Updated on the 1st and 15th of every month
An Upside-Down History of the World [Japanese]
[Chapter 3] The Origins of Monotheism

Part 1: A Human Hypothesis
43 England’s Perilous Policies in the Middle East

By now you’re probably familiar with the Islamic world’s less-than stellar track record in shifting toward modern capitalism.

It’s the main cause behind the stagnation and collapse of the Islamic Empire, a power that, several hundred years ago, was the envy of the world.

The Western model of modern capitalism strives for industrial efficiency and naturally scientific and technological development. It’s also the root of colonization, a symbol, without a doubt, of humanity’s regression and savagery. And, of course, to colonize efficiently, weapon development is critical.

Capitalism does, however, have a positive side: it encourages the research and development of drugs and medicines. After all, new drugs and medical technologies have the potential for big profits.

This is where the Islamic empire was completely left behind.

Influential and symbolic was the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the bygone glory of Islam.

Toward the end of the eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire’s loss to the Russians had set off a chain reaction of defeats. The Ottomans not only lost the Crimean Peninsula, the north coast of the Black Sea. They also lost their quasi-colony Greece, together with the nation of Egypt.

The Ottomans may have managed to edge out a win against the Russians with the help of England and France in the Crimean War of 1853, but their weakness against their Russian adversary would soon be felt. Russia used the loss as an opportunity to dive head first into modernization.

But multiple defeats against Russia were on the horizon for the Ottoman Empire. The direct and final blow to the empire came in 1914, when the Ottoman Empire joined the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and made enemies of the countries of the Triple Entente (England, France, and Russia).

Former rivals with Russia, England, and France had become pro-Russian allies, a fact the Ottoman Empire, a country that saw Russia as their primary adversary, completely overlooked. The Ottomans had inadvertently made enemies of England and France, the two great powers, and it was a move that would prove fatal.

The Demise of the Caliphate and the Birth of the Turkish Republic

The Ottoman Empire, crushed, suffered yet another string of setbacks, including a Turkish-led revolution from within and the loss of a large swathes of its former territories in the Middle East, all thanks, of course, to the Central Powers’ peace treaty known as the Treaty of Sèvres.

After all, Mustafa Kemal’s (1881-1938) successful revolution in 1922 (Turkish War of Independence) paved the way for the Turkish Republic, prompting the caliph and Ottoman Empire monarch (sultan-caliph) Mehmed VI (lived 1861-1926, ruled 1918-1922) to board a British warship before going into exile in Malta.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (ruled 1923-1938), Turkey’s first president and Ataturk (the father of the Turks), revised the constitution that declared Islam as the official state religion and created a set of laws that furthered the creation of a secular state.

The caliphate was abolished, and Abdulmejid II, who managed to inherit the caliphate despite his loss of secular power, was promptly exiled. With Abdulmejid II’s death in 1944, the caliph ceased to exist, and the “last caliph” was written into history.

Which brings me to Britain’s deceptive foreign policies in the early twentieth century. They are what became the main catalyst for unrest in the Middle East and the main impetus behind the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Between the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 to its conclusion in 1918, England took it upon itself to take three diplomatic actions as a way of taking advantage of its battle with the Ottoman Empire, and to solidify its hold on oil concessions in the Middle East while taking control of the major trading artery, the Suez Canal.

First was the McMahon-Hussein Agreement.

In a series of letters exchanged in 1915 between Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca (1856-1931) and Henry McMahon, High Commissioner in Egypt, England negotiated the launching of the Arab Revolt against the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire with the intention to bring about an internal collapse of the empire. As repayment, the British promised to recognize and support a united independent Arab State.

The Expansion of the Ottoman Empire