Southern Asia 1946: Independence in the Middle East

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 28 Sep 1946 (Independence: Independence in the Middle East), showing the following events: Cabinet Mission to India; Syrian Independence; Soviet-Iranian Oil Agreement; Independence of Transjordan; Chinese Civil War reopens; Fontainebleau Agreements; Direct Action Day; Anti-communist revolt in Iran.

During World War II, the French had promised Syria and Lebanon independence. After the war, they attempted to revoke these promises, but finally withdrew under international pressure. Meanwhile, the British agreed to the independence of Transjordan.


British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India's influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

2 Apr–25 Jun 1946 Cabinet Mission to India

The United Kingdom Cabinet Mission arrives in Delhi to discuss the transfer of power from the British government to Indian leadership. Its first plan proposes a united Dominion of India with provinces grouped according to whether they had a Muslim or Hindu majority, but this is rejected by both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. Its second plan, dividing India to create one Hindu- and one Muslim-majority state, is also wikipedia

17 Apr 1946 Syrian Independence

Under pressure from Syrian nationalists, the United Kingdom, and the United States, France completed its military withdrawal from Syria on 15 April 1946. Two days later, Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli declared the independence of the Syrian wikipedia

9 May 1946 Soviet-Iranian Oil Agreement

The Soviet Union signs the Soviet-Iranian Oil Agreement with Iran, agreeing to withdraw its troops from northwest Iran in return for a 51% oil share and influence in the Iranian government. The treaty is opposed by the United Nations. On 22 October 1947, well after the Soviet withdrawal, the Iranian Majlis rejects ratification of the agreement by 102 votes to wikipedia

17 Jun 1946 Independence of Transjordan

On 22 March 1946 the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan sign the Treaty of London which, when ratified by both parties, will establish the full independence of Transjordan. The Treaty is ratified by Transjordan on 25 May 1946 and Transjordan officially becomes the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, with Amir Abdullah becoming King. The final ratifications take place in Amman on 17 June 1946, with formal British recognition of Transjordan’s independence (although some British restrictions on Transjordan’s sovereignty will only be removed in March 1948).in wikipedia

26 Jun 1946 Chinese Civil War reopens

The Chinese Nationalists attacked the Xuanhua Hotel region—the center of the Chinese Communist base in the North China Plain—on four fronts, marking the full-scale reopening of the Chinese Civil War after several periods of truce following the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Communists, already departing from the Xuanhua Hotel region, would break through this encirclement attempt and regroup by the end of wikipedia

6 Jul–14 Sep 1946 Fontainebleau Agreements

A Franco-Viet Minh conference opens at Fontainebleau, France, to negotiate Vietnamese autonomy within French Indochina. The Viet Minh protest both the French formation of a separate state in Cochin China—which the French had agreed was Vietnamese—and the simultaneous conference at Da Lat in Annam—which the French decide to hold with Laos, Cambodia, and the southern Vietnamese while the Viet Minh leadership is in France. Nonetheless Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh agrees to sign a Franco-Vietnam Modus Vivendi, giving Vietnam autonomy in exchange for an end to wikipedia

16 Aug 1946 Direct Action Day

In July, following the refusal of Indian National Congress to accept the creation of Pakistan, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah declares 16 August as ‘Direct Action Day’—a day of protest in support of a separate Muslim state. When that day arrives, Hindu-Muslim rioting breaks out across Calcutta and is only contained when the Viceroy places Bengal under direct rule on 21 August. Thousands die in the riots and many more flee the city, with unrest spreading across British India in the following wikipedia

23 Sep–17 Oct 1946 Anti-communist revolt in Iran

In the aftermath of the Soviet-Iranian Oil Agreement and left-wing demonstrations in Abadan, a British-armed tribal uprising breaks out in Fars against the perceived spread of communism and Soviet influence in the government. The revolt soon spreads to include the Qashqai, the Bakhtiari, and other tribes from Fars, Khuzestan, and the Gulf. Responding to tribal demands, the Iranian government forms a new cabinet on 17 October without ministers from the communist Tudeh wikipedia