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Syria and Egypt sample essay

It was in the year 1798 that Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Commander, with his French Army, arrived in Egypt. At the time, Egypt had been reduced to a province within the famed Ottoman Empire. It is often stated that the arrival of the French, Egypt was able to once again establish its lost contact with the Western part of the world. The French were expelled in a short while, after a period of three years, but Egypt had already been influenced greatly by the French.

(Kjeilen Tore 1996) As typical colonizers, the French were apparently determined to destroy, wherever possible, native social and cultural influences, so that they would be able to feel more at home in the strange lands that they occupied. This fact can be stated about British colonizers as well, and this was nothing but flawed policymaking on the parts of both the French and the British occupiers.

Apparently, say experts, the all powerful colonizers made the mistake of underestimating the locals, and this was the reason why they failed to foresee the fact that rural peoples remained attached to their social customs, perhaps unlike city folk, and this meant that these were the individuals who were motivated into transforming a fight for national independence into a complete war of liberation from external forces. (Maghraoui, Abdeslam 2001)

The fact that English colonizers believed in and followed strictly the famed ‘divide and rule’ policy is evident in Syria, even today. In fact, feels Hallinan Conn, it should come as no surprise that Israelis are even today using this tactic to encourage Kurdish separatism in Iraq and Syria today. After the absorption of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the British entered Syria, and set about pitting one ethnic group against the other, and one religion against the other, in their tried and tested strategy.

(Hallinan, Conn 2004) There is no doubt that British colonization influenced the radicalization of the political environment in Syria; in the 1940’s, Nuri al-Said had made enquiries to take the leadership of the Arab National Movement from Egypt, and he made it known that he would not be able to implement his plan of setting up a ‘Fertile Crescent’ involving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine without outside help. Nuri was aware of the great fear that the West had about the radicalization of Syria, and this was the reason why he wished to execute Iraqi control of Syria.

The US Secretary Dulles warned Iraq against interfering in Syria’ affairs and Nuri promised that he would do nothing to antagonize the state. (Saunders Bonnie F 1996) Syria today has been accused of radicalization, and of helping Iraq in more ways than one. The presence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in Syria is evidence for this fact, and the British cannot deny to the world that it was their own colonization policies that have brought about this state of affairs in the world today, especially when one considers the divide and rule policy that the British were so famous for.

(Elliott, Michael 2003) French influence on Egypt too cannot be denied, and today in Egypt, Jihadi ideology, based on ‘Salafism’ has become popular, so much so that the European part of the world fears this radicalization everyday, and the recent terrorist bombings, in Madrid in 2004, and in London in 2005 are evidence of this fact. Salafis are people who claim to have learnt Islam directly from the Prophet, and they have made it their life mission to eradicate and eliminate the ‘impurities of religion’ that were brought about by the colonization in Muslim parts of the world in years gone by.

Salafis would practice Islam in its purest form, and they will not tolerate any western or European influences on them. ‘Re-Islamization’ is their creed, and what is this but radicalization of the extreme kind? The feelings of powerlessness and of being dominated by Western powers, and the thought that anti-terrorism laws are being applied exclusively on the Islamic world has in all probability led these predominantly Muslim peoples to launch terrorist attacks on the West, and into generating feelings of hostility and antagonism towards the Western people, their cultures, their traditions, and their religion.

(Stemman, Juan Jose Escobar 2006) This then was the impact of the colonial heritage of the French and the British on the radicalization of Syria and Egypt. Although the colonization principles of the French and the British may have differed, the end results appear to be the same. One can only hope that the entire world is not threatened by these people, who have been today, either willingly or unwillingly, cast into the role of terrorists and jihadis, protecting their own culture and religion against all odds.

Works Cited 1. Maghraoui, Abdeslam “Liberalism without Democracy” (2001) Google Book Search http://fpif.org/

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