all, once a world revolution rolled around, their treaty would mean nothing. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed in March 1918 and granted Germany land in Russia plus indemnities in return for peace. This would have been the perfect opportunity for Germany to concentrate on the Western Front, but it was too busy claiming its new land in the East. The growth of Bolshevism and their retreat scared the European nations, as they feared the revolutionary spirit that followed no rules but the ones they made up. Most of all, they feared being overthrown by revolutionaries themselves.
By 1914, the United States government had become involved in Latin America and Asia but not very much in Europe at all, though they certainly identified with Europeans. American universities emulated Oxford, Cambridge and the rigorous German research universities. Upper class Americans aspired to the European look; the Great Gatsby is a great illustration, as is Hemingway’s involvement with the bohemians in Paris. Woodrow Wilson, however, preferred to be perfectly neutral and not get involved with Europe, and he transferred this feeling to the country.
The United States declared its neutrality and announced that their shipping should not be tampered with, or American civilians on the ships of belligerents. This didn’t exactly work, as trade blockades prevented the reasons for shipping in the first place. The Germans started out respecting neutrality and requesting passengers get off the boat before they would sink the shipping vessels, but this would only work if the boat was unarmed and by itself. The British began putting guns on merchant vessels, as one shot could sink a sub. In desperation, the Germans developed torpedoes and announced unrestricted submarine warfare in 1915. The British still encouraged Americas to travel on British ships; British ads in American papers supported travel, while the Germans advised Americans not to travel. When the Lusitania was sunk by German U-boats.in May 1915, citizens became angry over the death of 200 Americans in the destruction.
This caused big problems for Germany: the US requested that Germany respect their neutral rights, but Germany refused, citing the nationality of the vessel. William Jennings Bryan, as Secretary of State, resigned because he felt Wilson was being too belligerent. The joke was on him, as Wilson was re-elected in 1916 for “keeping us out of war.” The United States was clearly in the European orbit, since it only traded with the Allies, and they were giving up all their gold for US supplies. Eventually, the US became the largest creditor in the world. Wilson used this power as leverage. He felt he could mediate, but his efforts didn’t work. Americans began calling for participation in the war, and Wilson was tempted to join the war. It was after a second unleashing of submarine warfare in spring 1917, and the subsequent German approach to Mexico for military support that the US was persuaded to enter the war. Mexico had been promised California; and this was open for the world to see when British intelligence released the Zimmerman telegram to US papers.
In April 1917, the US entered the war on the side of the Allies to “preserve democracy.” Wilson, to generate enough public approval, portrayed the United States as Europe’s savior from its old ways. The goal was to create a new world, or “to make the world safe for democracy.” To separate the US from Europe, he released his Fourteen Points; this document looked rather like Wilson was attempting to set up a world order in democracy. By the time the war was over, Wilson was pushing the creation of the League of Nations, which came together in a mostly nominal fashion. It was only important in the fact that Wilson, whom the European leaders relied upon, was strongly supporting the organization as a centerpiece for peace, but it did not affect discussions seriously, except as a bargaining chip.
The Paris Peace Conference and the Versailles Treaty formally ended the war in 1919, including reparations and land settlements. However, the old diplomacy that had been practiced – that did not refer to the wishes of the populations concerned, and did not constantly work on maintaining the balance of power – was anathema to Wilson; he did not like secret diplomacy, and preferred an “open diplomacy”. He also seemed to support national self-determination of each set of peoples apart from the predation of powerful neighbors. This actually stemmed from his faith in popular sovereignty. His principles were important because he was personally involved in the discussions, and his money was keeping their governments afloat. It was hard for him to use this weapon, because it would have alienated the Allied populations, and Kissinger’s “linkage,” or imposition of financial penalties as retaliation, was never used, although there were frequent bitter disputes.
