Before Israel, that is, the modern state of Israel.

In support of James Joyner’s post on the limitations of America’s power, influence, and importance in the Middle East I thought I’d take a few notes on unrest in the Middle East before the U. S., before Israel.

This post is mostly just a set of notes. Here’s a list of rebellions, revolts, and wars in the Middle East 1800-1914.

1801 Sack of the city of Karbala (modern Iraq) by Wahhabists.
1803 Capture of Mecca by Wahhabists.
1804 Capture of Medina by Wahhabists.
1810 Control of Qatar and Bahrain established by Wahhabists.
1812-1820  Istanbul reasserts control over the Balkans and Anatolia.
1813 Istanbul reasserts control over the province of Aleppo (modern Syria).
1818 Recapture of Mecca and Medina by Egyptian expeditionary force, returned control of Hijaz to Hashemites.
1821-1823 Ottoman war with Iran
1830 Recapture of Hasa by Saudis.
1831-1838 Reassertion of Ottoman rule in Iraq and Kurdistan.
1831-1840 Egypt invades and occupies Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and parts of Anatolia.
1835 Reassertion of Ottoman rule in Sudan.
1835 Hail in Arabia occupied by Abdallah Ibn Rashid.
1838 Defeat of Saudis by Egyptian expeditionary force.
1840 The Damascus Affair (episode of blood libel against Jews). Other instances accompanied by violence occurred in Damascus (1848, 1890), Aleppo (1810, 1850, 1875), Antioch (1826), Beirut (1862, 1874), Tripoli (1834), Jerusalem (1847, 1870, 1895), Jaffa (1876), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Istanbul (1870, 1874), Izmir (1872, 1874), Edirne (1872).
1840 Reassertion of Ottoman rule in the Hijaz.
1840-1845 Fighting between Christians and Druze in Lebanon (abetted by French), Ottoman intervention.
1850 Anti-Christian rioting in Aleppo.
1850 Putting down of the Babi movement in Iran.
1855-1856 Anti-Ottoman revolt in the Hijaz.
1858 Massacre of Christians in Jidda, Ottomans intervened.
1858-1861 Revolt in Lebanon by Christian peasants against Druze overlords. At least 10,000 killed or died of starvation, 100,000 refugees.
1871 Seizure of Hasa in Arabia by Ottomans from Saudis.
1891-1892 Suppression of revolt in Yemen by Ottomans.
1894-1896 Conflicts between the Ottomans and the Armenians in eastern Anatolia. The putting down of the revolt was accompanied by large scale massacres of Armenians.
1902-1904 Capture of territories from Rashidis by Ibn Sa’ud in Arabia.
1903 Anti-Baha’i riots in Isfahan and Yazd in Iran.
1904 Defeat of Ottomans by Saudis.
1905-1911 Revolution against Shah in Iran.
1907-1909 Rebellion of Muhammed Ali Shah in Iran.
1908 Political crisis in Istanbul accompanied by massacre of Armenians.
1910-1912 anti-Ottoman revolt in Asir in Arabia was led by Muhammad al-Idrisi
1913 Capture of Hasa in Arabia by Saudis from Ottoman forces.

Source: Encyclopedia of World History. All corrections and amplifications gratefully received.

I’ve omitted the various Greek and Balkan wars of independence, wars with Russia, and wars involving the British and French. I also note in passing that a considerable amount of the conflict is a consequence of opposition to modernization.

Whatever you might think of Israel or of the U. S. role and influence in the Middle East, I believe that the only conclusion one can reasonably draw about the region is that there would be unrest there, whether ethnic, sectarian, or just a plain old-fashioned power grab.

3 comments… add one
  • Of course, some would argue this just goes to show how long the Bush administration has been ignoring the problem!

  • PD Shaw Link

    The big peace deals in the region (the Camp David Accords, Oslo) were not American initiatives. Sadat was frustrated with the Geneva talks so began his own talks with Israel. The Clinton Administration was involved in shuttle diplomacy between Damascus and Jerusalem when they were surprised by word of secret talks btw/ Israel and Palestine. Not to say American hasn’t played a role, but I don’t think that role is the initiator.

  • Well thanks for putting that into perspective.

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