chapter  13
26 Pages

Modernizing Rulers in the Independent States

WithArthur Goldschmidt, Aomar Boum

In 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution pulled Russia out of the war and out of the contest for influence over its Middle Eastern neighbors, briefly at least. At least three areas of the Middle East did manage to salvage their independence after the war. The Turks in Anatolia drove off the Western invaders, terminated the moribund Ottoman Empire, and set up the Republic of Turkey. Turkey and Sa'udi Arabia got their present names and boundaries only between the world wars. Although its modern borders differ little from those of the 1890s, Iran is a far cry from the Persia that was divided in 1907 into Russian and British spheres of influence. In each of these states, these changes resulted from the inspiration, ingenuity, and industry of a military commander who became a political leader. These leaders include Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran, and 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn 'Abd al-Rahman in Sa'udi Arabia.