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A10 Geopolitical plots and subplots of the Middle East
Readings and Hyperlinks
1. Arab-Israeli Conflict
Hobbs pages 241 ? 251, 253 - 258
2. British Failure
Hobbs pages 241 ? 242
Many of the richest oil countries in the world (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and
the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Iran), are next door to one of the poorest
countries in the Islamic World (Afghanistan). Turkey, an in between Islamic
country, is pivotal in the role it plays within both the Middle East and Europe.
This group of countries is not immediately affected by the Arab-Israeli issue; they
share no common border and their governments have not been friendly to the
acceptance of displaced peoples from Palestine. Consequently they have not lost
land or resources to the conflict. Historically many of these countries were either
the principle element in an empire Ottoman (Turkey); Persian (Iran); and Assyria
and Babylon based in Mesopotamia (Iraq), or where part of one of these
empires. The exception is Afghanistan which was on the periphery of many
empires and in ancient history was occupied, controlled, or associated with India
until the 7th century.
The traditional conflict between the Shi?ite and Sunni sects of the Islamic religion
are playing a major role in the shaping of Iraq. Equally the Kurds are an
important minority consideration. These people who also desire their own
homeland number an estimated 26 million within the countries of Turkey, Iraq,
Iran and Syria, with another 8 million located throughout the Middle East. Since
they remain the largest ethnic population in the world without a homeland their
cause cannot be ignored. Hopefully by now you perspective of this region is that the issues are more than
simply Arabs versus Israelis, or oil. It involves such things as democracy, civil
rights, basic human rights, religious fundamentalism, ethnic tensions, economic
development, water resources, and agriculture. This last point is a unique
situation unto itself since the production of opium poppies; hashish and
marijuana provide a strong cash crop to impoverished farmers.
Hobbs pages 263 ? 267
Hobbs pages 267 ? 269
Hobbs pages 269 ? 271
Hobbs pages 271 ? 275
7. The Kurds
Hobbs page 265 Questions
1. Please take your time in reading the Arab-Israeli conflict. This conflict is
blamed by many around the world to be the very root cause of all of the problems
within the Middle East. To make that assumption is to play loose and fast with the
geography of the area. It is but one aspect of a conflict that has been taking
place long before the State of Israel came into existence in 1948. Is the turmoil within Lebanon and Syria the result of the Arab-Israeli
Conflict? Explain why or why not? Be specific in your answers to all of
Is the turmoil within Sudan the result of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Explain
why or why not.
Is the turmoil in the Maghreb the result of the Arab-Israeli Conflict? Explain
why or why not. 2. It could be argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a direct result of the British
failure to develop a workable solution to dealing with the influx of Jewish
immigrants following World War II and concerns of the Palestinian population
who occupied the majority of the territory prior to partition into an Arab state and
a Jewish state. Do you think it fair to blame this problem on the British? Would it be fair to blame it on the young United Nations? How would you have solved the problem?
3. What is the ethnic composition of Iraq?
How did that consideration cause the United States to avoid invading the
country in 1991? What were some of the grievances against the Pahlavi dynasty that led to
the revolution in Iran?
What were some of the things that the United States did in support of the
Shah that have come back to haunt our country as the result of the
overthrow of the dynasty? In what way is Turkey and ?in-between? country?
Why does Turkey want to become a member of the European Union?
Why has it been rejected thus far? What made Afghanistan an inviting base for al-Qa?ida?
What is blowback?
How has this blowback concept caused problems in other areas we have
studies prior to this chapter? Who and where are the Kurds?
Why are they so important to the stability of this region? 4. 5. 6. 7.
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