A Short History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times

A Short History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times

A Short History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times

A Short History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to Modern Times

Excerpt

What do we mean by the 'Middle East'?

At the time of the First World War there was in general use a satisfactory terminology for the 'sub-divisions of Asia, south of Siberia, as viewed from Europe: the Far East comprised China and Japan, and the geographically dependent lands of South- East Asia; India-with-Burma, Afghanistan, and Persia formed the Middle East; and the Near East was understood to comprise the Ottoman Empire and the Arabian Peninsula.

For some reason which is not clear, this accepted terminology was upset at the outbreak of the Second World War, when the British forces based on Egypt were called the Middle East Command. There has been some criticism of this change of name; but in answer to a question in the House of Commons in April 1946 the Prime Minister stated, 'It has become the accepted practice to use the term "Middle East" to cover the Arab world and certain neighbouring countries. The practice seems to me convenient and I see no reason to change it.' American usage is still divided between 'Near East' and 'Middle East'.

In this work the Middle East is taken to comprise the Arabian Peninsula and the Arabic-speaking lands on its northern border; the Arabic-speaking lands of North East Africa (Egypt, the AngloEgyptian Sudan, Cyrenaica, and Tripolitania); Asia Minor or Anatolia, which now forms the greater part of the Turkish Republic; and Persia or Iran. The Arabic-speaking lands form, both geographically and historically, the central core of this region, and it is with them mainly that this work is concerned; but they cannot be studied in isolation, either in the past or the present, from the linguistically-foreign lands of Anatolia and Persia which border them on the north.

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