Four Thousand Years of Blood, Snot, and Tears

3 Jun 2024

A Brief Geo-Political History of the Long Running Conflicts in the Middle East

The Argument

For more than four thousand years

It’s been lots of conflicts and fears,

Mixed with blood, snot, and tears.

A tale that hearing will burn the ears.

It appears to me that the fate of all mankind may very well lie in the hands of fools. Consider further that this summation is the charitable version of our quandary; for it may well be that in addition to a large number of fools we also have a goodly share of sociopaths, maybe some Hell bent on conflict and destruction. I believe there are those that would hasten “the end times”.

Humankind is blessed by a wide distribution of cleverness that some describe as intelligence, and there is no corner on smarts. So this propensity for the manifestations of bad behavior among and between various governances has a widespread distribution as a learned mode of behavior. The Good, the Bad, and the More Than Ugly among the hominids. Who is to blame, in what country? Never can get to the one.

There is a large discussion today about Artificial Intelligence and what is referrred to as the training of these AI mechanisms. I consider humans as being largely similar to the extent that they are trainable; that they are in fact trained. I can offer numerous examples of humans manifesting strong behavioral patterns that, at least to me, they seem to have been trained to display. This is particularly evident in internecine factionalism and has great examples in what we could call nationalism. My personal perspective is that most of these deeply held human feelings and beliefs, this patriotism and adherence to ideologies, has agitprop as its causality and at base everyone is indoctrinated. This of course serves to limit human possibilities. The depth of emotion and commitment displayed by the various participants is profound, they are pretty much true believers, each and all.

I think that the events of history related here present a cogent display of the influence of a “deep state” in many of these afffairs and indicate a likelihood of other more clandestine influence and involvement. Everybody has to make their own call relative to the morality of all of this. I myself am willing to credit humankind as being capable of enormous evil, and this is of course why the Aliens don’t contact us. Meanwhile I hazard that the Dulles brothers are laughing in their graves.

The Geographic Stage

The word mediterranean literally means “between the lands” and refers to a body of water that is very nearly enclosed or encircled by land as is the Mediterranean Sea which serves as a west-to-east longitudinal aquatic boundary between Europe to its north and Africa to its south. The eastern end of the Sea is nominally truncated by a north-to-south coastline which forms the Western boundary of Asia. The area we call the Middle East is this area where the three continents merge as ahown in this next map.

An area inland along this terminating north-south coast and then turning eastward at the north end of the coast along the foothills of the Zagros Mountains and gradually turning southward to end at the tip of the Persian Gulf is referred to as the Fertile Crescent. Several thousand years ago the Persian Gulf extended further north before sedimentation formed the present Tigris-Euphrates delta. This area is also referred to as the Cradle of Civilization. Indeed, the oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans found outside Africa are from peoples who lived in what is now northern Israel about 120,000 years ago. The Bronze Age (2,000 BC - 450 AD) was the fourth epoch in Empire Earth. It represents the era when great empires like Assyria, Persia and Rome were forged, and our short history begins in this timeframe.

The climate and the environment were kind and the original inhabitants multiplied and spread across a large area of the Middle East. These people all carried their language with them and there is a large commonality among these languages in spite of these geographic population dispersions.

These languages and their speakers came to be referred to as being "Semitic” which according to Oxford Languages is an ADJECTIVE

  1. relating to or denoting a family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phoenician and Akkadian, constituting the main subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic family.
  2. relating to the peoples who speak Semitic languages, especially Hebrew and Arabic.
  3. of, relating to, or characteristic of the Jews; Jewish

The term semitic is based on the name of Noah’s eldest son, Shem, the purported ancestor of the Arabs and Hebrews. But some languages not supporting an “H” character it became as we see it now. Semitic language peoples are spread throughout North Africa and Southeast Asia and have had important roles in the cultural and linguistic landscape of the Middle East for more than 4,000 years. Today the most important Semitic language, in terms of the number of speakers, is Standard Arabic, spoken as a first language by more than 200 million people living in a broad area stretching from the Atlantic coast of northern Africa to western Iran; an additional 250 million people in the region speak Standard Arabic as a secondary language. Most of the written and broadcast speech in the Arab world is conducted in this uniform literary language, alongside which numerous local Arabic dialects frequently differing from one another, are used for purposes of day-to-day communication.  As a result of the revival of Hebrew in the 19th century and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, some 6 to 7 million individuals now speak Modern Hebrew.

