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Middle East 101

Understand the basics of the Middle East quickly and objectively: Geography, people, demographics, politics, and history before and after Islam, with emphasis on demystifying the region, eliminating stereotypes and providing illuminating context for issues of the day.
  1. This Day in Mideast History (28)

Current Situation in the Middle East
Who’s in power in the Middle East, what kind of political systems are emerging, and what are the latest developments?

Russia's Middle East Influence
Russia has frustrated the US by supporting the Syrian regime. But could Moscow really threaten US influence in the Middle East? Is the region really that important to Russia?

United Arab Emirates: A Guide
United Arab Emirates: guide to the seven emirates and UAE issues.

Massacres in Syria, Silence of the Arab Lambs
The silence of the Arab League and the international community in the face of Syrian massacres is a shameful display of impotence and complicity with crimes against humanity, Nehad Ismail argues.

How to End the Qaddafi Nightmare in Libya: Options and Solutions
The Arab League, the UN and the West must beef up military support of the rebels to ensure the end of the Qaddafi regime in Libya, argues Nehad Ismail

From Muammar el Qaddafi to Osama bin Laden
From Muammar el-Qaddafi to Osama bin Laden, the language and purpose of terrorism has changed little. Its success has been just as scant.

The Middle East Influence on Time's 100 Most Influential Peop…
How many Middle East-related people on Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World is a measure of the Middle East's enduring impact on American politics, culture and society.

Top 10 Stories of the Decade - What's Your List?
Do I have it right? What are your choices for top 10 stories of the decade in the Middle East?

Top 10 Middle East Stories of the Decade
The the top 10 Middle East stories of the decade from 9/11 to George W. Bush's war on terror to the Middle East's descents into chahos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine-Israel and Pakistan.

Top 10 Middle East Stories of 2009
From Obama's promising election (and many promises) to Afghanistan's increasingly bloody quagmire to the stalemates of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iran's internal shocks, the Middle East in 2009 was a roller-coaster of hopes, dashed expectations and pin-balling tinderboxes. The same could be said of 2008 and 2007, yet the danger of the failures of 2009 seems higher, if for no other reaso…

When Arab and Muslim Stereotype Fuels Dangerous Assumptions
If people and the media weren't so quick to confuse Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners as one and the same, fewer atrocities would find their source in assumptions, argues Jillian C. York.

Leaders of the Middle East: A Photo Gallery
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa.

What Are the UN's Arab Human Development Reports?
Explanation and brief history of the UN's Arab Human Development Reports providing a stark picture of Arab society, culture and politics.

Swine Flu in the Middle East: Cases and Fatalities
A chart of reported cases and fatalities attributed to swine flu in the Middle East, country by country.

The Statue of Liberty's Origins in Egypt
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and the Statue of Liberty's Egyptian Origins: How Lady Liberty was imagined as an Egyptian peasant lighting the entrance of the Suez Canal.

Why Sunni Arab Regimes Fear Democracy in Shiite Iran
Why Sunni Arab regimes, avowed enemies of the Shiite regime in Iran, fear democracy in Iran even more.

Obama Declares an End to Clash of Civilizations
Speaking in Istanbul, Barack Obama declared an end to the Clash of Civilizations, the thesis invented by Samuel Huntington that gave Bush's war on terror its language and rationale.

Christians of the Middle East
Country by Country Facts and Figures on Christians of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.

Swine Flu in the Middle East
Swine flu affects pigs. Evidence is slim that the recent outbreak of swine flu around the world was transmitted from pigs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it appears to be a people-to-people strain. Nevertheless, the disease's potential to be a pandemic, the absence of a cure and the dearth of knowledge about the strain itsel…

Adult Illiteracy Rates (15 Years & Over) in the Middle East
Facts & Statistics on Adult Literacy and Illiteracy in the Middle East, country rankings.

The Middle East's Best Travel Spots, 2009
The Middle East rates four of the world's 44 best travel spots in 2009 according to The New York Times' annual survey, beginning with Beirut at No. 1, then Doha, Marrakesh and Egypt's Red Sea.

