The 3rd Chapter of “History of West Asia and North Africa in the Twentieth Century” Lecture Series | Iraq and Transjordan: 1920-1941

On the afternoon of April 20th, 2021, Prof. Eugene Rogan, Member of the Academic Committee of Institute for International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU), and Professor of Middle East History at the University of Oxford, gave an online lecture on the theme of “Iraq and Transjordan: 1920-1941” to the audience, including students from IIAS and other leading academic institutions home and abroad. This lecture is the third chapter in a series of lectures on “History of West Asia and North Africa in the Twentieth Century” and was hosted by Wang Tingyi, Assistant Professor at IIAS.

Based on the topics and related concepts introduced in the first two chapters, including the consequences of the partition policy during World War I, the rise of nationalism and empire by treaty, this session reviewed the political development in Iraq and Transjordan after WWI. Prof. Rogan pointed out that Iraq and Transjordan were important components of the British Empire in the 1920s, and Britain regarded them as its key strategic hubs in the Middle East.

In 1920, an uprising against British colonial rule broke out in Iraq, driving Britain to implement new administration to the mandates in the Middle East, which is the well-known “Sharifian Solution”. After the Egyptian Conference in 1921, Britain appointed Mecca Sharif Hussein and his sons as rulers of the mandates to maintain British control over the territories. In Iraq, Hussein’s third son Faisal was appointed as king, while in Transjordan, Faisal’s brother Abdullah was appointed to be the ruler.

Prof. Rogan further elaborated on the history of the independence struggle between Iraq and Transjordan under British colonial rule. He stressed that it was unrealistic for Britain to try to make its mandate rule in the Middle East recognized by the people through treaty signing. Because this, on the contrary, drove the rise of national independence movements in various mandates and the emergence of Arab nationalism.

After the lecture, Prof. Rogan had heated discussions with the audience and gave thought-provoking and insightful answers to a number of questions raised by the audience, including the relationship between Britain and the Arab nationalist movements, the relationship between Iraq and Palestine and the comparison between British colonial rule after the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty and USA’s democratization plan after the Iraq War.

Professor Eugene Rogan
BA Columbia, MA PhD Harvard, MA Oxford
Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History
Director, St Antony’s College Middle East Centre

Eugene Rogan is Director of the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He has a B.A. in economics from Columbia, and an M.A. and PhD in Middle Eastern history from Harvard. He taught at Boston College and Sarah Lawrence College before taking up his post in Oxford in 1991, where he teaches the modern history of the Middle East to both undergraduates and graduates as well as providing DPhil supervision. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2017.

He is author of The Arabs: A History (Penguin, 2009, 3rd edition 2018), which has been translated in 18 languages and was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Atlantic Monthly. His earlier works include Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 1999), for which he received the Albert Hourani Book Award of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and the Fuad Köprülü Prize of the Turkish Studies Association; The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (Cambridge University Press, 2001, second edition 2007, with Avi Shlaim), which has been published in Arabic, French, Turkish and Italian editions; and Outside In: On the Margins of the Modern Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2002).

His new book, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920, was published in February 2015.

Text by: Wang Zijing
Typesetting by: Wang Zijing
Reviewed by: Wang Tingyi & Zhang Yuan