This next map shows the geographic extent of Semitic languages propagation.

Another term which we will encounter in discussions about the Middle East is Levant. This is a term crafted to allow a description of part of the area in “non-political” terms. How much success that may have is moot. The area itself is shown here in this next map below. Geographically it is kind of the core of the political area we call the Middle East.

It has been said that nothing more incites men to action than religion or love. As it happens much of the following series of events appears to be a religious story about the “People of the Book”, frequently interacting with the Muslim society, and even today the story continues. Oxford Bibliographies says this phrase, the People of the Book is used in the Qurʾan quite literally to designate people who possess a book, a revealed scripture. In Muhammad's world, that would be the Jews, who have the Torah, and the Christians, with their Gospel. Muslims are followers of Islam and they have the Qur’an which they regard as the best and final revelation.

These three religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are called Abrahamic religions because they all trace their belief in a single God to Abraham and they all recognize Abraham as their first prophet. In the Book of Genesis, God gives Abram the name Abraham, which means "father of many nations". Abraham is the patriarch of the three Abrahamic religions, which are major world religions. Abraham is traditionally considered to be the first Jew and to have made a covenant with God, he was to be the progenitor of Israel.

My object in the following content is to describe a geopolitical history of the Mid East region and some of its people, so we won’t focus on the story as a religious expose or use the events to proselytize. The idea is also not to recapitulate Bible stories per se. My exegesis is more a secular synopsis.

The timeline

Our timeline sequence then begins with this patriarch Abraham who lived with his father’s family in the city of Ur, the capitol of the Sumer kingdom, on the delta area of the Tigris-Euphrates River in Mesopotamia at about 2000 BCE; four thousand years ago. According to the Abrahmic tradition among Jews and Muslims and Christians, he receieved instructions from God to leave his father’s house and travel as God would direct him to a new land that God would gift to him and his descendants.

As shown in the following map, Abraham journeyed north from Ur along the Euphrates River to Harran and Carchemish, and from there he turned south and went through Canaan down to Egypt, and then he returned again to Canaan, which God indicated was to become Abraham’s promised land, Israel.

It is important to note that at this time this area, Canaan, was already occupied by Canaanites. As you might guess, these people did not merrily acquiesce to gift their land and habitation to these new occupants. I suppose that having God as their real estate agent and being told that they were chosen gave the new arrivals a certain empowerment. According to the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites and take over their land in Canaan. To essentially exterminate them. In the Global Arabic Encyclopedia, published in Saudi Arabia, the Canaanites and their affiliated tribe the Jebusites are said to be an Arab people who emigrated half a millenium before the Jews around 2500 BCE to Palestine from the Arabian Peninsula. In the Ancient Near East, this time frame from about 2000 BCE to 1000 BCE marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.

The Book of Genesis describes a number of events and encounters tnat Abraham had with God during this time. First he had a son, Ishmael, by his wife’s Egyption servant woman. Then Sodom and Gomorrah were famously destroyed. Finally his wife Sarah had their long awaited son Isaac, who was to be the progenitor of Israel through his son Jacob, who is renamed by God to become named Israel.

Now as it happens, Jacob had twelve sons, one of whom was named Joseph, noted for a coat of many colors. Joseph was sold into slavery to the Egyptians by his brothers, who were jealous of him. But Joseph did very well for himself in the service of Potiphar, one of Pharoah’s officials, and became his steward. Then Jacob moved to Egypt as well, and the Israelites remained there for 400 years.

Finally at the end of this time, Moses led the Hebrews out of their Egyptian bondage. God parted the waters of the Red Sea to allow the Hebrews safe passage in their escape from Pharoah, and the pursuing Egyptians were drowned. The Hebrews were consigned to wander forty years in the desert before they arrived at the edge of Canaan. God had given Moses the Ten Commandments but Moses was denied entry to the promised land. When Moses passed leadership of the Hebrews went to Moses’s lieutenant Joshua. Joshua set out to expeditiously conquer Canaan and did so quickly. He then divided Canaan among the twelve tribes of Israel, keeping a small share for himself.

After the conquest of Canaan which occurred about fifty years after the end of the Eqyptian exile in about 1450 BCE, Israel fell to the rule of a series of Judges who ruled for about four hundred years before the people demanded a king to rule them, The people gained their wish and had a series of three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon, before Israel split into Northern and Southern kingdoms in 930 BCE. The Northern kingdom was named Israel, and it was led by a series of five Prophets before it was destroyed by Assyria in 725 BCE. The Southern kingdom, Judah, lasted somewhat longer and had a series of eight prophets until the Babylonian exile in 590 BCE.

