Saturday, February 2, 2013

Caliphate vs Nation States

The 1916-1918 Arab Revolt was often carried out by mounted Arab tribesmen, who knew the land intimately and were excellent marksmen (Library of Congress).
Arab Kabilahs (clansmen) ready to charge at their Turkish opponents in the 1916-1918 Arab Revolt 
(Library of Congress).
Whenever I hear or read laments about the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which marked the end of the Islamic Caliphate rule, my mind begin to wonder if indeed the rise of Arab nationalism had been at the expense of Islamic glory? 
If one were to read further on modern history of the Middle East, the Allied Forces (Great Britain and France) did play a dominant role in the World War I Arab uprising against the Turks. This Revolt not only led to the collapse of Turkish stranglehold over the Middle East but the defeat of the Turkish armed forces in Europe. New Arab nation-states and the Balkans were created in its wake, in the 1920s. It also paved the way for the formation of the state of Israel. Liberation from the 'Sick Old Man of Europe', however, failed to guarantee peace, popular rule, political stability, moderate Islam, and Arab-Israeli accord over Palestine. Instead, the region had been plagued with "wars, authoritarian governments, coups, the rise of militant Islam, and the enduring conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
As with great sweeping changes in the historical landscape, the people caught in the turmoil were the least able to forecast the future. I wonder if ardent supporters of Arab nationalism like my late father, who was born in late 1917,at the height of the 1916-1918 Arab Revolt, were able to foresee what was in store for the Arab World.  
to be continued ...
Next instalement - Kaum Tua vs Kaum Muda
(The Old Clerics vs the Young Turks)
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