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How nationalism served the development of new states in the Middle East in the interwar period


Interwar is known as a period “Between the Wars” in the broad perspective of the history of the 20th century. This period started during the conclusion of the First World War in 1918 and the commencement of the Second World War in 1939. This era represented significant amount of changes worldwide. The understandings of this period subsequently were shadowed by the period of Great Depression, an unparalleled global economic downfall which relentlessly impaired many of the world’s major economies[1].

This period of time accorded with the upsurge of communism. The former German and Ottoman Empires were rip to shreds, with the German and Ottoman Empire’s colonies were distributed between the Allies. Iraq and Egypt was able to get independence. The contemporary states of the Middle East were build from the enormous downfall of the great Ottoman Empire. The enormous collapse of the Ottoman Empire left the Turks and Arabs ready for government, although they were unrehearsed with the not so easy statehood system[2]. The understanding of Ottoman improvements had left an significant heritage of statehood in the Arab world. Arab people were prepared for statehood but they had insignificant knowledge of diplomacy. In Ottoman times, consensual associations with the European countries had been facilitated through Istanbul. Arabs established provinces of a shared state, instead of distinct states with their own national boundaries, and thus had no knowledge of dealing with other Arab communities as foreign states.

Nationalist movements materialized within the boundaries of these new states in disagreement to the unfair colonial rule. This aspect would keep the Arab world stressed between a widely held aspect of Arab unity and a authenticity of nation-state nationalism strengthened by nationalist efforts for an independent state. after independence were separated by squabbling and factionalism. The newly formed Arab states of the Middle East have recognized as extraordinarily stable, but the other aspect of their foundation is the birth for many of the conflicts that have distressed the region for far too long.


Nationalism was the key needed to unlock new states in the Middle East. The winds of change have finally hit middle east in big way during interwar period resulting in making of new states2. The Islamic line of thinking characterized an effort to settle a sense of eternal Islamic individuality and community. They hoped to finally introduce the educational,economic, legal, and political reforms 4. Islamist wanted to build their awareness in major characteristics of modernization. But they also had their focus on their firm obligation to Islam. They openly thold the world that Islam had continuously been a religion that perfected reason, instead of opposing it. Nationalists in other countries of Middle East confronted similar predicaments in various social, sectarian, tribal, ethinc issues, and tensions among pan-Arabism and Islamism, and state patriotism[3]. Generally, the prospect of nationalism reproduced some of these uncertainties and reservations.

Earlier, the intellectual movement labelled as Arabism emerged from the concept of Islamic modernism. Seeds of Islam had been planted among the people of middle east and they are flourishing. This method alleged to have likelihood of turning in direction of Arab nationalism, particularly if the Ottoman Empire remain persistent to be incompetent[4]. The likelihood of substituting the Ottoman Empire with an Arab caliphate undoubtedly remained a huge possibility for early Arabists5.

Christian Arab nationalists, Islamic modernists and Arabists were very critical of the Ottoman government and their ineffeicinacy to tackle problems. They were also very critical of double-faced character and inconsistency of its modernization determination. Some Arab supporters of Ottomanism was in favour of a decentralized, federal system of government and eventually it would result in a enlightened administrative order. This method of governce would allow the people of middle east to enjoy a substantial degree of home rule while gaining almost equal authority with Turks to have major jobs of authority at the centre.


Coming out of the dreaded Ottoman experience, the Arabs aimed to national independence through various hardships and struggles. Nationalism and Arabs self-determination was the main driving force behind their efforts. All their struggle was built around the general concept of nationalism and pride. That concept of nationalism motivated them to be superior to other, Arabs Promised a new directive of international relations with all the countries. But that wasn’t the case The Palestine catastrophe brought to light Arab weaknesses in the global arena and in local affairs. politics of Arabs were predominantly engrossed on getting freedom from strict colonial rule, they were not focused on economic and social aspects of their land. The newly build Arab states had no experience to the worldwide order for so long as their foreign masters oversaw all of their state and foreign affairs. As a result of it, the divided interests triumphed over bigger Arab benefits, which permitted the colonial rule, and even Israel, to create a fight among the Arab states and have them play against each other. The way Middle East was molded in the war years created many stable welfare states that have recognized themselves all across the world. But, on the other hand, it also gave rise to persistent complications that have distressed the middle east region and created a barrier to world peace for far too long. The most noticeable example is Palestine, where the opposing national claims have made the Arab–Israeli conflict a permanent feature for the middle east region. The choice to build a state of Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Basra and Mosul broke the much famed assurance of a state specific for Kurdish people. As a result of this Kurdish people living in countries like Syria Turkey, Iran and Iraq have eras of extreme civil war and nationalist distress. The occurrence of newly build state system in the Middle East is thus a history both of destabilizing conflicts and formation of stable welfare states.

End Notes

“Arab Nationalism”. 2018. En.Wikipedia.Org.

Roshwald, Aviel. 2013. “Nationalism In The Middle East, 1876–1945”. Oxford Handbooks Online. pp. 12–18.

  1. G. Antonius (1938) The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement, London, chs. 3 and 5.
  2. Paul, Lawrence, I. Porciani and L. Raphael (eds.) (2010) Atlas of European Historiography: The Making of a Profession, 1800–2005, Basingstoke.
  3. E. Zürcher. The Unionist Factor: The Role of the Committee of Union and Progress in the Turkish National Movement, 1905–1926, Leiden; M. Arai (1992)

James, L. Gelvin.”Divided Loyalties”. 2018. University Of California Press.

Cle, T. J., Bellizzi, M. C., Flegal, K. M., and Dietz, W. H. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. British Medical Journal vol. 320 (2000) pp. 1240–1243

  1. “Arab Nationalism”. 2018. En.Wikipedia.Org.

  2. Roshwald, Aviel. 2013. “Nationalism In The Middle East, 1876–1945”. Oxford Handbooks Online. pp. 12–18.

  3. 4 Paul, Lawrence, I. Porciani and L. Raphael (eds.) (2010) Atlas of European Historiography: The Making of a Profession, 1800–2005, Basingstoke.
  4. 3 R G. Antonius (1938) The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement, London, chs. 3 and 5.




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