Colonial Cartography and the Making of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria

Authored by: Asher Kaufman

The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138800588
eBook ISBN: 9781315713120
Adobe ISBN: 9781317497066


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The conventional narrative of the transformation of the Middle East after the First World War from Ottoman control to the new political order of separate Arab states focuses on British and French colonial schemes to divide the region in accordance with their own interests. The Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, and the Balfour Declaration have become the hallmarks of the colonial intrigues that eventually led to the creation of the separate political entities of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. David Fromkin succinctly encapsulated the gist of this narrative:

Middle Eastern countries and frontiers were fabricated in Europe. Iraq and what we now call Jordan, for example, were British inventions, lines drawn on an empty map by British politicians after the First World War; while the boundaries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq were established by a British civil servant in 1922, and the frontiers between Moslems and Christians were drawn by France in Syria-Lebanon and by Russia on the borders of Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan.1

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