Arab Nationalism and British Imperialism

Arab Nationalism and British Imperialism

Arab Nationalism and British Imperialism

Arab Nationalism and British Imperialism

Excerpt

During most of the nineteenth century Western European diplomacy was deeply concerned with attempts to preserve the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. During most of the twentieth century it has been at least equally concerned with the problems arising from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Foremost among these problems has been that of Western European relationships with the heirs of the Ottoman dominions in Asia and Africa -- the Arabs. The history of these relationships has been the history of Western attempts, first to incorporate the Arab territories into their colonial Empires or 'spheres of influence' and, when this had fared, to bind the newly independent Arab nations into the Western network of alliances. For the Arab territories were regarded by the Western Powers as being vitally important, first because of their geographical position on strategic lines of communication, later because of the oil resources of the Persian Gulf, and always because of the brooding proximity of Russia to the north, potentially or actually threatening both communications and oil supplies. These attempts at direct and, later, indirect domination by the West were resisted, and sometimes compromised with, by local nationalist movements which were gradually reinforced by something like a coherent manifestation of Arab nationalism. In a sense then, Arab nationalism is a reaction to Western pressures, developed out of a growing consciousness of a common interest and of a common tradition.

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