For decades the countries of the greater Middle East region have played a critical role in world affairs due to their strategic importance. The new series MAJOR NATIONS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST provides detailed information about a number of the largest or most important countries in this region. Each book focuses on a particular country, providing an in-depth examination of the geography, history, society, and demographics, as well as thorough reporting on and analysis of the current political situation. The books range in length from 112 to 144 pages, and include 40 to 50 color photographs, maps, and graphics that will help student readers put events into historical and present day perspective. Timelines, glossaries, print and Web sources for further information, text-dependent questions, project and report ideas, and a useful index are included with each title.
Introduction by Camille Pecastaing, Ph.D., Director of the Middle East Studies program at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) served as Editorial Consultants for this series. FPRI is one of the nation's oldest "think tanks." The Institute's Middle East Program focuses on Gulf security, monitors the Arab-Israeli peace process, and sponsors an annual conference for teachers on the Middle East, plus periodic briefings on key developments in the region.
Since the 1970s, Afghanistan has been devastated by social unrest and civil war, as various groups have fought for control over this country in central Asia. The United States and other nations have tried to help create a democratic and progressive government, but many problems remain. The U.S.-backed Afghan government must still contend with various factions for control. One of these is the resurgent Taliban, an Islamist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. In addition, poverty and disease are widespread. This book examines the economic and political issues facing Afghanistan today. It provides up-to-date information about the country's geography and climate, history, society, important cities and communities, and relations with other countries.
Nearly 5,000 years ago, on the eastern edge of the Sahara Desert, one of the world's earliest and greatest civilizations began to flourish. That civilization, Egypt, has held a firm grip on the human imagination ever since, with its powerful pharaohs, its awe-inspiring pyramids, and its mysterious religious beliefs. Today, it is the most populous Arab country, as well as a vital member of the global community. In January 2011, Egyptians began to hold mass demonstrations aimed at removing longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak from power. Within a few weeks, Mubarak's government had lost control and he resigned as president. However, Egypt remains a nation in transition, with a military intervention into government affairs in 2013 and the implementation of a new constitution. The election of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president in 2014 has resulted in a stabilizing of the political situation.
Iran, once known as Persia, is a major regional power. Its size, history, and resources have enabled it to exert significant influence over its neighbors in the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran is one of the world's few countries where Shiite Muslims are a majority, and since 1979 it has been ruled by Muslim clerics as a theocracy. Many world leaders are concerned that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, which would disrupt the fragile balance of power in the volatile Middle East. Since 2006, the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have imposed economic sanctions on Iran, and negotiated with Iranian leaders in hopes of convincing the state to give up its weapons program.
Between 2003 and 2011, the United States maintained a large military presence in Iraq in an attempt to build a stable, democratic society in that country. That effort, most experts agree, has failed. Today Iraq is a country bitterly divided by civil war. The conflict has emerged along sectarian lines: members of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority have joined with Islamist rebels from Syria to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized control over large areas of territory from the Shiite Muslim majority in Iraq's elected government. Kurds in the north have remained loyal to the Iraqi government so far, but have not ruled out the possibility of breaking away from Iraq to form their own country at some point. The continuing unrest is a major concern to the international community because of Iraq's strategic importance. With the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, Iraq holds great economic value for an energy-hungry globe. As one of the largest Arab states, Iraq is politically important in the region as well. If Iraqis cannot resolve their problems, the ongoing conflict will continue to have a destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East.
In 1948 the world witnessed an extraordinary event: the birth of Israel. After nearly 2,000 years as a stateless people scattered across the globe and frequently persecuted by the societies in which they lived--most tragically during the Holocaust of World War II--Jews finally had a homeland in Palestine, the ancestral land of the Jewish people. In the years since 1948, Israel has become the Middle East's most powerful, and most democratic, country. But the foundation and defense of the Jewish state ultimately came at the expense of a state for the Palestinians, another people with ancient ties to Palestine. For decades Israeli and Palestinian blood has stained the land, a string of peace initiatives collapsing amid the seemingly endless cycle of attack and retaliation. Resolving the conflict in a manner that preserves Israel's security remains an elusive goal not just for Israel, but also for the many countries with interests in the strategic Middle East, including the United States.
Though small, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan plays a crucial role in the affairs of the volatile Middle East. A moderate Arab country, Jordan borders not only Israel and the West Bank, but also Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This strategic location--along with the nuanced and forward-looking foreign policy of Jordan's young ruler, King Abdullah II--has made Jordan an island of calm in the often-turbulent Middle East. Political stability and Jordan's highly educated workforce have made it one of the most prosperous Arab states. In recent years Jordan's proximity to Syria and Iraq, two countries devastated by civil war, has increased regional tension. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an Islamist rebel group fighting in those countries, has attempted to attract young Jordanians to its cause. Jordan has responded to retaliation by joining the United States and other nations in launching airstrikes against ISIL strongholds.
