The Middle East
- the Middle East consists of those countries immediately east of the
Mediterranean and includes Israel surrounded by the Arab countries of
Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait as well as the
Palestinians who were evicted from the lands around Jerusalem.
- the region is constantly in turmoil as a result of:
- the critical religious importance of Jerusalem to 3 of the main world
faiths - Jewish, Christian & Muslim
- the economic importance of the Suez Canal for shipping
- the abundance of oil in a region otherwise much a desert and lacking
- the Palestine problem:
- see detailed timeline at bottom.
- the Zionist movement whereby Jews sought to set up a Jewish state in
their ancient homestead of Palestine results in mass Jewish immigration
into Palestine starting in 1881.
- the Balfour Declaration (British foreign secretary) in 1917 whilst
favouring the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the
Jewish people but tells Lord Rothschild of the World Zionist
Organisation that this must not prejudice the rights of existing
- in 1948, UN creates the new Israel state consisting of 78% of Palestine
land, and in doing so exiled the Palestinians who could only
hope to fight back via guerrilla warfare which became the Palestinian
Liberation Organisation (PLO) headed by Arafat.
- Israel has retaliated by occupying the remaining 22% of
Palestinian territories (West Bank & Gaza), suppressing the
Palestinian people & their ability to trade & evolve their
culture & identity, whilst despite 40yrs of UN disapproval,
create illegal Jewish settlements in prime positions in the occupied
- despite Arafat in 1988 agreeing to Israel's right to the 78% of
original Palestine, Israel now is is not willing to concede almost
half of the occupied territories, and many feel, aim to take all of
- the Palestinian peoples live in despair and poverty similar to the
apartheid in Sth Africa, and so it is not surprising that one of
their few options to protest is to commit suicide bombings which
inevitably result in tit-for-tat Israeli attacks into Palestinian
territories and perpetuating the vicious cycle.
- as Israel has become the US's "deputy sheriff" in the
Middle East, the British & American govts' idea of resolving
these problems is partly to provide military aid to Israel which now
is the 4th largest military in the world and has nuclear capability.
- current religious factions:
- Shi'ite muslims - Iran, some parts of Iraq (esp. southern)
- Sunni muslims - most other Arab states
- Kurds - northern Iraq (5m), southern Turkey (20m), Iran (8m),
- Christians - esp. Lebanon
- Jews - Israel
- extremist muslim groups:
- Al Qaeda
- Talibans in Afghanistan/Pakistan
Ansar al-Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan
- SE Asia:
- Jemaah Islamiyah (JI):
- central Java ?responsible for 2002 Bali bomb
- aim is to create Islamic state incl. Malaysia,
Singapore, Indonesia & Southern Philippines
- 2002: 300 members
- Laskar Jihad:
- tried to expel Christians from the Spice Islands;
killed > 6000
- 2002: 5000 members
- Front Pembla Islam (FPI) (aka Islamic Defenders
- based in Java; committed to an Islamic state &
expulsion of infidels from Indonesia
- 2002: 400 members
- Kumpulan Mujahadin Malaysia (KMM):
- aim is to create Islamic state incl. Malaysia,
Singapore, Indonesia & Southern Philippines
- active in Perak, Johor, Kedah, Selangor
- 2002: 80 members
- Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG):
- aim is to create Islamic state in Southern Philippines
- 2002: 1000 members; kidnaps & murders Western
tourists & wealthy Chinese Filipinos
- Moro Islamic Liberation Front: (MILF):
- aim is to create Islamic state in Southern Philippines
- active in Mindanao & islands of the Sulu
- 2002: 12000 members
- Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO):
- powerful terrorist group im 1970's & 80's;
bombs police stations & military installations
- has become increasingly factionalised &
involved in crominal activity but recent return to
terrorism through bombings
- aim for separate muslim state for Thailand's
mulsim majority southern provinces
- 2002: 200 members
- focus of the superpowers in the cold war when US backed Israel and
USSR backed the Arab states
- continued presence of US forces on Arabian Peninsula
- it is also the region of the earliest human civilisations in Iraq -
Mesopatamia, Babylon, etc.
Brief histories of the countries:
- homeland of the world's oldest city states, of the ancient Sumerian
language & of the Assyrian
& Babylonian empires,
Iraq has had 4000 yrs recorded history
- originally a centre of Semitic culture, it was for long dominated by
Persia & in the 7thC came under Arab Islamic rule.
