The aim of this chapter is to discuss the nature of anti-colonial movements in the context of various historical phases. This is carried out in order to unearth the roots, vectors of mobilisation, ideological fundaments and methods of action of such movements. It also serves to analyse political, rhetorical and sociological continuities and ruptures as well as to expose ambiguities in relations between anti-colonial movements, state-building processes and the outside world.

The chapter draws upon various archival sources and an extensive review of the existing literature. It examines episodes like the (1798–1801) resistance against the French and British occupation of Egypt, Gaza and Syria; Ottoman and local responses to European efforts at colonising Ottoman provinces in the nineteenth century; Syrian and Iraqi resistance against the colonial interpretation by France and Great-Britain of the League of Nations’ Mandates (1920s) as well as the anti-colonial dimension of the emergence of national movements in the Middle East region. It concludes with considerations on the anti-colonial rhetoric of contemporary insurgencies and longue-durée perspectives on anti-colonial voices.