by DAVID CRAWFORD
The Emergence of the Middle East 1914-1924 by Howard M. Sachet. (Allen Lane The Penguin Press 80s.)
THE two Germanies have at least met to discuss the aftermath of World War II. The Middle East is less fortunate in the ability of the Ottoman Empire's successor states to resolve the legacy of the First World War.
Dr. .Sachar, a leading Jewish historian, naturally stresses the flaws in the Arab claim to Palestine, although in discussing, for example, the ambiguousness of the Arabs' wartime commitment, he sets this carefully in its context of Anglo-French territorial ambitions in the Middle East.
At the same time, he does not play down Palestinian Arab nationalism, which he dates from 1919 and not, as do some commentators, from the Six Day War. In fact, he sees the modern claims of the Jewish and Arab peoples as inextricably interlinked; not only did the Emir Hussein, Whose sons became Arab kings, issue "several cordial invitations to the Jews" to return to Israel but. as the Jews grew in number, through immigration, so did the Arabs. It was, he argues, thanks to "Jewish immigration and economic development" that the Arab population of ,Palestine rose from "perhaps 260,000 in 1882 to 600,000 by 1920. It is not only the Jews and Arabs whose problems date from the Middle Eastern theatre of the First World War. Dr. Sacher suggests that the present troubles of Greece can be traced, as least partly, to her unlucky colonial adventure in Asia Minor in The 1920s when, her armies routed by Turkish nationalists, she not only bolt her dream of a revived Hellenic empire on both shores of the Aegean, but saw her historic Asian settletrnents uprooted and thrown Iback across the sea.
The real losers in the emergent Middle East were not the Jews or Arabs, or the Greeks, but the Armenians. This unfortunate people, after enduring virtual extinction in large areas of the dying Ottoman Empire, lost their shoat-lived post war autonomy in a [ruthless pincer movement between the 'Bolshevist onsurge and the armies of the renascent Turkish nation, which itself gained from the Ottoman collapse by proving strong enough to thwart the plans of the victorious powers for the 'partition of Turkey.
Dr. Sacher's book is thorough and well documented; disconcertingly, however, his maps tend to be unhelpful, !both in the detail they contain and in the explicitness of textual references to them. With this reservation, his book is a stimulating and lbalanced background to events in a zone where peace and war both lost their meaning.