Is Arab Anger With the West Related to Genuine Western Interference?

Is Arab anger with West related to genuine Western interference?


With the possible exception of Lebanon by the French, has the Middle East ever been subject to outright colonialism by Western powers?

Has the ME ever been subject to more than “very little interference” from the West?

In addition to the League of Nations mandates after WWI, where France and Britain took control of much of the Middle East from the Turks, Britain exercised a lot of de facto control over Egypt from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th. Of course, Napoleon invaded and conquered Egypt earlier.

Britain also signed a series of treaties with what was known as the “trucal coast”…the series of emirates on the gulf in what is now the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman, and extended these treaties to Kuwait, and eventually, after WWI, Iraq, where the Emirates transferred power over foreign relations to Britain in exchange for defense.

I think it is a cultural thing…the arab nations realize that in spite of their past glories (that were over by the 14th century), they are so far behind the west. Their self-imposed backwardness makes for envy against the West (or what they perceive to be “Westrn” values). The sa fact is this: due to their religious philosophy, the arab nations have chosen a retrograde way of life. The strictures of the sharia have meant that nobody with an eductation wants to live in those countries…and the lack of women’s rights make them socially backward as well.


Define “very little interference”. Certaintly, the extent of British control in the regional was (relatively speaking) short lived and not as intrusive compared with other regions (for example, India).

But to say that the “West” had “very little influence” grossly distorts the effect that the west (the British in particular) had in shaping the geopolitical landscape of the region at the end of WW I. Granted, one can make the claim that since, WW II the influence has been minimal (from a political perspective), but then one needs to account for the growing economic influence that the “West” (US now included) is exerting on the region (and, no, not in the sense of “economic colonization”; although, to be fair, an argument could be made to support such a claim).

Also, I forgot to add, American and European oil companies developed most of the Middle East fields, and so they gained influence that way.

In addition, most of the early Israeli immigration (1880s-1948) was European in origin. Even though no European state sponsored this settlement, and even though Israel itself won independence from a colonial power (Britain), Israel is still seen as a “western” nation by a lot of the Middle East

Also, the Middle East, like much of the world was influenced by the Cold War, and both the US and USSR influenced Middle Eastern nations, diplomatically, millitarily, and covertly.

If you add to this the fact that the Middle East as a region has a single, major export product, it’s heavily dependent on the outside world to purchase its products, and because there has, in general, been a failure in many countries to develop large-scale manufacturing, the Middle East is dependent on foreign imports. So, economically, and by extension culturally, the region is dependent on the West. This isn’t neccesarily intentional Western influence, but it leads to the spread of Western cultural values. (It also means western powers have an interest in those leaders who keep the oil flowing, regardless of their human rights records or how they treat their people. It’s why we support the Saudi royal family and why we supported the Shah)

If you add to all of this both actual US support for Israel, and assumed US support for Israel, and the recent attack on Iraq, which is seen as direct US against another, Middle Eastern country, there’s a great deal of resentment against the West, and the US in particular.

The debacle that resulted from the Balfour Declaration cannot be underestimated. Mr. Balfour had some rather idiosyncratic religious ideas regarding the necessity of re-establishing Israel (and Britain’s place in so doing) and a complete lack of proportion regarding the influence of Jews in the USA in the early part of the 20th century.

How are you defining “Middle East” and how are you defining “outright colonialism”?

Virtually all of the MENA ( a few areas like Turkey and central Arabia excepted ) were subject to European powers to the extent of having European troops quatered on them and lacking an independent foreign policy voice. If you mean by outright colonialism areas where the fiction of native rule was essentially dispensed with altogether, in the 19th-20th centuries:

Algeria ( annexed 1834, northen Algeria merged w/ France 1879 )

French Syria ( w/Lebanon ), more or less

British Palestine ( exclusive of the Transjordan )

the colony of Aden ( the port, a crown possesion exclusive of the slightly different Protectorate of Aden, a loose collection of Emirates under British control )

Some ambiguous cases like parts of Morocco, divided into four protectorates, but with the Sultan being under the thumb of a particular power ruling some ( in this case France ), but not others ( i.e. the Spanish protectorates ). Another was the Anglo-Egyptian Condominion of Sudan - technically subject to both the British and Egyptian crowns ( but in reality, of course, run by the British ).

