Table of Contents
The Middle East and the North African region are areas that are known to be dominating by the amount of followers of Muslim religion. In these areas, most of the states receive minimal rainfall; a factor that indicates a number of similarities including climate conditions, nomadic way of life among most of the residents, and similar economic activities. The history of the regions indicates that initially there was no established state. Different communities enjoyed their tribal leadership. It is an issue that exposed the residents of these areas to many challenges such as war, poor economic status, and biases on the basis of race or tribe. Since the 19th century, communities living in the Middle East and the North Africa region have been influenced by a number of factors; an aspect that made them establish contemporary state system that is practiced even today. Many historical factors pressured the residents of these areas to establish modern leadership despite being resistant to different leaders. There are a number of explanatory factors that brought about the establishment of the contemporary political boundaries in these areas. The paper will analyse the historical factors that influenced and shaped the development of contemporary state systems in both North Africa region and the Middle East. It will analyse the historical factors through addressing the theoretical framework and analysing different factors and their impact on the development of contemporary state systems in the two regions.
Question of Address
What historical factors influenced and shaped the development of the contemporary state system in the Middle East and North Africa region?
It is a question of concern that requires keen observation through the application of the theoretical framework and a critical analysis so as to avoid confusion and stereotypes while addressing the topic. Many researchers have conducted studies on the topic and came up with an argument that the current political boundaries found in both North Africa and the Middle East were designed and established by the colonial masters; it means that colonial influence led to the establishment of boundaries. Evidently, the British and French imperial powers were interested in the two regions and managed to colonise some of the regions for a long-term period (Mansfield 2013). During the time, the European powers were planning on how to colonise these regions; they used the map of the region to sub-divide it into different states for easy administration and division among the European powers. In the attempt to find an answer to the question, other researchers came up with different theories contending that the current borders were founded beneath the concert of major autochthonous.
Different political leadership theories can be used to analyse the historical factors that influenced and shaped the development of contemporary state systems in the Middle East and the North Africa regions. Leadership theories analyse political institutions and political boundaries that affect the social systems of individuals. The establishment of contemporary state systems in the two regions can be regarded as a theoretical inclination of the regions. Max Weber’s theory of political leadership argues that, the political system of a region is determined by the type of leaders found in the region. It implies that the traditional leaders of the Middle East and the North Africa regions fulfilled important functions since they designed the initial boundaries of the region. Although some of the boundaries have been changed by the colonial masters, their actions still remain outstanding. The transactional theory of political leadership is another important theory that can be used to analyse the factors that influenced the development of the contemporary state systems in the Middle East. It states that, political leaders are the executive leaders who can change a region through resisting or acknowledging the influence of other sources. It can be applied in current research since despite the fact that the colonial masters had a well-designed program on how to partition the two regions; the local leaders gave them this chance.
The political boundaries of the North Africa and the Middle East can be quoted as a conflation of both internal and external forces. Research has shown that the initial plan to divide the Middle East started with native people’s aspirations. The residents of the Middle East are known to have different cultures hence different traditions. The different cultures were ruled by tribal and religious rulers. Similarly, there are numerous cultures and traditions in North Africa. It is a factor that made the region have different community leaders with different ethnic identity as well. The behaviours of the people living in these regions in history were shaped by ethnic identity and religious factors. Different communities shared a number of similarities hence establishing a good relationship among them (Fawcett 2013). The communities that enjoyed good relationship were targeting to expand their boundaries from community-based leadership to regional or state leadership. Thy wanted to do it so as to increase their military power, earn more resources and become stronger against rivalling communities.
Religion is another factor that promoted local aspiration of the residents of both North Africa and the Middle East to make contemporary state systems. The Middle East and the North Africa are regions known to have a variety of religions. In the history of religions, a number of religions are believed to have been originated in these regions. These are areas known to be dominating in the spread of Muslim religion, Christianity, and Judaism. There was rivalry among those who have different faith; a factor that made individuals and communities feel insecure hence there was a need to expand their boundaries and unite to become stronger and stand against competing religions. Religious leaders in different communities were campaigning to convert more citizens into their religion. On the other hand, some religions considered those with different faith as a threat hence planning attacks against them. For this reason, there was an increased need to establish contemporary boundaries that would have established laws to govern the conducts and behaviours of individuals so as to avoid and minimise discrimination and war on the basis of religion. Religious leaders of the two regions were campaigning for the establishment of contemporary boundaries on the basis of religion so as to have members of the same religion in separate states. The idea was meant to ensure that each religion was in each state hence giving it a chance to practice its prevalence law without affecting followers of other religions.
The local aspirations revolved around community and religious leaders, but later they became the interest of the whole religion and the globe at large. Different bodies and organisations based on the Muslim religion came up with the idea of establishing the Arab state for the welfare of followers of the Muslim religion and minimise the suffering of their followers in the region. It is where external forces came into play. The external community especially the European powers found out that there were numerous variable resources that would be of great importance to their industries. Other European countries were searching for a market for their industrial products that they were producing in big volumes. They decided to partition the less powerful regions such as the Middle East and North Africa and scramble the sub-divisions for their economic advantage. It gave birth to the colonisation of North Africa and the Middle East and establishment of new contemporary boundaries and new political leadership. It is evident that some of the local leaders collaborated while others who stood against the established power but eventually the biggest percentage of the two regions was colonised and new boundaries were put in place and maintained thereafter.
