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Turkey and the Arab World 1914-1945





1914-                         Ottoman Empire allied with the Axis powers (German Empire, Austro-      Hungarian Empire).

British encouraged Arab nationalism vs. Turks but making a military alliancewith Emir Hussein, the prince of Mecca. Britain agreed to recognize   independence of Arab lands after the war. (Lawrence of Arabia)

1915-1916-       Western allies signed treaties agreeing to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.

1916-                         Balfour Declaration.

1919-             Mustafa Kamal’s party won election.

1920-                          France obtained Syria as a mandate. Britain received Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Palestine. Aegean islands, parts of Thrace and the Smyrna region to the Greeks. Turks retained most of Anatolia, though lost control of the Dardanelles.  April, 1920, the Sultan was formally dethroned by parliament. A republic was established with Kemal as president.

1922-             The Turks forced the Greeks out of Smyrna.

1923-             Parts of Thrace and some Aegean Islands returned. Turkey freed from reparations and capitulations.


Kamal carried out extensive reforms within the new Turkish state. A secular state was formed. Extensive westernization.   Caliphate abolished. The capital moved from Istanbul inland to Ankara. All religious orders and houses suppressed. Constitution adopted along with new civil, criminal, and commercial codes. Women’s suffrage and right to hold office recognized. Kemal died, 1938.



Arab Middle East


1914-            British alliance with  Emir Hussein of Mecca.

1917-                         Balfour Declaration

1920-                Much of the Arab Middle East given to European powers as “mandates” (Syria/Lebanon to France. Mesopotamia and Palestine to Britain. Britain given full control of Egypt)

1920-                          Nationalist revolts in Mesopotamia (Iraq).

1921-                          British put Hussein’s son in as king in Mesopotamia.

1921-                          Nationalist resistance in Egypt prompts British to recognize Egypt as an “independent sovereign state” though it retained control of foreign affairs, external relations and protection of minorities.

1922-                          Britain set aside most of Palestine mandate as the “Transjordan”. Another son of Hussein set up as king.

1920-1932-   Jewish immigration to Palestine increased greatly.

1922-1936 -   Nationalists continue the struggle through elections as well as terrorism.

1924-             Nationalist revolts rock Lebanon.

1929-             Arab resistance to Jewish immigration stepped up.

Britain agreed to end the mandate in Iraq and support its entry into League of Nations. Britain retained three air bases and access to rivers, railways and ports in time of war.

1930-                            Iraq became the first Arab nation to join the League of Nations.

1931-                            Rise of Hitler to power in Germany led to enormous increase in Jewish immigration to Palestine.

1936-                          Twenty year treaty with Britain agreed to end military occupation and get Egypt admitted     to the League of Nations. Egypt agreed to support Britain in war, and to allow British   garrison to remain in Egypt to protect the Suez Canal;  France drew up treaties with Syria and Lebanon though neither ratified before WWII.

1939-               British White paper on the Palestinian issue proposed that Palestine become a state in ten  years. Limits to be placed on Jewish immigration and land purchases. Both Jews and Arabs  rejected the proposal.





1907-            Russia and Britain agreed to “spheres of influence” in Persia.

1918-                         Bolshevik revolution ended Russian influence.

1919-                         A weakened Britain unable to maintain control, though they did continue to act against the Soviets on Persian territories.

1921-            Reza Khan led a coup.

1921-1924-   Reza Khan won a treaty from Soviets conceding all former Russian rights

                      and properties. Went on to defeat separatists supported by the British.

1925-           The ruling shah gave up power. Reza Khan granted dictatorial power by the

                     National assembly. A few months later he was given the old imperial title of

                     Shah of Shahs.

1928-1933-  Capitulations overturned. Industrialization and communication

                     technologies   developed. The veil abolished for women and religious

                      schools closed.

1933                            Cancelled the concession held by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Upheld by the League of Nations.

1935-                          Persia renamed Iran.

1941-             Reza Khan removed from his position through a joint British/Soviet effort.