Wilson thought the peoples of Europe would wholly embrace his plan, and he saw Lloyd George and Clemenceau’s recalcitrance as vindictive, but the reality was that they were acting on the fear of domestic revolt if they were lenient towards the defeated powers. He soon saw that allowing for an openly arrived peace would lean to settlements that preferred vengeance, so he was led to discard open diplomacy during the sessions of the Council of Four. What made the Paris Peace Conference leave negative opinions on history was the violation of both of Wilson’s honored precepts. The Treaty, when it was finished, forced Germany to relinquish certain acquired lands and its colonies, as well as limit their army and equipment. Economically, they required high reparations – of approximately $33 billion dollars as well as a reduction of its industry that severely crippled Germany’s economy. Besides having to deliver coal to surrounding nations, Germany had to hand over control of the Saar area which was rich in resources. Even more offending was the prohibition of German national self-determination.
Not only was it seen as harsh by the Germans, but Americans noted its bitter qualities. Keynes wrote a rejection of the treaty based on a caricature of Wilson – the buffoon outwitted by the crafty Europeans – and Dulles/Baruch drafted a reply that made little impact. It played a large role in the senatorial rejection of the treaty in spring 1920. However, Ray Stannard Baker, American press chief at the conference, wrote an effective defense that was a bestseller. In effect, the punishments were not going to the wealthy aristocrats who were the power brokers, but to the survivors who had been bled white and their societies broken down completely. The land settlement were not done with national self-determination in mind, mainly because the disputed territories would all have fallen in favor of the British by percentage of population in the area. It was a little better in moral terms, as there was no war-guilt clause inserted in the treaty, though it was universally accepted that Germany was to blame. It probably would have been wiser to set a moderate level of reparations, that would not have bred and stimulated the xenophobia that Hitler was able to take advantage of. Also, it is easy to see just Germany suffering, but other nations suffered as well – colonial redistribution and settlements stayed just as harsh and intolerant as before, for European ideas were still distinctly racist. In particular, the Allies were keen on checking Bolshevism, by creating and assisting in the reconstruction of barrier states between Russia and Western Europe.
After the war, the French were suffering from severe financial and technical problems due to their war debt and lower level of industrial development as compared to the Germans, even before the war. Thus, they desired to occupy the Ruhr, the premier industrial area in Germany. Poincare, the French prime minister elected in 1923 after Clemenceau, supported this move largely because of his nationalist tendencies and prominent anti-German feelings. Though the Allies weren’t too keen on extending military occupation and the German population would naturally be angered by the idea, the French felt the benefits outweighed the negatives. So, the French were forced to do it alone.
The Weimar Republic ruled Germany after the war and bore the responsibility of rebuilding the country and the economy, though they were unfairly blamed for the war, as their representatives had signed the peace treaties. Many Germans were not happy about the peace; Rathenau, the foreign minister who had signed the peace treaty, was murdered in the street by an angry nationalist. Moreover, the reparations had been settled at around the equivalent of 31 billion dollars in marks; no one believed that the government could pay the cost without crippling the country. To start rebuilding and attempting to pay the costs would require all their available industrial output, and so the Ruhr came to be a very important piece of land – the French ambitions were not well met, and increasing violence disrupted governance within Germany.
In 1923, a putsch in Bavaria was engineered by the young corporal Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists. It failed, but it was able to pass along the message. The French had occupied most of the Ruhr, but they didn’t push their other territorial aims and other issues relating to the repayment of reparations. Germany itself also pulled back from its threats to prevent another war, and the Republic was able to survive for a few more years. During these years, Stresemann, the German foreign minister; Briand, the French foreign minister; and Chamberlain, the British foreign minister were able to arrange a stable peace as well as the extension of credit to Germany by US banks. The Dawes Plan, as it was called, was arranged with firms like J.P. Morgan along with the blessing of the United States government, in order to address the rebuilding of the economic structure and repayment of debts. The Young Plan, released not much later, reorganized the reductions and payments so that Germany would pay yearly amounts until 1988. It was extremely lucky to have three conservatives maintaining the peace and arranging stabilization for Western Europe, as no one wanted to see these countries plunged into chaos yet again.
