Turkey: Head of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century on. Controlled parts of Europe, much of North Africa, all of the Fertile Crescent, none of the Gulf. Lost its imperial domains when it was defeated by European powers in World War I after having lost (most) North African provinces by the end of the 19th century. Turkey itself remained independent throughout. The Republic was re-established under Attaturk in 1923.
Iran: Earlier (Persian) empire became part of the Islamic Empire. Served as a bridge to the Indian subcontinent in the Moghul expansion to India. During the 19th century it became subdivided into “spheres of influence” with Russia dominant in the north and Britain dominant in the south. Iran remained ostensibly independent throughout. Constitutional government was established circa 1905. A Republic was established under Reza Shah circa 1925. His son, the “baby” Shah was overthrown in the late 1970s.
THE HEAVILY COLONIZED COUNTRIES OF NORTH AFRICA
Egypt: British colony from 1882. British protectorate 1914. Constitutional monarchy under British tutelage from 1922 onward. More “autonomy” from 1936 onward. Last British troops depart from the Suez Canal Zone in 1956.
Sudan: From 1899 onward, under British control as part of Egyptian-Sudanese condominium. Independent after 1956.
Tunisia: French colony from 1881. Independent 1956.
Algeria: French conquest began in 1830. Won war of independence from France in 1963.
Morocco: French protectorate imposed in 1912. Became independent in 1956.
Libya: Italian colony from 1911. When Italy lost in World War II, she also “lost” Libya. A monarchy was established in 1951. Overthrown in 1969.
THE LIGHTLY COLONIZED COUNTRIES OF THE FERTILE CRESCENT
These countries had been part of the Ottoman Empire until World War I. The Sykes-Picot Agreement partitioned the area between Britain and France.
Syria: Colonized by France in 1918, became independent in 1946.
Iraq: Occupied by Britain in World War I. Nominally independent after 1932.
Jordan: British Mandate territory after 1918. Decolonized in 1946.
Palestine: British Mandate territory after 1918. Lost to Israel 1948-1967.
Lebanon: French Mandate after 1918. Decolonized in 1943 with National Pact. (Before 1918, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon were all part of Greater Syria.)
THE NEW STATES OF THE GULF AND THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates: With the exception of Saudi Arabia, these are mostly “new States” that came into existence in the 1960s and 1970s, carved out of a region that had been under British military and naval “protection” from the 1830s onward. Present Saudi Arabia dates from the 1930s. Kuwait dates from the 1950s when it emerged from under Iraqi-British tutelage. Colonization was not important for these states because they had no resources that anyone wanted. This changed with the discovery of oil.
THE POOR COUNTRIES OF THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
South Yemen: Results from the ex-British colony at Aden and a Marxist-Leninist revolution.
North Yemen: Results from a “loyalist” hold-out. Region is now almost a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia. The two Yemens merged in 1990, but the legacy of divisions remains, resulting in reoccurring crisis situations and instability.
This post is drawn from material provided by Janet Abu-Lughod.
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