- Mongol invaders devastated the area in the 13thC, destroying much of
the long established civilization
- from the 16thC onward, it formed a group of provinces of the Ottoman
- after occupation by British forces in WWI, modern Iraq was forged from
the three Ottoman provinces of Mosul, Baghdad & Basra (ignoring the
wishes for an independent Kurdistan) & a declared British mandate.
- in 1921, it became an Arab kingdom with a parliamentary democracy,
achieving independence in 1932 though remaining strongly under British
- oil developments near Kirkuk during the 1930s boosted Iraq's economy.
- prime aims of Iraqi govt since has been to remove Kurdish domination
of Kirkuk & to annexe oil-rich Kuwait
- political unrest during & after WWII led to the republican
revolution of 1958.
- 1979: Saddam Hussein becomes dictatorial president and (assisted by
US, Europe) embarks on war with Shiite-led Iran
- 1989: Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait resulting in defeat by US-led
forces in 1990
- 2003: US, UK & Australian forces invade Iraq and remove Saddam
Hussein & his Ba'ath party
- whilst human occupation of the Iran plateau began over 100,000yrs ago,
its written history begins during 1st millennium BC - the late Iron Age
when Medes & Persians lived
there & recorded their activities in cuneiform script.
- strategically placed on routes between Europe & India, Iran was
invaded by the Macedonians under Alexander,
the Parthians, &
spasmodically by the Romans.
- from there spread the Neo-Persian
empires that lasted until the Islamic invasion of 640AD
- as with Iraq, later Mongol then Ottoman domination followed
- Iran's modern history began in 1925, newly independent Persia acquired
a new leader - Reza Khan, a former Cossack officer, replacing the
hereditary Shah, until he abdicated in 1941, leaving his son Mohammad
Reza Pahlavi to rule for 38yrs before revolution swept Shahdom away.
Father & son between them engineered the development of the modern
state, making use of oil revenues.
- political unrest in the late 1970's, leading to establishment of a
single-party system & increasingly repressive regime, precipitated
the Shah's downfall, resulting in a Shiite religious leader, Ayatollah
Khomeini taking control.
- late in the 20thC, Iran embarked on military build up so that by 2006,
it's military has become perhaps the 4th most powerful in the world ??
- homeland of Semitic tribes (incl. the Hebrews from about 1200BC), its
history recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible.
- falling readily to Roman legions in 63BC, it was incorporated in Syria
Palaistina - part of the Roman province of Syria
- the region is hallowed by Jews as their Hebrew homeland, Christians as
the birthplace & homeland of Christ, & Arabs as an Islamic
- conquered again by Byzantines, Arabs, Christian crusaders & Turks,
it was eventually included in land which, at the end of WWI, was
transferred from Ottoman ownership to British mandate under the revived
name of Palestine
- Palestine was long regarded by Zionists as the potential Jewish
homeland, & after the Nazi persecution of Jews in WWII, the UN
recommended Palestine be partitioned by force of Jewish arms into
separate Jewish & Arab states in 1948.
- despite almost constant strife with Arab neighbours (occasioned partly
by its occupation of land originally designated for the Arab state of
Palestine), Israel has survived & flourished with its cosmopolitan
population rising steadily boosted by immigration & a high birth
- site of the ancient cities of Tyre, Sidon & Byblos (modern Sur,
Sayda & Jubayl), Lebanon shares its history with Syria
- in 1st millennium BC it formed part of the coastal state of Phoenicia,
gaining wealth from trading & the export of its agricultural &
- occupied successively by Romans, Turks, crusading Christians &
Mongols, it ultimately formed part of the Ottoman Empire
- 551AD: the magnificent, wealthy city of Berytus, headquarters of the
Roman's East Mediterranean fleet, struck by a massive earthquake. In its
aftermath, the sea receded several miles and the survivors walked onto
the sands to loot the long-sunken merchant ships revealed to them only
to be killed by the subsequent tsunami.
- 11thC: when the Crusaders arrived in Beirut on the way to Jerusalem,
they slaughtered every man, woman and child in the city.
- in WWI, under the Ottoman's, Beirut suffered a severe famine when the
Turkish army commandeered all the grain and the Allied forces blockaded
- the Arab state of Greater Lebanon was formed under French mandate at
end of WWI with independence coming in 1943.
- the decade after WWII brought prosperity with Christians & Moslems
cooperating at first, but factions in both & the presence of militant
Palestinian refugee groups combined in last half of 20thC to produce
dissension, including a destructive civil war in 1975-6.