The geographical landscape is another important factor that led to the establishment of contemporary boundaries in the history of the Middle East and North Africa. The territorial stability of different states in the two regions relies on the geographical framework of the landscape. It is because these are areas that have numerous valleys, mountains, and rivers. In the history, rivers, mountains, and valleys were pivotal resources that communities were fighting for. Therefore, most of the communities in the region were known to settle either in valleys and mountains or near rivers. It is because most of the useful resources such as gold, water and fertile soil for cultivation are available near these geographical landmarks. It is a factor that was necessary to consider for the establishment of contemporary boundaries of the two regions. The factor influenced and shaped the development since different communities required the regions to have established boundaries that restrict the areas and geographical landmarks possessed by the communities.
The history of the Middle East and North Africa witnessed major changes after the World War I. It is a historical event that influenced the formation of the Arab Middle East. It is whereby the French and British imperial legacy came up with the idea of using a single ruler to establish political boundaries in the region. They influenced the decision through the notable Sykes-Picot agreement. Borders were established irrespective of the current human, communal or cultural layout of the regions. It is evident that through the application of such policies, international interests are among the key influencing factors that gave birth to the recent political boundaries in the North Africa and the Middle East. The term Middle East was derived from colonial influence. It has also been recorded that some of the current political boundaries in these regions reflect back to the initial community leaders of people living in the region. For instance, in the Middle East, most of the interior boundaries were marked by Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century. Although different reforms have been made later, a number of the boundaries set during the period still remain. Another example is the boundary set by Sultan Hamid in the Middle East that still remains. The pharaoh’s in North Africa also established a number of bouundaries that are still recognised in the region.
Another important factor that influenced and shaped the development of contemporary state system in the North Africa and the Middle East regions is war. In the history of the two regions, most of the community leaders were warlords who successfully led their communities in war with their neighbours and succeeded. In the nineteenth century, most of the communities were not comfortable with fighting against their neighbours (Morton 2013). Therefore, instead of fighting, they were targeting to unite and have a common goal of economic development. It was after the discovery of dangerous weapons and the need for peace among residents. It made community leaders negotiate about the community problems and use dialogues to solve conflict instead of war. It provoked changes of the community boundaries and a proposal of establishment of empires and extended regions.
Another factor that influenced and shaped the development of contemporary state systems in the Middle East and the North Africa regions is the economy. In the 19th century, the man had made many discoveries about the importance of different natural resources such as metals and land. Therefore, instead of competing in war, communities started competing economically and building associations with one another with the intention of earning advantage of a given economic resource. It made the local rulers establish specific boundaries with the aim of governing larger regions and controlling more resources. Among the most important resources was land for agriculture since it was after the agricultural revolution when many people had been relying on agriculture as the main economic activity.
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Development of common language is another important factor that contributed towards the shaping and developing the contemporary state system in the Middle East and North Africa region. Initially, the language barrier was a problem that affected different communities leading to war due to misunderstanding. In the nineteenth century, different areas in the world could use a single language for communication hence giving leaders a chance to communicate without problems. It eliminated tribal fights and scrambles over available resources and introduced dialogue as a modern strategy of solving problems. It also introduced democracy as a way of electing leaders rather than electing war heroes for leadership positions (Issawi 2013). The changes brought by a common language made the residents of these areas establish states that could be governed by the rule of law rather than regular conflicts among communities. The residents also intended to establish states that would ensure that the resources available in the region could assist all the residents instead of benefiting a small group of people.
Political rivalry is the other factor that influenced and shaped the development of contemporary state systems in the Middle East and North Africa regions. The two regions are known to be initially ruled by kings and hereditary leadership. In different occasions, conflict occurred between brothers who inherited the throne leading to the division of a kingdom and the establishment of new kingdoms. It is a factor that made the residents participate in the war between members of the same community. Therefore, the residents were looking for a strategy to eliminate the political rivalry and regular division brought by the rivalry. It made them accept the ideology of the colonial master and adopt the modern state system.
In conclusion, there are many factors that influenced and shaped the development of the contemporary state system in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Some factors such as the presence of different cultures made the traditional systems of governance complicated. Therefore, there was a need to have a modern system that could bring together individuals of different religions, different ethnic identities, and different languages. In the 19th century, people from all parts of the world needed to live in a war free zone and concentrate on economic development, building their nation, as well as focusing on personal development. These are factors that made most of the local communities accept any possible strategy that would change them from a warring community to a peaceful community. The colonial masters are the key determinants and enforcers of the political boundaries in North Africa and the Middle East. The key agenda of the colonial masters was to search for law materials for their industries and consider market opportunities for their industrial goods. However, for easy administration of the colonies, the colonial masters had to partition the regions before colonising them. The boundaries designed during the period have remained the official boundaries in the regions. Religion is among the most influential bodies in the world. It has been noted that most of the residents of the Middle East and the North Africa region are characterised with a strong faith; a factor that make them become easy to motivate on the basis of religion. It made religion one of the most influential factors in terms of shaping and developing the contemporary state systems in the regions.
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