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Identify when the countries in the Middle East became independent nations and explain how independence was achieved.



The Middle East is defined differently on different maps. An extensive map from Rethinking Schools Online included areas in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
  • FOR the purposes of the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework the Middle East is more narrowly and traditionally defined, limited to the nations listed below.

See World History II.47 for resources on the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism

external image Red_apple.jpg A useful classroom activity on the Middle East could revolve around the questions of defining geographic regions. Good questions to discuss could include: Who names regions? How are they determined? For example, why are the Asian nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan now being referred to more and more as "the Middle East"? If the Middle East is characterized by religion, then will Indonesia, a Muslim nation, soon be included in the region? If the Middle East is characterized by desert climates, then will China, with its Gobi Desert, soon be in "the Middle East"?

map_icon.jpegThis animated map depicts the imperial history of the Middle East from 3000 BC to 2006, with a note on when each present-day country gained independence.

map_icon.jpegClick here for a variety of maps on the Middle East

Multimedia.pngClick here for a youtube video showing various empires, Israel, and the Age of Independence

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for a learning game to identify the nations of the Greater Middle East, from Rethinking Schools Online.

timeline2_rus.svg.png Click here for a timeline of history in the Middle East from Think Quest
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for timelines on the Middle East. Can be viewed by different sections of time, themes, and topics such as roles of women, roles of women, etc..


Independence years and short summaries of circumstances


1923

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Turkey: Founded by Mustafa Kemal, also known as Ataturk ("father of the Turks") after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and a three year war for independence. Nationalism had arisen through out the Ottoman Empire, which was not keeping up with social and technological developments in Europe. After World War I, forces led by Mustafa Kemal expelled French, Greek, Italian, and Russian forces. Gained full independence in 1923.

Click here for more on the Turkish Independence

The Turkish Flag and the Turkish National Anthem from the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more, see CIA Factbook/Turkey and United States Department of State

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Turkey
Multimedia.pngClick here for a youtube video from Khan Academy on Mustafa Kemal and the Turkish Independence War

1925*

external image 200px-Flag_of_Yemen.svg.png
Yemen: This nation has a questionable independence date. North Yemen had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1849 until 1917, when it gained independence. South Yemen was a protectorate of Britain. Britain controlled the port of Adeno since 1839. In 1925, Britain recognized South Yemen's independence, but did not withdraw from the area until 1967. Following the withdrawal, politicians developed Marxist policies. This caused tension between North and South Yemen. Both countries were finally unified as one in 1990 as the Republic of Yemen.

In 2013, South Yemen began calling for independence again, claiming the North was being neglectful. Click here for an article on the South Yemen independence movement.
Multimedia.pngClick here to view a short clip on a South Yemen march.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of Yemen's history

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1932

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Iraq: Became a mandate of the United Nations after WWI, with administration belonging to Britain. Uprisings immediately began against the British. Attained independence in 1932 as a kingdom and was declared a republic in 1958. The country was ruled by strongmen until 2003, the last being Saddam Hussein. Now ruled by a tenuous coatition parliment.

Click here for more on Iraqi Independence

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of 1900-2000 in Iraq.

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1933

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Saudi Arabia: Founded in 1932 by Abd Al-Azziz bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-Saud after more than 30 years of trying to unite the Arab peninsula. Riyadh, Nejd, and Hejaz occupied the Arabian peninsula, but were constantly fighting. Al-Saud made it his mission to create a unified country on the Peninsula. Al-Saud conquered Riyadh in 1902 and Nejd in 1906. Hejaz was taken from 1924-25. On September 2, 1933, these conquered areas were united and declared the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The country became an absolute monarch, with Al-Saud as the king. The monarchs use Islamic law as their guide to rule Saudi Arabia.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on the history of Saudi Arabia from the Saudi Embassy

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1943

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Lebanon: Was French mandate after World War I. France combined the coastal plain areas with a majority Muslim population with the mountainous areas that were predominately Christian to create the Republic of Lebanon. The government of Lebanon was modeled after the French government. The French mandate also helped to develop the economy, education, public health, and agriculture systems of Lebanon. France declared Lebanon independent in 1941, but still controlled the country. In 1943, Lebanon formed a democratic government, and changed the constitution so the French mandate would be over. However, the French responded by arresting the Lebanese president and other officials. Lebanese Muslims and Christians united and utilized international pressure to release the leaders. As a result, the French released the imprisoned and completely acknowledged Lebanon as an independent nation on November 22, 1943.
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Lebanon

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1946

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Jordan: Part of the Ottoman Empire until the Arab revolts from 1915-1918. In 1921, Emir Abdullah established the Emirate of Trans-Jordan as a self-governing territory under British mandate. The British helped develop Trans-Jordan, training an army. Starting in 1923, the British recognized that Trans-Jordan was on a path to become an independent nation. The British helped to create schools, roads, communications, and other public works. In 1928, England and Trans-Jordan signed a treaty that lessened the English control over Trans-Jordan. However, England still had control over foreign policy and finances. From this point to 1939, Trans-Jordan created a constitution and a government system. By the end of WWII, England wanted to focus on their own recovery from war. In 1946, the Anglo-Transjordanian Treaty was signed. This recognized Jordan as an official country, ending the British mandate. In 1946 Emir Abdullah became king of Independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A formal union between Jordan and the West Bank was established in 1951.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Jordan

