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Middle East Issues: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What Is the Arab Spring?
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Is Egypt a Democracy?
Egyptians took to the streets in 2011 to protest against corruption and repression. But are they any closer to living in a democracy?
What Is Happening in Syria?
Latest news, analysis and background information on Syria.
Sad Facts about Child Marriage You Should Know
Facts, causes and consequences of child marriage and the sexual abuse of children.
How Are Sunni and Shiite Muslims Different?
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
Current Situation in Iraq
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.
The Difference Between Alawites and Sunnis in...
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's Currently Happening in Egypt?
Analysis and background information on the political transition in Egypt: latest developments, the balance of power, profiles of main players.
All You Wanted to Know about the Syrian Civil War
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.
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?
Kashmir: History and Background
Kashmir explained: A brief history and background of the conflict at the heart of Pakistani-Indian tensions and wars.
The Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey,...
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Is the Conflict in Syria a Religious War?
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.
10 Major Factors that Led to the Syrian War
What is behind the Syrian uprising? See the root causes of the uprising in Syria
8 Countries That Had Arab Spring Uprisings
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.
How Malcolm X Became a Real Muslim
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 U.S. and the Middle East Since 1945
A Guide to American policy in the Middle East since World War II, from the Truman Administration to George W. Bush's
6 Ways Arab Spring Impacted 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.
Middle East Oil Reserves by Country and Rank
Let's set the record straight about what few Middle East countries produce oil, and what many Middle East countries do not.
Current Situation in Israel
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.
10 Indispensable Books on the Middle East
A list of 10 of the most useful books on Middle Eastern history, society, religion and economy.
"Black September": The Jordanian-PLO Civil War...
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.
Who Are the Islamists?
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?
Saudi Arabia and Syrian Uprising
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 the Arab Spring Started
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.
Text of 1949 UN Resolution Calling for...
Text of 1949 UN Resolution Calling for a referendum on Kashmir's future with India or Pakistan.
Turkey: Country Profile
Turkey is a country of contradictions: Politically European and secular but culturally Asian and Islamic, a member of NATO at loggerheads with other NATO members like the United States and Greece and a powerful economy still teetering on the edge of chaos.
What is the Taliban and What Does It Want?
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
Middle East Basics: A Road Map
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
Turkey’s Intervention in Syria
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.
What Is Pakistan's ISI or Inter-Services...
FAQ: What Is Pakistan's ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence? All you need to know about the rogue intelligence agency termed a
Israeli Position on Syrian Conflict
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?
Current Situation in Iran
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.
Current Situation in Libya
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.
What Does Inshallah, or Insha'Allah, Mean?
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Afghanistan's "Rape Law" and Women's Protests
What Afghanistan's rape law says and how women got stoned protesting it in Kabul.
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 Western Wall and Why Is It So...
Description and brief history of the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel, in Jerusalem alongside the Temple Mount.
Ziggurat
Ziggurat: definition and history of the Mesopotamian, temple-like architecture of ancient history.
Christians of the Middle East - Country by...
Country by Country Facts and Figures on Christians of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.
What is the PLO - The Palestine Liberation...
A concise history of the PLO, the Palesti9ne Liberation organization.
Barbary Pirates
Definition and capsule history of North Africa's Barbary pirates and privateers of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Second Kashmir War (1965)
Brief history and background of the Second Kashmir War (1965) between India and Pakistan.
Reasons for US intervention in Syria
What are the real reasons behind the US decision to prepare for military action in Syria? Was it really about Syria's chemical weapons, or where there other motives in play?
Why Iran Supports the Syrian Regime
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 1970 Palestinian Hijackings of Three Jets...
The story of the 1970 hijackings of three jets to Jordan's Dawson Field by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Iran and Saudi Arabia - Middle East Cold War
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.
When and Why did Bin Laden Declare War on the...
Explanation and context of Osama bin laden's 1996 jihad declaration of war against the United States.
Lynndie England Humiliates a Shiite Inmate
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 5.
When the United Arab Emirates Won Independence...
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 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.
Leaders of the Middle East: A Photo Gallery
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa.
Is Iraq a Democracy?
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?
Turkish-Syrian Relations: Overview
Turkey and Syria cooperated well between 2002 and 2011. What is behind the latest confrontation between Ankara and Damascus?
Twelver Shiites, or Ithna Ahariyah
Definition of Twelver Shiites, or Ithna ‘Ashariyah or Imamiyah, a major subdivision of of Shiitism's spiritual suburbs.
Why Does Russia Support the Syrian Regime
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?
Routine of Humiliation and Nudity
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 6.
1979 Seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca
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.
Profile: Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali
Why Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali Matters: On Nov. 7, 1987, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali became only the second
U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia
How U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia beef up the Saudi Kingdom--and U.S. arms manufacturers.