Top 10 Middle East Stories of 2008
When it comes to the contemporary Middle East few years can be termed "good," and 2008 was not among those. Iraq gave the appearance of calm as death tolls have fallen and American forces have increasingly been giving in to Iraqi prerogatives, but the country remains politically riven, and more than 4 million Iraqis are still refugees. Afghanistan was deteriorating in 2007. It is now in a state o…

January 8 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 8, from Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points' efffects on the Ottoman Empire to the creation of Saudi Arabia

January 7 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 7, including Operation Desert Storm and Mohammed Khatami’s overtures to the United States.

January 6 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 6, from the birth of Khalil Gibran to the fibs of Alberto Gonzales

January 5 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 5.

January 4 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 4, from Fouad Haddad’s birth to Ronald Reagan’s obsession with Muammar el Qaddafi to Ariel Sharon’s second stroke.

January 3 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 3, from Dean Rusk’s last hopes for the Middle East to Lebanese censorship to Flash Airlines’ Red Sea crash.

January 1 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: January 1, from Muhammad’s bloodless conquest of Mecca to Twelver Shiites’ bloody mythology to Sudan’s and Pakistan’s dictatorial leaderships.

Internet Usage in the Middle East, 2000-2008
A chart of Internet usage in the Middle East by country, including growth trends, 2000-2008.

Ellis Island, Arabs and Middle East Immigrants
A brief history of Arabs and Middle Eastern immigrants who passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954.

Infections and Deaths from HIV-AIDS in the Middle East, 2001-2007
United Nations estimates of infections and deaths among children and adults from HIV AIDS in the Middle East, 2001-2007

December 1 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: December 1, from the death of Israel’s David Ben-Gurion to Ronald Reagan’s tap-dancing around the Iran-Contra scandal to Benazir Bhutto’s first appointment as prime minister of Pakistan.

November 29 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 29 from the partition of Palestine to Operation Desert Storm by way of the Lebanese civil war and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

November 28 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 28, from the Tehran Conference of World War II to Mauritania’s independence to De Gaulle’s and Reagan’s varying approaches to the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel.

November 27 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 27, from the call for the first Crusade to Saudi racism to French hostage releases in Beirut.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosvelt Discover Bahrain
At a news conference in 1939, Franklin Roosevelt admitted he only knew of Bahrain because he collected stamps, while Eleanor admitted to not know about the kingdom at all.

November 20 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 20.

November 18 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 18.

November 17 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 17.

November 16 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 16.

November 15 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 15.

November 14 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 14.

November 12 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 12.

November 10 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 10.

November 3 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 3, including the iran-contra affair and Pervez Musharraf's latest coups.

November 9 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 9, including the Bali bombers' execution and the fall of the Berlin Wall

October 23 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 23.

November 4 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: November 4.

Obama, Osama, Hussein: Drop a Name, Bait Voter Arab-Phobia
Bigots and xenophobes have had a field day trying to torpedo Barack Obama's candidacy fore the presidency over his alleged Arab and Muslim background. The stereotypes of Arabs in American society have a long history.

October 17 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 17.

October 16 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 16.

October 15 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 15.

October 14 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 14.

October 13 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 13, from Istanbul to Ankara to Hosni Mubarak's elevation as Egypt's president to the end of Lebanon's civil war, and the odd Palestinian hijacking.

October 12 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 12.

October 11 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 11.

October 9 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 9.

Brigitte Gabriel, Islamophobe
Brigitte Gabriel is a Lebanese-born Christian who's marketing her experiences in war-torn Lebanon into fear-whipping Islamophobia in the United States.

October 8 in Middle East History
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 8.

This Day in Middle Eastern History: October 10
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 10.

This Day in Middle Eastern History: October 7
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 7, including the beginning of the Afghan war and the seizing of the Achille Lauro cruise ship

This Day in Middle Eastern History: October 6
The events that shaped the Middle East on this day in the Mideast's history calendar: October 6.

Middle East Clips & Links
The first of what will be periodic skims of noteworthy items in the Middle East press, blogs included--or about the Middle East from the rest of the world's press and blogs.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Middle East in Pictures
An image gallery of the Middle East and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics: medal-winning athletes, gret stories, amazing images

Middle East Countries' Summer Olympics Medal Count and History
A quick, graphic display of Middle East countries' summer Olympic history by first year of participation and all-time medal count as well as Beijing 2008 participation stats.