- in retaliation for Lebanon harbouring and failing to control the
militant anti-Israel PLO's incursions into Israel, Israel launches a
devastating military attack on Lebanon in 1982 destroying Beirut and
subsequently resulted in the formation of the anti-Israel shiite
- in retaliation for Lebanon harbouring and failing to control the
Hezbollah group's incursions into Israel, Israel launches a devastating
military attack on Lebanon in July 2006.
- forming the northern edge of the fertile crescent that extends across
the Middle East, Syria & its rich western agricultural lands has
been occupied & cultivated for over 10,000yrs.
- successively under Egyptian, Hittite,
rule it was a Roman province in
biblical times & part of the Ottoman Empire from the 16thC onwards.
- modern Syria was formed from Ottoman provinces under French mandate
- Aleppo & Damascus joined in 1925 & became French-dominated
Republic of Syria in 1927
- Jebel & Duruz & coastal state of Latakia incorporated in
- full independence granted in 1946
- joined briefly with Egypt in the short-lived United Arab Republic
- hostility with Israel & its intervention in Lebanon commit it to
heavy defence expenditure
Modern History of the Middle East:
- 19th century:
- most Arab states controlled by the fading Ottoman Empire (based in
Turkey) which was the main reason for the continued widespread influence
of Islamic religion in the Middle East, but by 1900, the Ottomans only
had control of Turkey, the coastal parts of the Arabian Peninsula &
central regions of northern Africa coast, with Britain controlling
Egypt, Sudan, Oman & Kuwait
- Suez Canal built in 1869 by a French company but initially controlled
by Egypt before it sold control to Britain for financial reasons in
1875, reduced voyage from England to India by 4,000 miles
- Russia fought Ottoman Empire for access to Mediterranean Sea but when
that failed, Russia tried to push into China, Persia & India
- 1st modern Jewish agriculture settlement founded in Palestine where
Jews had been a minority for centuries. Palestinian Muslim &
Christian notables urged the Ottoman administration to prevent further
- in France, Hungarian, Theodore Herzl, calls for a Jewish state and
- 6th Zionist Congress declines offer for Jewish settlement in E. Africa
- 60,000 Jews have immigrated into Palestine since 1882
- Kuwait declared a British Protectorate
- 1916-7: British defeat of the Turks in WWI:
- Britain gained assistance of Hussein Ibn Ali (1854-1931), ruler of the
Hejaz & guardian of Mecca, by pledging in vague terms to help Arab
- British Col. T.E.Lawrence helps unite the Arab tribes in the fight
against the Turks, taking Aqaba & destroying Turkish railroads.
- British foreign secretary declared that Britain would look favourably
on the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish
- But, the Allies had secretly agreed to a post-war division of spoils
that paid no immediate heed to a Jewish state & reduced the Arab
state to a Franco-British puppet
- the Arab state of Greater Lebanon was created under French mandate
and had a unique mixture of Christians & Arab communities
- the provinces Aleppo & Damascus under French mandate, were
joined in 1925 and became the French-dominated Republic of Syria in
- formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Jordan, Palestine & Iraq
came under British mandate
- Britain fails in its 3rd invasion of Afghanistan which due to internal
quarrels remained undeveloped until WWII
- fighting between France & Syria at Baalbeck
- Britain mandated to govern what is now Israel, the occupied
territories and Jordan.
- Britain, US & other world powers promise the Kurds a state
of their own in the Treaty of Sevres.
- 1921: Britain betrays the Kurds by deciding their mandate on Iraq
would be better served if they included the oil-rich Kurdish Kirkuk
region within it. The Kurds found themselves formally divided among
several states including Iraq, Turkey & Iran instead of an
- Palestine which had been under British rule since 1918, comes under
British mandate and a further 35,000 Jews immigrate between 1919-23
resulting in Arab violence against Jews including riots in 1921 &
1929. Despite this, a further 81,000 Jews immigrated between 1924-31.
- Emir Feisal becomes king of an independent Syria (1920)
- Faisal I becomes king of Iraq (1921)
- Britain recognises Kingdom of Egypt under Fuad I (1921)
- Arab Congress at Nablus rejects British mandate for Palestine (1922)
- the Haganah, a semi-underground Jewish army is established
- Iran (known as Persia) becomes independent in 1925 with a new leader
Reza Khan, a former Cossack officer who replaced the hereditary shah by
a coup in 1921 and
changed his name to Reza Shah
- after a 6yr civil war, the Hussein Ibn Ali (who had become king of the
Arabs after the Turks were defeated), abdicated and the leader of the
Wahhabis, Ibn Saud, king of the Nejd area is proclaimed king of the
Arabs (recognised by Britain in 1927) in the region which he renamed
Saudi Arabia, after his family.
