Post-World War I Nationalist Movements


The Middle East has for a long time been known for controversial issues such as petroleum. This issue started when the need to obtain an imperial stake by European powers occurred some decades ago. The area was full of poverty, before the Middle East became aware of the vast resources, which it has. The latter, all began in the year 1914, and currently, the richest countries in the world are found in the Middle East. This is because they have petroleum resources. Before, the wealth was only limited to a few countries and this is mostly those near the Persian Gulf and the Iraqi valleys. This is the reason why the French, and the British were competing amongst themselves, in an attempt to take over the Middle East region and this is during the 1930’s (Natali, 2005).

This paper seeks to give a contrast and comparison of Iran, Egypt and Turkey in terms of their various nationalistic movements during the post WWI.

Critical analysis of the Iranian, Egyptian and Turkish nationalistic movements

In Iran, the British and the Germans formed empires during the First World War. The two powers used force as well as invasion, in an attempt to take over Iran. In turn, the Axis power was sort after the people of Iran in order to obtain sympathy. The members of the Axis were Ottomans, Austria and Germany, considered as saviors by the Iranians. In the years between 1905 to 1906, the start of the Iranian revolution occurred (Natali, 2005). The reason was that Russia and Britain were attempting to encroach because they were imperialists. The institutions, which were politically western, were not welcomed by the Iranians, and this includes groups such as the tribes, peasants and wealthy landlords.

The Russians and the British did not want their influence in various spheres to be controlled by the Iranians. Also, it became extremely difficult for traditional powers held by the Shahs to be given up. Many attempts were made by the Iranian nationalists, in order to ensure that the British are not successful in their efforts. During this time, the nationalist leader was known as Shah Reza. Unfortunately, the attempts by Shah to make his country modernized failed, and he did not have knowledge concerning the West. Soon afterwards, Shah was seized from power and it became known that the western powers had an upper hand. This means that as the Second World War started, Iranian nationalist movements had not made much progress (Natali, 2005).

The British also had authority over Egypt, due to the protectorate ownership that they had acquired. Minimal dependency was given to Egypt through a policy that was implemented by the British. When King Faud took charge of Egypt under a monarchy considered as being independent, the British had to give up on some of their power. In turn, some of the British troops were to remain in Egypt, in accordance to the policy that existed. Other issues that existed included; that there were to be mixed courts whereby, the judges would be westerners (Jankowski, 2000).

The problem is that the number of Egyptian judges as compared to the westerners was extremely low. Nationalism in Egypt was not extremely active as compared to that, which took place in Iran. The mixed courts were finally outlawed in the year 1936, after the British and the Egyptians came to an agreement. Furthermore, it was only the Suez Canal region, which was still thriving with British troops as the other regions had gotten rid of them. It seems that as the post WWI period progressed, the British and the Egyptians were allies (Jankowski, 2000).

Lastly, there is the Turkish nationalist movement, which occurred, and it gave rise to the Iranian nationalist movement. Turkey and Egypt are similar in that both of them were experiencing a renaissance, which was political. This means that most of Turkey was a national cohesive unit that made it an ordinary territory. There was a group known as the Young Turks, who were the pioneers of nationalism under the leadership of Kemal Mustapha. In all the three nationalist movements, there was a leader who was in charge of all the activities, which took place. It was in the year 1922, through the much needed assistance by Kemal that Turkey became a republic. Kemal quickly embraced westernization, and there were significant changes in Turkey. They included; men putting on grabs of a western kind, women having the right to vote, introduction of a western calendar, among others. Turkey is different as compared to the other two countries in terms of adapting to western modernization. Turkey was not extreme in its nationalism efforts as compared to the other countries (Natali, 2005).


In conclusion, the need to attain self-independence from the various powers was clearly evident among Iran, Egypt and Turkey. This is especially after the First World War came to an end whereby, many powers wanted to take over countries deemed as being beneficial. In turn, the three countries through the help of their great leaders, took charge as a result of the spirit of nationalism.



Natali, Denise. (2005). The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey, And Iran. NY: Syracuse University Press.

Jankowski, James. (2000). Egypt: A Short History. Oxford: One world Publications.





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