The Babylonian Empire had begun in about 1984 BCE so it was already extant when it added Israel to its dominion in about 590 BCE. This was during the rule of Nebuchadnezzar from 605 BCE to 562 BCE. During this time most of the Jews were taken into Babylonian captivity, the exile. It wasn’t long after the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule that the Babylonians fell to the Persian Empire in 539 BCE.

The Achaemenid Empire also known as the First Persian Empire, was the ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Located in modern-day Iran, it was the largest empire by that point in history. So it was that in about 536 BCE the Jews began to return to Jerusalem which was under Persian rule. Between 530 BCE and 515 BCE they rebuilt their Temple in Jerusalem.

Finally in 330 BCE Judea came under the rule of Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire. That didn’t last very long and in 308 BCE Judea became ruled by Egypt, who maintained control for about a hundred years until 196 BCE when they were supplanted by the Syrians. During the Syrian rule there was a revolt, the Maccabean Revolt, shich started in 164 BCE and finally deposed the Syrians in 130 BCE. The Maccabeans kept control until 63 BCE.

The Roman leader Pompey conquered much of the Middle East in 66-63 BCE and the Roman Empire united the region with Europe and North Africa under a single political and economic unit. Julius Caesar ruled the Roman Empire for two short years from 46 BCE to 44 BCE while Herod the Great ruled as King of the Jews from 37 BCE to 4 BCE, and Jesus was born about 6 - 4 BCE. Cities like Alexandria became major urban centers, and the region became a key agricultural producer, with Egypt being the wealthiest Roman province. Mystery cults were introduced to the region, and traditional religions were criticized, leading to the rise of cults centered around gods like Cybele, Isis, and Mithra

Christianity took root in the Middle East, with cities like Alexandria and Edessa becoming important centers of Christian scholarship. By the 5th century, Christianity became the dominant religion in the region. As the Roman Empire split into East and West, the Middle East became tied to the new capital of Constantinople, and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire had minimal direct impact on the region.

The Wastern Roman Empire became increasingly dogmatic in its interpretations and edicts, gradually creating religious rifts between the doctrines dictated by the establishment in Constantinople and believers in many parts of the Middle East. During this period Greek was widely spoken and used as a common language for trade, commerce, and administration throughout the empire. However, it's also important to note that other ethnicities and languages, such as Syriac and Hebrew, continued to thrive and maintain their own cultural identities. Under Byzantine rule the area of the Levant had an era of stability and prosperity.

The Byzantine Empire was known for its rich cultural heritage, including its stunning architecture, art, and literature. The capital city of Constantinople was a major center of learning and culture, and its universities and libraries attracted scholars from all over the empire. The empire's economy was also thriving, with a strong trade network that connected the Mediterranean region to the Middle East and beyond. The Byzantine Empire was a major hub for the silk trade, and its merchants played a significant role in the global economy. Despite its many achievements, the Byzantine Empire also faced significant challenges, including frequent wars with neighboring states, internal power struggles, and the rise of Islam in the 7th century. These challenges would eventually contribute to the empire's decline and fall in the 15th century.

The region was fragmented into small, weak states, with two major powers dominating the landscape: the Sasanian Empire (Persians) in modern-day Iran and Iraq, and the Byzantine Empire in modern-day Turkey and the Levant. The Byzantines and Sasanians had a long history of conflict, which was a continuation of the rivalry between the Roman Empire and the Persian Empire from the previous five centuries. This rivalry wasn't just about territorial control, but also reflected deeper cultural and religious differences between the two empires.

The Byzantines saw themselves as the defenders of Hellenism (Greek culture) and Christianity, which was the dominant religion of the empire. On the other hand, the Sasanians identified with ancient Iranian traditions and the traditional Persian religion, Zoroastrianism. They saw themselves as the heroes of this cultural and religious heritage. This rivalry had significant implications for the region, shaping the course of history, politics, and culture in the Middle East for centuries to come.

