Both history buffs and followers of current politics will find much to learn in this documentary about the Middle East's role in World War I. BLOOD AND OIL explores how Western desire for Middle Eastern oil at the beginning of the 20th century has had lasting effects on the region in the 21st century.
Except for the Dardanelles/Gallipoli campaigns, the extensive combat operations in the Middle East during World War I have been largely overlooked in documentary programs. Given the historical significance of the Ottoman Empire's demise in 1918, and the ongoing importance of Middle Eastern oil reserves to Western economies, a close study of this conflict provides two important lessons:
1. The Treaty of Versailles, agreed to by the Western powers in 1919, paved the way for military and political chaos in the Middle East, which continues to this very day.
2. Oil reserves in the Middle East became an important strategic concern for Western powers, helping to justify their economic, diplomatic, and military interference in the region.
After the end of World War I, most of the Ottoman Empire was carved up into "spheres of influence," controlled mostly by the British and French. The remaining territories became the modern state of Turkey in 1923--after a five-year struggle by Turkish nationalists against Western domination.
With little regard for cultural, historical, religious, and demographic considerations, the West sponsored the creation of several new nations: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Thus, a "tinderbox" was built from Western greed, igniting a multitude of wars, revolts, coups, and military occupations that truly have made the defeat of the Ottoman Empire little more than a hollow victory.