- Egyptian Islamic movement starts in 1928 with aim to establish an
- 1929: alarmed by expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestine, Arabs
riot in 1929 and in 1936.
- increasing Nazi persecution of Jews further drives the Zionist cause
with 233,000 Jews immigrating to Palestine between 1932-40 despite new
& more extremist Arab leaders advocating halting immigration by
- Iraq gains independence as a sovereign state in 1932 then with the
finding of oil boosting its economy
- Bahrain becomes the 1st oil-producing Arab state in 1934.
- Saudi Arabia allows an American company to search for oil & a
major discovery is found in 1936 and by 1950's had ~25% of world's oil
reserves and now supplies America with 25% of its oil imports, but
realising that oil is its only resource, limit production to prolong its
- the Irgun or Etzel, a more extreme unofficial Jewish army is formed
- oil discovered in Kuwait which was an impoverished region that
produced salt, resulted in increasing wealth
- Britain finally crushed an Arab revolt in Palestine that had lasted 3
yrs, but its 1939 White Paper restricting Jewish immigration was an
political victory for Arabs.
- Britain sets out impractical proposals for independent
- the Holocaust begins in Europe and during WWII, Zionism became a mass movement, lobbying the US Govt
& public for support
- Iran's shah abdicates & is replaced by his son Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi who ruled for next 38 years
- Lebanon gains independence from France
- militant Jewish group, Irgun Zvai Leumi, under future Israeli PM
Menachem Begin, declares war on British in Palestine, which intensifies
in 1946 with the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
- American Zionists shipped money & arms to the Haganah, a
semi-underground Jewish army, which allied with the Irgun
- in the face of British refusal to increase immigration, Jewish
guerrilla violence & British counter-violence intensified as martial
law was imposed
- Britain referred the matter to the UN
- further 85,000 Jews immigrate between 1941-47
- Turkey, which had remained neutral during WWII, aligned itself with
Western powers seeking aid from USA.
- Jordan & Syria finally achieve independence
- led by Sulaimaniya, a short-lived breakaway Kurdish republic emerges
in Iran before being crushed (?yr)
- UN recommends partition of Palestine to create a Jewish state, a
Palestine state and with Jerusalem becoming an international city
- Britain leaves Palestine the day that the state of Israel is
proclaimed by david Ben-Gurion, taking 78% of Palestine & thus the armies of the 5 Arab states attacked it - the 1st
- armistices leave Israel holding most of the territory it had been
granted, together with some territory allotted the Palestinian state
- in the absence of the Palestinian state, Jordan acquires the West
Bank, while Egypt acquires the Gaza Strip, while 600,000 Palestinians
lost their home and a further 702,000 Jews immigrate between 1948-51
- Jerusalem is divided with Jordan holding the east & Old
City, while Israel holds the west
- Israel was left surrounded by hostile neighbours & Arab
humiliation & defeat demanded redress
- Qatar develops its oil reserves
- President Nasser (1918-70) of Egypt, backed by Russia, nationalises the Suez Canal
Company, & takes control of the Suez Canal
- with its shipping blocked by Egypt, Israel joined an Anglo-French
conspiracy to recapture the nationalised Suez Canal. In a lightning
attack, the Israelis occupied the Sinai Peninsula on the east bank of
the Suez Canal. Pressure by US & USSR forced Israel to withdraw from
Sinai, but a UN force was established in the Gaza Strip to act as a
- further 145,000 Jews immigrate between 1952-56
- republican revolution in Iraq overthrows monarchy
- Iraq embarks on a campaign to Arabise the oil-rich Kurdish town of
Kirkuk which in 1957 was 48% Kurds, 28% Arabs & 21% Turkoman.
Successive govts continued so that by 1977 the Kurds had dropped to 37%,
the Arabs grown to 44%.
- Syria briefly joins with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic
- Arab state of Oman is unified with the help of Britain
- Kuwait gains independence and statehood with British help after threat
of annexation by Iraq
- Iraq civil war in the north leads to limited Kurdish autonomy &
the emergence of the socialist Ba'th party
- revolution in Yemen supported by Egypt but opposed by Saudi Arabia
deposes the last Imam
- the exiled Palestinians who had formed desperate guerrilla groups,
unite to form the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
- China becomes a nuclear power.