Plus possibly some others I may be forgetting. At any rate, most of these were a bit ambiguous. The British gave rather more colonial latitude to say, the Emir of Kuwait, than they did the King of Egypt, a territory central to their startegic posiition.

  • Tamerlane

So you’re just going to ignore the historical record of Western intervention, and just dismiss everyone in the Middle East as dumb backwards-looking schlubs who are victims of their religion and culture? :rolleyes:

Do you actually have any cites for this stuff you’re proposing, or shall we conclude it was yanked out of one of your bodily orifices?

This is from another thread, (Will history judge it a “damn fool war”? Yes or no.), where another poster posits just these things.

Define "very little interference: (the definition provided in the DFW thread)
“Interference: When a country is administered by its own natives, possibly with the backing of a foreign power, but with genuine autonomy, and with said foreign power unable to remove local authority without resistance.”

defining “outright colonialism”: (from DFW def)
“Outright colonialism: When a country is administered by a foreign power and whatever local authority is there can be changed by said foreign power at will.”

I didn’t think to ask for a def of the ME.

I linked to this thread from the DFW thread. I was hoping to continue the discussion w/o continuing the hijak. Thank you all for your responses.

Just because your not switching rulers doesnt mean you haven’t had a say in their government… or legitimized them. How many of the coups did in fact have Western pressure or backup is hard to know too.

Don’t forget Iran as well… they were going democratic or close enough before the “west” put them back into submission.

Of course it is.

For one thing, ever since the early 19th century Western culture has imposed unreasonable and severe restrictions on the only means that Islamic cultures, up to that time, had developed to better themselves while staying within the ambit of what is and is not permissible under the Koran. That of getting “booty” from the infidel and other lesser beings.

Creativity, invention and independant thinking has never been the characteristic of any Islamic culture. Even the claim that the concept of “zero” was invented under Islam is false.

On the other hand, you will find that Tamerlane, for example, is very knowledgeable about Islamic culture and has a vast collection - at least a dozen pages - of positive contributions made by various Islamic cultures in the past 1300 years.

That is all well and good, but it is probably not sufficient to satisfy those who feel oppressed at not being able to impose their will on those who would prefer to live a more free thinking kind of life without having to worry about someone who wants to behead them for thinking that way.

In the final analysis, how does one define genuine “Western Interference” anyway?

I strongly recommend that you spend at least a few hours reading the holy books and teachings of those whom you describe as being angry with “the West”. It might just give you a slightly better insight on things.

While you’re at it, read the mission statements of Hamas, Fatah, Quaeda and others. Not the bowdlerised versions reported by Reuters, AP and the NYT but what these organisations proudly place on the websites of their supporters for all to see.

One final point. If someone tells you that they want to kill you, believe them. It’s safer that way.

See above the reason why I don’t want to spend any of my time on contributing and sharing my knowledge to a topic like this.

I don’t see the point of starting to translate myself - and some others - in a language I don’t master. To be complete and clear and historical correct in a few words is not even very easy in a language you know perfectly. It takes a lot of time to do that in a language you don’t master and in which you have a very limited vocabulary.

So I apologize to the OP that I stay away from this. If you have a specific question about a specific country in the region I’ll try to answer it in understandable English.
But there are enough good historical works available in English to inform yourself about the history of the West in the MENA region. Including the country where my origin is, where I live and where we upto this very day have to face the fact that some spots are still occupied by a foreign nation.
Salaam. A

You’re contradicting yourself, in saying that creativity, invention, and independent thinking has never been charactaristic of Islamic culture, then pointing out that Islamic cultures have made positive contributions to the world’s knowledge.

And, more generally, I think you’re incorrect. Various Islamic cultures have been very encouraging of creativity and invention. Al-Andalus under the Ummayids, Seljuk and Abbassid Mesopotamia, and Mughal India all were centers of innovation.