Stresemann followed a policy of fulfillment to lull the allies into ignoring the military cooperation with Russia, helping readjust Eastern borders in their favor, and turn a blind eye to the rebuilding of the “black” and illegally large Reichswehr. A high officer ratio was maintained with the retaining of previously demobilized soldiers, in order to have a skeleton crew for a future-super army. Germans were happy to have a foreign minister who was able to do all this for them and more, even if it meant beginning to fulfill all the Versailles treaty demands. In 1925, Germany signed the Treaty of Locarno, agreeing that its Western borders were permanent, meaning Alsace-Lorraine would stay French and the Rhineland would stay demilitarized. In return, Stresemann was able to get the Western forces to move the withdrawal date from Germany to 1930 rather than 1939. By 1926, he was able to get Germany into the League of Nations which it had been banned from. For this, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Secretly, he supported an expansion into Eastern Europe and a takeover of the Polish corridor, just as Hitler was to aspire for in his term of rule.
During Stresemann’s tenure, Hindenburg had been elected into office. He had been Supreme Commander during World War I, and his position seemed to put some credibility into the Republic, but Hindenburg was growing senile. To make things worse, Stresemann died of a heart attack in October of 1929, the month of the New York Stock Exchange collapse and the beginning of the Great Depression. Though economic troubles were always going to come, the one practical leader of the country had died, and this became a breeding ground for resentment. Economic problems were easily blamed on people that one didn’t like, and this began to amount to xenophobia and distrust within the country. Stabilization efforts were stopped for good, as the unavailability of credit on either side of the Atlantic meant no one was getting paid. The collapse of the Rothschild’s Credit Anstalt in Vienna prompted a mass of bankruptcies and financial woes within Western Europe as well as in the smaller countries that had blossomed out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These countries were mainly agricultural and relied on food purchases, which other countries could not do without the credit. Also, non-stable politics disarmed efforts everywhere.
Authoritarian regimes tended to get set up at this point. Democracy was inefficient and couldn’t solve Europe’s economic problems fast enough, so diplomacy was reduced, cooperation was lessened and trade barriers were erected. 1929 to 1933 were to be the worst years of the depression as well as a great blow to the authority of the democratic states by the failure of the representational institution. In Russia, it was different. As Russia was so far behind, the Depression didn’t really affect it at all, and much business came into Russia after that. One good thing about the Depression, however, was its erasure of the reparation debt under a moratorium and subsequent annulment by Hoover. People figured that no one would be able to pay, and thus reparations would be useless.
In 1931, half-hearted disarmament negotiations began. No country was very serious about the matter, and the target of the negotiations, Germany, was filled with angry people who felt that they had already been forcibly disarmed and were waiting for the world to take the rest of the cache from them. Hitler would exploit these feelings and was finally able to engineer the political situation such that the Nazis were on the rise by 1933. To the world, the transfer of power was uneventful, as he was just another thug who wouldn’t last very long. As far as propaganda went, the German won points for presenting the Versailles treaty as old because it continued to require that Germany would be held down and stated that the war was the German’s fault in so many words. German historians worked feverishly to produce a book that presented one kind of historical revisionism. Suddenly, the war was the whole world’s fault; that it was probably just a pointless exercise that nobody wanted but just came. Strangely enough, American historians began to adapt this voice. They seemed to turn against the positive involvement in the war, and they too criticized Versailles as being too harsh and a bad way of dealing with things.
When Hitler’s National Socialist party took over control of the German government post-Stresemann and post-Locarno, they never made secret their support of Mein Kampf. Their platform included much of his racial politics and his disapproval of Versailles – but the voters and other members of the populations never expected them to come to power so quickly and implement all their platform promises. They were in power by 1933, though they ruled in a coalition that they whittled down slowly. They had the largest voting bloc behind them, though they weren’t majority. Even the outside world didn’t expect it, or didn’t see any importance in his election to chancellor. He was a funny man, given to vitriolic speeches, and besides finding him a ridiculous candidate, the number of chancellors in office was large, and no one expected him to last.
