Modernizing Rulers in the Middle East

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Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Reza Shah had one main goal. The goal was to have foreign powers leave their respective countries of Turkey and Iran. They went about it in different ways. Ataturk secularized his government borrowing heavily on the western influence. Although depending on western influences, Turkey did not become the west. Turkey borrowed ideas to better Turkey for the Turkish citizens, not to become a puppet western state. Reza Shah could not secularize his government. Iran was formed with Shi’ite Islam as the backbone. As western influence overwhelmed Iran, it allowed undue influence to come into the oil rich country. Ataturk was a well-known military man. His victories and losses defined his role as a leader. While Reza Shah was in the military, the people did not gain trust in him due to the lack of victories and losses in actual battle. Since Ataturk was respected more, he could implement the changes and secularization of his country. Reza Shah had to fight for secularization and eventually back down to the pressure from the Shi’ite faction.Although it might seem that Reza Shah was not as successful as Ataturk, the two men faced different problems. Ataturk unified Turkey as Turkish. Reza Shah had to deal with many different tribes, religious leaders, and other factions. Ataturk did not face the severe opposition as Reza Shah. Ataturk did face opposition. however he managed to unite the Turkish people with a sense of nationalism. Reza Shah did not inspire the same nationalism within his people.Ataturk created a government that would not be successor based. Reza Shah’s son succeeded his father. Ataturk’s government had a solid base of elections and fundamental principles. He wanted to create a government, but one that could go on without him. Reza Shah, on the other hand, wanted to create his own personal goals of government with him as the center. That was the main difference between the two men. Ataturk created a secular government that lasted, whereas Reza Shah created one that was not as defined.