Iran Hostage Discussion Questions: Middle East History Research Paper

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Iran Hostage

Discussion Questions: Middle East History

Compare and Contrast the reform policies of Mustafa Kemal and Reza Khan.

In the aftermath of World War I, the world had begun to experience massive structural change, with a wave of imperial collapses producing a groundswell of nationalism and independence movements. The once mighty and respected Ottoman Empire was among these, with decades of retraction and dictatorship unraveling into widespread discontent. So too would be the Kingdom of Persia find itself on the cusp of change, with an historical rule of clergymen and local warlords coalescing into disorder. In these circumstances, Mustafa Kemal and Reza Kahn would emerge to bring about the existence of modern Turkey and Iran respectively.

The great military and political leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk would seize on the discontent permeating the former Ottoman Empire to help bring about the establishment and independence of Turkey. Under his leadership, events would be set into motion producing one of today's more politically centrist and globally compatible Mid-East nations.

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Indeed, Ataturk's efforts as a general would be fundamental to the National Struggle as would be his ideological disposition that "a nation's right to full independence is fought for, not granted." (OISO, 1) It was on this premise that he gained the loyalty and nationalist fervor of the nation's soldiers, ensuring that the true base of power was now with the people and no longer providing foundation to the increasingly unstable sultanate. This would pave the way for the secular reforms that have made Turkey such a prominent partner to the West in a region otherwise frequently isolated from the global community over the following century.

Research Paper on Iran Hostage Discussion Questions: Middle East History Assignment

The approach taken by his declaration and underscored by his achievement of uncontested military authority would produce independence, but Kemal's own education and ideology would help to reform the former Empire into a uniquely diplomatic presence in the region. Accordingly, "ever since the foundation of modern day Turkey in 1923, this country with a predominantly Muslim population has been a secular democracy closely aligned with the West. Turkey was a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of NATO (since 1952), the Council of Europe (1949), the OECD (1961) and an associate member of the Western European Union (1992)." (LD, 1)

Similar to the circumstance here created through reform in Turkey, the coup d'etat the brought Reza Kahn to power in the burgeoning state of Iran would make what is today seen as a clear enemy to the west a close ally in modernization of the region.

For many decades, the United States enjoyed normalized relation with Iran. The Persian state was ruled by the Shah, by then self-named as Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. (Khorammi, 1) Though the nation had achieved some degree of prosperity under his leadership and through the cultivation of meaningful diplomatic relationships with nations such as the U.S., the Shah's domestic tactics are reported to have been extremely repressive of both the democratic political process and the rights to freedom of expression and demonstration. Though his rule was secular, repressive tendencies toward the press and political opponent would differentiate Kahn's rule from that of Kemal. Perceptions of the Shah's inequitable rule were stoked by Muslim clerics, who managed to swell both intellectual public resentment into a full-fledged coup. Iran's government had become indefensible against the mounting opposition of its dominant ethnic population.

This points to perhaps the most significant distinction between the two figures at the center of our discussion. Namely, Kahn's background afforded him a strong sense of nationalist identity but saw him as lacking in any meaningful formal education. For Kemal, education and intelligence were key doctrines of his life and rule, leading to a host of enlightenment-based principles of progress that evidence suggest have been far more lasting in Turkey than the developments in a now fully theocratic Iranian state.

2. Describe the key points (goals and actions) of the Zionist position and key points of the Arab position regarding Palestine between 1918 and 1939.

Though the resolution of World War II and the revelation of the horrors of the Holocaust, perpetrated against the Jews, are largely seen as the pivotal causes for the creation of a Jewish National Homeland in Israel, the first half of the twentieth century paved the way for the nature of the state as we now know it. In terms of both its current status as a Jewish nation and as a tense hotbed for ethnic bloodletting, its course was set in the mismanagement of its colonialist occupiers. (Rabinovich, 3) The period of British Mandate over the territory then referred to as Palestine coincided with a massive influx of Zionists during what are known as the First through Fourth Aliyah. Eastern European Jews, encouraged by the 1917 issued Balfour Declaration which conceded to the 'favourabilty' of the territory as a possible future homeland for the Jewish people, began to arrive in the tens of thousands. (Rabinovich, 3)

In the Balfour Declaration, the British has essentially signed off on the inevitability that Palestine could soon become a Jewish homeland independent of foreign occupation. This would place the British in an awkward position vis-a-vis the political demands of the Arab inhabitants who had occupied the land for centuries. Now the British were, by government-issued doctrine, committed to the ambition of the Jews toward statehood, and yet, remained stationed in the region and thus, beholden to the demands, or at least to the threat of Arab inhabitants.

Indeed, in the years after World War I, this influx of Jews and the implications of the Balfour Declaration caused widespread discomfort amongst Arabs. This was followed by "the establishment in 1920 of a British Mandate over Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River. During the next three decades, Arabs and Jews fought over rights and control." (Rabinovich, 3) Though they had not yet established independent claims to the land, the Zionist movement and its achievement of British endorsement certainly threatened any possible future prospects for Palestinian self-determination or Islamic statehood. This conception instigated ongoing and intensifying clashes between pioneering Zionists and militant Arab populations within a region given by name to the authority of the British. In some cases, these hostilities would escalate to large-scale riots and massacres, where considerable casualties were claimed for both sides, where even British soldiers were eventually among the targets of hostilities. (Gerner, 1)

In 1936, this tension had reached a volatile pitch. Relations between Zionists and Palestinians were increasingly negative, with both groups employing violent guerilla and terrorist tactics against one another. Civilian settlements by both sides were equally vulnerable to militia hostility. This was supplemented by the heightening unpopularity of the British with both sides, who viewed the foreign occupiers as being least entitled to the land up for dispute. For wavering to the point of ineffectiveness regarding the rights of either group to the lands which it claimed, the British became military targets for both the Palestinians and the Zionists, soon finding that the territory had become far more trouble than opportunity. (Gerner, 1)

The general state of violence between the three parties instigated the Peel Commission, in which the British dispatched a commission to report on the best course of action for contending with the situation. In this mission, the British determined that "the international recognition of the right of the Jews to return to their old homeland did not involve the recognition of the right of the Jews to govern the Arabs in it against their will." (Gerner, 37) Here, the British recognized that by issuing the Balfour Declaration, enabling unfettered Zionist immigration and failing to acknowledge the interests of the significant Arab populations there present, they had created an incongruous circumstance with no concrete resolution. This, of course, was a step back from the Balfour Declaration, and reflected yet further waffling on the part of the British. This highlighted their uncertainty on how best to resolve the situation and illustrated to the Arabs and Zionists that the British were committed to neither the agenda of Jews or Arabs. Thus, the Zionists would be moved to the resolution that whether through armed conflict or political diplomacy, claiming Israel would be an act of independent will, and would be unlikely to come willingly from the British.

From this discomfit proceeded the British Partition Plan which, after a full generation of wavering and indecision, was inevitably headed for rejection. Its moderation had arrived far too late, with tensions over land claims bubbling beyond British control for well over two decades. (Rabinovich, 4) When the Partition Plan unveiled the intention to place the Palestinians in a territory to be merged with Jordan while drawing a restrictive demarcation around the proposed Jewish territory, both parties found the agreement untenable to their interests. At this juncture, an Arab revolt erupted, citing British and Zionist targets in the interests of disrupting what the population viewed as a Jewish-British alignment against the Palestinian cause. (Rabinovich, 4) This provoked the British to officially cap Jewish immigration… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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