Hitler was smart and concluded many ambitious programs within his tenure. He quickly sent Vice-Chancellor Papen to Rome to sign a Concordat with the Pope, legitimizing the Catholic Church’s place in Germany where other German governments had waffled, leading German Catholics to throw their support on him. This had the effect of solidifying his political authority and moral basis early on. So, in April 1933, when he supported the one-day boycott of Jewish businesses in Berlin, nobody said much, probably for fear of retaliation by his fierce Gestapo. He also broke down power in Austria by prohibiting German travel to Austria and supporting the Nazi party within Austria, making the way for his arrival there during the beginning of World War II. He was very cautious in this support; after a failed coup that ended with the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss, he was able to watch the world’s reaction. The international community was disgusted, and Mussolini showed his anti-Nazi position by mobilizing the Italian army.
One of Hitler’s first acts was to test the limits of League of Nations control over Germany. He complained about army size as limited by the Versailles treaty; he followed up with the demand that Europe disarm like Germany was required to or have Germany reserve the right to rebuild. The League of Nations could only tell them not to do it again. Since their inception, the League had been weak; their first failure came after Japan invaded Manchuria and made it a protectorate in 1931. In that year too, they could do nothing - because no one knew exactly how to implement an international response to aggression by any nation, much less a member nation. Hitler finally took a strong stance when he declared in 1935 that Germany was no longer bound by the military clauses of the Versailles treaty. In this declaration, he also announced his plans for increasing the size of the German Army and introducing general conscription. Mussolini, already feeling threatened, quickly reached an agreement with the worried French to concerted attack in case of German military action. At Stresa, Britain, France and Italy declared their support of Austrian independence and fully condemned Germany’s aggressions and violation of the Versailles treaty. Also, they threatened to back their statements up with counterattack. Then, strangely enough, Britain signed a naval agreement with Germany allowing the Germans to increase its navy from 0 to the same number as Britain had – it was confusing all around, as it offered nothing but disadvantage to British interests. The idea was that if the world was to treat Germans with respect, Germany would soon act like a respectful nation. Idealism of this nature never really works, as history shows.
In March 1936, Germany announced the end of the demilitarization of the Rhineland. German troops marched back into the area, violating both the Versailles treaty and the Locarno pact. Indeed, this was a big step, but it was in a gray area, as Germany pointed out that it was only taking back what it had owned. Technically, the close presence of French and Belgian troops should have meant a fulfillment of the Locarno pact and an attack on Germany’s troops for its indiscretion, but nobody wanted to stop them. No one wanted to move first, as they would be labeled the bad guy – and with this inaction, Germany emerged victorious, with the world accepting its new position nervously. There was little backlash, for that same year, the world came to celebrate in Berlin with the Olympics. It has been said that this was a triumph for race, as the achievements of Jesse Owens during the Olympics should have meant something. But in reality, it didn’t. US papers reported only on the cleanliness of German cities, and not on the wins of Jesse Owens or the passage of the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which deprived Jews of citizenship and forced upon them yellow Stars of David among other discriminations.
The debate over Hitler’s motivations range from the intentionalist to the structuralist arguments. Intentionalism relates to the development of an ideological programme based on certain goals, which are usually present since before the implementation. Structuralism refers to the usage of opportunity; or improvising with the factors at hand. It is well described as a philosophy-on-the-fly. If we could pinpoint his motivations, it is thought, we can ascertain if there was a possibility of stopping him: intentionalism would allow that, whereas structuralism would not.
With Hitler’s aggressive foreign policy, Mussolini was finally convinced that it would be better to side with Hitler, as he could be “paid” faster. In 1936, Mussolini staged an attack of Ethiopia to gain what he felt the Allies could never provide: an empire, like in Rome. As a young journalist, he had witnessed the first attempt of the Italians in defeating Ethiopia, and saw its utter failure; he was intent on winning it this time around. Again, the League of Nations could provide little in the way of policing, even with Ethiopia as a member nation. Italy saw this as a triumph, using terror bombing, poison gas and other crimes against humanity to win over an African nation. The sad part of this was that nobody felt the destruction to be as important as a preservation of the peace within Western Europe.
