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11-08-2015, 17:20


The war brought the Ottoman Empire crashing down after more than five hundred years. Stretching from southeastern Europe to the Arabian peninsula, it now faced threats from within and without. Russian operations in the Caucasus in 1915 were matched by the British assault at Gallipoli and British offensives from the Persian Gulf toward Baghdad. In 1917 a revolt of the Arab population brought the war home as the entire Arabian peninsula threatened to break away from the control of Istanbul. The revolt, which included the efforts of the charismatic British leader T. E. Lawrence, was doubly dangerous because it corresponded with General Edmund Allenby's offensive through Palestine toward Damascus, and from there toward the heart of the empire. The subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire, along with the West's occupadon of Iran, was, in the words of historian Bernard Lewis, "the culmination of the retreat of Islam before the advancing west."9 Under the new mandate system established by the League of Nations, Britain and France took the lion's share of the Ottoman Empire's former Arab lands, such as Syria and Iraq, as well as establishing a home for Jews in Palestine, while an independent country emerged in Saudi Arabia. The strains ofWorld War II led to the end of direct European control of these regions, but the area has remained one of the world's principal trouble spots. The degree of stability maintained by the Ottomans has never been reestablished.