The Arabian Peninsula was already involved in the power struggles between the Byzantines and Sasanians, with the Byzantines allying with the Kingdom of Aksum in Africa and the Sasanians supporting the Himyarite Kingdom in Yemen. The clash between Aksum and Himyar in 525 was part of a larger struggle between Byzantium and Persia for control of the Red Sea trade. The Byzantines and Sasanians fought over territories in upper Mesopotamia, Armenia, and key cities that facilitated trade from Arabia, India, and China. Byzantium controlled territories in the Middle East, including Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt, but the Sasanians invaded and conquered Damascus and Egypt in 603. Emperor Heraclius was able to repel the Sasanian invasions and replace the Sasanian Great King with a more docile one. The fighting weakened both states, leaving room for a new power to emerge.

The Arabian desert was dominated by nomadic Bedouin tribes who worshiped idols and lived in small clans tied together by kinship. Mecca and Medina were important hubs for trade between Africa and Eurasia, and many inhabitants were merchants. Some Arabs migrated to the northern regions of the Fertile Crescent, where they established tribal chiefdoms such as the Lakhmids and Ghassanids, which offered stability and connections to the outside world. Pre-Islamic Arabia was familiar with Abrahamic religions and monotheism, with Christian monks, Jewish craftsmen, merchants, and farmers present in various regions.

As was observed, the Byzantine Roman and Sassanid Persian empires were weakened by warfare, allowing the Arabs to conquer a vast territory, including most of the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe. The Arabs were led by skilled military commanders like Khalid ibn al-Walid and established the Caliphates, which unified the Middle East and created a dominant ethnic identity that persists today. The Arab Empire was the first to control the entire Middle East and three-quarters of the Mediterranean region, rivaling the Roman Empire.

The Prophet Mohammed was born in Mecca around 570 AD. By 608, the Kaaba, a pagan shrine in Mecca, was erected. Mohammed received revelations from an angel, which led him to reject the polytheistic paganism at the Kaaba and embark on his Hijra (migration) to Medina in 622 AD, marking the beginning of the Islamic era. In 624, Mohammed's followers defeated the Meccans at the Battle of Badr, and by 630, Mecca was conquered, becoming the spiritual center of Islam. Mohammed died in 632 and was succeeded by Abu Bakr as the first caliph.

The official version of the Koran was established in 650 during the reign of Uthman. By 656, civil war broke out within Islam, with disputes over who was the legitimate heir to the faith, leading to divisions that persist to this day. The Arabs conquered Syria and Iraq (633-637), Egypt (640-643), and Persia (640-643), and gained control of the Holy Land by 638, believing they were fulfilling Allah's charge through Mohammed.

North Africa became a peripheral area, but regions like Iberia (Al-Andalus) and Morocco broke away and developed advanced societies, along with Baghdad in the eastern Mediterranean. The Emirate of Sicily was a major center of Islamic culture in the Mediterranean between 831 and 1071, and after its conquest by the Normans, it developed a distinct culture with Arab, Western, and Byzantine influences. In the later Middle Ages, more organized states began to form in Africa, and European kings launched Crusades to try to roll back Muslim power and retake the Holy Land. Although the Crusades were unsuccessful, they weakened the Byzantine Empire and rearranged the balance of power in the Muslim world, with Egypt emerging as a major power.

Islam had a significant impact on Middle Eastern culture and beyond, especially its influence on architecture, science, technology, and the arts. The Islamic Golden Age, which roughly spanned from the 8th to the 13th century, was a period of significant cultural, scientific, and philosophical achievements. Muslim scholars made major contributions to various fields, including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy. They translated and built upon the works of ancient Greeks, Romans, and Persians, and their own innovations had a lasting impact on Western civilization. The Abbasid Caliphate, in particular, was a time of great cultural and intellectual flourishing. The capital city, Baghdad, became a center of learning, attracting scholars from all over the Islamic world. The House of Wisdom, a renowned library and intellectual hub, was established during this period, and it played a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of knowledge.

The Islamic Golden Age also saw significant advancements in architecture, with the development of distinctive styles, such as the arch, dome, and minaret. The Alhambra in Spain, the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem, and the Taj Mahal in India are just a few examples of the breathtaking architectural achievements of this period. Furthermore, Islamic art and literature flourished during this time, with the development of intricate calligraphy, geometric patterns, and ornate decorations. Persian literature, in particular, became renowned for its poetic and philosophical works, such as the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran. The following is a map of the Caliphate at the height of its power.

The exchange of ideas and cultural practices between the Islamic world and Western Europe during the Middle Ages had a profound impact on the development of Western civilization. The Crusades played a significant role in this exchange, as European warriors and scholars returned from their campaigns with new ideas, technologies, and cultural practices. Overall, the Islamic Golden Age was a period of remarkable cultural, scientific, and philosophical achievements that had a lasting impact on human civilization.