During the late 1930’s, it was obvious to the major powers that Germany was throwing off its shackles to be involved in society again. France, knowing this time was coming, had been pursuing a defensive policy with its military by constructing fixed defenses and elaborate fortifications along much of the German border. The idea was that they would soon have to refight World War I, where fixed positions had been a good idea – but unfortunately, developing technology had made it useless. Thus, the Maginot Line came to be proverbial for the futility of the static defense system worldwide. France also saw that the League of Nations could not ensure protection, and sought allies. Poland had already signed a 1933 pact with Germany, and France couldn’t afford involvement with Russia; so they turned to the Little Entente of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania. These countries were willing to come into an alliance as they owed their existence to the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus, they wished the breakup to stay that way. However, the alliance was in reality useless, as the Little Entente had little military value, and travel routes had to go thru Germany to wherever needed help.
Britain treated this situation differently: they wanted to co-opt Germany and followed a policy of appeasement. Under this philosophy, leaders like Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and Dawson thought that giving in to the Germans would prevent them from being war-like Their other reasoning said that Nazi Germany, for all its faults, would be an active bulwark against communism. In any case, they ignored domestic atrocities, as they had their own trouble spot to manage: Northern Ireland. Many within Britain felt that it was unrealistic and dangerous to try and overthrow the German government during this period of recovery. Churchill argued that this was a good idea; he likened appeasement to feeding an alligator with all of your friends so as to be eaten last. He was declared a warmonger and reviled for this.
Germany had the initiative, as Britain and France were busy with their own differences. Germany was still somewhat like other European states, as they had definable goals; the irrationality of these goals made them suspect. Hitler was still busy with planning his goals (though he was also an opportunist at the same time). In November of 1937, he called a conference at which he outlined his long term goals to all the high-ranking Germans within his government. The Hossbach Protocol – or notes from the conference – later became evidence that Hitler was mainly responsible for warmongering. The next year, Hitler began pushing out many of the old-school ministers in the government, perhaps making it easier to pursue his foreign policy. He was casting his eye on Austria, who had a strong Nazi presence and was friendly to the idea of reunification with Germany. However, the 1919 Treaty of St. Germain forbade Anschluss, or reunification with Germany; if national self-determination ha d proceeded, Gemrany would have been bigger than before the war! In the end, Hitler marched in, to the triumphant cheers of the Austrians. Austrians are reluctant to admit this – a popular joke goes: Austrians tell two lies, that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German.
The international community couldn’t do anything because both countries wanted it, and no one was willing to stick their necks in – this was an indication to Hitler that Europe would not say no to him. Hitler began to turn his dream of lebensraum into reality after his capture of Austria; next he would prepare to invade Czechoslovakia. Lebensraum was adopted from a German geographer circa 1898, and meant living space. Living space meant land beyond 1933 areas, which referred to all of Eastern Europe and then some. This came from the ridiculous idea that they were stuck in the middle of Europe; to change this, they wanted to establish a continuous empire, unlike Britain’s non-continuous empire. Within Czechoslovakia, Hitler aimed to get the Sudetenland, where the percentage of Germans went up to 90%. After World War I, the borders of Czechoslovakia had included the Sudetenland, as it made geographically sensible borders. Sensibly, the Czechs attempted to Czech-ify its land; Germans agitated against this imposition as a violation of rights. Berlin attempted to intercede and threatened war if the Sudeten Germans were not “rescued.” It was important to the Allies in one fashion: it was the only democratic state east of the Rhine. Still, France was unwilling to live up to its treaty and stop Germany, because it had to fight all of Germany to get to the Sudetenland. Oppositely, Russia, who already had a track record of fighting against Nazism, was both unwanted as a savior, and was unable to travel through Poland to get into Czechoslovakia. Poland had had bad experiences with Russia, and was unwilling to let the behemoth move its military through the country.
