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
Who’s in power in the Middle East, what kind of political systems are emerging, and what are the latest developments?
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.
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.
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 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.
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
History and meaning of the Shiite Houthi Rebellion in Yemen.
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.
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.
What is behind the Syrian uprising? See the root causes of the uprising in Syria
Latest news, analysis and background information on Syria.
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.
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.
Let's set the record straight about what few Middle East countries produce oil, and what many Middle East countries do not.
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.
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa.
Definition of Twelver Shiites, or Ithna ‘Ashariyah or Imamiyah, a major subdivision of of Shiitism's spiritual suburbs.
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.
The Balfour declaration of 1917 was Britain's implicit, but shot-lived, recognition that Jews ought to have a homeland in Palestine.
Description and brief history of the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel, in Jerusalem alongside the Temple Mount.
Profile of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978.
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.
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.
A definition of Sharia, or Islamic law, with background on historical and contemporary practices
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An overview of Sunni-Shiite hotspots in the Middle East, and what is driving the tension.
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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.
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.
Text of 1949 UN Resolution Calling for a referendum on Kashmir's future with India or Pakistan.
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.
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.
FAQ: What Is Pakistan's ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence? All you need to know about the rogue intelligence agency termed a
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?
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
Libya faces a long road toward full stabilization and the presence of autonomous, heavily armed groups poses the biggest threat to the political process.
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.
The story of the 1970 hijackings of three jets to Jordan's Dawson Field by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
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 is the niqab in islamic dress and how is it different from face veils, burqas and hijabs or keffiyehs.
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?
Five reasons why crisis in Bahrain won't go away,as Bahrain’s Shiite opposition continues its struggle against the Sunni royal family,
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
How U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia beef up the Saudi Kingdom--and U.S. arms manufacturers.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 6.
Kashmir explained: A brief history and background of the conflict at the heart of Pakistani-Indian tensions and wars.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 10.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 8.
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?
An explanation of the Arab world, its part in the Middle East and the Middle East's non-Arab differences.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 5.
Ziggurat: definition and history of the Mesopotamian, temple-like architecture of ancient history.
Saudi Arabia's demographics, absolute monarchy, oil economy, religious order, military, human rights record, history and current issues are profiled.
A concise history of the PLO, the Palesti9ne Liberation organization.
Basics: Official country name: Republic of Yemen Area: 203,850 sq miles (527,970 sq km) Population: 22.2
Country by Country Facts and Figures on Christians of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Egypt.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 7.
Saudia Arabia faces at least five major challenges, that even the world's top oil exporter can't solve with money alone.
Middle East Issues. Page 9.
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 guide to Middle East basics - The basic facts about the Middle East, the best books, country profiles and briefings on US-Middle East relations
A definition of the many meanings and applications of the Arabic word hijab, or veil, in the Middle East and the Islamic world.
Full text of the Oslo Accords' declaration of principles between the Palestinians (PLO) and Israelis, September 1993.
What is Arabica coffee? A brief lesson in the origins and history of one of the world's richest and most aromatic coffee beans.
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.
Explanation and context of Osama bin laden's 1996 jihad declaration of war against the United States.
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.
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 Portrait of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Page 3.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal Page 3.
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.
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.
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.
In power since 2000, Assad is one of the Middle East's most ruthless leaders.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iraqi inmate terrorized by attack dogs. Page 4.
Royal: Brief definition and history and exchange rate of the Riyal, the Saudi Arabian currency.
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?
What is Zionism? A brief and objective history from Theodor Herzl to modern Israel and its anti-Zionist reactions.
Translation and explanation of Allahu Akbar, the Islamic chant and call to prayer often used in political rallies and stereotyped in the West.
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.
The five duties required of every practicing Muslim. Sunnis believe in the Five Pillars. Shiites do as well, though they add two or three.
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.
Profile of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's revolutionary leader (1918-1970) and the founder of Pan-Arab nationalism.
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.
Middle East Issues. Page 2.
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?
A complete guide to the Abu Ghraib Photos and Torture Scandal: Origins, history, facts, debates, outcomes and photo galleries.
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?
Predator drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): History, uses, costs, advantages and disadvantages.
Brief definition and description of the burqa, the
The Bush administration has changed its rationale for war in Iraq as the complexions of the war and the occupation have changed.
Complete guide to the basics about the Iraq war: timelines, causes, costs, objectives, history, profiles of the main actors and frequently asked questions.
Facts & Statistics on Adult Literacy and Illiteracy in the Middle East, country rankings.
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.
Brief portrait of Dubai, the most populous of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates in the Arabian Gulf.
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 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.
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.
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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?
Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring protests that in 2011 shook the Middle East. What is currently happening in Tunisia? Read about the people in power, the latest developments, and what lies ahead.
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.
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 word "madrassa" is Arabic for school, and is commonly used throughout the Arab and Islamic world
Why Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali Matters: On Nov. 7, 1987, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali became only the second
Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 have changed the political map of the Middle East. How did Al Qaeda react to these upheavals? Was Arab Spring a threat or an opportunity for the terrorist network?
Bahrain is the last country in the Middle East with a majority Shiite population still ruled by a minority, and authoritarian, Sunni family. The small Persian Gulf country is a study in restlessness.
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.
June 5, 1967, the third Arab-Israeli war, also known as the Six Day War, erupts.
The Abu Ghraib Torture Photos: Sampling from a scandal
Image Portrait of Iraq’s Nouri or Nuri al Maliki. Page 4.
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.
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?
Definition and brief history of Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Definition and capsule history of North Africa's Barbary pirates and privateers of the 18th and 19th centuries.
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?
The original set of Muhammad cartoons images that exploded in controversy in 2006, after publication in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Image Portrait of Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai. Page 5.
Image gallery of the leaders of the Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa. Page 2.
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.
Definition and history of arak, the Lebanese drink also consumed in other parts of the Eastern mediterranean
Definition and politics of the keffieh, or keffiyeh, the Arab headdress.
Fun facts and figures on Burj Dubai/Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and skyscraper, in the United Arab Emirates.
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.
A definition of Jihad, the Arabic word for
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?
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.
A definition of Quraysh, the old, powerful tribe from Mecca to which Prophet Muhammad once belonged before his expulsion from it.
US and NATO forces helped Libyan rebels bring down Col. Qaddafi's dictatorship. Have Libyans managed to build a democratic order?
Pan American Flight 93 was hijacked to Cairo, emptied of passengers and crew, and blown up the morning of Sept. 7, 1970. Page 8.
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.
Portrait of Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman or Sleiman