Middle East Issues: Most Popular Articles
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The Arab Spring
The difference between Sunni and Shiite Islam, the origins of the split between the two sects, and demographics about the two sects throughout the Middle East
Civil war in Syria grew out of the anti-government uprising that started in March 2011. Who are the main players and their foreign sponsors? Who supports the government? Is the conflict in Syria a religious war? See here for all the latest background information on the conflict.
What is behind the Syrian uprising? See the root causes of the uprising in Syria
Are the differences between Alawites and Sunnis doctrinal or political? Read about the Alawite beliefs, their place in the Syrian regime, and their alleged links to Iran.
Who’s in power in the Middle East, what kind of political systems are emerging, and what are the latest developments?
What is currently happening in Iraq? Who is in power and who is behind the ongoing bomb attacks? Read about the background and analysis of latest events in Iraq.
Analysis and background information on the political transition in Egypt: latest developments, the balance of power, profiles of main players.
Let's set the record straight about what few Middle East countries produce oil, and what many Middle East countries do not.
Brief history of the rise and fall (and rise again) of the Taliban in Afghanistan, its relationship with al-Qaeda, Pakistan and the United States, and its designs on Islam through Mullah Omar Muhammad
How did the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 change the Middle East? Explosion of political activity and people power, but also political tension, economic uncertainty, instability, and even conflict.
Latest news, analysis and background information on Syria.
A country-by-country guide to the protests and uprisings in the Middle East that began with unrest in Tunisia in late 2010, with links to other background information.
A list of 10 of the most useful books on Middle Eastern history, society, religion and economy.
A Guide to American policy in the Middle East since World War II, from the Truman Administration to George W. Bush's
Definition of Twelver Shiites, or Ithna ‘Ashariyah or Imamiyah, a major subdivision of of Shiitism's spiritual suburbs.
Ziggurat: definition and history of the Mesopotamian, temple-like architecture of ancient history.
Israel is a military and economic powerhouse in the Middle East. Read here about the latest developments in domestic politics, Israel's rivalry with other regional powers, and the fate of the peace process with the Palestinians.
Facts, causes and consequences of child marriage and the sexual abuse of children.
Is the conflict in Syria a religious war? Why Alawites and other religious minorities tend to support the regime? Read about Syria's religious map and how it relates to the country's political faultlines.
The rebels in Syria have been fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad since 2011. Who are they really and what do they want? Are they linked to Al Qaeda?
Description and brief history of the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel, in Jerusalem alongside the Temple Mount.
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Twelver Shiites
What is currently happening in Libya? Who is in power, and why is there still violence in the country? Read about the latest news and analysis.
Russia’s support for the Syrian regime is motivated by extensive trade and military interests that go back to the Soviet era. But how far is Russia willing to go in its suport for the regime?
Al Nusra Front is a Syrian rebel group with links to Al Qaeda in Iraq. What are the group's goals, and what tactics is it using to get there?
The veil is one of the most contentious issues in Islam and the Western world. But is the veil, or any form of head covering, actually required by the Quran, or is it an Islamic convention?
From its launch in 1996 Al Jazeera has revolutionized the rules of Arab television news while challenging western dominance in setting the agenda of perceptions about the Middle East.
Text of 1949 UN Resolution Calling for a referendum on Kashmir's future with India or Pakistan.
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa.
Who is winning the civil war in Syria: the regime of President Bashar al-Assad or Syria’s disparate opposition? Read about the balance of power on the ground, and why the conflict might drag on for a long time.
What is Zionism? A brief and objective history from Theodor Herzl to modern Israel and its anti-Zionist reactions.
What is the niqab in islamic dress and how is it different from face veils, burqas and hijabs or keffiyehs.
At its core, the Iranian-Saudi rivalry is about power and money: two oil-rich giants, vying for control of the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow water passage that accounts for almost 20% of all oil traded worldwide.
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The Syrian regime has survived the 2011 uprising for longer than many people assumed it would. Why do so many Syrians support President Bashar al-Assad? And what are the motives behind foreign suppport for his regime?
FAQ: What Is Pakistan's ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence? All you need to know about the rogue intelligence agency termed a
A definition of Sharia, or Islamic law, with background on historical and contemporary practices
Several options for intervention in the Syrian crisis are on the table, but none of them promises a quick end to the Syrian tragedy. Here's a list of pros and cons of intervening in Syria.
The 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by some 500 fundamentalist militants had nothing to do with al-Qaeda--and everything to do with what al-Qaeda became a decade and a half later.
