Jonathan R. White www.cengage.com/cj/white Chapter 9:Background to the Middle East Rosemary Arway Hodges University
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.