What was the Underlying Cause of World War 1

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The Great War, also known as the First World War or World War I, was a geopolitical struggle that emerged in 1914 and lasted for four years. In this essay on the underlying cause of World War 1, we’ll look at a few things. This international conflict greatly influenced both the sociopolitical and economic development of most nations in Europe, Israel, Russia, the United States, and the Middle East. Notably, the war eroded the central powers in Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Germany against nations such as Great Britain, Italy, Russia, Japan, France, and the United States.

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The aftermath of World War I may still be felt in several countries, including, but not limited to, Israel and states in the Greater Middle East. It is believed that the two regions may have come into existence mainly as a consequence of the First World War. As such, it appears that the Great War may have been among the major watersheds in the geopolitical history of the 20th century. However, researchers are still investigating the various impact of the First World War on the Greater Middle East and Israel.

Background of the Great War

The impact of the Great War on the Middle East and Israel is still glaring to date. According to Barzilai, “Since World War I, the outbreak of war has generally brought political consensus to democratic regimes.” However, to have a better insight into the current situation in the Middle East, one may be led to investigate the major events that occurred before the ignition of World War I. One fact that has remained conspicuous is the notion that the war seems to have been characterized by empires rubbing shoulders for global power and economic dominance. In this regard, some of the remarkable empires included the British Empire, consisting of Canada, South Africa, Australia, and India. The French Empire was constituted mainly by African countries, more so in the western and central regions of Africa. Another empire, the Austria-Hungary Empire, involved Austria, Hungary, and most of the Slavic nations whereby. Bosnia-Herzegovina is no exception. One more empire, the Ottoman Empire, which by then was in a state of dissolution, but still had significant control over some regions of the Middle East like Mesopotamia, which today people refer to as Saudi Arabia. In essence, Mesopotamia is a Greek name utilized in describing the land sandwiched by the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

Owing to the notion that the empires were in their early stages of industrialization, several alliances were formed, and treaties were signed before the actual ignition of the Great War. Notably, the treaties remained effective before and after the launch of the World Wars. For instance, the Treaty of London was signed between Britain and Belgium in 1839, its intention was aimed at Belgian neutrality by the British. In 1879, the Dual Alliance Treaty was signed between Austria-Hungary and Germany. The treaty’s basic goal was meant to unite the two states against potential attacks by Russia. As Owen maintains, “Franco-Russian Military Convention Alliance was formed in 1892 to provide military protection in case of attack for France or Germany.” Finally, the Triple Alliance was formed in 1904 and involved the unity of Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Germany against any attack by superior empires.

Notably, most empires did not survive the challenges of the Great War. As such, some states emerged as winners, while other empires lost the war to the perceived stronger empires. In this context, winning nations included the United States, Italy, Russia, France, and Great Britain. Losers, on the other hand, were comprised of the Austria-Hungary Empire, German Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Evidence in literature reveals that the Ottoman Empire faced a permanent dissolution and therefore became extinct in the long run. As a result, the Austria-Hungary Empire gave birth to countries like Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. The Russian Empire may be responsible for states like Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Greater Middle East regions were basically carved out by the British and French empires.

Israel and Middle East as a Consequence of the Great War

The impact of World War I is still significant in the Middle East, especially in the countries within the western regions of Asia. In essence, the war led to military wagers and geopolitics that saw the birth of Israel and most countries of the Greater Middle East, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and countries within the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf. In the same way, Saudi Arabia established its present territories. However, the event of Armenian genocide, which took place between the period of 1915-1916, for which the Ottoman Empire is being accused, has remained a major obstacle in the way of Turkey (Successor state) to achieve full entry into the European Union.

The decision that led Turkey to side with Germany in late 1914 left London worrying about the possible alienation of the Muslims by the resistance against the Caliph in India and other parts of the world. As such, there was a necessity to gather adequate intelligence aimed at carrying out the appropriate propaganda that would a play crucial role in restoring security for the Muslims in the region. In effect, Sir Mark Sykes (the advisor to Lord Kitchener) made a proposal that influenced the establishment of the Arabian Bureau within Cairo, Egypt. Sir Henry McMahon still maintained the position of the British High Commissioner in Cairo. Ideally, both McMahon and Kitchener had a strong link with India. Evidence in the literature suggests that the former may have been assigned the role of a Commander-in-Chief within the Indian empire from 1902-1909. However, the disagreements between him and Viceroy Curzon limited the lifespan of the latter’s tenure. In essence, the Shimla Conference that was held in 1914, whereby McMahon acted in the role of Foreign Secretary, saw the agreements that led to the establishment of the McMahon Line or Tibet borders.

