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Discuss the influence of the French and British mandates on the rise of authoritarian states in the Middle East.

The French and British mandates significantly influenced the rise of authoritarian states in the Middle East by shaping political structures and fostering nationalist sentiments.

The French and British mandates were established after the fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 divided the Middle East into spheres of influence for Britain and France. This division did not consider the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of the region, leading to the creation of artificial states with arbitrary borders. These states often contained diverse and sometimes antagonistic groups, which made governance challenging and often necessitated strong, centralised control to maintain order, thereby setting the stage for authoritarian rule.

The mandates also influenced the political structures of these states. The colonial powers established centralised administrations, often excluding local elites from power. This created a power vacuum once the mandates ended, which was often filled by military officers or other strongmen who could command the necessary force to maintain control. For example, in Iraq, the British installed a Hashemite monarchy that was overthrown in a military coup in 1958, leading to a series of authoritarian governments culminating in the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Moreover, the mandates fostered nationalist sentiments that contributed to the rise of authoritarian states. The colonial powers' disregard for local traditions and their attempts to impose Western-style governance and culture led to resentment and a desire for self-determination. This often manifested in the form of nationalist movements that sought to throw off colonial rule and establish independent states. However, these movements often lacked democratic traditions or institutions and were dominated by charismatic leaders who were able to mobilise popular support, such as Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Once in power, these leaders often consolidated their control and established authoritarian regimes.

Furthermore, the mandates' economic policies also played a role. The colonial powers often pursued extractive economic policies, focusing on the extraction of resources for export rather than the development of local economies. This led to economic inequality and a lack of development, which created conditions of instability and discontent that authoritarian leaders could exploit to gain and maintain power.

In conclusion, the French and British mandates had a significant influence on the rise of authoritarian states in the Middle East. They shaped the political structures of these states, fostered nationalist sentiments, and pursued economic policies that created conditions conducive to authoritarian rule.

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