- further 420,000 Jews immigrate between 1957-66
- Egypt orders the departure of UN force & closes the Strait of
Tiran resulting in Israel seizing the initiative by a pre-emptive strike
on the airfields of Egypt, Jordan, Syria & Iraq. After 6 days of
fighting, Israel held all of Jerusalem as well as the Suez Canal. The
Jordanian army had been forced across the Jordan & the Syrian Golan
Heights were occupied. This time Israel did not withdraw and thus starts
the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of West Bank &
Gaza which persists today.
- 300-500,000 Arab refugees leave Israel
- oil developed in Oman
- PLO charter states Palestinians everywhere have a right to their own
- Yasser Arafat becomes head of the PLO
- further 146,000 Jews immigrate between 1967-71
- a police coup installs Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman
- PLO fight a short but bloody war with the Jordanian army, after which
they were expelled from Jordan and settled in Lebanon
- PLO hijack 3 passenger airlines.
- under pressure from US, Jordan's King Hussein orders his army to
destroy the PLO. Palestinian leadership driven out of Jordan & moves
- Britain withdraws from the gulf allowing Qatar, Bahrain & the
United Arab Emirates to gain independence
- Palestinian guerrillas kill 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games
- civil war in Lebanon
- Yom Kippur war - the deeply humiliated Arabs win minor territories but much prestige
when Egypt & Syria simultaneously attack Israel in a war lasting 16
- Arab oil embargo in protest of American support for Israel leads to OPEC
raising oil prices creating inflationary crises throughout the
Western world and increases impetus for development of nuclear energy
- USSR-backed republican revolution in Afghanistan deposes the reigning
- the PLO is recognised by all Arab countries as the sole representative
of the Palestinians
- Saudi Arabia uses its oil wealth to help "front-line" Arab
states like Syria maintain a bellicose attitude
- military of Yemen seize power ending years of civil unrest
- Nasser persecuted Egyptian "muslim brothers" and prevented
them forming political parties.
- in an attempt to reduce France's dependence on USA, France embarks on
nuclear energy & weapons development and in so doing:
- strikes a military agreement with Iraq's minister Saddam Hussein
- gets $1b loan from Iran's Shah as part of contract for Eurodif
consortium whereby Iran was to receive 10% of Eurodif's enriched
uranium and technologies to develop nuclear energy
- Egyptian president Anwar Saddat flies to Israel and addresses
parliament as a prelude to peace agreement.
- Egypt & Israel initiate peace talks cemented in 1979 by promise of
ongoing economic & military aid by USA to Egypt
- disenchanted unemployed university graduates in Egypt join the
Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement (a militant splinter group of the muslim
brothers) of SheikOmar Abdul Rachman?? who want to establish an Islamic
State by force and oppose Zionism, Communism & Imperialism.
- Shah of Iran's military ambitions to become the world's 5th most
powerful military country embarasses Western countries who then endorse
the Ayatollah Khomeini & the Islamic revolution hoping it would
shelve ideas of nuclear weapons
- Iran's religious leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in
Iraq after the Shah flees the country
- Iranian militants seize US embassy in Tehran & hold US hostages
- Iraq's president, Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr is replaced by Saddam Hussein
creating hostilities with Iran
- Hussein, vice-chairman of the RCC & vice-President of Iraq, on
July 18, 1979, called a video-taped conference inviting all members
of the Revolutionary Command Council & hundreds of other party
leaders. He announced there had been a Syrian plot & the accused
secretary-general who had been tortured, confessed & named 60
"traitors" in the audience who were arrested and later
killed. Thus the destiny of Iraq was defined - to be run by a cruel,
calculating, ego-maniacal tyrannical dictator who was to kill all
those who opposed him.
- USSR invades Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden 17th child of 52
sired by Muhammed Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia's wealthiest construction
magnate, leaves Saudi Arabia to join the Afghan resistance (mujahedeen)
as a guerrilla commander and provider of financial & logical aid.
- Iran-Iraq war commences and lasts for 8 yrs with French backing
Iraq & USSR & USA backing Iran
- Iraqi Kurdish peshmergas side with Iran ("my enemy's enemy is
- Iranian Kurdish peshmergas side with Iraq
- Saddam Hussein accelerates the long history of Arabisation of the
oil-rich Kurdish city of Kirkuk by allowing only "Arabs" to
purchase land & selectively drafting Kurds for his "independent
Jerusalem" army or evicting them from the city.
