Middle East 2005 CE

Arab-Israeli hostility has dominated Middle Eastern politics.

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What is happening in Middle East in 2005CE

Two issues: oil and Arab-Israeli hostility

For the Middle East, the last few decades 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 peninsula. The second has directly involved the surrounding countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, and, indirectly, all the countries of the region. It has brought two full-scale Arab-Israeli wars (the Six Days War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973), plus several bloody disturbances on – and within – Israel’s borders. After the 1973 war the oil producing countries grouped together in an organization called OPEC and imposed an embargo on the sale of oil to those countries in the west which had supported Israel.

The effects on the region

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 (which involved two wars against the US and one or more of her allies, the Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq War in 2003) and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, 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 is the only country to have developed a proper parliamentary-style system of government.


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