Nationalist Movements of the Middle East and South Asia after WW1

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The years after World War One brought about vast changes to many parts of the world. Places like South Asia and the Middle East were able to see the need for self government away from foreign control. This sparked a number of nationalist movements during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Middle East had to Westernize to rid foreign control while India had to be united under non-violence and Hindu values.

Before WW1, the Middle East was dominated by outside powers. Egypt was under British control and Persia was divided in to Russian and British spheres of influence. The Ottomans tried to promote change with the Tanzimat reforms which allowed some industrialization and modernization. However, in 1908, the Young Turks took over and
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This led to scarce food supplies, forced labor, and mistreatment of the peasantry, so Egypt was ready for a revolt at the end of the war. The Egyptian nationalist elites decided to form a Wafd (meaning ‘delegation’ in Arabic) party under the leader Sa’d Zaghlul that rid the British in 1936 from the Suez Canal. However, they did very little to alleviate the misery of the majority. Rather, Egyptian politicians held office just to increase their own family fortune and had no time for land reforms and public works projects that the peasantry desperately needed. Thus, the Egytian revolution led to backwardness. The peasantry of India similarly suffered during WW1. India was controlled by the British who pushed the peasantry for cash crops such as cotton (muslin), jute, and indigo. India’s budget was used for the expenses of the British army and the salaries/pensions of British administrators. Many Indians died on the battlefield for a conflict that had little to do with them. War led to inflation which affected all parts of society. Peasants were angered about set prices on market goods despite the rising cost. People were unable to sell what they produced due to shipping shortages. The meager wages of laborers dropped while prices increased. Only bosses grew rich from profits earned in war production. Many commoners suffered from epidemics and starvation. At the end of

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