Current Situation in Qatar
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.
Reasons for Violence in Iraq
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.
Forced Nudity, a Gitmo and Afghan-Prison Import
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 10.
The Five Pillars of Islam
The five duties required of every practicing Muslim. Sunnis believe in the Five Pillars. Shiites do as well, though they add two or three.
Does the Quran Require Women to Wear the Veil?
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?
Shooting at Prisoners
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 7.
Torturing and Parading a Mentally Disturbed...
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 8.
Niqab
What is the niqab in islamic dress and how is it different from face veils, burqas and hijabs or keffiyehs.
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.
Iraq War Timeline, Part 1: 1973-1993
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.
Why Is the United States in Iraq?
The Bush administration has changed its rationale for war in Iraq as the complexions of the war and the occupation have changed.
How Stable is Saudi Arabia
Saudia Arabia faces at least five major challenges, that even the world's top oil exporter can't solve with money alone.
Why the Crisis in Bahrain Won't Go Away
Five reasons why crisis in Bahrain won't go away,as Bahrain’s Shiite opposition continues its struggle against the Sunni royal family,
Al Jazeera - Revolutionizing Middle Eastern Media
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.
Barbary Pirates and Wars: A Timeline (1625-1815)
Piracy, the United States and the Middle East: The Barbary pirates, privateers and wars, a timeline (1625-1815)
Salafism in the Middle East
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?
Arabica Coffee
What is Arabica coffee? A brief lesson in the origins and history of one of the world's richest and most aromatic coffee beans.
What Is The Dual-Meaning of Black September ?
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.
George W. Bush's Declaration of the War On Terror
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.
Why is There Still Violence in Libya?
Libya faces a long road toward full stabilization and the presence of autonomous, heavily armed groups poses the biggest threat to the political process.
Who Are the Syrian Rebels
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?
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.
Who Supports the Syrian Regime
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?
Michael Jackson in Bahrain: Pop Meets Islam
When Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, re-dicovered Islam in Bahrain to escape the glare of child molestation publicity.
What Is the Balfour Declaration?
The Balfour declaration of 1917 was Britain's implicit, but shot-lived, recognition that Jews ought to have a homeland in Palestine.
What Is Dubai?
Brief portrait of Dubai, the most populous of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates in the Arabian Gulf.
What Is the Powers Act?
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.
Iraq War: Everything You Want (and Need) to Know
Complete guide to the basics about the Iraq war: timelines, causes, costs, objectives, history, profiles of the main actors and frequently asked questions.
Who's Winning the Civil War in Syria?
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.
Allahu Akbar
Translation and explanation of Allahu Akbar, the Islamic chant and call to prayer often used in political rallies and stereotyped in the West.
Options for Intervention in Syria
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.
Who is Leader of Egypt?
Who is the president of Egypt? See who really holds power in the Arab world's most populous country.
Terrorized by Dogs
Iraqi inmate terrorized by attack dogs. Page 4.
Ivan Frederick, From Virginia to Abu Ghraib
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
Timeline of the Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990
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.
Images and the Prophet Muhammad: What Do the...
Muslim tradition generally prohibits the representation of the human figure in art. But does the Koran actually ban representations of Muhammad or others?
Syrian President Bashar el Assad - Profile
In power since 2000, Assad is one of the Middle East's most ruthless leaders.
United Arab Emirates: Country Profile
The United Arab Emirates is among the Persian Gulf's wealthiest, most stable states. Here's the story on its oil-rich but diversifying economy, its few political and religious freedoms. Its military, demographics and history are also profiled.
What Are Hama Rules?
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.
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.
Lebanon: Country Profile
More interested in commerce than empire, the people of Lebanon have historically been more inclined to play host to a succession of invaders than build a national identity. That’s been as true since Lebanon got its independence from France in 1943 as it was in the past.
Sunni-Shiite Tension in the Middle East
An overview of Sunni-Shiite hotspots in the Middle East, and what is driving the tension.
Ivan Frederick, Indecent
Middle East Issues. Page 2.
What Is Sharia or Islamic Law?
A definition of Sharia, or Islamic law, with background on historical and contemporary practices
Twelver Shiites' 12 Imams
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What Is Al Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock?
Description and brief history of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, also known as the Dome of the Rock, Islam's third-holiest site.
An Inhuman Pyramid at Abu Ghraib
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 3.
Profile: Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf
The controversial self-proclaimed former president of Pakistan took over the country in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled until 2008 with a mixture of authoritarianism and very occasional enlightenment.
Iraq War Effect on the Middle East
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?
Burj Dubai/ Burj Khalifa Facts
Fun facts and figures on Burj Dubai/Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and skyscraper, in the United Arab Emirates.
Taliban Rules, Decrees, Laws and Prohibitions...
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.
Saudi Arabia: Country Profile
Saudi Arabia's demographics, absolute monarchy, oil economy, religious order, military, human rights record, history and current issues are profiled.
Oslo Accords Declaration of Principles - Full...
Full text of the Oslo Accords' declaration of principles between the Palestinians (PLO) and Israelis, September 1993.
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.
Syria: Country Profile - Profile of Syria
The basics on Syria: people, politics, religion, relations with Lebanon and Israel-the most pressing current issues
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles UAV - Predator Drones...
Predator drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): History, uses, costs, advantages and disadvantages.
Sinai Peninsula
Brief definition, description and history of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Israel: Country Profile
The basics on Israel's government structure, its population, religious and ethnic breakdown, the military, the economy, and a summary of Israeli history going back to ancient times
What's a "Supreme Leader"?
Shiite Islam, the Iranian Revolution and the Concept of Supreme Leader: an invention of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini.
Adult Illiteracy Rates (15 Years & Over) in...
Facts & Statistics on Adult Literacy and Illiteracy in the Middle East, country rankings.
What Is Ajman of the United Arab Emirates?
Brief portrait of Ajman, the smallest of the United Arab Emirates' seven federated, autonomous mini-states.
Burqa or Burqah
Brief definition and description of the burqa, the
Why Hezbollah Supports Syrian Regime
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?
Is Libya a Democracy Now?
US and NATO forces helped Libyan rebels bring down Col. Qaddafi's dictatorship. Have Libyans managed to build a democratic order?
Five Myths About the Middle East
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.
Copts and Coptic Christians - Who Are Egypt's...
Brief explanation and history of Egypt's Copts and Coptic Christians, minus the misconceptions and misapplications of the terms.
What Is Zionism?
What is Zionism? A brief and objective history from Theodor Herzl to modern Israel and its anti-Zionist reactions.
What Was the War of Attrition Between Egypt and...
Brief history and explanation of the 1968-1970 war of attrition between Egypt and Israel, using elements of the PLO.
Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque in Mecca
Definition and brief history of Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The Truman Doctrine and the Middle East
The Truman Doctrine explained: How US-Middle East policy in Turkey and Greece gave rise to the Truman Doctrine and Soviet Containment in six decades of cold war.
Current Situation in Turkey
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.
Reasons for Egypt’s Crisis
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.
Kashmir
Brief description of Kashmir, the region disputed by India and Pakistan.
3 Obstacles to a Peaceful Resolution in Syria
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?
The Muhammad Cartoons: Complete Set
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Kuwait: Country Profile
Country profile of Kuwait, one of the Arab world's relatively open and politically vibrant societies.
Abu Ghraib Photos of Alleged U.S. Torture and...
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
Ronald Reagan and the Killing of 241 U.S....
Caspar Weinbeger describes how Ronald Reagan reacted to the U.S. Marines massacre in a suicide bomb attack in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983.
Glossary: Surah
: Surah is the Arabic, Quranic word for "chapter." When citing the Quran, for example, the first number
Osama bin Laden Visits the United States - The...
In 1978, Osama bin Laden, a young newlywed, visited the United States with his wife. They stayed in Indiana. He went to Los Angeles.
Complete Guide to the Abu Ghraib Photos and...
A complete guide to the Abu Ghraib Photos and Torture Scandal: Origins, history, facts, debates, outcomes and photo galleries.
Glossary: Madrassa or Madrasa
: The word "madrassa" is Arabic for school, and is commonly used throughout the Arab and Islamic world
Travel Safety in Egypt
Is it safe to travel to Egypt? Read about the latest developments and things to watch out for when you plan your trip.
President James Madison Declares Victory Obver...
In his Seventh Annual Message to Congress, in 1815, President James Madison Declares Victory Over Barbary Pirates after three decades of war.
Arak
Definition and history of arak, the Lebanese drink also consumed in other parts of the Eastern mediterranean
Gamal Abdel Nasser: Profile (1918-1970)
Profile of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's revolutionary leader (1918-1970) and the founder of Pan-Arab nationalism.
Who Was Lebanon's Saint Charbel?
Lebanon's Saint Charbel, the monk of the Mountains, was canonized on Oct. 9, 1977, by Pope Paul VI, the first Maronine priest to be sainted.
Glossary: Hijab, or Veil (Burqah, Chador)
A definition of the many meanings and applications of the Arabic word hijab, or veil, in the Middle East and the Islamic world.
What If Iran Had Nuclear Weapons?
Do the West or Israel have any standing to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons? Is a nuclear Iran more dangerous than a pre-emptive war on Iran?

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