The Arabs' dominance in the region came to an end with the arrival of the Seljuq Turks in the 11th century. The Turks conquered much of the Middle East, including Persia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and the Hejaz. The Byzantine Empire, although weakened, continued to be a significant force in the region, preventing Arab expansion into Europe. However, the Seljuqs' defeat of the Byzantines in the Battle of Manzikert marked the beginning of the end of Byzantine power. The Seljuqs ruled the Middle East for about 200 years, but their empire eventually broke up into smaller sultanates.

In the 11th century, Christian Western Europe experienced an economic and demographic recovery, which led to the Crusades. The First Crusade, launched in 1095, resulted in the capture of Jerusalem and the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted until 1187. The Mongols conquered the region in the 13th century, marking the end of the Abbasid Caliphate. However, their expansion was halted due to internal conflicts and the defeat at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. The Mongol Empire eventually fragmented, and Hulegu established the Ilkhanate, which included much of the Middle East.

The Mongols retreated in 1335, leaving behind a power vacuum that led to the decline of the Seljuq Turks. The region was then plagued by Timur, also known as Tamerlane, who was a Turko-Mongol conqueror who launched a series of devastating raids in the early 15th century. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks were rising to power in Anatolia, and by the mid-16th century, they had conquered a vast territory that included the Iraq-Iran region, the Balkans, Greece, Byzantium, most of Egypt, most of North Africa, and parts of Arabia. The Ottoman Empire, led by its sultans, marked the end of the Medieval (Postclassical) Era in the Middle East and went on to become one of the most powerful and influential empires in history. It's worth noting that the Ottoman Empire was known for its administrative and military prowess, as well as its cultural and artistic achievements. It played a significant role in shaping the modern Middle East and left a lasting legacy in the region.

They united the region under one ruler for the first time since the Abbasid caliphs and maintained control for over 400 years. However, the empire faced significant challenges and decline, particularly in the face of rising European powers. The Ottomans were driven out of Hungary, Poland, and parts of the Balkans, and eventually lost territory to European powers such as France, Britain, and Italy. The empire became known as the "sick man of Europe" and was increasingly under the financial control of European powers. By the early 20th century, the Ottomans had lost most of their territories in Europe and were struggling to maintain control over their remaining territories. They turned to Germany for protection, but this ultimately led to further dependence on Germany.

The Ottoman Empire underwent significant reforms during this period, including the Tanzimat reforms and the establishment of the First Constitutional Era, which introduced a constitution and a parliament. However, this experiment was short-lived, as Sultan Abdul Hamid II abolished the parliament and constitution and ruled autocratically for 30 years. The reform movement known as the Young Turks emerged in response, seeking to establish a more democratic and modernized government. They seized power in 1908 and established the Second Constitutional Era, which led to pluralist and multiparty elections. So the Young Turks played a crucial role in shaping the empire's modernization efforts, but their internal divisions and power struggles soon split the Young Turks into two factions, and ultimately led to the dominance of the Committee of Union and Progress.

The Committee, led by Ismail Enver Bey, Ahmed Cemal Pasha, and Mehmed Talaat Bey, established a German-funded modernization program across the empire. Enver's alliance with Germany was influenced by Britain's demands that the Ottoman Empire cede Edirne to the Bulgarians, which the Turks saw as a betrayal. The Ottoman Empire's relationships with European powers, particularly Britain and Germany, had a significant impact on its modernization efforts and alliances.

In 1878, the UK took over Cyprus as a protectorate from the Ottoman Empire. Initially, Cypriots welcomed British rule, hoping for prosperity, democracy, and national liberation. However, they soon became disillusioned due to heavy taxes imposed by the British to compensate the Sultan, and the lack of participation in the island's administration.

The fall of the Ottoman Empire led to the Turkish National Movement, which resisted the partitioning of Anatolia by the Allies. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk led Turkey to victory in the Turkish War of Independence and founded the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923. Atatürk implemented modernization and secularization reforms, pushing Turkey closer to Europe and away from the Arab world.

During this period the discovery of oil in Persia (1908), Saudi Arabia (1938), and other Persian Gulf states, Libya, and Algeria made the region a crucial player in global politics. The oil-rich monarchies of the Middle East became immensely wealthy and consolidated their power, while also becoming stakeholders in preserving Western influence in the region. As Western dependence on Middle Eastern oil grew, American interest in the region increased, leading to a shift in the balance of power towards the Arab oil states through nationalization, oil sharing, and the formation of OPEC.

