Insights and Perspectives
Edited By Elżbieta Katarzyna Dzikowska, Agata Handley and Piotr Zawilski
The Middle East and the Centenary of the Great War
During the decades prior to the Great War, leading European powers consolidated their positions by expanding the spheres of influence: i.e., their colonial/imperial possessions. Great Britain was interested mainly in securing the route to India, meaning with respect to the Middle East, annexing Aden (1839), and controlling Bahrain (1880), Muscat (1891) and Kuwait (1899). The French began the foundation of their Empire by the conquest of Algeria (1830), followed later by the occupation of Tunisia (1881) and the incorporation of Morocco (1912). Russia was building a vast Asian Empire, also at the cost of the Ottoman Empire. All of the Middle East – including Egypt, Persia (Iran) and the Sudan – was drawn into great powers’ politics.
With the beginning of the 20th century, both the Ottoman Empire and Persia had every cause to feel insecure: hence, the reform movements and revolts of 1908 and 1911 in Turkey, and the constitutional movement in Iran of 1906–1911. Turkey established close relations with Germany2.
The Entente Cordiale, triple Entente, or in short, the Entente, was formed in two stages: in 1904 (8 April) by the conclusion of a British – French agreement, and in 1907 by the access of Russia. According to the major clauses of the 1904 agreement, France resigned from all objections to British occupation of Egypt (the French resigned from insisting on fixing a time for its termination), while Britain acknowledged the right of France to interfere in Moroccan affairs, together with ← 231 | 232...
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