Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

DocuFilm: World War 1 in the Orient

Recommended Posts

I did watch this really interesting documentary on TV today and thought maybe some of you have not seen it aswell...

Excellent documentary about World War 1 and the impacts on the middle east nowadays, aswell involvements of 

european war parties in the sorrow of the arab population. Arab and european Historians are beeing interviewed...



World War One in the Orient - through arab eyes





World War One was four years of bitter conflict from 1914 to 1918. Called 'The Great War' and the 'war to end all wars',

it is often remembered for its grim and relentless trench warfare - with Europe seen as the main theatre of war.


But this was a battle fought on many fronts.


There is a story other than the mainstream European narrative.

It is not told as often but was of huge importance during the war and of lasting significance afterwards.


Thousands of arabs were forced to fight along  european western powers with the start of the war in 1914.

In War Theaters of the Orient and even on european ground. Partially victims of barbaric war tactics: either 

they were victims of mustard gas or executed in the thousands. They fought as conscripts for the European

colonial powers occupying Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia - and for the Ottomans on the side of Germany

and the Central Powers. The post-war settlement would also shape the Middle East for the next hundred years.


In the turmoil of war many arab soldiers lost their lifes, moslems had to fight against moslems, the Ottoman Empire shattered.

The countries in the near east were caught between fronts and ultimately partitioned by the colonial powers, regardless of their own history,

cultural spheres or of its population.


The documentary "World War One Through Arab Eyes" from the Al Jazeera network, shows how the conflicts nowadays  in the near east up to 

the current civil war in Syria are founded and seed by european colonial power plays.



...more (overview/first TV broadcast in Germany) 








Part I

Arab Troops to the Front (The Arabs)


The first part reminds on around one million arab soldiers recruited by the Brits in Egypt,  and around 250.000 soldiers from countries

like Marocco, Algeria and Tunesia which were conscripted for World War 1 by France.


Until nowadays it is broadly unkown, arab soldiers were fighting in Europe against the German Empire

when in the same time a worldwide Jihad was spoken out  against the Entente and the Ottoman Empire in alliance with the Central Powers.


The Battle of Gallipoli was one of the bloodiest campaign and biggest defeat for the Allies in WW1, which tried to conquer the Ottoman Empire from this peninsula.

Innitiated by the former First Lord of Admirality Winston Churchill and defeated by the later state founder Kemal Attatuerk.


Resistance and protests did start against the colonial recruitments/conscriptions politics and uprisings were happening,

despite it the majority had no choice and had to follow orders and fight.


@)At the end of Part I they talk about arab POW´s and also about a camp in Germany with Korean and Vietnamese soldiers.

As a side info: around  100,000   vietnamese conscripts from french Indo-China did take part in WW1; I could not find quickly infos about Korean ones

- maybe someone else can contribute here..







Part II

The Downfall of the Ottoman Empire (The Ottomans)


The second part is about the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the history of the Ottoman-German relationship 

which led to the Treaty of Alliance between them in August 1914.

World War 1 did offer an excellent possibility for european powers to orientate themself to the East,

with the aim to conquer the Ottoman Empire and participate it amongst them.


Ottoman troops had to fight against several opponents:

against Russia in the Caucasus, against the Brits in Iraq and Egypt.


Around one quarter of the Ottoman Empire population died due to the 

consequences of war - around the same amount of victims from France and Germany together.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Part III

Colonial Power Play in the Near East (The New Middle East)


The third part of the film is about the participation of the Middle East, based on the Sykes-Picot agreement from 1916.

Borders were just drawn with the lineal, regardless of ethnics and national movements across the arab world.


Conflicts would be ineviteable.


Western powers were widen out their interests and did profit from new trade routes.


Despite the Egyptian Revolution and the Iraq Uprising, Arab subservience to Ottoman rule was replaced by a series of

mandates across the region in which Britain and France seized control of the areas they prized most – to satisfy their own ambitions,

interests and ultimately to gain access to region's valuable oil resources.


The war gave birth to the Turkish nationalist movement which led to the founding of the modern Turkish state;

and to Zionism, aided greatly by the Balfour Declaration of 1917. 

The Treaty of Versaillles, however, was referred to by one German-Ottoman military leader not as a peace but as 'a twenty year armistice' – and so it proved...



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this