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Background: Middle East - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Background: Middle East. Geographic position at the junction Africa, Asia, and Europe. Background: Middle East. Origin of the 3 monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam largest reserves of petroleum in the world Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries non-Arab nations

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Background: Middle East

  • Geographic position at the junction

    • Africa, Asia, and Europe

Background: Middle East

  • Origin of the 3 monotheistic religions

    • Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

  • largest reserves of petroleum in the world

    • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

  • non-Arab nations

    • Turkey, Israel, and Iran

Background: Islam

  • 2nd largest religion in the world

    • some 1 billion adherents

    • from West Africa to Indonesia

    • most Muslims are outside of the Middle East

    • most Muslims are not Arabs

Islam and Muslim

  • Islam literally means “submission” to God

  • Muslim literally means “one who submits”

  • recognize that there is only one God (Allah)

  • reject other gods or “associates” of God

  • His appointed messengers

    • Jesus and the Old Testament prophet

    • 7th century Arab prophet Muhammad

Central tenet of Islam

  • Muslim declaration of faith

    • “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet”

    • e.g.: Saudi flag

Muslim Declaration of Faith

  • Flag of Iran

  • Flag of Iraq

  • “God is great”

The 5 pillars of Islam

  • The Muslim declaration of faith

  • plus 4 ritual obligations that faithful Muslims perform to the best of their ability

The 5 pillars of Islam

  • plus 4 ritual obligations that faithful Muslims perform to the best of their ability

    • prayer 5 times a day, facing the holy shrine of Kaaba in Mecca

    • give alms to charity

    • fast in daylight hours in the month of Ramadan

    • make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in life

The Koran (Qur’an)

  • written record of Muhammad’s revelations

  • said to be the exact word of God

  • a source of authority for religious truth

  • provide detailed rules by which the righteous can guide their daily lives with little dependence on the old sources of authority such as tribe and lineage

Sunnis and Shi’is

  • 2 major branches of Islam

    • differ mostly over who should have succeeded the Prophet Muhammad in 632

  • Sunnis

    • literally mean “followers of tradition”

  • Shi’is

    • literally mean “partisans” of Ali

    • less than 10% of Muslims worldwide

Sunnis and Shi’is

Spread of Islam: 1500

Ottoman Empire

British & French rule: 1800s

  • Geopolitical rivalries instead of economic prizes

British & French mandates


  • By 1950 most countries in Middle East had achieved independence

    • Syria and Lebanon gained independence from French rule during World War II

    • Iraq and Transjordan gained nominal independence from Britain’s indirect rule

    • British protectorate in Egypt ended

    • continued Western economic and strategic interests in the region

Drive for self-determination

  • Direct European political control declined

    • Britain installed kings in Jordan and Iraq

  • economic dependence & independence

    • e.g. Iran’s attempt to nationalize British-owned petroleum company failed in 1951

    • e.g. O.P.E.C. quadrupled oil prices in 1973

Cold War

  • Superpower, regional, and internal struggles

    • influence of U.S. and Soviet Union

Overthrow the monarchy

  • Kings perceived to be pro-Western, corrupt, and ineffective were overthrown by nationalist revolutions

  • 1952 revolt of the Free Officers in Egypt

  • 1958 revolution in Iraq killed King & P.M.

  • 1979 revolution in Iran led by Khomeini

  • exceptions: Jordan and Saudi Arabia

Arab nationalism

  • Physical, ethnic, religious, and cultural bridges across the national boundaries that were arbitrarily drawn by Europeans

  • pan-Arab movement

    • launched by Nasser of Egypt in 1958

    • proposed unification with Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and the Sudan at one time or another

    • governments suspected Nasser’s motives

Egypt under Nasser (1954-1970)

  • Arab nationalism & Arab socialism

  • Nasser’s particular vision of Arab socialism

    • socialism of secular Islam, not Marxist

    • nationalization of basic industries

    • elimination of foreign ownership

    • hospitals, mosques, and schools in villages

    • mass public participation in politics

Egypt after Nasser (1970-)

  • Nasser’s successors

    • Sadat (-1981)

    • Mubarak

3 leadership styles

  • traditional leadership

    • legitimacy from historical forces and traditional practices

    • no substitute for effective policy

    • can not protect ineffective ruler forever

  • charismatic leadership

    • unique personal characters in a crisis

  • bureaucratic leadership

Baath Party

  • Arab Socialist Resurrection Party

  • Baath: to recover past Arab greatness

  • at once a political party, political philosophy, and political movement

  • ultimate goal of Arab unity through nationalism, socialism, and pan-Arabism

  • supporters among intellectuals and military of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

Baathism in Syria and Iraq

  • Since 1963 Baath Party has successfully maintained itself in power in Syria

    • and until recently in Iraq

  • in Syria Baathist support came largely from the civilian sector

  • in Iraq Baathist power mainly in the military

Baathism in Syria and Iraq

  • both Syria and Iraq were in the forefront of supporting Palestinian organizations

  • In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel

Baathism in Syria and Iraq

  • Baathist regimes in Syria and Iraq

    • were often at head-on disputes

    • despite ostensible commitment to Arab unity

    • relatively long and potent nationalist feeling

  • Iraq and Syria split forcefully

    • during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988

    • during the Gulf War of 1991

Islam and politics

  • Pan-Arabism, Baathism, and traditional systems all stressed the importance of Islam

  • common source of tradition and identity

  • Islam conceived of in politically secular terms

Islam and politics

  • existence of Muslim society as desirable reality

  • reject the idea of an Islamic state based on the Koran and Islamic tradition

  • there are exceptions to the professed secularism

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