Also, keep in mind

  1. Those people with a religious opposition to the West oppose it for more reasons than simply “They won’t let us behead people”

  2. Religious opponents of the West also often have secular reasons for opposing the West also.

  3. Not all anti-Western attitudes are religious. Nasser wasn’t religious. Neither was Mossadegh. Neither is Arafat.

What poppycock

Some examples:

Tunisia, controlled by the French, does not achieve independence until 1956, after war to evict French

Algeria, controlled by the French, does not achieve independence until 1962 after long and very bloody war

Syria, controlled by the French, fighting in 1920, 1925, 1945-1946

Lebanon, formerly controlled by the French, repeated intervention by western powers, 1958 to bolster pro-western government. 1983 to bolster pro-western government

Libya, former Italian colony, conquered by British during WW2, under British military administration until 1951. Pro-western monarchy grants oil concessions and basing rights to US and UK. Same monarchy removed in American-backed coup in 1969, Gadaffi comes to power. Repeated covert operations against Libya in 1980s and US assassination strike in 1986 against Gadaffi.

Egypt, British protectorate, limited independence granted in 1936. Pro-western government until 1952. British forces remain in Egypt until 1954. British and French invade in 1956 to prevent Egyptian control of Suez control. Current oppressive government, propped up by US.

Palestine. Controlled by British. Divided up by western powers as they saw fit against wishes of majority of inhabitants. Israel created.

Oman. Repressive monarchy propped up by Britain. 1959 revolt suppressed with British aid. Another revolt 1965-1974 again suppressed with aid of British forces.

etc etc Mossadegh etc Shah etc etc it goes on and on

From Rashak Mani

The issue is a bit more complicated than that, Rashak Mani, as I tried to explain to rjung in another thread (I asked him to start a separate thread to discuss this, but he didn’t want to be bothered with the facts).

There certainly WAS interference in Iran by ‘Western Powers’, especially the British earlier and America later. However, it was an extremely complex issue, with worries about the Nationalization of the oil industry (which the British had invested in heavily) on the British side, and worries about Iran “becoming the next China” on the Americans (Iran had a long boarder with the Soviet Union, and it WAS the cold war), as well as purely internal issues by the various factions in Iran itself.

While America certainly shot itself in the foot by getting involved in Iran (or stepped on its crank), the entire mess is too complex for easy analysis, and doesn’t take into account the very real factions that made up the Majlis, or Iranian parliment.

Some highlights from The 1953 Coup D’etat in Iran, which I found to be a very good and comprehensive analysis of the history leading up to the coup. If you are interested in what really happened Rashak Mani, I recommend you read through the link:

From The 1953 Coup D’etat in Iran, by Mark J. Gasiorowski

Sorry for the long quote, but I tried to hit the highlights and the conclusions, as I think its relavant to the OPs question of " Is Arab Anger With the West Related to Genuine Western Interference?" I’d say, at least as far as THIS event is concerned, that Iranian anger (I know they aren’t arabs) IS due in part to ‘Genuine Western Interference’, though its also due to their own actions as well. There are a lot of mis-perceptions about what REALLY happened, as well as the motivations of what happened, both in the ME region itself as well as in other parts of the world (including America and Europe). Unfortunately, especially in that region, there is never anything thats black and white…every issue seems to be made up of shades of grey.


Which doesn’t make interfering with another sovergn nation’s elections any more morally acceptable. :rolleyes:

But then, as I was pointing out in our earlier exchange, the United States only pays lip service to the idea of “promoting democracy”, and will gladly toss it out the window the moment someone doesn’t want to play nice with us.

Nice to hear you admit I was right after all, at least. :slight_smile:

From rjung

Nations do what is in their best interests to do…morals rarely come into it. It was decided that it was in the best interests of the USA to support the Shah and oppose Mosaddeq in this case due to the perception (right or wrong) that Mosaddeq and his party would lead to more Soviet influence in Iran. Them “playing nice” never entered into the equation. It had very little to do with their oil (at least from America’s perspective) and a lot to do with the cold war notion of containing communism, and the vital stategic location of Iran with respect to the USSR.

