history of the contemporary middle east


In Week Two, students will learn how Internal attempts at reform were made under authoritarian auspices in independent Iran and Turkey during the interwar period while Egypt formally independent since 1936 (and self-governing since 1923) made an effort at parliamentary democracy. Other political units began to develop a national identity through independent formation (Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia), and nationalist political movements (Lebanon and Syria).

Among Middle Eastern states, different patterns were followed. Egypt pursued parliamentary democracy while Turkey and Iran followed more authoritarian paths. Efforts were made in the mandated areas to at least form parliamentary forms. World War II resulted in at least nominal independence for Middle Eastern polities with the exception of North Africa and the Persian Gulf emirates along the periphery of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf.


After completing Week 2 of this course, you should be able to:

  • examine the causes and results of European imperialism in the in the interwar period;
  • evaluate the results of authoritarian rule in Turkey and Iran between the two world wars;
  • describe the development of nation-states and national identity in Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia;
  • examine how sectarian and communal differences affected emerging Middle Eastern national identities in polities such as Iraq and Lebanon;
  • assess the effectiveness of parliamentary rule vs authoritarian rule among regional states.
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