Nonetheless, the Arabs may have been double-crossed by the British through the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. Another double-cross had been perpetrated earlier by the British in 1916 through the conclusion of the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement that would see the division of western Asia between France and Britain. Sykes seems to have been instructed by Lord Kitchener in the midst of Hussein’s correspondence with McMahon about negotiations regarding French territories. The French side was coordinated by the interlocutor Georges Francois Picot in the November 1915 territorial negotiations. As a result, Britain and France divided the region among themselves, with the objective of exercising control, otherwise or directly. The Syrian Coast and some parts of what history has rendered as Lebanon have been engulfed by French territories. In effect, Britain took full control over southern and central Mesopotamia, the regions mainly located around Basra and Baghdad provinces. Moreover, the mix of religious and cultural backgrounds may have led Palestine to sustain an international administration since Christian powers, such as Russia, had a vested interest in the area. Furthermore, other parts of the region, such as Jordan, Mosul, and Syria, would prefer local ruling by chiefs, which would be supervised by the British in the southern regions and the French in the northern parts. However, later consultations resulted in an agreement that would see Russia having full control over Dardanelles and Istanbul. Worth noting is the notion that Japan, which seems to have been the only powerful state within Asia, would still be kept in the ring of power wrangles.

Russia, France, and Britain may have been the major empires wrangling for the position that would be left by the dissolved Ottoman Empire, even long before the ignition of the Great War. As the war commenced, however, Germany imposed a greater influence on states within the Greater Middle East in the wake of the Great War. Further indicators show that Great Britain had a concern for securing its interest in the Middle East, which was majorly oil resource abundance and the Suez Canal, offering convenient mobility for ships and trading commodities within the region. Moreover, the British colony, for example, India, managed to mobilize troops in the mission aimed at conquering Bahrain. Britain and France finally managed to take the war to the door of the Ottoman Empire. This marked the beginning of the Great War, which spread faster to cover the whole of the Middle East.

Organization of the Greater Middle East before the Great War

The Greater Middle East was mainly dominated by Arabia, Persia, and the Ottoman Empire. During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire encompassed regions around Mesopotamia, Turkey, Palestine, and Syria. It is crucial to note that by this time, Israel had not yet been established. However, Armenia also formed part of the Ottoman Empire. Persia, which today the world recognizes as Iran, seems to have been divided into three basic spheres of influence prior to the Great War. In essence, before Persia transformed into modern-day Iran, it was primarily controlled by Britain and Russia, while some regions remained neutral zones. However, the regions remained the main battlegrounds for the British, Turkish, and Russian troops. Nonetheless, Arabia was disintegrated into Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Kuwait, and Oman.

Palestine (1918-1948)

It would be crucial to note that the name “Palestine” was influenced by the ancient Greeks, for which they may have meant a region in the Middle East located between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. According to Danahar, “Palestine was within the territories of the Ottoman Empire since 1517, and it was ruled by the Turks till the First World War” However, the Turks’ reign in Palestine did not last toward the conclusion of the Great War. In essence, they were conquered by General Allenby, who led the British troops in the region by then. The Great War was concluded by peace treaties that influenced French and British dominance in the Ottoman Empire, including a significant part of Palestine. As a result, Britain ended up ruling the region under the mandate of the League of Nations starting from 1920-1948.

Notably, the Jewish People seem to have also been promised the same land (Palestine). Moreover, after the Balfour Declaration in 1920, several Jews migrated to Palestine, which was mainly dominated by the Arabs. At the moment, the British still exercised their authority over both Arabs and Jews. Due to the mix of cultural and religious beliefs, the Jews and Arabs did not sustain a peaceful coexistence for long. More specifically, frequent conflicts erupted between the two sides and lasted for more than two years before situations were put under control in 1929. Since then, the British took a pivotal role in restoration of peace between Arabs and Jews.

Contributions of the Jewish Agency in the Great War
In literature, evidence still maintains that the Balfour Declaration in 1917 remained the epitome of Jewish contributions tothe conflicts. For instance, James Arthur Balfour was appointed as the United Kingdom Prime Minister in 1902, which was initiated as a means of finding a successor to the former Prime Minister (Salisbury). Balfour was mainly interested in the Jewish motives that became visible during peace negotiations between Joseph Chamberlain and Theodor Herzl. More specifically, the arguments were based around the Jews occupying the Sinai Peninsula, even though Chamberlain’s party lost the elections held in 1905.

At the beginning of 1906, a meeting was held between Lord Balfour and Chaim Weizmann, whereby Balfour requested Weizmann to account for the reason why only Palestine was seen as the basis of Zionism. In essence, Lord Balfour’s basic interest was aimed at the achievement of Zionism during the Great War. However, the notion of Zionist victory in Palestine left Jews confronting trouble and hatred. Furthermore, Rogan states that “the Bolshevik coup d’état was blamed on the Jews in 1917, which led to the death of more than 100,000 Jewish soldiers during the campaigns of anti-Bolshevik, initiated by the Russians, Poles and Ukrainians”. In addition, the conflict’s main upheaval altered the demographic maps for the Jewish people. As such, the intercontinental movements were reduced, even though massive refugee movements were still felt in Europe.

