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  • 1. Jonathan R. White www.cengage.com/cj/white Chapter 9:Background to the Middle East Rosemary Arway Hodges University
  • 2. What is the Middle East? Middle East is not a geographical region o Concept based on a Western orientation to the world ▪ Alfred Thayer Mahan Dominated by two major concerns o Religion of Islam o History of Arab people
  • 3. What is the Middle East? Culturally, Middle East dominated by the religion of Islam o Most Muslims live outside the region o Many differing cultures inside Islam o Myriad of interpretations of the religion Region witnessed the birth of three monotheistic religions: o Judaism o Christianity o Islam
  • 4. What is the Middle East? Centuries of conflict between Muslims and Christians o Islamic conquests o Arabic empires o Western Crusades o Mongol invasions o Turkish domination o Christian domination
  • 5. What is the Middle East? Three issues assisting in the illustration of the importance of the region: o Birth and spread of Islam o Confrontations between Christianity and Islam from the first Arab empire through creation of modern Israel o Expansion of conflict beyond the traditional geographical realm of the Middle East
  • 6. A Brief Introduction to Islam Mohammed was born about 750 CE in Mecca. Mohammed’s vision of Gabriel told him God had chosen him to be a prophet to the Arabs. o Muslims believe that Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians worship the same Deity ▪ Muslims believe that the Bible is a book of Allah, and that Abraham and Jesus were messengers. ▪ Christians and Jews are called Dhimma = protected or guilty. Mohammed’s role as the Prophet is crucial in Islam. o Given the direct revelation of God through Gabriel
  • 7. Introduction to Islam Mohammed’s emphasis of social egalitarianism was resented by wealthy merchants of Mecca. Muslims believe Mohammed created perfect Islamic community at Medina o Combining a just government with religion ▪ Mohammed stressed importance of community over tribal relations and Governance of God’s law in all aspects of life. Mohammed conquered Mecca. o New religion spread along trade routes. Mohammed died in 632 CE.
  • 8. The Shiite-Sunni Split Utterances of Gabriel written down and codified in the Qur’an. o Mohammed’s statements were recorded. o His actions became the basis for interpreting the Qur’an. Muslims were expected to: o Believe in the existence of one God and Mohammed as God’s Prophet. o Pray as a community. o Give to the poor. o Fast during holy times. o Make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.
  • 9. Shiite-Sunni Split Question of leadership: o One group of people believed that Mohammed’s male heir should lead the community (according to Arabic tradition); they believed that Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali had authority provided by God. o Another group of people believed that the community should select its own leaders – caliphs (political and religious leaders).
  • 10. Shiite-Sunni Split▪ Importance of community took precedence over tribal rule of inheritance – Sunni branch of Islam o Abu Bakr, become a first caliph in 632CE, after his death (assassination) Umar became a caliph. o Assassination of Umar led to new caliph Uthman. o Assassination of Uthman
  • 11. Shiite-Sunni Split Sunnis, or mainstream Muslims, followed the caliph. o Sunnis compose approximately 85-90% of all Muslims today. Followers of Ali became known as Shiites. Few theological differences between Sunnis and Shiites. o Main difference focused on line of succession to Mohammed.
  • 12. Golden Age of Arabs Following Mohammed’s death, Islam and Arabic culture spread through Middle East. Two dynasties of leaders ruled the area: o Umayyads o Abbasids Islam means submission to the will of God: o to make someone safe, to make peace, to submit oneself, to surrender Muslim is one who submits: o Islam means the entire surrender of the will to God
  • 13. Golden Age of Arabs West began its first violent encounter with the Middle East through the Crusades (1095-1250). o European attempts to conquer the Middle East Crusades – instigated centuries of hatred and distrust between Muslims and Christians. o The Crusades ended over 700 years ago; Islamic Jihad continues to this day. European struggles with Ottoman Empire reinforced years of military tensions.
  • 14. Agrarian Response to Political Crisis Armstrong – Islam went through a series of crises before and after 1492. o Agrarian empires falter – religious zealots rise to call faithful back to true meaning of the religion Theologically driven political reform movement is brought about by: o Invasion of Mongol and Crusader armies. o Stagnation of Arab thought and technological development after 1200. o Collapse of Caliphate in 1922.
