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History of Confrontation between the West and Middle East

The Western world had for centuries been gradually penetrating most of the areas that had once been part of the Muslim empire, and in the latter part of the nineteenth century European powers came to dominate the Middle East.European penetration was gradual and complex process; but there were, nevertheless, clearly identifiable turning points. In the sixteenth century, for example, the Ottoman Empire voluntarily granted a series of concessions which gave the Europeans advantages in foreign trade in the empire. Another turning point was the invasion of Egypt in 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte. Hoping to cut Britain's lines to India and cripple its maritime and economic power, Napoleon crushed the Mamluks (who governed Egypt under Ottoman suzerainty) and briefly occupied the country. On July 21 (1798), in a battle fought within sight of the Pyramids they were entirely defeated, and Napoleon was master of Egypt.
By defeating Egypt then still part of the Ottoman Empire, Napoleon inaugurated more than 150 years of direct political intervention by the West.In 1820 Great Britain imposed a pact on Arab tribes on the coast of the Arabian Gulf; in the 1830s France occupied Algeria; in 1839 Britain occupied Aden, at the strategic entrance to the Red Sea; and in 1869 Ferdinand de Lesseps, with the backing of the French emperor, completed the Suez Canal.Western culture spread with Western economic and political control. In Lebanon missionaries from several countries founded a network of schools and universities. By introducing modern Western ideas these fostered the growth of Arab nationalism, contributed to a powerful impulse toward modernization. However, Western domination tended to benefit the nations of Europe at the expense of the Arab world. Western stimulated efforts to modernize parts of the Middle East often led Middle Eastern rulers to acquire debts which led to European financial control and then to European political domination. It was such a series of steps that ended with France occupying Tunisia in 1881 and Britain taking control of Egypt in 1882. Later, in emulation, Italy in 1911 seized Libya.Resistance to European penetration took several forms. In the cities, Arab intellectuals debated whether modernization or a return to their roots would be the more effective path to the removal of foreign dominance. Some Muslim leaders such took direct action. Still other intellectuals undertook to restate Islamic values in terms of modern concepts - needs deeply felt by most Muslim thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.Western penetration also drew the Middle East into the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany, and Great Britain, in response, encouraged and supported the Arab Revolt against the Turks. By promising aid - and ultimate independence from the Ottomans - Great Britain encouraged the Arabs to launch a daring guerrilla campaign against Turkish forces through its campaign in press coverage of T. E. Lawrence.Arab Revolt contributed substantially to the Allied victory, but it did not result in full independence for the Arab lands. Instead, France and Great Britain secretly agreed to partition most of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire between them and eventually obtained mandates from the League of Nations. The mandates were inconsistent with British promises and contrary to the recommendations of President Wilson's King-Crane Commission.