The Dissonance that Shadowed

On the examination of the discord that may have followed the war, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and Persia may be countries of interest. For instance, the decision that led the British to rule Iraq resulted in three mistakes that rendered Iraq a frequent war zone until the present day. Among the missteps, the British rulers seem not to have properly understood social issues or the political organization of Iraq. In essence, the British colonists appear to have underestimated ANM (Arab Nationalist Movement), which was a major opposition in the country. Moreover, most of the provinces within Iraq were under the rule of sheiks and tribes, which resulted in a distinctive religious, cultural, and ethnic identity. More specifically, the citizens of Iraq had not adapted to a centralized government that involved the protection and voices of the minorities in the region, such as Christians and Jews. Disagreements erupted in the region in the early 1920s, with the initiation of the Cairo Conference in 1921 in order to reduce the number of British troops in Iraq. Furthermore, the British leaders in the region vowed to construct an independent Kurdistan in the northern part of Iraq. As a consequence, the Turkish Kurds have continued demonstrating their efforts in the desire for the attainment of an independent region. In addition, the Cairo Conference saw Faisal appointed as king. In essence, King Faisal Bin Al Hussein Bin Ali El-Hashemi was appointed king since he remained vibrant in the success of the Arab revolution in the fight against the Ottoman Empire. It has been discovered that King Faisal rebelled against British rule and made efforts aimed at achieving a solitary state identity in Iraq. Since then, the Shiites, Kurds, and Sunni Arabs have been engaged in conflict interactions for political and economic dominance in Iraq.

In Palestine, since the British did not wish to engage France in any sort of conflict, Faisal was given a warning that would end his tenure in Iraq in case Abdullah took the war to Syria. The split marked the beginning of the frequent Israeli-Arab conflicts the world is witnessing today. In essence, Jordan was being considered by the Israelis as part of the future home for the Jewish. In Persia, the Anglo-Persian Agreement signed in 1919 after the Great War would ensure that Persia gain maximum benefits from petroleum trading activities with the British. Unfortunately, the Iranian parliament rejected the agreement in 1921. Moreover, Qajar Ahmad Shah was dislodged from power by the parliament four years later. Reza Pahlavi, his successor, rebranded Persia as present-day Iran. However, Iran had been facing hard times from constant invasion by the Soviet army in oil conflicts.

Contributions of the Great War in the Present Day-Israel and Middle East

Events that took place after WWI (World War I) led to the extinction of weaker empires whereby only the strong nations, such as France, Great Britain, Russia, the United States, and Italy, survived. Among the perished empires are the German Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Austria-Hungary Empire. As such, the Ottoman Empire was succeeded by modern-day Turkey, which by then was an independent country. Until today, Turkey has remained the largest and most superior nation among the countries of the Middle East. More revelations indicate that Lebanon separated its territory from Syria, which had formed part of Lebanon for centuries before the launch of the First World War. Furthermore, the two states remained under French rule until the conclusion of the Second World War.

Mesopotamia, which is modern-day records as Iraq, may have been constructed from three primary Turkish provinces. The latter included Basra in the southern regions, Baghdad in the central region, and Mosul in the northern regions, which is also referred to as Kurdistan. Yet, after the conclusion of the war, these empires were amalgamated into one nation under the colony of Britain. Furthermore, the British Empire later conquered Palestine and put it under British rule. Palestine was divided into two states whereby the eastern regions of Palestine transformed into Trans-Jordan and Jordan later on. Some parts of northeastern Turkey became internationally recognized as Armenia and Georgia. It is crucial to note that British rule dominated Persia, which should have been conquered by Russia. However, Russia seems to have been suffering from the problems of its own creation: mainly civil wars. In the year 1932, several kingdoms within Arabia that were still independent became united into one nation known today as Saudi Arabia. Yet, some states still remained independent, for example, Muscat, Oman, and Yemen. As a result, the three states were later combined to form the modern-day United Arab Emirates.


So, what was the underlying cause of World War 1? Today’s current situation of Israel and the Greater Middle East may be attributed to the First World War. In essence, it is believed that the battle had a great influence in molding the Middle East without regarding social factors; for example, culture, ethnicity, and religious underpinnings. From a literature review, it seems that the carving up of the region was done intentionally to grant winners of the Great War power over the empires that were engulfed in the war. However, Palestine and Israel are facing frequent turmoil owing to the Balfour Declaration. Therefore, most of the current socioeconomic situations in Israel and boundary lines in the Greater Middle East are deeply rooted in the First World War. Only the superior countries like Russia, France, the U.S.A., Great Britain, and Italy conquered the perceived inferior political territories, such as the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and the German Empire.

Frequently Asked Questions
What were the underlying causes of the First World War?

A complex blend of factors, such as militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism, underpinned the root causes of the First World War. The interplay of these factors fueled mounting tensions amongst the European nations, ultimately creating a volatile atmosphere ripe for a worldwide conflict.

Why did Germany start WWI?

Historians continue to dispute the underlying causes of World War I. While some contend that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was the principal cause, others argue that the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia ignited the entire conflict. Regardless of the initial trigger, it is evident that various factors played a part in the outbreak of war in 1914.

Who was the aggressor in WWI?

The belligerent alliance responsible for instigating World War I was the Central Powers, encompassing Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire.

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What Was the Underlying Cause of World War 1. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-was-the-underlying-cause-of-world-war-1/