The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3225.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:35 PM

Abstract #74190

Middle Eastern wars and humanitarian disasters

Michael Provence, PhD, Southern Methodist University, Assistant Professor, Clements Department of History, Dallas, TX 75275-0176, 214-768-2968,

In 1920 Great Britain was master of the Middle East. WWI ended late in 1918, and the British army occupied the former Ottoman realms that would become Turkey, Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel. The lands of the Eastern Mediterranean had been devastated, and thirty percent of the civilian population had perished by famine, disease, and war. British forces had thoroughly blockaded all Mediterranean ports and engaged in a policy of slow starvation of the inhabitants Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. British agents purchased indigenous grain with gold and smuggled it south to provision their troops, exacerbating an already desperate situation. Once the British occupied the country, they released stores of hoarded grain and received the gratitude of the starving inhabitants, as “liberators.” Gratitude was short lived, however when people discovered that promises of self-determination and democracy were empty, and France and Britain competed to expand their colonial empires into the Middle East. British war policy led indirectly to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. French and British secret agreements led directly to the partition of the former Ottoman realms in opposition to the wishes of the inhabitants. Every Middle Eastern conflict of the last century traces its roots to that moment of imperial ambition and to its legacy of hastily drawn borders, backroom deals, convenient alliances, and arrogant disregard for the aspirations of so-called “less civilized peoples.” This paper will trace the echoes of the decisions of 1920 in the Middle East of today.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: War, Violence Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

War and Public Health

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA