Middle East Issues: Most Popular Articles
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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
Analysis and background information on the political transition in Egypt: latest developments, the balance of power, profiles of main players.
Facts, causes and consequences of child marriage and the sexual abuse of children.
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.
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.
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.
Who’s in power in the Middle East, what kind of political systems are emerging, and what are the latest developments?
A list of 10 of the most useful books on Middle Eastern history, society, religion and economy.
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.
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.
A Guide to American policy in the Middle East since World War II, from the Truman Administration to George W. Bush's
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.
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.
FAQ: What Is Pakistan's ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence? All you need to know about the rogue intelligence agency termed a
What is behind the Syrian uprising? See the root causes of the uprising in Syria
Latest news, analysis and background information on Syria.
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.
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa.
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.
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
Let's set the record straight about what few Middle East countries produce oil, and what many Middle East countries do not.
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.
Description and brief history of the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel, in Jerusalem alongside the Temple Mount.
Definition of Twelver Shiites, or Ithna ‘Ashariyah or Imamiyah, a major subdivision of of Shiitism's spiritual suburbs.
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.
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.
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?
Ziggurat: definition and history of the Mesopotamian, temple-like architecture of ancient history.
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What is the niqab in islamic dress and how is it different from face veils, burqas and hijabs or keffiyehs.
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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.
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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.
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.
A definition of Sharia, or Islamic law, with background on historical and contemporary practices
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.
Kashmir explained: A brief history and background of the conflict at the heart of Pakistani-Indian tensions and wars.
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.
The story of the 1970 hijackings of three jets to Jordan's Dawson Field by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The Balfour declaration of 1917 was Britain's implicit, but shot-lived, recognition that Jews ought to have a homeland in Palestine.
Country by Country Facts and Figures on Christians of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.
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.
Egyptians took to the streets in 2011 to protest against corruption and repression. But are they any closer to living in a democracy?
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?
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.
On Feb. 14, 1989, Iran's Tehran Radio broadcast a message from the country's "supreme leader," Ayatollah
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 8.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 10.
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?
Middle East Issues. Page 9.
Libya faces a long road toward full stabilization and the presence of autonomous, heavily armed groups poses the biggest threat to the political process.
A concise history of the PLO, the Palesti9ne Liberation organization.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 6.
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?
What is Arabica coffee? A brief lesson in the origins and history of one of the world's richest and most aromatic coffee beans.
Explanation and context of Osama bin laden's 1996 jihad declaration of war against the United States.
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.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 7.
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.
Saudi Arabia's demographics, absolute monarchy, oil economy, religious order, military, human rights record, history and current issues are profiled.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 5.
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.
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.
Israel has the capacity to launch long-distance missions to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, but the extent of damage it could inflict is unclear. Here are scenarios for an Israeli attack on Iran.
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 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.
An explanation of the Arab world, its part in the Middle East and the Middle East's non-Arab differences.
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
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.
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.
Image Portrait of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Page 3.
Five reasons why crisis in Bahrain won't go away,as Bahrain’s Shiite opposition continues its struggle against the Sunni royal family,
A complete list of Israel's prime ministers from 1948 to the present.
A definition of the many meanings and applications of the Arabic word hijab, or veil, in the Middle East and the Islamic world.
An overview of Sunni-Shiite hotspots in the Middle East, and what is driving the tension.
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.
Brief definition and description of the burqa, the
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 3.
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.
Why Benjamin Netanyahu Matters: Benjamin Netanyahu, often referred to as âBibi,â is one of the most polarizing
A definition of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the U.S.-based pro-Israel lobby.
A brief history of the magnificent Buddha statues that stood at Bamiyan, Afghanistan, for almost 1,500 years until the Taliban destroyed them in 2001.
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.
How the Suez Canal came to be in the 19th century, how and why Egypt nationalized it in 1956, and what it has meant to Egypt since.
