I received a press release from Al-Jazeera today about a new program they will be broadcasting on the Al-Jazeera English channel that examines World War I battles in the Middle East from the perspective of the Ottoman Turks. It sounds really interesting and a way to gain a more balanced view of the the conflict as it unfolded in the colonial political environment of the Middle East. I have to admit what little I know about World War I in that region was the result of watching David Lean's 1962 production of "Lawrence of Arabia", 1981's "Gallipoli", a film starring a very young Mel Gibson and the 1987 Australian production "The Lighthorsemen."
Unfortunately, I could not find the new documentary on the Al-Jazeera America channel schedule on DISH Network on November 18th or up on YouTube but I will keep an eye out for it. Perhaps it is only available in Europe at this time.
In this series, Producer Journalist Malek Al Tureiki, provides a political and cultural reading into World War I from an Arab and Islamic perspective, citing the commencement date of the war as November 14th 2014, when Arabs were involved in the “jihad” against the Allied troops upon the call of the Mufti of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. This is in juxtaposition to the date Britain commemorates the war on August 4th, 2014 – the day it entered the war.
The series sheds light on how colonized nations, which had no say in their own fate, ended up being forced into wars which resulted in enormous sacrifices. As a result of this, the number of victims within the Ottoman population, including Arabs, is in fact much higher than that of the Europeans. While the percentage of victims in Germany was 9% and 11% in France, it reached between 14-25 % in Turkey and the Levant.
It was also in the Battle of Gallipoli that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern day Turkey, began to rise as a military commander and political leader. The unknown truth until today, even in Turkey and the Arab World, is that two thirds of the troops involved in the Ottoman victory over Allied troops were from Iraq and the Levant.
World War I through Arab Eyes relies on archival materials presented for the first time, telling the fascinating story of how the war affected the Middle East – reverberations still being felt to the present day.
Broadcast Details on the English News Channel:
The first episode on Al Jazeera English screens on [Friday]? November 18th at 20:00
GMT, following which it will be available online.
2nd and 3rd episodes are running on the 25th of November and 2nd of December respectively, at the same times as the 1st broadcast.