Lines In The Sand
It is 1932, nine years after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Despite Woodrow Wilson’s wishes that the time of empires had past, and strong assurances from France and the UK that their mandatory power over the Middle East was merely a transitional supervision, European control over the Arab world has never been stronger. Following the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, France and the UK divided up the spoils of the region formerly under Ottoman hegemony, drawing a line in the sand “from the e in Acre to the last K in Kirkuk”, marking their zones of influence.
And yet, as the pendulum of power swings back and forth, stirs of Arab nationalism echo across the erstwhile cradle of civilisation in the wake of Western dominance, causing concern for the great powers. Crippled, both economically and in manpower, and with increasing public pressure to reduce government expenditure on defence, both mandatory states are increasingly having to cut down their military presence in the area. Meanwhile, France is undergoing a political crisis, as control of the government is wrested between the Bloc National and Cartel Des Gauches, whilst Joseph Stalin attempts to incite communist revolt.
As Syria, Iraq, Transjordan and Lebanon raise their heads to the prospect of independence, it is clear the old colonial powers will not give up without a fight. While France and the UK compete to control the Levant, and Arab nationalists plot to overthrow their mandatory yoke, will we see a continuation of European regional dominance, or the rise of new, young states shaking off the mantle of pseudo-colonialist rule?
You will, over the course of the three days of the conference, take up the role of a key policy- and/or decision-maker in our six cabinet crisis simulation, issuing directives to reshape the course of history.
The crisis will aim to promote debate about:
the effectiveness of early multilateral diplomatic bodies such as the League of Nations;
whether or not the French and British approaches to tackling the economic hardships of the Great Depression were suitable;
methods for battling internal instabilities in both established European and fledgling Middle-Eastern democracies; and
the role of colonial powers in the Middle East and how their actions contributed to the current situation of the subcontinent in 2019, even in the twilights’ of their empires.