Read the full text of George W. Bush's speech to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001 declaring a War on Terror after the 9/11 attacks.
The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government uprising that shook the Middle East in 2011. Read about the first protests and how they grew into a mass movement that brought down one of the most corrupt Arab regimes.
It was in mecca that Malcolm X experienced the epiphany that would change his worldview, away from hatred for whites and toward a more universal brotherhood of men--but a brotherhood possible only under Islam.
The people of the Middle East are constantly battling western stereotype, mis-characterization, false assumptions and gross generalities. Here are a few common, and in Middle Easterners' eyes, quite offensive, myths, and their correctives.
The story of the September 1970 civil war between King Hussein's Jordanian military and Yasser Arafat's PLO, what became known as Black September.
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.
Let's have a look at the Middle East ten years after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Did the region change the way its planners intended? What was the reaction of Iran? What did it mean for Al Qaeda?
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 6.
An overview of Sunni-Shiite hotspots in the Middle East, and what is driving the tension.
Israel and Syria are old enemies, but over the years they have learnt to avoid open warfare. How can Israel benefit from the downfall of the Syrian regime? Can the chaos in Syria be a threat to Israel?
History and meaning of the Shiite Houthi Rebellion in Yemen.
A definition and explanation of Black September -- the September 1970 Jordanian crackdown on the PLO and the movement of the same name that the civil war spawned.
The Balfour declaration of 1917 was Britain's implicit, but shot-lived, recognition that Jews ought to have a homeland in Palestine.
What is behind the ongoing Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq? See here for an ovreview of Sunni-Shiite relations, and how they were poisoned by the struggle for power and outside interference.
Translation and explanation of Allahu Akbar, the Islamic chant and call to prayer often used in political rallies and stereotyped in the West.
Egyptians took to the streets in 2011 to protest against corruption and repression. But are they any closer to living in a democracy?
The alliance between Iran and Syria is one of the most resilient strategic partnerships in the Middle East, based on a unique convergence of interests.
In power since 2000, Assad is one of the Middle East's most ruthless leaders.
A year-by-year timeline of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), which claimed the lives of some 200,000 people and left Lebanon in ruins and divided.
Libya faces a long road toward full stabilization and the presence of autonomous, heavily armed groups poses the biggest threat to the political process.
The US-led invasion in 2003 toppled the dictatorship of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But is Iraq really a democracy today? How was the civil war affected the political system?
Kashmir explained: A brief history and background of the conflict at the heart of Pakistani-Indian tensions and wars.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
War Powers Act FAQ: How the War Powers Act of 1973 requires US presidents to seek congressional authorization to engage US troops in hostilities for longer than 60 to 90 days.
What are Barack Obama’s top five challenges in the Middle East as he begins his second mandate? Without the pressure of electability, US presidents proverbially get more adventurous in the second term, but the list is daunting.
Complete guide to the basics about the Iraq war: timelines, causes, costs, objectives, history, profiles of the main actors and frequently asked questions.
Brief definition and description of the burqa, the
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 9.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 10.
A definition of Jihad, the Arabic word for
Why is Turkey reluctant to intervene in Syria? What could force Turkey to go to war and what would the invasion look like? Read about scenarios on Turkey's intervention in Syria.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 5.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 12.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 7.
Saudi support for the Syrian opposition is motivated by a decades-long desire to break the alliance between Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Islamism is probably the most powerful political force in the Middle East today. Where does this ideology come from, and how does it relate to Islam?
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 13.
Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam, the five duties required of every practicing Muslim.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 11.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 8.
At 4:30 a.m. local time on Sept. 5, 1972, in Munich, Germany, Palestinian commandos armed with automatic rifles broke into the quarters of the Israeli team at the Olympic Village, killed two members of the team and took nine others hostage. Twenty-three hours later, the nine hostages had also been murdered. So was a German policeman. So were five of the Palestinian terrorists.
In 2005, a Danish newspaper published a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons were of astonishingly bad taste. The newspaper's point was to test freedom of expression. The Islamic world didn't see it that way. Repercussions have been far-reaching.
What is Arabica coffee? A brief lesson in the origins and history of one of the world's richest and most aromatic coffee beans.
A definition of the many meanings and applications of the Arabic word hijab, or veil, in the Middle East and the Islamic world.
Facts & Statistics on Adult Literacy and Illiteracy in the Middle East, country rankings.
UNRWA - A definition and brief history of the United Nations Relief Works Agency, the Palestinians' principal refugee relief organization.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 6.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is the focal point of Syria’s armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad: how are they organized and can they defeat the regime?
