Middle East Meets West
The Etymology of the Middle East itself finds its roots on Western colonization as American Naval General Alfred Thayer Mahan first coined the Middle East to refer to the areas surrounding the Persian Gulf in 1902 (Koppes, 1976). Due to the strategic location of the Persian Gulf as the gateway to India, the USA, British and Russian Empires seek the control of it and of its surrounding cities for the purpose of military strength and oil production. Since Germany has ample supply of oil, it is the American and the British colony that came head on to control the Middle East.
However such term “Middle East” expanded in scope especially in the First World War as it does not only pertains to the Persian Gulf but it also includes other Arabic countries or countries that are communists (Laciner, 2006). For the purpose of this essay we are to define the Middle East as the countries near the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and near the six seas. These now includes the region of India, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Turkistan, North Africa, Arabia, Caucasus and Indian Peninsula.
Since the Middle East is a rich basin of oil, industrialized country has aimed to colonize long before World War 1. The oppression experienced by the Middle Easterners date back to the concept of capitalism. From the 16the century to the present, the Middle East has been subjected to colonization, legal and illegal intervention from Western countries in the guise of peace troops to aide the government in combating terrorists.
The first Western Colonizers and oppressors of the Middle East is the Turkish Ottoman Empire which extended through the entire Middle East and some parts of Europe and America. However the Middle East did not fall in the hands of its colonizers without a fight. The Ottoman Empire needed to defeat the powerful government of Egyptian Pasha Mohamed Ali in 1840 to control the Middle East. Due to the advancement in technology and weaponry of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East gained its power.
Nationalism, which became a popular mindset in the Second World War, weakened the hold of the Ottoman Empire to the Middle East therefore giving them freedom. However, due to colonial expansions of America and Europe, these countries organized national liberation movements which are now labeled as terrorists.
In 1856 Britain went to war with Iraq since they are placed in strategic location as gateway to India and China. To date, Iraq is in constant need to be on guard as they hold the world most valuable resource and that oil. It can never be denied that countries need to secure resources for their people to ensure safety in the country, thus, developed countries will forever see the Middle East as a rich resource that awaits their presence.
Thus the need for strengthened military force in their country is needed to safe guard their people and their resource. A country such as Iraq may be small in terms of land area as compared to the United States and Europe but it is a rich country due to its immense oil depot. This alone gives them power. However the thing with the countries in the Middle East is that they themselves have their own wars. They exists side by side enjoying little land area and they accommodate wars within their borders.
Given that these countries fail to Unite may have revealed their downfall. The middle east in itself is a large area with enormous capacity to supply crude oil to the world thus making their National per capita income bloated. If these countries unite their power will not be limited to their land area alone. They have the potential to be far more powerful than the united sates or other developed countries. They have with them the resource and the man power, the only thing that’s missing is unity.
However I do recognize the fact that each country in the Middle East is composed of diverse individuals and ethnic groups that needs to be recognized in their own rights, but it seems that what they fail to accept is the fact that for them to resist Western colonization, oppression and intervention they have to unite and be a country of power far greater than the USA.
Koppes, C.R. (1976). “Captain Mahan, General Gordon and the origin of the term “Middle East””. Middle East Studies
Laciner, D. (2006). Is there a place called ‘Middle East’? Turkish Weekly.