  • 15. Militant Philosophy Developing religions invite various interpretations Reformers of Islam called believers to an idealized past when crises erupted o Gave rise to militancy o Militants misused the theology of the reformers Taqi al Din ibn Taymiyyah (Islamic scholar): o Developed new ideas about militancy and the faith after Arab setback of Mongols and Crusaders o Called for destruction of heretics and invaders o Called jihahad – the sixth pillar of Islam
  • 16. Militant Philosophy Taqi al Din ibn Taymiyyah o Muslims had fallen away from the truth o Must internally purify themselves o Believed Crusaders and Mongols defeated Islamic armies because Muslims had fallen away from true practice of Islam o Attacked anything threatening to come between humanity and God – emphasizing tawhid o Any belief that went beyond Mohammed’s revelation was to be subject to a purifying jihad o Expanded meaning of jihad to advocating attacks on non-believers and impure Muslims
  • 17. Militant Philosophy Abdul Wahhab: o Preached a puritanical strain of Islam in Saudi Arabia o Sought to rid the religion of practices added after the first few decades following Mohammed’s death. ▪ His followers argue that they are trying to rid religion of superstition. ▪ Muhammed bin Abd al-Wahhab’s descendents are known today as “Al al-Shaykh”. The family of Al al-Shaykh has included several religious scholars, including the current Saudi minister of justice and the current grand mufti of Saudi.
  • 18. Militant Philosophy Sayyid Qutb (Egyptian teacher and journalist): o 1965 published Milestones  Outlines theology and ideology of Jihadist revolution Called on Muslims to overthrow corrupt governments of the West. o Muslims were in cosmic battle with the forces of darkness.  World descended to darkness shortly after the death of Mohammed Called for the destruction of all enemies Al Qaeda Manual cites Qutb as an inspirational source.
  • 19. Modern Middle East Three critical events helped shape modern Middle East in the late 1800s: o Ottoman Empire ▪ Ruled much of the Middle East o Zionism ▪ European Jews wanted their own homeland ▪ Tensions rose when Jewish settlers moved into the area o World War I ▪ Victorious nations felt they had won the area from the Turks ▪ Divided Middle East to share spoils of victory
  • 20. Mahan’s Middle East Three factors became prominent in Middle Eastern violence: o The Palestinian question o Intra-Arab rivalries/struggles o The future of revolutionary Islam Those factors are symbiotic – interdependent: o Express dissatisfaction over the existence of Israel o Are anti-imperialistic o United in kinship bonds
  • 21. The Early Zionist Movement in Palestine  The Zionist movement broke out at the same time the Ottoman Empire was created.  Palestinians sold land to the Zionists; the ultimate purpose was to create a Jewish state.  The Zionists originally stated they had no desire to displace the Palestinians; they wanted to coexist with them.
  • 22. World War I and contradictory Promises  British encouraged the Arabs to revolt against the Turks o Arabs were promised the Caliphate would be moved to Mecca and an Arab named as Caliph. o For a general Arab revolt against the Turks, the British agreed to support the creation of an independent Arab state at the end of WWI.  Balfour Declaration promised the creation of Israel. o Creation of Zionist Jewish homeland in Palestine o Directly contradicted promise to move the Caliphate to Mecca.
  • 23. World War I and contradictory Promises  British negotiated a treaty with the French to extend their spheres of influence in the states of the old Ottoman Empire.  British also promised Russia control of one third (northern) of the area of Iran.  End of WWI the Middle East was controlled by British, French, and Russia. o Arabs and Jews could not develop under the watchful eyes of the British. o Both Arabs and Jews felt that they were given false promises and demanded their right to homeland.  Mandate of Palestine placed the British in the center of Middle Eastern affairs.
  • 24. The Birth of Israel Jews and Arabs resented the British; they also mistrusted each other. Violence began in the 1920s. Jews displaced by the Nazi holocaust flocked to Palestine in late 1945-1946. o British banned Jewish immigration. o Influx of Jewish immigrants continued. o Arabs start to arm themselves. Modern terrorism resurfaced in Palestine before UN partition. 1948 United Nations recognized the modern nation-state of Israel. o Arabs attacked immediately.