At one time, Lebanon was considered the most cosmopolitan country in the Middle East. That changed with a devastating 15-year-long civil war that began in the mid-1970s, followed by another 15 years of Syrian domination. As Lebanon attempts to rebuild, it faces many problems. The terrorist organization Hezbollah operates freely in southern Lebanon, and its leaders have been elected to important positions in the state's government. In addition, more than 400,000 Palestinians live as refugees in the country. Periodic attacks on Israel from within Lebanon have led to deadly retaliation. This book examines the economic and political issues facing Lebanon today. It provides up-to-date information about the country's geography and climate, history, society, important cities and communities, and relations with other countries.
When the British Empire partitioned its Indian colony in 1947, it created two independent states: India, where most residents were Hindus, and Pakistan, where most were Muslims. Violence immediately broke out, during which approximately 250,000 people were killed and a million others became refugees. Since then Pakistan and India have fought several wars and there have been numerous tensions along their borders, particularly in the disputed region known as Kashmir. The next full-scale war between these rivals could be devastating, as both countries now possess nuclear weapons. This book examines the economic and political issues facing Pakistan today, which include overpopulation, terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, and corruption. It provides up-to-date information about the country's geography and climate, history, society, important cities and communities, and relations with other countries.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most important states in the Middle East, as well as the larger Muslim world. The birthplace of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, the kingdom is also home to some of that religion's most sacred places, including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As custodian of key Islamic traditions, Saudi Arabia enjoys a leading status among its Muslim neighbors. But as the world's largest exporter of oil, it also has forged strong relationships with Western states, including the United States. Saudi Arabia's government is based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law, in which women have few rights and harsh punishments are imposed on those who do not conform to the law. Since the 1930s, the ruling al-Saud family has held all political power. In January 2015, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud succeeded his half brother as king of Saudi Arabia, but the new ruler is as unlikely as his predecessors to all greater freedom or democracy in the kingdom.
The land known as Syria is at the heart of the Middle East. Dotting Syria's landscape are the ancient ruins of the many civilizations that have ruled this land, dating back some 8,000 years. These ruins bear witness to Syria's troubled past under the rule of competing empires and colonial powers. Today the Syrian Arab Republic is ruled by a brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad, whose repressive policies and blatant disregard for human rights has led to the outbreak of a devastating civil war. That conflict, which began in 2011, has cost the lives of more than 220,000 people and has left roughly 9 million Syrians as refugees. Rebel groups now control large areas of Syrian territory; some, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have spread terror and destruction into neighboring Iraq. Both the United Nations and the Arab League have sought a peaceful resolution to the crisis, but this tragic civil war shows no sign of ending soon.
The Kurds are the world's largest ethnic group without a state of their own. Most live in the mountainous region historically known as Kurdistan; however, this region, which includes parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, never existed as a political entity. Under the rule of others, the Kurds were discriminated against and sometimes persecuted, so the dream of a national home holds a powerful grip on the Kurdish imagination. Many Kurds hope that the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan will break away from Iraq and form a separate and independent state. This book examines the economic and political issues facing the Kurdish people today. It provides up-to-date information about the geography and climate of the areas in which the Kurds live, the history of this ethnic group and its society, important Kurdish cities and communities, and the Kurds' relations with the governments of the countries in which they live.
At the center of one of the world's most intractable conflicts are a people who number fewer than 12 million worldwide: the Palestinians. For centuries these people of Arab ancestry lived in the eastern Mediterranean region known as Palestine or, because of its religious significance, as the Holy Land. In 1948 a United Nations plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states led to what Palestinians call al-Nakba ("the disaster")--an Arab-Israeli war that produced hundreds of thousands of refugees and left Palestinians without a homeland. Another war, in 1967, brought hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas under Israeli military rule. Since that time, Palestinians and Israelis have been locked in bloody conflict. The continued violence has prevented the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and fueled unrest elsewhere in the Middle East.
The modern Republic of Turkey, which emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, is unusual among the nations of the Middle East. It is a democracy in a region where most rulers are autocrats. It is a Muslim country that enforces strict separation between religion and public life. Turkey is also among the most western-aligned states in the Middle East. It is the only Muslim state to be part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is an important ally of the United States, and is seeking full membership in the European Union. Yet the state is not without problems. These include a long-running conflicts with a Kurdish organization, the PKK, that wishes to gain independence. In recent years Turkey has also been forced to close its borders due to conflict in neighboring Iraq and Syria. This book examines the many issues facing Turkey today.
ALL CONTENTS ON THIS SITE ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. USERS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO MODIFY, DISTRIBUTE, PUBLISH, TRANSMIT OR CREATE DERIVATIVE WORKS OF ANY MATERIAL FOUND ON THIS SITE FOR ANY PUBLIC OR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.