by ÉLIE KEDOURIE
IN THE YEARS following the First World War, pan-Arabism was the only political doctrine to make headway and to exert a powerful appeal in the Arab-speaking lands. The nature of the war settlement itself and the political power which some of its leading votaries acquired in consequence of this settlement contributed alike to such a result. The situation developed suddenly, with revolutionary abruptness. Men who, before the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, were quite obscure, emerged all at once after 1919, not only to preach a doctrine which got the Arab East into its grip, but actually to exercise political power in one of the former provinces of the Empire. In 1914 such a state of affairs was impossible to imagine. It is true that there were then murmurings in Beirut, and that Syrian émigrés in Cairo were demanding a decrease in meddling from Constantinople and the enlargement of local initiative. But these grievances were local and specific; they related to the quality of government services, or to the financial relations between the centre and the provinces, or to the proper scope of local administration; and those who sought redress for such grievances were mostly men well known in their communities, able perhaps to conduct a sober constitutional opposition, but not to entertain grandiose, limitless ambitions. How they would have fared under imperial rule, where their opposition would have taken them, how the Arab provinces would have developed under their leadership, it is now impossible to say. The war made England and the Ottoman Empire enemies; England fomented a revolt in the Hijaz against the Turks, and to this revolt gravitated a number of disaffected Ottoman officers who,
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Publication information: Book title: The Middle East in Transition:Studies in Contemporary History. Contributors: Walter Z. Laqueur - Editor. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1958. Page number: 100.
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