Nationalist Movements After World War 1

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The impact of World War 1 was felt around the world. Many of the post-war events would lead to World War 2. In Europe, the demise of great empires such as the Ottomans and Austria-Hungary led many to desire self-determination. Many of these were in the area we know as the “Middle East”. Following are 4 examples of nationalist movements in the early 20th century.

Nationalism in Iran

Iranian people are from the former Persian empire. Therefore, they’re Persian rather than Arab.  As such, Iranian nationalism is distinct from Arab nationalism and focuses more on preserving Persian culture and history. After World War 1, Iran saw an upsurge of national pride that allowed people to push for independence from foreign forces. Through popular movements like the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, Iranians sought to establish a nation-state based on democratic principles.

This feeling of national identity was further strengthened when Reza Shah seized power in 1925. He initiated programs to modernize Iran, introducing new laws and policies that were all focused on establishing a strong sense of national identity in Iran. 

Some of these new laws included the adoption of western dress and the banning of traditional forms of dress, as well as the adoption of the Persian language in schools. This was done because  Reza Shah believed that a strong sense of national pride and identity was essential to the progress of the country.

Nationalism in Turkey

Turkey is unique in that its national identity has been firmly established since Ottoman times. After World War 1, the Ottoman Empire was disbanded. What was left of the empire is the present-day nation of Turkey. 

The end of the empire led to an upsurge in nationalistic sentiments among Turks, and a desire to take pride in their culture and identity. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was the founder of modern Turkey, initiated reforms to solidify the nation and bring it closer together. 

These efforts included introducing a new language, adopting western-style clothing, and creating a new legal system based on nationalist principles.

The Young Turks were a group of nationalists who wanted to introduce more democratic policies into Turkey and increase the nation’s power on the international stage. 

The group successfully achieved its objectives using methods such as mass mobilizations and civil disobedience. One example of the Young Turks’ success is the establishment of a multi-party system in Turkey, which allowed for more political freedom and representation.

Zionist Movement

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a growing movement of people called for establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This movement is known as Zionism. Zionists believed that Jews deserved their own country because they were oppressed people who had been persecuted for centuries. They also believed that a Jewish homeland would help to protect Jews from future persecution.

The British government became involved in the Zionist cause in 1917 when it issued the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour that expressed his government’s support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Zionist movement would eventually lead to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948. Since then, Zionism has been an integral part of Israeli politics and identity.

Today, there are many different views on Zionism. Some believe that it is a form of colonialism or imperialism because it involves creating a Jewish homeland in a region where Jews were not previously living. Others argue that it is necessary for protecting Jews from persecution as well as preserving their culture and heritage. Regardless of one’s views on Zionism, its role in the formation of the state of Israel is undeniable.  

Arab Nationalism After World War 1

The weakening of European imperialist countries after World War 1 provided a powerful platform for Arab countries to fight for their right to self-determination and independence. Arab states such as Syria, Iraq and Jordan grew in strength during the post-war period, actively pushing to be recognized by other nations.

Iraq achieved independence in 1932, and Syria and Jordan soon followed. Arab pride became a defining characteristic of Arab states during this time, as people took their destinies into their own hands. Arab countries also began to form regional alliances such as the Arab League, further unifying them against foreign forces in the region.

The discovery of oil in Arab countries further solidified Arab nationalism in the region. Oil was seen as a way to generate wealth and power, allowing Arab nations to become more independent of other nations in the Middle East. Arab countries leveraged their newfound resources to promote Arab culture and identity, while also using them to form strong relationships with other Arab states in the region.

The Arab world has since become one of the most powerful players in international politics, standing up for its interests on the global stage and influencing events around the world. The Arab nationalism that emerged after World War 1 continues to be a source of strength for Arab countries today.

Teach and Thrive

A Bronx, NY veteran high school social studies teacher who has learned most of what she has learned through trial and error and error and error.... and wants to save others that pain.