Thursday, May 22, 2008

Key dates in the formation of the modern Middle East

A correspondent gets in touch to ask if I can supply "a chronological listing of events that resulted in the present disposition of territory" in the Middle East.

This is a framework which I needed to do in connection for my next book (on which more in due course). So I sketched out what I think are the key dates.

  • 1915 August – British begin secret correspondence with Sharif Husein of Mecca, offering him large, vague empire encompassing Arabia.
  • 1915 November – British begin secret negotiations with French for division of Middle East between them.
  • 1916 May – Sykes-Picot agreement divides Middle East between France (northern part) and Britain (southern part).
  • 1916 June – Arab revolt breaks out in Mecca: by the war’s end the Arabs, under Husein’s son Feisal, would take control of Damascus, a thousand miles to the north.
  • 1917 April – Britain invades Palestine
  • 1917 November – Britain issues Balfour Declaration offering sympathy with Zionist aspirations for a national home in Palestine
  • 1918 October – War in Middle East ends: British troops occupy Palestine, Syria, and, after a post-armistice dash north, all of Iraq.
  • 1918 December – Lloyd George and Clemenceau secretly agree Britain should have Palestine and Iraq.
  • 1919 summer – Paris peace conference fails to resolve Middle Eastern matters, amid acrimony.
  • 1919 November – Britain pulls troops out of Syria, leaving French in charge of coastal area and Arabs under Feisal in charge of inland towns.
  • 1920 April – Allies finally agree on allocation of mandates at conference in San Remo, Italy. France to have Syria, Britain to have Iraq and Palestine. The borders are as yet undefined, and their definition would be a source of some friction in the years ahead.
  • 1920 July – Britain transfers Palestine from military to civil control. It would rule Palestine until May 1948, trying and failing to keep both Arabs and Jews satisfied.
  • 1920 July – Armed with the mandate for Syria, France issues an ultimatum to Feisal and shortly afterwards, throws him out of inland Syria. France ruled Syria until 1946.
  • 1920 August – Allies force Treaty of Sèvres on Turkey. This confirms San Remo, and also recognises the Hijaz (western Arabia) and Armenia (eastern Anatolia). Other parts of the former Ottoman Empire are parcelled out between Italy and Greece. The treaty is wrecked by the Turkish nationalists, who fight to take control of Anatolia, and by the refusal of the United States to take on the mandate for Armenia.
  • 1920 September – France creates State of Greater Lebanon. Lebanese Republic created on 1 September 1926. Lebanon became independent in November 1943 following a political crisis created by the Free French decision to kidnap the President and Prime Minister, whom they were forced by the British to release. French troops leave in 1946.
  • 1921 March – Churchill offers Transjordan to Feisal’s older brother, Abdullah as a temporary arrangement. In September 1922 the League of Nations approves Britain’s request to administer Palestine and Transjordan separately. Britain recognises Transjordan as a state in 1923, and as a kingdom in March 1946. Abdullah was recognised as King soon after.
  • 1921 August – British crown Feisal king of Iraq to try to appease Arab opinion in the country following the rebellion the previous year. In October 1922, Iraq agrees treaty with Britain formalising their relationship. Iraq became independent in 1932.
  • 1924 July – The Treaty of Lausanne finally settled the borders of Turkey, in Anatolia and in Europe.
Are there others I have missed?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Latest review

Another review - this time in the Washington Times.