Middle East Issues: Most Popular Articles
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.
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Analysis and background information on the political transition in Egypt: latest developments, the balance of power, profiles of main players.
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.
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.
What were the reasons for the Arab Spring in 2011? Read about the top ten developments that both triggered the revolt and helped it confront the might of the police state.
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
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.
Facts, causes and consequences of child marriage and the sexual abuse of children.
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.
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.
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.
Let's set the record straight about what few Middle East countries produce oil, and what many Middle East countries do not.
Description and brief history of the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel, in Jerusalem alongside the Temple Mount.
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.
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Latest news, analysis and background information on Syria.
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 alliance between Iran and Syria is one of the most resilient strategic partnerships in the Middle East, based on a unique convergence of interests.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A list of 10 of the most useful books on Middle Eastern history, society, religion and economy.
Description and brief history of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, also known as the Dome of the Rock, Islam's third-holiest site.
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
A complete guide to the Abu Ghraib Photos and Torture Scandal: Origins, history, facts, debates, outcomes and photo galleries.
The Balfour declaration of 1917 was Britain's implicit, but shot-lived, recognition that Jews ought to have a homeland in Palestine.
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa.
Kashmir explained: A brief history and background of the conflict at the heart of Pakistani-Indian tensions and wars.
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.
An overview of Sunni-Shiite hotspots in the Middle East, and what is driving the tension.
A concise history of the PLO, the Palesti9ne Liberation organization.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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Facts & Statistics on Adult Literacy and Illiteracy in the Middle East, country rankings.
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.
What is the niqab in islamic dress and how is it different from face veils, burqas and hijabs or keffiyehs.
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.
Definition of Twelver Shiites, or Ithna ‘Ashariyah or Imamiyah, a major subdivision of of Shiitism's spiritual suburbs.
: Jihad is the Arabic for what can be variously translated as "struggle" or "effort," or "to strive,"
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?
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?
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 5.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 7.
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?
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.
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: What Is Pakistan's ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence? Pakistan âs Inter-Services Intelligence, known
The war in Syria is the Arab world's most intractable internal conflict since the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s. What are the obstacles to a peaceful settlement?
Egypt’s crisis is a result of a failed transition to democracy after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Read about the key political actors and alliances.
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.
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.
What is Arabica coffee? A brief lesson in the origins and history of one of the world's richest and most aromatic coffee beans.
The five duties required of every practicing Muslim. Sunnis believe in the Five Pillars. Shiites do as well, though they add two or three.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
Hezbollah, Lebanese Shiite party and militia, has intervened in Syrian civil war on the side of the government. What are the group's motives, and how does that involve Iran?
Understanding the details behind the Anwar Sadat assassination in Cairo on Oct. 6, 1981, by a Muslim brotherhood offshoot that would later be identified with al-Qaeda.
Profile of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's revolutionary leader (1918-1970) and the founder of Pan-Arab nationalism.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the United States led a 61-nation boycott of the Summer Olympics held in Moscow in 1980.
Why Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali Matters: On Nov. 7, 1987, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali became only the second
Saudia Arabia faces at least five major challenges, that even the world's top oil exporter can't solve with money alone.
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?
A definition of Quraysh, the old, powerful tribe from Mecca to which Prophet Muhammad once belonged before his expulsion from it.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 8.
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.
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?
Translation and explanation of Allahu Akbar, the Islamic chant and call to prayer often used in political rallies and stereotyped in the West.
The impact of the Syrian uprising on Lebanon will be as closely watched as the events in Syria itself. Have a look at 10 developments that can draw Lebanon into the fight.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 10.
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
Syrian President Bashar el Assad, in power since 2000, is one of the Middle East's most ruthless leaders. A profile.
What is currently happening in Turkey? WHo is power, who is in the opposition? Get all the background and the latest analysi of the current developments in Turkey.
Definition of Ihram, the state of purity required of Muslim pilgrims before conducting the pilgrimage to Mecca.
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.
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.
Libya faces a long road toward full stabilization and the presence of autonomous, heavily armed groups poses the biggest threat to the political process.
Middle East Issues. Page 9.
The story of the 1970 hijackings of three jets to Jordan's Dawson Field by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
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.
Operation El Dorado Canyon, the 1986 U.S. Attack on Libya in retaliation for the terrorist bombing at a Berlin discotheque.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 6.
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.
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 Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
An explanation of the Arab world, its part in the Middle East and the Middle East's non-Arab differences.
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.
