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All agency action can be classified in three categories: quasi-adjudication: order making, judicial quasi-legislation: rulemaking executive
Posted On: Nov. 9, 2017
Author: Shipra

History REVOLUTIONARY NATIONALISM AND THE MIDDLE EAST Nationalism and revolution are interlinked. Nationalism invariably leads to revolution in a country. However, it is not just confined to insurrection but has a much broader meaning attached to it. According to our text, Gelvin (2011) observes that “All nationalists believe that nations can be identified by certain characteristics that all its citizens hold in common. These characteristics include the linguistic, ethnic, religious, or historical traditions that make a nation distinctive. All nationalists…are linked across time by [a common] language, literary tradition, and history” (Gelvin, page 209). The period of early nineteenth century was a crucial time in the Middle East, when nationalism was at its peak. It is the geographic, linguistic, and religious heterogeneity of the region that has acted as catalyst and fuelled several nationalist movements. The influence of the European environment where nationalism was becoming a referral for collective identity acted as an inspiration for the inhabitants of the Middle East. Their religious distinctiveness took shape and led to revolution. It gained momentum, first with Christian minorities that was later on adopted by the Muslim majority. The most well known among these were the Maronites of Mount Lebanon and the Armenians of eastern Anatolia. These were the ones who focused on having separate identity and right to political autonomy. Assistance of Europeans helped Lebanon gain autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire by the 1860s. However, Armenia was not so lucky in this aspect where the active nationalist movement of the people met with conflict with the Ottoman state and the predominance of Turkish and Kurdish population in that region(Choueiri 2000). The net result was that the fear of nationalism resulted into mass expulsion and massacre of the Armenians by the Ottoman government in the early twentieth century. Egypt and Iran had their individual geographical areas that existed as autonomous bodies. These had their separate ruling composition. Iran had it since the sixteenth century and Egypt had it later since the start of the nineteenth century. These influenced the westernized population of both Egypt and Iran to emphasize their individual existence of that being unique nations during the later part of the century. The nationalism of Egyptians was witnessed when its elite population demanded greater control over the original ruling Ottoman family as well as the financial domination of the Europeans. This was the result of the extravagance of the dynastic ruling family. This led to the nationalist slogan "Egypt for the Egyptians". It clearly showed the powerful push towards the nationalist movement. The nationalist activity in Iran took shape from the 1890s that was a result of the combined effect of dynastic ineptitude and the penetration of foreign economic force. This resulted in a movement that changed the constitution of Iran at the start of the twentieth century. The same was true for the Turks of Anatolia and the Arabs of the Fertile Crescent. These were under the rule of Ottoman during the nineteenth century and in these countries also the factors that led to nationalist movement were the same (Urian et al 1999). What made the uprising different here was the presence of ethnic identity for modern Turkish and Arab nationalism. The discovery of pre- Islamic history of the Turkic – speaking people in Central Asia and beyond cultivated a bond with the Muslim community, which was different from the multiethnic Ottoman Empire (Watenpaugh 2006). In the case of Arabs, the process was termed as the “Arab Awakening”, which turned out to be flourishing of the Arabic literature and awareness of the glorious history that made its presence felt in middle of nineteenth century. Simultaneously, increased elite contact with the Europeans left a profound impact about the presence of European way of thinking, which in turn, played a key role in the development and spread of nationalism in the Middle East. Nationalism is a concept worth “stealing” by those who are fascinated by what transpired in European nations. It was the course of actions taken by the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century that were instrumental in bringing together and creating an ethnic bond into Turkish and Arab nationalist movements. The rulers of the Ottoman Empire saw it crumbling and the dominance of African nations and falling into the hands of the Europeans was a troubling sight for the nationalists. Simultaneously, the nationalist saw Balkans gaining independence, which propelled the thought of a similar dismemberment and search for a feasible alternative as a separate community (Karsh 2000). The Ottoman government was creating a sort of hindrance as the educated and elite Arabs and Turks were being influenced by the values of individual liberty and participatory politics of their European mentors. The nationalism movement of the Turkish and Arabs gained prominence in the early twentieth century. The establishment of Turkish Society, Turkish Health Clubs with help from the media acted as a force to enjoin and unite all Turkish – speaking people in an ethnically based common state, where their voice was heard. The efforts of the government in increased centralization also affected the gaining of supremacy of Turkish as a primary language of the state. Sometimes Turks were given preference by the state, which, to some extent, acted in favor of gaining nationalist movement. Similar types of trends at organizational and intellectual level also took place in the Arabic –speaking provinces of the Fertile Crescent. All this gave rise to the emergence of new Arab societies with their own political agenda. Demand for Arab autonomy gained momentum by wide publicity in the press, which led to declaration of promotion Ottoman decentralization, during the meeting of the Arab Congress held in 1913 in Paris. Close to the end of World War I, several well-known individuals and secret societies started raising their voice to claim for Arab independence. They saw this as the only alternative to avoid subjugation to the Turkish state. Compared to that, the Jewish nationalism did not felt the need for a distinctive nationalism. They already exhibited a sense of collectiveness and solidarity. This was shared by all Jews, irrespective of the place of their stay, be it in Europe or the US or any other country. It was the common language (Hebrew), the rich and distinctive customs and the isolation as well as discrimination suffered from time to time that prompted a feeling of solidarity amongst them(Khalidi 2013). The nationalist movement of the active Jews was based on a sense of uniqueness. This was the direct result of the process of emancipation and absorption of experiences by Jews in several parts of Europe during the nineteenth century. This historical change brought about acceptance of modern nationalist concepts. The anti- Semitism of the European led to them questioning their existence and future especially where they were being considered as alien (Karsh2007). The rising anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire in the 1880s, led to emergence of Zionist societies in Eastern Europe. Subsequently they started organizing en masse immigration to Ottoman Palestine. Establishment of the international organization of Jews, by the name the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in the year 1897, led to founding of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine that was sanctioned by the public law. WZO worked systematically to encourage Jewish migration and develop distinctive Jewish national institution in the Palestine itself. References Choueiri Y.M. (2000) Arab Nationalism: A History Nation and State in the Arab World Wiley Watenpaugh K.D. (2006) Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class Princeton University Press, Khalidi R. (2013) Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness Columbia University Press Karsh E. (2000) Israel: Israel's transition from community to state Taylor & Francis Urian D., Efraim Karsh(1999) In Search of Identity: Jewish Aspects in Israeli Culture Frank Cass Karsh( E.2007) Islamic Imperialism: A History Yale University Press