Ok, in retrospect, it was stupid and it has come back to haunt us, but unfortunately those people at the time didn’t have a crystal ball, and they lacked something you and I have…20/20 hindsight. If perception is reality (as another poster said earlier), then the perception by the US that communism was spreading out of control and needed to be contained at all costs is something that can’t be disreguarded so blithely IMO.

From rjung

America doesn’t 'only pay lip service to the idea of “promoting democracy” you fool. Did you actually READ the cite I posted? During the Truman era, the US government (less some rogue elements of the CIA going AGAINST the Truman administration) supported Mosaddeq, even though he was no friend of the US, simply because he represented the first steps towards a democracy in Iran. We could afford to do so as we had no vital interest in the region at that time. It was only later when Ike was elected, and more importantly when the cold war was really heating up, that we re-evaluated our position with respect to Iran (it should also be noted that the British had been trying to involve us there for some time as well).

It was determined (possibly erroniously) that the possibility existed that Iran could fall into the Soviet sphere of influence if Mosaddeq continued as prime minister. In the end, countries do what they feel they feel is in their best interests. This isn’t ‘paying lip service’, its reality. America, like any other country, supports those that support us. We definitely DO support democracies, and with more than lip service, unless it runs counter to our real or perceived national interests. Name a country where this ISN’T the case…use any example now or in the past. I can’t think of any, maybe you can come up with a few?

Your simplified “America bad, Iran (or whoever) good” was what I was disputing in our earlier confrontation, your stuborness in portraying everything in black and white, when you KNOW that there were many other issues involved here.

America didn’t put the Shah into power (as you implied)…he was ALREADY in power. Both the Shah AND Mosaddeq (as well as the parliment) were legitimate powers in Iran at the time (as they had a parlimentary monarchy).

It is unreasonable to think that in such a vital area (even at the time, Iran was stategically vital to the US, simply due to its location in respect to the Soviet Union) that the US would NOT support whoever would be favorably disposed to us. And Mosaddeq certainly was not. In addition, I don’t think that the plan was to overthrow the parlimentary form of government totally (i.e. make the Shah all powerful), but instead to overthrow Mosaddeq’s government, and install a parliment (and more to the point, a Prime Minister) more favorable to the US. The intent wasn’t to make the Shah all powerful IMO, as can be seen by the fact that we had several candidates in mind to take over when Mosaddeq was deposed.

The fact that it didn’t work out that way, and the Shah DID become all powerful, doesn’t mean that wasn’t the intent (that conservative Law of Unintended Consequences thing they are always babbling about). Certainly I can conceed that the US fucked up…and badly. From the evidence I’ve seen, I have my doubts that Mosaddeq would have brought Iran into the Soviets sphere of influence reguardless, and he definitely DID represent a positive step in Iran…and it was a travisty that he was removed and the situation today is what it is. I can certainly see why the Iranian people might be a bit miffed at us over this whole thing, even though it kind of leaves off the fact that many of them were also trying to oust Mosaddeq themselves. Certainly the West played a major role in this mess, but we didn’t do it ALL.

In retrospect, the US would have been better served by simply not allowing the British to involve us at all in that area (and also putting a heavy leash on the fucking CIA would have been good too…they were out of control at that time IMO). Most likely though, the result would have been the same, as the British had been gunning for Mosaddeq for years before America even got involved, but we’ll never know now.

From rjung

If you want to delude yourself that I admit any such thing, be my guest. :slight_smile:

Where’s cmkeller?

cmkeller’s the reason for this thread.
These’re cmkeller’s quotes and definitions.
I ended a hijak by starting this thread.

According to an article in the New York Times, there are significant internal issues that continue to keep the Middle East mired in the past. Some excerpts:[

All of this points towards a drastic degree of self limitation. Colonialism’s evils cannot be blamed forever while vicious repression of women in particular and restraint of free thought in general continues to go on.

One thing that is almost never discussed is the fact that much of the Arab world allied with the Axis powers and in the case of Iraq, the British actually had to divert forces to fight a Fascist government.

Germany was rightly occupied and lost territory in the war. The Arabs likewise had to take what the victors imposed on them. Germany made the best of it and is now the top economic power in Europe. The Arab world sulked.