MAPS: 1960AD – 2005AD Middle East

1960AD – 2005AD Middle East


For the Middle East, the last few decades[1] have been troubled ones, dominated by two issues – oil, and Arab-Israeli hostility. Such are their geopolitical importance to the rest of the world that the region has attracted constant global attention, and frequent intervention.

The first of these, oil, has brought economic progress and dazzling modernity to several countries, especially in the Arabian[2] peninsula. The second has directly involved the surrounding countries of Syria,[3] Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt,[4] and, indirectly, all the countries of the region. It has brought two full-scale wars, in 1967 and 1973, plus several bloody disturbances on – and within – Israel’s borders.

Virtually every major episode in the region’s recent history has been touched to a greater or lesser extent by these two issues. The rise and fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq,[5] and the Islamic Revolution in Iran,[6] have had their impact multiplied by them. The Arab-Israeli question has made it much harder for Muslim leaders to adopt pro-Western policies, and has given anti-Western terrorist organizations widespread support. Oil wealth has helped finance terrorism, and has impeded the spread of democracy in the region: apart from Israel, Turkey[7] is the only country to have developed a proper parliamentary-style system of government.


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