The five duties required of every practicing Muslim. Sunnis believe in the Five Pillars. Shiites do as well, though they add two or three.
Cyprus gains independence from Britain on August 16, 1960. Page 3.
Who is really in power in Iran, and who are the opposition? Read about the system of government in Iran, latest developments and analysis of current events.
In 1996, when the Taliban took over large portions of Afghanistan, it imposed strict and severe religious decrees and prohibitions on the population, women especially. Here is a list of those decrees and prohibitions.
Middle East Issues. Page 9.
A concise history of the PLO, the Palesti9ne Liberation organization.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 3.
Explanation and context of Osama bin laden's 1996 jihad declaration of war against the United States.
Fun facts and figures on Burj Dubai/Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and skyscraper, in the United Arab Emirates.
Brief history and background of the Second Kashmir War (1965) between India and Pakistan.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 7.
The United Arab Emirates won independence from Britain in December 1971. Here's a brief history of the founding of the UAE, formekly known as the Trucial States.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 8.
Five reasons why crisis in Bahrain won't go away,as Bahrain’s Shiite opposition continues its struggle against the Sunni royal family,
The timeline of Egyptian crisis in 2013 follows the events that led to the downfall of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, opening a new phase in Egypt’s troubled transition.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 4.
The story of the 1970 hijackings of three jets to Jordan's Dawson Field by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
A definition and brief profile of Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor and trainer of police and mercenary personnel that gained notoriety from incidents involving abuse of power in the Iraq war.
What went wrong in Egypt after the 2011 uprising that brought down the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak? Read about the root causes of Egypt's political crisis.
A definition of Quraysh, the old, powerful tribe from Mecca to which Prophet Muhammad once belonged before his expulsion from it.
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.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 5.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 3.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Page 2.
The state of purity required of Muslim pilgrims before conducting the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The worst days of violence in Iraq may be over, but Al Qaeda in Iraq remains a major destabilizing factor for the wider region. Read about its organization, goals and strategy.
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
Middle East Issues. Page 2.
A complete guide to the Abu Ghraib Photos and Torture Scandal: Origins, history, facts, debates, outcomes and photo galleries.
Who is in power in Qatar, and what role does this Gulf Arab emirate play in the Middle East? Read about the background to Qatar's politics, along with all the latest developments and analysis.
Islamophobia or assimilation? A guide to the Muslim veil and burqa controversies in Europe, the United States and the Muslim world.
An explanation of the Arab world, its part in the Middle East and the Middle East's non-Arab differences.
The Bush administration has changed its rationale for war in Iraq as the complexions of the war and the occupation have changed.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 10.
Description and brief history and purpose of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, designed by I.M. Pei
An overview of Al Qaeda's main branches in the Middle East, their leaders, organization, and recent activities.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Iraqi inmate terrorized by attack dogs. Page 4.
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.
Image Portrait of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Page 3.
Definition and capsule history of North Africa's Barbary pirates and privateers of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Definition of takfir, the controversial concept, in perverted interpretations of Islam, of excommunicating unbelievers or apostates and, in some cases, justifying their killing.
: Mujahidin is the plural of mujahid , which is Arabic for "one who engages in jihad ." Although the
: Surah is the Arabic, Quranic word for "chapter." When citing the Quran, for example, the first number
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?
Description and brief history of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, also known as the Dome of the Rock, Islam's third-holiest site.
Definition and brief history of Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The 1978 Egyptian-Israeli Camp David Accords sealed an eventual peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and remain the single-greatest American achievement for peace in the Middle East.
Syrian opposition is a diverse mix of exiled political groups, grassroots activists organizing protests inside Syria, and armed groups waging a guerilla war on the government forces.
Image Portrait of Iraq’s Nouri or Nuri al Maliki. Page 4.
Saudia Arabia faces at least five major challenges, that even the world's top oil exporter can't solve with money alone.
Predator drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): History, uses, costs, advantages and disadvantages.
Image Portrait of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Page 10.
Country by Country Facts and Figures on Christians of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.
Hama Rules is an expression coined by Thomas Friedman to describe Syria's ruthless repression of dissent, emanating from Hafez el Assad's massacre in Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Hama in February 1982.
A timeline of the events leading up to the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) and through the end of the administration of the first George Bush in 1993.
Brief description of Kashmir, the region disputed by India and Pakistan.
Shabiha militias are the shock troops of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Where do they come from and can they win the war for Assad?
Turkey and Syria cooperated well between 2002 and 2011. What is behind the latest confrontation between Ankara and Damascus?
Primers Briefings and Explainers on Barack Obama and the Middle East, country by country