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syrian flag.png
Syria: Given over to France after WWI in accordance to the Sykes-Picot agreement, even though independence had been promised. There was serious political instability following WWI and WWII. In 1941, General De Gaulle promised that the French mandate would end soon. However, this was not the case. In 1944 there was an attempt to create a "Greater Syria" which would include Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. However, many feared that this would lead to a loss of Syrian national identity as the country became absorbed into the larger unified Arab state. There were protests in 1945 that the French were withdrawing too slowly. Independence was achieved on April 17, 1946. This date is known as Syrian Evacuation Day because it is the date that the last French soldier evacuated from Syria, making it an official country.

Click here for a look at Syria's 67th Independence Day from NPR. Instead of a large celebration, the capital city of Damascus was quiet due to the Civil War.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Syria

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1948

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Israel: After World War II, the British gave up its rule over the area known as Palestine, and the region was divided into Arab and Jewish states by the United Nations, and Israel became a nation in 1948. Arab states never recognized the partition; in a 1967 war, Israel expanded its territory. In recent skirmishes, (2007) the ruling organization of the Palestinians in the region—Hamas—took control of the West Bank, previously controlled by Israel. Both the Gaza Strip on the southern border with Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea, and the West Bank, on Israel’s eastern border with Jordan, remain disputed areas.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Israel
Multimedia.pngClick here for the documentary "Israel: The Birth of a Nation"
lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan from the New York Times on Israel's history. Click here for a lesson plan on the controversy between Israel and Palestine, also from the New York Times.


1961

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Kuwait: On paper, Kuwait was a province of Ottoman Empire, but did not really act as such. Due to threats of invasion from the Turks, the Sheikh sought protection from Britain in 1897. Remained British protectorate until the mandate was ended and independence under Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah was granted in 1961. When Iraq tried to make claims and threatened to occupy Kuwait, the British were sent back for defense. They were soon replaced by the Arab League. The Arab League officially recognized Kuwait's independence on July 20, 1961, and Iraq was forced to stop it's occupation attempts. Oil makes Kuwait a major trading center and extremely desirable.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of Kuwait's history

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1970

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Oman: Had treaties with and was dependent upon Britain, but was never actually a colony. The British used Oman as a base in Indian trade. Oman frequently relied on British help with stopping conflicts and insurgencies. The first Anglo - Omani treaty was signed in 1798. This treaty protected Oman from France and other powers, and also gave England the right for a station in Oman. A treaty signed in 1839 gave the English more power, including limiting Oman duties, giving English jurisdiction over Oman, and the right for the English to detain Oman ships if they were suspected of carrying slaves. Another treaty was signed 1891, which declared Oman would not have to forfeit any part of its country to England. It did however, make Oman a protectorate of England. While the treaties ended in 1958 and 1967, England still had a presence in Oman. This continued until 1970, when Qaboos bin Said al-Said overthrew his father Sultan Said bin Tiamur who had been British backed. From that point on, Oman was fully independent.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on Oman

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1971

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Qatar: Became a British protectorate in 1916. Britain announced in 1968 that it planned to withdraw from the Gulf. Nine Arab emirates, made up of Qatar, Bahrain, and the seven emirates in the U.A.E., planned on forming an Arab Union of Emirates. However, when Britain withdrew in 1971, the terms of the union had still not been decided. Qatar was declared an independent state on its own on September 3, 1971.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of Qatar

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United Arab Emirates: Known as the "Pirate Coast" in the 19th century because of the pirates who inhabited the area. Britain had treaties with the areas that now make up the UAE in order to protect ships in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Britain handled foreign relations for some of these areas because of the Perpetual Martime Truce signed in 1853. As Arab states and countries gained independence, seven states joined together to form the United Arab Emirates on December 2, 1971. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaiwain make up the UAE. All have relative independence, but are governed by a Supreme Council. The Supreme Council is made up of seven emirs (representing the seven states). The area is now known for its oil reserves and its modern welfare system. Education, health care, and social services are currently provided to all citizens.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline on United Arab Emirates

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Bahrain: The Ottoman government and England signed a treaty that declared that Bahrain was independent in 1913. However, the country was really a British protectorate. England announced that British bases east of the Suez Canal by 1971. Bahrain gained full independence in 1971. Is ruled by the Al-Khalifa royal family, which has been in control since driving the Persians out of the area in the 1780's.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of Bahrain

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1979

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(current government)
Iran: First called Persia, then Iran, this nation has been independent, in various forms with changing borders, for over 2,000 years. It has not been occupied or ruled by a foreign government in modern times. Like China and Egypt, Persia/Iran is one of the world’s birthplaces of civilization. Known as Persia until 1935, and ruled as a monarchy with dynasties similar to China’s, the Shah (or king) was overthrown in 1979. A theocratic government was installed, following conservative Islamic law. There is a Supreme Leader, accountable to an Assembly of Experts; there is also a President.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of Iran historyt

See a timeline of Persian and Iranian history and art here