AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Middle East after WWI: A drastically Changed Region in the Demise of the Ottoman Empire

WWI had a profound impact on the region. Dr. Leila Fawwaz describes these changes very aptly in the following terms:

"The conclusion of the war introduced additional political upheaval to the region. In the West, the war solidified already formed national identities. But in the East, it shattered the Imperial Ottoman system that, for all its faults, let a multiplicity of identities co-exist for much of the time. The Sykes-Picot Agreement, drawn during the war in 1916, divided the region into spheres of influence between the British and the French: roughly, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq were designated British while Lebanon and Syria were assigned to the French, should the Allies win the war. No representatives of these regions were privy to the agreement. It was negotiated in secret and contrary to the principles of self-determination that would become a centerpiece of Woodrow Wilson’s “14 Points” plan for world peace at the end of the war. The French Mandate that replaced the Ottomans in 1923 introduced a new foreign rule to the Lebanese and Syrian people, who once again had no say in their government. The region was thus entrapped in new structures of imperial governance, and the foundations were laid for enduring mutual suspicion"

Understanding the Present: The Impact of World War I in the Middle East By Leila Fawaz November 16, 2015