  • 25. Arab Power Struggles and Arab - Israeli Wars Modern Middle Easter terrorism: o Result of continuing conflicts in the twentieth century o Arab’s, Palestinians and Jews dissatisfaction with peace settlements after WW 1 ▪ The French and British created a number of states that did not reflect the realistic division in the Middle East: Libya, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq.
  • 26. Arab Power Struggles and Arab - Israeli Wars 1947 – 1967 Middle East was dominated by a series of short conventional wars. o Six Day War - 1967 o PLO began a series of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. o Arab states split into several camps: ▪ Jordan camp: anxious about finding way to coexist with Israel ▪ Egypt camp: avenge the embarrasment of the Six Day War ▪ Ba’ath Party: Arab socialists calls for both Arab unity and the destruction of Israel ▪ A group of wealthy oil states hoped for stability in the region o Yom Kippur War – Egyptians drove Israeli forces back into the Sinai; Syrians drove on to the Golan Heights.
  • 27. Rise of Terrorism Menachim Begin, Prime Minister of Israel, and Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt, signed the Camp David Peace Accord in 1979. o Soon after, Sadat was assassinated by Muslim fundamentals for signing peace with Israel. Arabs rejecting peace with Israel fell into two camps: o Radicals rejected any peace or recognition of Israel. o Moderate groups were concerned about the fate of Palestinians.
  • 28. Rise of Terrorism In the 1980s Middle Eastern terrorism fell into several broad categories: o Suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli and Western positions in Lebanon o Various militias fought other militias in Lebanon (Lebanese Civil War 1975-1990) o State-sponsored terrorism from Libya, Syria, and Iran o Freelance terrorism to high-profile groups o Terrorism in support of Arab-Palestinians o Attacks in Europe against Western targets o Israeli assassinations of alleged terrorists o Arab struggle against Arab: Iraq-Iran, Iraq-Kuwait
  • 29. Iran Iranians are not Arabs – they are Persian with strong ethno-national ties to the ancient Persian Empire. o Modern Iran formed within the context of European imperialism. o During the XIXth century, Iranians developed a hierarchy of Shi’ite Islamic scholars, including local prayer leaders, masters of Islam, Ayatollahs, and Grand Ayatollahs. o Iranian scholars form the majilis council, a theological advisory board to the government. ▪ Majilis took political leadership
  • 30. Iran British influence and control o British were instrumental in placing Iranian leaders on the throne. o In 1925 Reza Shah Pahlavi become Shah of Iran with British support. o 1930s Reza Shah Pahlavi befriend Hitler; he saw Germany relations as a way to balance British influence. o In 1941 the Allied Powers forced Reza Shah Pahlavi to abdicate in favour of his son.
  • 31. Iran The U.S. took British place after WWII. o In 1953 Reza Shah Pahlavi formulated plan to stay in power.  In 1957 with the help of CIA and British recommendations, Reza Shah Pahlavi created SAVAK – a secret policy to destroy his enemies.  Clergy from Qom organized against Reza Shah Pahlavi – Shah released his forces and attacked Qom, one of his prisoners is Ruhollah (Ayatollah) Khomeini.  Iran disavowed the U.S. after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
  • 32. Iran The Revolution: o Ruhollah Khomeini – Shiite Grand Ayatollah was leading figure in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  Toppled the Shah’s government  Consolidated power by destroying or silencing his enemies.  Khomeini viewed President Carter as a manifestation of satanic power.  Created an Iranian theocracy with the majilis in charge of spiritual and temporal life.  Khomeini believed it was time to launch a holy war against the West and traitors to Islam. Khomeini influenced majilis council dominated Iranian politics.
  • 33. Iran After Revolution: o New form of terrorism spread through the Middle East. o In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon; Iranian revolutionaries traveled to Lebanon to help them resist Israel. ▪ The Iranians arrived to Bekka Valey and established the nucleus of a new type of revolutionary force – HEBOLLAH. o Khomeini used a mixture of repressive tactics and political strategies to consolidate his power in Iran. ▪ He removed Islamic scholars and political leaders. ▪ He believed that Iranian Revolution was a first step in puryfying the world.

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