- Egyptian president Anwar Saddat who had reduced repression of the
muslim brothers but had not addressed the needs of the poor, is assassinated
by followers of Sheik Omar Abdul Rachman??, he & his followers are
inprisoned by new authoritarian regime in Egypt and evicted from Egypt,
with the Sheik going to USA whilst others go to Afghanistan
- Israel invades southern Lebanon dispersing 12,000 PLO members to Syria &
other Arab countries, those loyal to Arafat make their headquarters in
Tunis where an Israeli bombing raid in 1985 damaged their buildings
- terrorist bomb kills 237 US Marines in Beirut
- Israeli-supported Lebanese militia kill ~800 in Palestine territories.
- Iranian-led terrorists take French hostages in Lebanon as France
refuses to hold up its Eurodif agreement
- outbreak of the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in the
- all territorial claims to the Israeli-held West Bank were ceded to the
PLO by King Hussein of Jordan
- Arafat announces the establishment of an independent Palestinian state
with Jerusalem as its capital and agress that Israel has a right to the
original 78% of Palestine as according to the UN decision in 1948. The US agrees to make direct contact with
- Saddam Hussein kills 5000 Kurds in Halabja using chemical weapons
- Osama bin Laden forms the "al Qaeda" (the base), an organisation of ex-mujahedeen
& other supporters. Its mission is to channel fighters and funds to
the Afghan resistance. It had started as a listing of some 20,000
fighters who had fought the Russians in Afghanistan.
- the National Islamic Front (NIF) stages a military coup and takes
control of the Sudan
- US CIA via Pakistani ISI supported Afghani tribesmen assisted by Osama bin Laden,
eventually force USSR soldiers to withdraw after a 10year battle in the
unforgiving mountains of Afghanistan.
- Osama bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia a hero & becomes involved
in opposition movements to the Saudi monarchy while working for his
family's construction group.
- Saddam Hussein of Iraq invades and takes control of Kuwait. Arafat
declares his support of Iraq.
- Osama bin Laden fails to get support from Saudi Arabia to confront
Saddam Hussein with his al Qaeda without US help, thus starting his
obsession with removal of US forces from Saudi Arabia as he feels their
presence so close to holy sites is a massive sacrilege, whilst the US
keep forces there to protect the oil and US access to the oil. Muslims
also fear that corruption between the Saudi leaders & US has led to
looting of oil resources which has led to Saudi's $200b deficit despite
producing 9m barrels oil/day for population of only 20m. US foreign
policy perceived by Arabs as being supportive of corrupt Saudi &
Egyptian governments and ignoring the needs of the average person in the
- US retaliates and the short one-sided Gulf War leads to Kuwait
being won back and Iraq under prolonged severe sanctions but strained
the support for the US of the previously pro-Western Arab states
- earthquake in Iran kills over 35,000;
- Syrian-backed Lebanese army forces the PLO to retreat from its
positions in southern Lebanon
- Osama bin Laden flees Saudi Arabia after being confined to Jiddah for
his opposition to the Saudi alliance with USA, but escaped, 1st to Afghanistan
then to Sudan which had become a safe haven for muslim terrorists &
- France secretly finally agree to supply Iran the 10% of enriched
uranium & technologies as part of the original Eurodif agreement,
allowing Iran to progress its nuclear weapons development as it also has
discovered uranium resources.
- encouraged by US to rise against Saddam Hussein, the Kurdish rebellion
forces hold Kirkuk for ten days before fleeing unsupported by the US,
whilst Turkey encourages Saddam Hussein to crush Kurdish rebellions
fearing they would initiate similar rebellions in Turkey in the attempt
to create a long-desired independent Kurdistan. US finally establishes a
no-fly zone to protect them resulting in 3.6m Kurds forming habitations
and an autonomous, though internationally unrecognised Kurdish entity
there which is divided into an east zone run by PUK & an opposing
west zone run by KDP.
- Osama bin Laden & the al Qaeda have the following goals:
- put aside their differences with Sh'ite muslims such as Iran &
its terrorists, the Hezbollah, to cooperate against US & allies
- attach US forces stationed on Saudi penisula & in the Horn of
Arfica including Somalia
- Osama bin Laden's 1st terrorist act against USA - bomb explodes in
hotel in Yemen killing US troops
- (?year) Saddam Hussein attempts to immortalise himself by ordering
genealogists to concoct a plausible family tree linking him to Fatima,
the daughter of the prophet Mohammed, which is symbolised by a 600-page
hand-lettered copy of the Koran that was written in Saddam's own blood
(which he donated over 3yrs) & is on display in the Baghdad museum.