The Ottoman Empire entered WWI on the side of the Central Powers and ultimately lost the war. The British and French exploited nationalist movements within the empire, leading to the Arab Revolt and the eventual defeat of the Ottomans. The Ottoman Empire was abolished, and its territories were divided among the British and French.

The region was transformed by the war, with the rise of nationalist politics, the creation of new states, and the expansion of the oil industry. The British and French established mandates in the region, with Syria and Lebanon falling under French control, and Iraq and Palestine becoming British mandated territories. The British Mandate of Palestine led to the establishment of a Jewish homeland, with Zionist settlers given permission to immigrate and set up a local government. Here following is a map that shows how the Middle East was divided by the European powers.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) secretly partitioned the Middle East among the European powers. The Balfour Declaration (1917) promised support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The San Remo Conference (1920) granted Britain a Mandate for Palestine. The League of Nations approved the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. The Transjordan Memorandum (1922) established a British Mandate east of the Jordan River.

Iraq became the "Kingdom of Iraq" with Faisal, son of Sharif Hussein, as its king, and Ibn Saud founded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

The history of the Middle East during the early 20th century particularly focused on the struggles for independence in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine.

In 1919, Egypt's Saad Zaghloul led mass demonstrations, known as the First Revolution, which were met with British repression, resulting in around 800 deaths. In 1920, Syrian forces were defeated by the French, and Iraqi forces were defeated by the British when they revolted. In 1922, the Kingdom of Egypt was created, although it was still under British influence. During World War II, Egypt was occupied by the British, who cited a 1936 treaty to station troops on Egyptian soil to protect the Suez Canal. In 1941, the Rashīd `Alī al-Gaylānī coup in Iraq led to the British invasion, followed by the Allied invasion of Syria-Lebanon and the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.

In Palestine, the conflicting forces of Arab nationalism and Zionism created a complex situation that the British couldn't resolve or extricate themselves from. The rise of Adolf Hitler created a sense of urgency among Zionists to immigrate to Palestine and create a Jewish state, while Arab and Persian leaders saw a Palestinian state as an attractive alternative to colonialism or imperialism. When World War II ended, the British, French, and Soviets, withdrew from most parts of the regions they had occupied both before and during the War and six Middle East states gained or regained independence:

  • 22 November 1943 – Lebanon
  • 1 January 1944 – Syria
  • 22 May 1946 – Jordan (British mandate ended)
  • 1947 – Iraq (forces of the United Kingdom withdrew)
  • 1947 – Egypt (forces of the United Kingdom withdrew to the Suez Canal area)
  • 1948 – Israel (forces of the United Kingdom withdrew)

The Palestinian Arab state proposed by Canadian judge Ivan Rand and his colleagues has never come to fruition. Justice Ivan Rand was a Canadian judge who played a significant role in shaping the modern Middle East. Despite his personal biases and prejudices, Rand demonstrated a commitment to fairness and justice in his professional life. As a judge on the Supreme Court of Canada, he made groundbreaking rulings that defended the rights of marginalized groups, including Japanese-Canadians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Communists. However, Rand's most significant contribution was his work on the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in 1947. As the Canadian representative on the committee, Rand was instrumental in drafting a blueprint for the future of Palestine, which called for the partition of the territory into Jewish and Arab states. This proposal was adopted by the UN General Assembly and remains the basis for the two-state solution that is still advocated by many countries today. We should note that the UNSCOP's proposal for a two-state solution was not without controversy, and that many Arab countries and historians have argued that the committee was biased towards the Zionist cause.

The 1947 United Nations plan to partition Palestine aimed to create separate Arab and Jewish states, but was rejected by Arab leaders while accepted by Jewish leaders. In 1947, despite strong Arab opposition, the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the independent Jewish state of Israel. On May 14, 1948, when the British pulled out of Palestine in May 1948, Israel declared independence. A day later, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq attacked the new nation, launching the first of three Arab-Israeli wars over the next 25 years. Israel defeated these armies. With hundreds of thousands of Arabs displaced by the 1948 fighting, Palestinians remember the episode as the Nakba — Arabic for catastrophe. As a result, around 800,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes and became refugees in neighboring countries, creating the "Palestinian problem" that still persists today. Meanwhile, approximately two-thirds of the Jews who were expelled or fled from Arab lands after 1948 were absorbed and naturalized by the State of Israel. Here next is a tryptich showing these events in a map format.