The New Arab Diplomacy: Not With the U.S. and Not Against the U.S.
Arab countries are undertaking diplomatic initiatives that contradict U.S. policy, because they no longer trust the U.S. capacity to contend with escalating regional crises. Arab countries traditionally aligned with the United States are no longer willing to follow Washington’s lead, concludes a July 2008 paper from the Carnegie Middle East Program by Marina Ottaway and Mohammed Herzallah.

What Is the Middle East?
Can the Middle East be precisely defined? Not quite. The term can be as contention as the region, but between convention and history, a fair definition is possible.

What Is the Arab World?
An explanation of the Arab world, its part in the Middle East and the Middle East's non-Arab differences.

Middle East Basics: Roadmap to Basic Facts and Issues in the Middle East
A guide to Middle East basics - The basic facts about the Middle East, the best books, country profiles and briefings on US-Middle East relations

Review: "Storms from the East," by Milton Viorst
You’d be hard pressed to find a 178-page book that so accessibly summarizes the main currents of Arab history—religious communalism, nationalism, religious fundamentalism—while intelligently analyzing those currents’ origins in their Arab context or, since the 19th century, as reactions to western designs on the region.

Glossary: Mujahidin, Mujahid
Definition of the Arabic word for "one who engages in jihad," or "warrior of God."

Five Myths About the Middle East
The greatest struggle for Middle Easterners isn't the battle against terrorism, or the battle within Islam, or the problem of authoritarianism in most Middle East countries. It's a problem of perception--the many and varied ways westerners misinterpret, mis-characterize, stereotype and flatly misrepresent various people and issues across the greater Middle East. It's important to face the myths h…

Review: "The Arabs: Journeys Beyond the Mirage"
Two decades after David Lamb's book was originally published (by Random House in 1987, revised in 2002), it remains a lucid introduction to the main themes of Middle Eastern politics, history and social issues that most westerners find intractable.

Top 10 Middle East Issues of 2007
It's not been a good year for the Middle East: continuing genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, another humanitarian crisis in Somalia, 4 million Iraqi refugees meandering inside and outside their country, martial law in Pakistan, violence and uncertainty again in Afghanistan, and on the list goes. There were glimmers of hope, too: Iran may not be going nuclear after all and Israelis and Palestinian…

Club Mid - The Middle East's Best Travel Spots
Seven of the New York Times' 53 "Best Places to Travel in 2008" are in the Middle East, and several of those are surprising choices: what axis of evil?

Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program: Ambition or Reality?
Iran has been aiming to become a nuclear power for more than two decades. The question has always been: for peaceful or offensive means? Iranian leaders themselves have been of two minds an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Ten Indispensable Books
A list of 10 of the most useful books on Middle Eastern history, society, religion and economy.

The Difference Between Sunnis and Shiites
The origins of the split between Islam's two major sects, where Sunnis and Shiites are located throughout the Middle East, and how contemporary Islam is struggling through the sectarianism.

Sixty Years of U.S.-Mideast Policy
US-Mideast policies from Harry Truman to George W. Bush: an administration-by-administration breakdown of a troubled history.

Al-Bab: An Open Door to the Arab World
A terrific portal to all things Arab--news, media links, culture, history--by the UK Guardian's Middle East editor.

George Galloway-Christopher Hitchens Debate Over the Middle East, 1
A lively, acerbic, always entertaining debate televised on C-Span between George Galloway, the British member of Parliament, and Christopher Hitchens, the journalist, over their widely differing views over the Iraq war, the war on terror and western interventionism in the Middle East. Part 1.

George Galloway-Christopher Hitchens Debate Over the Middle East, 2
A lively, acerbic, always entertaining debate televised on C-Span between George Galloway, the British member of Parliament, and Christopher Hitchens, the journalist, over their widely differing views over the Iraq war, the war on terror and western interventionism in the Middle East. Part 2.

The Middle East's Best Travel Spots in 2011
From Morocco to Iraqi Kurdistan, the Middle East scores six spots out of The New York Times' 41 best travel spots and places to go in 2011.

The Egyptian Revolution in the Context of U.S. Policy in the Middle East
Understanding the Egyptian Revolution against Hosni Mubarak in the context of U.S. or American policy in the Middle East.

Middle East Countries With Nuclear Weapons
Read about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and see why we should worry about the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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