The Czechs stood firm during this time, even as Chamberlain scoffed at the British population’s preparations for war. It was astonishing that he would consider a war not a possibility, because London was a direct flight away from Prague – according to him, he didn’t want to join a war to protect a Czech’s right to teach Czech. In August 1938, Chamberlain flew to Germany three times to negotiate a peace. Hitler was annoyed at his visits, but came out for the better, as Chamberlain gave him everything he asked for. In September 1938, an international conference in Munich brought together Britain, France, Germany and Italy to talk about the problem; surprisingly, Russia and the Czechs were not invited. The decision was to give Sudetenland to the Germans, in return for Hitler’s word that this was his last territorial demand. With this ridiculous agreement, Chamberlain returned home a hero for preventing war, earning the right to stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the king to wave to the people. Hitler was disappointed, as were coup planners, as the prevention of war had cut off his goals and their excuse to overthrow him. This was probably an unfortunate event. Later, when he invaded Poland in 1939, he did not accept British ambassadors, so they could not provide him with an excuse to take away his war.
In 1941, at the start of the war, Hitler articulated the Final Solution at the Wandsee Conference…. Etc.
After 1945, with the cession of trans-Carpaco-Ruthenia, the cordon sanitaire was broken and Russia had direct access to Czechoslovakia and the rest of Europe. The division of Germany then became a test of wills between the United States and Russia, with little attention paid to the plight of the German people. The West wanted to incorporate Germany into the Western economies as it was felt that a general European recovery needed German participation. Russia, however, wanted to see Germany subjugated so that it could pay for all the damages and never threaten Russia again. They weren’t interested in spreading international communism, as Stalin had already instituted “socialism in one country.” After negotiations at Yalta and the Potsdam Conference in 1945, the Western nations didn’t think devastating reparations was a good idea, as that had not worked after World War I. The net result was a division of Germany into American, British, French and Russian zones of influence. During this time, it was popular to blame the leaders for this division but the political reality was that the game of influences would have been played no matter what.
Churchill rallied moral support for the Western side in 1946 by detailing an “Iron Curtain” that had fallen between West and East Europe, confirming a clear Eastern boundary of influence that harbored communism and other ill effects of Stalin’s government. Thus, the Cold War was born. What to do with Eastern Europe? Undermine it. The Social Democratic movement had been growing in the UK, France and Germany with the establishment of a Third Way platform, a kind of modified socialism. They suffered, however, after the Cold War craze came. The Christian Democrats rose in power in Germany, Italy and the Benelux nations as they were anti-socialist yet anti-materialist, with criticisms of both capitalism and communism. They emphasized a need for democracy based on Catholic social teachings, with a healthy dose of solidarity, to form a “social market economy.” As they were the most reliable anti-Soviet, pro-US party, they did win the Allies’ support. In Italy, the CIA even sponsored the Christian Democrats covertly, helping Prime Minister de Gaspari into office.
In the West, the Federal Republic of Germany was born with a parliamentary government in 1945. It was divided into US, British and French zones. Konrad Adenauer, in 1949, won the first elections there as leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Other conservative groups had all been destroyed before the war or after, by having collaborated with the Nazis. Adenauer would rule as chancellor until 1963 when he stepped down. He was known then as Der Alte, or the Old Guy. In the East, the German Democratic Republic was led by Walter Ulbricht starting in 1949. He was a Communist official who was able to gain power when the Social Democrats won by an ingenious Russian move: they forced a merger of the Social Democrats and the Communists into the SED party. Both Ulbricht and Adenauer had been shaped by the Nazi years, and they fought in a passive way to spread the influence of their respective supporters. There was an active fight over control of the Ruhr, but mainly they remained passive, as if to look like they were all for German reunification.
West Germany practiced a policy of Westbindlung that saw the country aim for a closer alliance with the West for faster economic recovery. Another term, “das Abendland”, referred to the enlightenment of the West over the East. At the same time, West Germany supported reunification, but that was out of the question. Naturally, the East supported a division, so a reunification of the two Germany’s would have been problematic. Alliances with the West brought West Germany more immediate benefits. Life in East Germany, meanwhile, was harsh, and they had to pay for all of their economic recovery. In the Eighties, historians suggested that Adenauer should have practice a policy of neutralism to East Germany that would have bought West Germany more support from the West. West Germany bought itself moral redemption and legitimacy as the real Germany after it took up economic responsibility for the Holocaust and paid reparations to the Israel and various Jewish organizations representing survivors.