Founded in the United States in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) came into being as a continuation of European imperial ambition. The CIA’s early Ivy League–educated leadership “shared British values,” and fancied themselves adventurers in the mold of T.E. Lawrence and Kim, Rudyard Kipling’s romantic portrait of the British Raj. (The author of The CIA: An Imperial History Hugh Wilford observes that a bizarre number of early CIA agents were nicknamed “Kim.”) The CIA saw fighting communism as its reason for existence, and this led to a so-called anti-imperialist effort that was carried out with supremely imperialistic methods as the agency sought to prove America was “the rightful heir to European modernity.”

The Dulles brothers, John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles. born into an elite Eastern establishment family, rose to prominence in the US government and implemented an anti-communist agenda that had far-reaching consequences. Their adventurous natures were somewhat held in check by Truman, but the brothers' fortunes changed when Dwight Eisenhower became president and appointed Foster as Secretary of State and Allen as CIA Director. Along with prominent agents like Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt, architect of the CIA’s 1953 Iranian coup, who constantly played “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” from Guys and Dolls in the lead-up to the operation, the Dulles brothers were instrumental in several controversial events or “cold war interventions” like the Iranian Coup.

Some of these events included:

  1. Overthrowing a democratically elected government in Guatemala
  2. Laying the groundwork for the Vietnam War
  3. Assassinating Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba
  4. Attempting to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba

Some argue that the Dulles brothers' grandiose geopolitical calculations continue to influence American foreign policy today.

There was a CIA-sponsored overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, in 1953. The event marked a turning point in Iranian-US relations, transforming the US from an ally to an enemy in the eyes of the Iranian people. Mossadegh was a nationalist leader who sought to assert Iran's independence from British and American influence. He nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which led to a boycott of Iranian oil and economic strain on the country. The US, initially sympathetic to Mossadegh's cause, eventually aligned itself with the British and the Shah against him, fearing the spread of communism in the region.

The CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt, orchestrated a covert operation, codenamed AJAX, to overthrow Mossadegh. The plan involved spreading propaganda, bribing officials, and hiring thugs to pose as communist demonstrators, creating an atmosphere of fear and instability. The coup ultimately succeeded, and Mossadegh was replaced by the Shah, who ruled Iran with an iron fist until the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The consequences of the 1953 coup were far-reaching and devastating. The Shah's dictatorship led to widespread human rights abuses, and the US-backed regime became increasingly unpopular among the Iranian people. The exonym Persia was the official name of Iran in the Western world before March 1935, but at that time the Shah changed the name. The Iranian peoples inside their country since the time of Zoroaster (probably circa 1000 BCE), or even before, have called their country AryaIranIranshahrIranzamin (Land of Iran), Aryānām (the equivalent of Iran in the proto-Iranian language) or its equivalents.

The Islamic Revolution, which overthrew the Shah, was fueled in part by anti-American sentiment, and the new theocratic government was fiercely anti-Western. Today, the legacy of the 1953 coup continues to shape Iranian-US relations. Many Iranians view the US as a hostile power that has consistently interfered in their country's internal affairs, and the event serves as a reminder of the dangers of foreign intervention and the importance of national sovereignty. The events highlight the importance of understanding the historical context of Iranian-US relations, particularly the role of the CIA in the 1953 coup. By acknowledging the past mistakes of the US, Americans could begin to build bridges with the Iranian people and work towards a more constructive and respectful relationship.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded on June 2, 1964, after the Palestinian National Council convened in Jerusalem on May 28, 1964. The PLO's primary goals were to achieve Arab unity and to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation. It's worth noting that the PLO was established with the support of the Arab League, which had initiated the creation of an organization representing the Palestinian people at its first summit meeting in Cairo in 1964. The PLO would go on to play a significant role in the Palestinian national movement, advocating for the rights and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a Palestinian nationalist coalition founded in 1964, recognized internationally as the official representative of the Palestinian people. Initially, the PLO sought to establish an Arab state over the entire territory of former Mandatory Palestine, advocating for the elimination of the State of Israel. In 1993, with the Oslo I Accord, the PLO recognized Israeli sovereignty and now seeks Arab statehood only in the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. The PLO has enjoyed United Nations observer status since 1974 as the officially recognized government of the de jure State of Palestine.

