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Nationalism in the Middle East. A WH1 Presentation by Mr. Hess. Introduction. In the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, nationalism became widespread in the Middle East, particularly in: the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) Palestine (now Israel), and Persia (now Iran). The Ottoman Empire.

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nationalism in the middle east

Nationalism in the Middle East

A WH1 Presentation

by Mr. Hess

  • In the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, nationalism became widespread in the Middle East, particularly in:
    • the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey)
    • Palestine (now Israel), and
    • Persia (now Iran)
the ottoman empire
The Ottoman Empire
  • The Ottoman Empire was already in decline by the end of the 19th century.
  • The sultan allied with Germany in WWI to try to strengthen the empire.
    • Result: lost all lands but present-day Turkey
  • 1919 – Greece invaded, in an attempt to destroy the Ottoman Empire.
the ottoman empire cont
The Ottoman Empire, cont.
  • Mustafa Kemal led troops in defeating the Greeks in 1922.
  • He then demanded that the sultan give up the throne.
  • Kemal became the first president of the Republic of Turkey.
Kemal brought in western influences:


Latin alphabet,

metric system,

western-style last names,

separation of government and religion.

He also promoted national pride:

“Purified” the language of all words of Persian or Arabic origin.

Changed his name to Kemal Ataturk (father of the Turks).

  • After WWI, Britain received control of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire.
  • Arabs and Jews both believed they had claims to the land.
  • Jewish immigration to Palestine had increased due to persecution and Zionism (the movement to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine).
palestine cont
Palestine, cont.
  • Britain had promised Arabs independence in return for help against the Ottoman Turks.
  • They also promised help in establishing a Jewish homeland.
  • Nazi persecution of Jews further increased immigration, leading to violence between Jews and Arabs.
    • Britain failed to control the situation.
  • 1921 – Unhappy with foreign influences, Reza Khan and nationalists overthrew the shah (king).
  • He built schools, roads, hospitals, and allowed women more freedom.
persia cont
Persia, cont.
  • Reza adopted many Western ways, but tried to reduce Western political influence.
  • Due to resistance to democracy, he ruled as dictator.
    • He changed his name to Reza Shah Pahlavi.
persia cont10
Persia, cont.
  • He aligned Persia with Nazi Germany, believing they shared a common Aryan ancestry.
    • He changed Persia’s name to Iran (=Aryan).
  • During WWII, he was deposed by Allied forces, who replaced him with his son, who was much more cooperative toward the west.
  • Turkey continues to be one of the few democracies in the Middle East.
  • Violence continues between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
  • Iran has been an Islamic theocracy since 1978, when Mohammed Shah Pahlavi was overthrown.
    • The Iran Hostage Crisis occurred soon afterward, with 52 Americans held hostage for over a year.