- each time Saddam escapes death, it has strengthened his conviction
that his path is divinely inspired & that greatness is his
- Saddam is not concerned what people of today feel about him, but
what people in 500 yrs will think.
- Israel repeals its ban on contact with the PLO paving the way for
peace talks in US between Arafat & Israel PM Yitzhak Rabin that
introduced some Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories
beginning in 1994 on the Gaza Strip & Jericho.
- an anti-Arafat Palestinian splinter group, Hamas, instigated
terrorist attacks which led to clashes with Israeli security forces and
breakdown of the peace accord
- Mujahedeen overthrow the Afghanistan govt leading to years of civil
war between the various Mujahedeen factions
- Osama bin Laden's followers try to obtain nuclear & chemical
arsenal for Sudan's NIF
- World Trade Centre in NY is bombed by muslim extremists
- 18 US troops killed in urban attack in Somalia
- Saudi gov't revokes Osama bin Laden's citizenship & freezes his
assets because of his support for fundamentalist muslim activities
- Israel and Palestine leaders broker a peace deal mediated by US Pres.
Clinton resulting in Israel withdrawing from Jericho, West Bank and
allowing Arafat back from exile and agreeing to free 1000 imprisoned
Palestinians. However, Palestinian extremists (eg. Hamas) oppose peace
deal as they want to destroy Israel whilst Israeli extremists oppose
peace deal as swapping land for peace was an anathema to them as they
feel Israel should possess all the land.
- Israeli PM Yitbak Rabin is assassinated by Israeli extremists sparking
the end of the peace deal although for the 1st time in many years the
majority of Middle East rulers join in paying their respects to the
Nobel peace prize winner.
- Saddam Hussein's sons-in-law flee to Jordan & pass state secrets
about Iraq's biological, chemical & nuclear weapons programs, but
inexplicably return to Iraq where they are killed in a shootout with
Iraqi security forces led by Saddam's eldest son Uday.
- Osama bin Laden establishes guerrilla training facilities in Yemen
near Saudi border
- unsuccessful assassination attempt of Egypt president linked to Osama
- Osama bin Laden writes open letter to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia
calling for a campaign of guerrilla attacks to drive US forces out of
- Israel's PM Yitzhak Rabin, the general turned peacemaker, is shot dead
by a Jewish fanatic.
- Palestinian terrorists continue suicide bombings seemingly out of
Arafat's control undermines the peace process. Israel responds by arresting 2000 Palestinians
including many Hamas leaders.Hesbala (Lebanese extremists) fire missiles
into Israeli killing many, Israeli retaliates & mistakenly hits a UN
target killing 102 civilians.
- Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts dealt a severe blow when pro-peace
Shimon Peres is marginally defeated at the polls and replaced by
Netanyahu, despite world leaders meeting to show their support for Peres
and the peace process. The defeat mainly a result of Israeli Arabs (20%
of Israeli pop.) boycotting the elections in response to Peres govt's
accidental attack on UN building. The
Arab states pressured for adherence of the land-for-peace agreement to
be maintained but Netanyahu slowed the process substantially indicating
he did not trust Arafat's commitment to peace.
- Saddam Hussein's sadistic son, Uday, is made paraplegic after a failed
assassination attempt by a small group of well educated Iraqi dissidents
who were never found.
- Taliban institute their extremist Islamic laws after overthrowing the
mujahedeen govt in Afghanistan. Mujahedeens form the Northern Alliance
holding out in northern Afghanistan. The Pakistani ISI military, hoping
to take over Afghanistan, supported the Talibans by providing
$1b/yr (largely in heroin money) in their civil war but lost control of
the Talibans. The Pakistani's had become upset that the cold war
superpowers had left Afghanistan & parts of Pakistan destroyed by
wars without any Marshall plan to rebuild the region.
- Sudan expels Osama bin Laden after pressure by US & Saudi forcing
him to go to Afghanistan where he supported the Talibans.