Prior to the Oslo Accords, the PLO's militant wings engaged in acts of violence against Israeli civilians, leading to its designation as a terrorist group by the United States in 1987. Despite recognizing Israel's right to exist in peace in 1993, the PLO continued to engage in militant activities, particularly during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). In 2018, the PLO Central Council suspended Palestinian recognition of Israel and halted security and economic cooperation with Israeli authorities until Israel recognizes a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders.

The PLO's core ideology is that Zionists unjustly expelled Palestinians from their homeland and established a Jewish state, and therefore, they demand that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes. Three key articles from the PLO's National Covenant summarizes their beliefs and demands:

  1. Article 2: Palestine is an indivisible territorial unit, implying that there is no place for a Jewish state. However, this article was adapted in 1996 to comply with the Oslo Accords.
  2. Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and all related claims are null and void. The article also rejects the idea of Jewish historical or religious ties to Palestine, stating that Judaism is a religion, not a nationality. This article was nullified in 1996.
  3. Article 3: The Palestinian Arab people have the legal right to their homeland and the right to self-determination, allowing them to decide their own destiny after liberating their country.

These three listed articles reflect the PLO's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their demands for Palestinian rights and self-determination.

Wikipedia says the PLO started their militancy campaign from their beginnings with an attack on Israel's National Water Carrier in January 1965. The group used guerrilla tactics to attack Israel from their bases in Jordan (including the West Bank), Lebanon, Egypt (Gaza Strip), and Syria. The most notable of what were considered terrorist acts committed by member organizations of the PLO were:

The fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s had significant consequences for the Middle East, including:

  • The emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel, strengthening the Jewish state.
  • The loss of credit, armaments, and diplomatic support for anti-Western Arab regimes.
  • The opening up of cheap oil from Russia, reducing the West's dependence on Arab oil.
  • The discrediting of authoritarian state socialism, leaving regimes like Iraq's Saddam Hussein reliant on Arab nationalism.

The Fatah-Hamas conflict is an ongoing political and strategic dispute between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties in the Palestinian territories. The conflict led to Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Some of the causes of the conflict were:

  • Tensions rose after the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004
  • Hamas won the legislative election in 2006, leading to factional fighting
  • Failure to reach a deal to share government power
  • Disagreement over control of border crossings, especially the Rafah Border Crossing
  • Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel and earlier agreements, leading to international sanctions

In 2006: Hamas formed a new government, which Fatah and other factions refused to join. After the abduction of Gilad Shalit in 2006: Israel detained PLC members and ministers, intensified the boycott of Gaza, and took punitive measures. In 2007 the Fatah-Hamas Mecca Agreement called for a unity government and cessation of violence, Hamas fighters took control of the Gaza Strip, removing all Fatah officials. President Abbas declared a state of emergency, dismissed the national unity government, and appointed an emergency government

Hamas has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since 2007. The Palestinian Authority is split into two polities: the Fatah-ruled Palestinian National Authority and the Hamas Government in Gaza. The conflict has resulted in over 600 deaths from 2006 to 2007, with dozens more killed or executed in the following years. The reconciliation process and unification of Hamas and Fatah administrations remain unfinalized. That situation is deemed a frozen conflict.

On October 7, 2023 Hamas launched an attack on Israel with an assault on a rock concert. Numerous deaths and hostages taken. Israel attacked Gaza in retaliation. Other countries. notably the United Staeds and Iran, have entered the venue. And this is only one of a number of areas in conflict. A story still in play. This next is a map of the Middle East by night.


The three main factors that influenced the modern Middle East are:

  1. The departure of European powers, which created a power vacuum.
  2. The founding of Israel, which led to ongoing conflicts with Arab nations.
  3. The growing importance of the oil industry, which made the region strategically crucial for global powers.

These factors ultimately led to increased U.S. involvement in the region, with the United States becoming the dominant force in the oil industry and the guarantor of regional stability. The rise of radical anti-Western regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Libya, allied with the Soviet Union, posed a challenge to U.S. interests. The Six-Day War of 1967 marked a turning point, as the defeat of Arab socialism led to the rise of fundamental and militant Islam. The Cyprus dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots remained unresolved.

Overall, the history of the Middle East is a complex and multifaceted topic, marked by shifting alliances, conflicts, and ideological struggles.

As always Comments, Criticisms, and Suggestions are welcome. God bless all.