The second decade of the 20th century brought about drastic changes for the whole world. Europeans had established their colonies in various Asian nations and the British Commonwealth¬† had been formed. At the onset of the war in 1914, nations had formed allies with each other. The¬† recent exhibition put together by the Indian Army at Manekshaw Centre highlighted India‚Äôs role in¬† the War. India was only one of the many nations to be deeply affected by this war.
Before World War I, the Middle Eastern region formed a part of the Ottoman Empire. Their administrative system paid attention to local diversities and was divided into two tiers; military and civil administration. Judicially too, the Empire recognised the diversity of various other religious groups, setting up different courts for them. Their military was once among the most advanced armies in the world using muskets and cannons. The officers were trained in Western European nations and foreign experts were employed. Economically, their aim was to further consolidate and extend their rulers‚Äô power by generating more revenue which rested on the prosperity of the productive classes. After a period of stagnation, modern reforms were carried out which point to the progressive yet traditional nature of the region.
The glorious picture of the Empire painted above is however, tainted. The Empire was not as progressive as the Western region because of its isolation from the various rationalistic movements that took place in Europe in the 16th century (Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, etc.). The West had enriched itself with its overseas ventures which the Ottomans did not think of. The bourgeois class however prosperous was not numerous. The flooding of New World silver and debased coinage led to rampant corruption. New sea trade routes were consolidated by the Europeans bypassing the Ottomans which led to further isolation of the Ottomans. They were also reluctant to deviate from traditional methods of governance. By the time the First World War began, the Ottoman Empire was fading.
It is common knowledge that the War was ignited because of the assassination of the Austrian heir in Bosnia. The allies of both these nations came together in the War resulting in the World War. The Ottoman Empire fought alongside Germany and Austria against USSR, Great Britain and France. As the Empire was directly involved in the war, it faced major consequences. Along the north-eastern border, the Empire fought against the Soviet troops, against Australian and New Zealand troops in the Turkish Strait and was pitched against the British and the Commonwealth in Egypt and Arabian lands.
The Empire‚Äôs worries didn‚Äôt end there. They were also dealing with administrative problems such as scarcity of water and supplies for the army and the infestation of locusts in the Palestine leading to shortage of food and inflation. Internal unrest because of Arab dissatisfaction of the Ottoman rule proved advantageous for the British as they deployed their method of ‚Äúdivide and conquer.‚ÄĚ In 1915, the Ottoman Empire saw the worst effect of the war on its population ‚Äď the Armenian genocide
The war resulted in the defeat of the Central Powers and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Sevres was imposed according to which the Arab lands were to be separated from the Ottoman Empire and divided between Britain and France. Instead of the creation of Kurdistan, the Kurdish people were divided among Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. The proposition to divide Turkey led to another war called the ‚ÄúWar of Independence.‚ÄĚ After the War of Independence in 1923, forced expulsions were carried out on the Turkish and Greek borders. Millions of Greeks left Turkey for Greece and vice versa.
Turkey‚Äôs refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide led to modern day enmity between Armenia and her neighbours ‚Äď Turkey and Azerbaijan. Kurdish people are still a reason for widespread unrest in the region as is the Israeli ‚Äď Palestinian conflict. The Allies drew up the borders of Middle East without taking into consideration the ethnic background of the people the effects of which are still prevalent. The dissatisfaction because of the breaking of wartime promises still echoes in the Middle East.