- US President Clinton signs top secret order authorising CIA to destroy
Osama bin Laden's network
- 19 US servicemen killed in truck bomb in Dhahran
- Osama bin Laden signs & issues a Declaration of Jihad
outlining his goals:
- drive US forces from Arabian Peninsula
- overthrow govt of Saudi Arabia
- liberate muslim holy sites
- support Islamic revolutionary groups around the world
- 57 foreign tourists in Egypt gunned down & slaughtered by
terrorists of the Egyptian/Afghan Islamic militants
- Arafat & Netanyahu make peace agreement in US assisted by King
Hussein of Jordan.
- Arafat to control all the major cities of West Bank & Gaza but
Jewish settlers there feel betrayed
- despite agreements not to, further Jewish settlements are established
on disputed land inflaming the Palestinians.
- Palestinian terrorists continue suicide bombings so Netanyahu stops
further withdrawal from Palestinian territories
- Israel botches an assassination attempt in Jordan using injected
poison resulting in damage to Israeli-Jordanian relationships.
- the Israeli Knesset vote to dissolve & hold
elections in which a new PM was elected, Ehud Barak, to lead them in the
- Osama bin Laden issues joint declaration with the Islamic group, Al
Jihad, the jihad movement in Bangladesh & the "Jamaat ul Ulema
e Pakistan" under the banner of the "World Islamic
Front", which stated that Muslims should kill Americans including
civilians - anywhere in the world
- grand jury investigation in US which started in 1996, indicts Osama
- 224 killed including 12 US nationals in 2 simultaneous explosions
in Kenya & Tanzania after warnings by Egypt's Jihad group.
- US send cruise missiles into Osama bin Laden's terrorist training
camps in Afghanistan in retaliation, killing 24 members of Al Qaeda and
destroyed a chemical plant in Sudan
- Osama bin Laden is said to have acquired nuclear weapons from Soviet
- Pakistan's ISI military increasingly extremist muslim, practically
runs Pakistani politics & funds Taliban schools in Pakistan &
extremist groups involved in terrorism in Kashmir against India.
- US host yet another Israeli-Palestinian peace summit
- former army chief, Ehud Barak, replaces Netanyahu as Israel's PM and
promises a "final settlement" to peace with Palestinians.
- peace talks at Camp David II come tantalisingly close to a peace
settlement but break down over the future status of Jerusalem.
- Afghanistan's Northern Alliance leader is assassinated making it
unlikely that they would be able to create a stable govt if the Taliban
could be overthrown.
- Sept 11th, Arab muslim terrorists under Osama bin Laden's orders kill over 6000
US civilians by crashing passenger jets into the World Trade Centre
buildings NY, and the Pentagon in Washington DC - ?involvement of
extremist Pakistani ISI leaders
- US alliance respond by declaring war on terrorism and all who support
it, especially Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, on
Oct 7th, commence sustained air attack on Afghanistan, allowing the
Northern Alliance to re-take control of Kabul
- October, muslim terrorists kill more American civilians by mailing
letters contaminated with military-grade anthrax creating world-wide
- US & USSR join in war against terrorism & both agree to reduce
their nuclear weapon arsenals by 2/3rds by 2010.
- Israel advances on Palestinian territories in retaliation of continued
suicide bombings by Palestinians, almost capturing PLO leaders including
- Arafat forced by Palestinians to ask his leaders to stand down
- US Pres. Bush jnr unsuccessfully pushes a reluctant UN Security
Council to send forces to Iraq for a pre-emptive strike to remove Saddam
Hussein from govt, restore democracy & disarm biologic, chemical
& nuclear weaponry which he perceives as a threat to western
countries through Iraq's support of terrorists.
- Oct: Israeli forces kill 14 civilians, PM Sharon declaring the
operation a success, states more attacks will occur
- Oct13: massive bomb blasts kill >200, mainly Australian tourists, at
a Bali nightclub thought to be due to the extremist Indonesian muslim
group Jameer Islamiah (connected to Al Qaeda) led by a 64 yr old Muslim
- March-April: without UN support, US, UK & Australian forces invade
Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein & his Ba'ath party
- April: US warns Syria against harbouring Iraqi leaders or developing
weapons of mass destruction.
- Dec: Saddam Hussein finally captured by US soldiers; Bam earthquake in
Iran kills over 40,000;
- Yasser Arafat dies, aged 75 in a Paris hospital
- Mahmoud Abbas is elected president of the Palestinian Authority.
- Israel stages a pull out of settlers and soldiers from Gaza.
- controversial Hamas wins parliamentary elections in Palestinian
- in retaliation for Lebanon harbouring and failing to control the
Hezbollah group's incursions into Israel, Israel launches a devastating
military attack on Lebanon.