Hello and welcome to Political Economy of Israel and Middle East course.
In this video we will be looking at and discussing Countries and Borders in 19th Century of the area currently recognized as the Middle East.
Here we will be looking at:
Where the modern Middle East is geographically?
What are its historical foundation?
Which development had the region from the 19th century on?
And the role, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Ready? Then let’s start.
How big do you think the Middle East is?
Can you find it on a map?
Don’t worry if you don’t know!
We’re only at the very beginning.
So, where is the Middle East?
In very general terms the Middle East is a region that comprises of most of Western Asia and North East Africa.
And how many countries are in the modern Middle East?
There are 15 all together and how many out of 16 do you think you can name? Pause this video and try and guess as many as you can.
Ok, so how did you do?
Let’s go through them together.
1- Bahrain 2- Iran 3- Iraq 4- Israel 5- Jordan 6- Kuwait 7- Lebanon 8- Oman 9 – Qatar 10-Saudi Arabia 11- Syria 12- Turkey, 13- United Arab Emirates 14- Yemen 15- Egypt
Whoa! Hang on a minute, isn’t the Middle East all in Asia?
Why is North East Africa included?
This is a good question to focus on as to understand and answer it, we need to understand the history of the development of the Middle East and its social and political make up.
The term Middle East does not only refer to a geographical division but it is also a political one.
Let’s go back a bit in time, to when the Middle East was known as the Ottoman Empire. “Ottoman? Isn’t that one of those little footstool cushiony things?” Well, yes … it is.
But the Ottoman Empire was a massively spread over many countries. It ran from the Middle East region, and up into the Balkans. It was founded in 1299.
Its collapse came after World War 1, and this is the beginning of the development and foundation of the modern Middle East.
But, who first called the Middle East the Middle East?
It was actually coined by the British Military during the 19th century- when it was still officially the Ottoman Empire.
After World War 1 the Ottoman Empire was defeated and out its ruins the map of the contemporary Arab states emerged and carried on being referred to as the Middle East.
Let’s take a look at what the Ottoman Empire was.
The capital of the Empire was Constantinople.
But can you guess what this city is known as today?
I’ll give you a clue, it lies on the banks of the Bosporus River.
Today we know it as Istanbul.
Constantinople was the gateway between East and West for over 600 years.
During the most part of the 19th Century the Ottoman Empire was ruled by the Sultan of Istanbul.
Though they had lost territory to Russia, it was expanding and spreading eastwards.
At that time it was known as ‘Naher Osten’ ‘Near East’ in Germany.
The Empire lay from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia and include the Arabian Peninsula and the Nile Valley.
This massive Empire was ruled in a very simple way.
There was a military administration and a civil administration.
The civil administration was based on localised units.
The Empire was divided into smaller regions, some of which are still major cities today.
How many of these cities do you recognise? Mosul, Baghdad, Basra, Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut.
They still appear on the news in today’s world.
These were the administrative provinces of the old Ottoman Empire.
It was seen as the duty and responsibility of the state to defend and extend the land of the Muslims.
To make sure that there was peace and security within its own borders.
Local governors could act independently and in some instances even oppose the ruling Sultan.
In 1908, after a rebellion known as the Young Turk Revolution, the Empire became a constitutional monarchy.
This means that the Sultan no longer had ruling powers, and the Imperial Government of the Ottoman Empire was formed.
But how did the Ottoman Empire become so large and powerful?
Well, it mostly to do with where it was geographically.
The Ottoman Empire stood in the lucrative position between the West and the East. This meant that it controlled trade routes between Europe and the Far East.
It was during the end of the 15th century, when the Ottoman Empire was at it pinnacle, that European merchants and explorers took to the sea in order to find new trade routes that bypassed the Empire.
Are these the same explorers who journeyed to the New World?
Yes, historically famous explorers like Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus where trying to find new ways of getting to India and China.
It is no co-incidence that after the opening up of the oceans and the Americas that the Ottoman Empire went into steady decline, and was never as powerful as it had once been.
The land trade routes had lost their importance and were not as profitable as before.
The Empire managed to survive through basic economic functions.
This was through developing commercial centres and routes, encouraging people to extend the area of cultivated land in the country and international trade through its territories.