The five duties required of every practicing Muslim. Sunnis believe in the Five Pillars. Shiites do as well, though they add two or three.
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.
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.
Iraqi inmate terrorized by attack dogs. Page 4.
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?
Middle East Issues. Page 2.
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.
Complete guide to the basics about the Iraq war: timelines, causes, costs, objectives, history, profiles of the main actors and frequently asked questions.
Predator drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): History, uses, costs, advantages and disadvantages.
Facts & Statistics on Adult Literacy and Illiteracy in the Middle East, country rankings.
Royal: Brief definition and history and exchange rate of the Riyal, the Saudi Arabian currency.
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.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
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.
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.
A definition of Jihad, the Arabic word for
The Bush administration has changed its rationale for war in Iraq as the complexions of the war and the occupation have changed.
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 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?
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa. Page 2.
: Surah is the Arabic, Quranic word for "chapter." When citing the Quran, for example, the first number
When Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, re-dicovered Islam in Bahrain to escape the glare of child molestation publicity.
Muslim tradition generally prohibits the representation of the human figure in art. But does the Koran actually ban representations of Muhammad or others?
Does Iran have nuclear weapons? No. Does it have the capability to build them? Speculation aside, nobody really knows.
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
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?
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?
Definition and brief history of Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
A definition of Quraysh, the old, powerful tribe from Mecca to which Prophet Muhammad once belonged before his expulsion from it.
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.
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.
US and NATO forces helped Libyan rebels bring down Col. Qaddafi's dictatorship. Have Libyans managed to build a democratic order?
: What Is the Military's Heat-Ray Gun, or "Active Denial System"? : The "Active Denial System," or heat-ray
A definition of the Ottoman Empire and its reach in Middle Eastern history from the 13th century to the ruins of World War I.
Scenarios for Iran’s response to an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities range from a limited exchange of missile fire, outsourcing of terrorist attacks on Israeli targets, to the scenario of a wider regional war involving US forces – wreaking havoc on the global economy.
The Shiite Crescent is a contentious notion of an emerging alliance of Shiite political forces in the Middle East, backed by a resurgent Iran, with the specific aim of countering the Sunni Arab, US-backed states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
In power since 2000, Assad is one of the Middle East's most ruthless leaders.
Portrait of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu . Page 8.
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.
How U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia beef up the Saudi Kingdom--and U.S. arms manufacturers.
Brief definition, description and history of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Caspar Weinbeger describes how Ronald Reagan reacted to the U.S. Marines massacre in a suicide bomb attack in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983.
Text of 1949 UN Resolution Calling for a referendum on Kashmir's future with India or Pakistan.
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.
Fun facts and figures on Burj Dubai/Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and skyscraper, in the United Arab Emirates.
Why Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali Matters: On Nov. 7, 1987, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali became only the second
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.
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.
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.
What is Zionism? A brief and objective history from Theodor Herzl to modern Israel and its anti-Zionist reactions.
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Full text of the Oslo Accords' declaration of principles between the Palestinians (PLO) and Israelis, September 1993.
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Image Portrait of Iraq’s Nouri or Nuri al Maliki. Page 4.
Jordan's demographics, government structure, religions, economy, military, human rights record, history and current issues are profiled.
A complete guide to the Abu Ghraib Photos and Torture Scandal: Origins, history, facts, debates, outcomes and photo galleries.
Beginning in the 1970s, Israel helped to create Hamas in Gaza in an attempt to counterbalance the influence of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The gamble failed.
Saudia Arabia faces at least five major challenges, that even the world's top oil exporter can't solve with money alone.
Portrait of Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman or Sleiman
: The word "madrassa" is Arabic for school, and is commonly used throughout the Arab and Islamic world
Islamophobia or assimilation? A guide to the Muslim veil and burqa controversies in Europe, the United States and the Muslim world.
A definition of private security contractors, the euphemism used to describe mercenaries providing guard and fighting services in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Profile of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978.