In 1947, the Marshall Plan was released, giving money to countries to rebuild their economies. The one condition was that they have an organization in which all the European states would collectively discuss their economic needs. This was done with the Organization of European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), that included most European nations but Spain, because of its dictatorship. It excluded all the countries of Eastern Europe. In 1960, it expanded to include Canada and Japan under the new acronym OECD. The Brussels Pact was signed in 1948 by Great Britain, France and the Benelux nations, creating a Western European Union of military alliances that also looked forward to US involvement. This was the last straw for the Russians. They began a blockade of Berlin in June 1948 that attempted to establish a larger Russian presence, but Western airlifts of supplies to Berlin defeated this attempt. Russia did not want to get into war just yet and so withdrew.
Britain was able to persuade the US to be part of a bigger military alliance that included Italy, Canada, Denmark, and the Brussels Pact nations. This new organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in Paris, during1949. US involvement was key in forming a defense against Russia. The threat of nuclear attacks would be a sufficient deterrent. The idea of a supranational organization was also floated around, where member nations would surrender some sovereignty in return for increased stability. The Council of Europe came into being in 1949 as well, in Strasbourg. The one thing nobody wanted to bring up was the issue of German rearmament. However, the outbreak of the Korean War – an uncomfortable parallel of Communism versus democracy – brought the topic to the forefront. NATO had to respond, to show its difference from the League of Nations, and so it sent in troops under the command of Eisenhower.
Adenauer was willing to offer some support to NATO if Germany was allowed into NATO and also given some military leeway. In 1950, European nations, especially France, were concerned about rebuilding economically while also preserving their security, vis-à-vis Germany. To stabilize all their military fronts and keep West Germany in the fold, they offered it military leeway if it was a member of one big European army. This became so in 1952, when the European Defense Community pact was signed. The only members were France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux states, as Scandinavia and the British were wary of the commitment. It failed in 1954 when France backed out after public disapproval and concerns about overreaching with overseas commitments. Many of the states also did not want to give up sovereignty, and though the US was strongly backing the EDC and threatening reprisals if states didn’t follow through, the EDC fell apart. France was criticized for being selfish, Britain was criticized for not even joining at all, and ironically, only the Germans were enthusiastic about the project, on paper.
West Germany had chosen this option above Stalin’s offer of Germany neutrality and reunification if they didn’t join. However, by 1954, they were again stuck without a military. This was quickly solved. In 1955, West Germany was finally allowed to have an army of its own and join NATO, as well as have all occupation agreements were lifted. In return, they signed an agreement saying they would never make any atomic, biological or chemical weapons. The same year, the Warsaw Pact was announced, with signatories Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. This finalized the split between Western and Eastern Europe.
The next organization to be established was outlined in the Schuman plan, which introduced an alliance built on coal and steel that would help European development. The idea intrigued Konrad Adenauer, who joined Italy, France and the Benelux nations in signing the pact creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in Luxembourg. This was to become the core of the European Union. A draft proposal for a European Political Community (EPC) was drawn up in 1953 but never signed. Finally, in 1955, the Original Six met again in Messina to discuss the Spaak Report, on the development of a European Economic Community (EEC). This was set up under the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The intention was to build a common market that would be free of tariffs between member nations, with great short term economic cooperation. This further promoted a division within Western Europe at the same time that the Cold War division was most apparent.
Britain opposed the Common Market scheme and instead wanted a free trade zone similar to NAFTA. With Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Britain started up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1959. With this polarized group, it was the evident power. The debate with the EEC grew heated over the 1960s. The US looked on the battle of the Six and Seven with disdain. Kennedy envisioned an Atlantic Organization with the US as leader, that had all of Europe in alliance with full integration. Since de Gaulle had come to power in France (after his Fourth Republic had failed and then subsequently, parliamentary democracy did too), he wanted to establish France’s power. It suited him that Britain stayed out, as France could be the main power in the EEC in front of a weakened Germany. It eventually grew in power as the ECSC was folded into it.