Brief definition and description of the burqa, the
June 5, 1967, the third Arab-Israeli war, also known as the Six Day War, erupts.
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.
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?
The economic and cultural union between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates
Text of 1949 UN Resolution Calling for a referendum on Kashmir's future with India or Pakistan.
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A definition of Sharia, or Islamic law, with background on historical and contemporary practices
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 3.
Middle East Issues. Page 2.
Who are the members of the Syrian National Council, Syria's main opposition alliance? What are their objectives and do Syrians support them?
Turkey and Syria cooperated well between 2002 and 2011. What is behind the latest confrontation between Ankara and Damascus?
Iraqi inmate terrorized by attack dogs. Page 4.
Caspar Weinbeger describes how Ronald Reagan reacted to the U.S. Marines massacre in a suicide bomb attack in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983.
The Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 unleashed great political change in the Middle East. Did Islamist groups participate in the protests? How did they get involved, and how have they benefited from the changes?
Background, details and consequences of the Mossad's assassination of the PLO's Abu Jihad, or Khalil al-Wazir, in Tunis on April 16, 1988
How did Turkey become the champion of democratic change in the Arab world? What is Ankara trying to achieve by backing the Arab Spring uprisings? Read about Turkish foreign policy in the new Middle East.
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?
Why Ali Khamenei matters: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Iranâs self-styled â Supreme Leader ,â only the second
Fun facts and figures on Burj Dubai/Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and skyscraper, in the United Arab Emirates.
Egyptian military’s power rests on a complex web of intelligence networks, profitable business enterprises and exclusive government budgets. Civilian politicians may have captured the elected state institutions, but real power in Egypt still resides with the opaque Supreme Council of Armed Forces.
Predator drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): History, uses, costs, advantages and disadvantages.
Defining Fatah, the Palestinian party founded in the mid-1950s and led by Yasser Arafat until his death in 2004.
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.
Country by Country Facts and Figures on Christians of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.
Ziggurat: definition and history of the Mesopotamian, temple-like architecture of ancient history.
Definition and brief history of Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
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.
Brief description of Kashmir, the region disputed by India and Pakistan.
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.
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.
A look at the main players involved in the struggle for power in Egypt as the military gradually steps aside for an elected civilian government.
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A bried explanation of the Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages scandal known as the Iran-Contra Affair, which implicated numerous members of the Reagan administration--including Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
A complete list of Israel's prime ministers from 1948 to the present.
A table graphically breaking down Arab American populations in the United States in California, Michigan, New York and seven other states, according to the Census Bureau and Zogby International estimates.
On October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber slammed his truck into U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines. It was the emergence of Hezbollah--and the signal failure of Reagan administration policy in Lebanon.
an analytical overview of the last five years, framed by attempted answers to three questions: What’s been gained? What’s been lost? Where to go from here?
Why Sadat Still Matters: Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamist fanatics in 1981 for the very reason
Complete guide to the basics about the Iraq war: timelines, causes, costs, objectives, history, profiles of the main actors and frequently asked questions.
A primer on why Iran's Green Revolution protesters are and what they want -- namely, an end to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but not an end to the Islamic Republic.
Explanation and context of Osama bin laden's 1996 jihad declaration of war against the United States.
The Bush administration has changed its rationale for war in Iraq as the complexions of the war and the occupation have changed.
Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula fights to overthrow Yemeni and Saudi governments, and expell Western presence from the Arabian peninsula. It is one of the most aggressive Al Qaeda's branches in the Middle East.
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.
Muslim tradition generally prohibits the representation of the human figure in art. But does the Koran actually ban representations of Muhammad or others?
: The word "madrassa" is Arabic for school, and is commonly used throughout the Arab and Islamic world
Brief definition, description and history of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Jordan's demographics, government structure, religions, economy, military, human rights record, history and current issues are profiled.
Salafis are ultra-conservative Islamists advocating a religious revival in Muslim societies. What are the origins of their thought? Are all Muslims in the Middle East Salafis? Whas is their connection to Al Qaeda?
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.
Definition and capsule history of North Africa's Barbary pirates and privateers of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Brief history and background of the Second Kashmir War (1965) between India and Pakistan.
The concept of blasphemy in Islam is contentious, because the holy scriptures offer no unequivocal guidance on the issue.
Brief definition of Hashemite and the Hashemite dynasty, descendded of the clan of Hashim, including the current ruler of Jordan.
Definition and scope of Operation Desert Storm, the offensive phase of the U.S.-led military operation to clear Kuwait of Iraqi forces in the first Gulf War, in January-February 1991.