revolution 1978-79 and other events in the Middle East leading to today
A map of the Middle East
East (or West Asia )
sits where Africa, Asia and Europe meet. The countries of the Middle East are all part of Asia, but for clarity reasons we
geographically show them here as a separate landmass.
Opinions vary as to what countries make up the
modern definition of the Middle East. Historically, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been long associated with the
Middle East, but in recent years, some sources
now consider them to be more closely aligned with Europe based on their modern economic and
political trends. We have moved in that direction, and the same applies for the
island country of Cyprus, as it does for Georgia, the former Russian republic.
The African country of Egypt is still thought (by some)
to be in the Middle East, as
well as the northern African countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
We attempt here to show the modern
definition, but in world of geography, there are often many answers or (personal
or political opinions) to what appears to be a simple question.
Map displaying Ruling Powers in Mid East since the Beginning of History
This table indicates the approximate date each of the twelve
major world religions began,
along with the traditional dates for the birth and death
of its founder (if applicable).
You can click on each religions' link to start reading about it.
This list of twelve world religions is, of course, an oversimplification.
Also, keep in mind that there are religions
(such as the belief systems of Native American and Australian Aborigine peoples)
that go back much further than Hinduism, and there have been
several large religions that have started since Baha'i.
The 'Common Era' refers to 1 A.D. CE=Common Era, BCE=Before Common Era
The death of Muhammad in Medina provoked a mayor crisis among his followers: The dispute
over the leadership resulted in the most important "schism" in Islam:
"Sunnis" and "Shiites:
- The Prophet's preference to
follow him was Ali, the husband of his daughter, the Egyptian Fatima, and the
father of his only surviving grandsons Hasan and Husayn. But, while the family
was busy burying the Prophet, the leaders of Medina elected the aging Abu Bakr, the father of the Prophet's
favorite wife, as the successor ("caliph"), even before the burial of
the Prophet. Ali and his family were dismayed but agreed for the sake of unity,
and because Ali was still young... however, after the murder of the third
caliph, Ali was invited by the Muslims of Medina to accept the caliphate, with
the mayor schism of Islam:
Despite the differences in
detail and politics, the various branches do accept the basic tenets laid down
in the Koran.
1- The "Sunni": 800
The followers of Abu, called
"Sunni" because they accept the "sunnas", the oral
traditions and interpretations of the Koran after Muhammad's death, called the
"sunnas", and later the "Hadiths".
They are usually more liberal.
They belief the
"caliph" ("successor" of Muhammad) should always be
elected, not conferred by heredity. They claim they are the true followers of
the faith, and until 1959 they refuse to recognize the Shiites as true Muslims.
They believe in "predestination".
During the Ottoman Turks, the
Caliphs were called "Sultans".
2- The "Shiite": 100
("partisans"), are the followers of Ali, more orthodox and militant,
mainly in Iran, Iraq, and Palestine. In 656, Ali and Fatima's son Hussein led a
fight against the Sunnis. Hussein was torture and beheaded, and today the
Shiites of Iran honor the memory of Hussein's death with an annual procession
in which marches in a frenzied demonstration beat and whip themselves with
chains and branches.
and "Mahdi" (Messhiah):
Shiites created the office of the "Imam"
("leader" or "guide"), who were infallible, one for each
generation, the only source of religious instruction and guidance, and all in
direct descendence of Ali. There were 12 Imams since Ali; the last one, the
12th, went into hiding in 940, and he will emerge later to rule the world as
"Mahdi" ("Messiah"). For this reason they are also called
the "Imamites" or "Twelvers".
-The present "Ayatollahs",
("signs of God") see themselves as joint caretakers of the office of
the Imam, until he returns at the end of time. The "Ayatollah
Khomeini" claimed that he was a descendant of the 7th Imam, and hence the
rightful ruler of the Shiites.
falls to Persians
led by General Shahrbaraz. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is
burned and the True Cross is captured. "Ever since the Persian
occupation, ... the Jews had resumed worship on the (TempleMount) platform ..." (K.
Armstrong: p. 229)
The visiting Dominican
priest Felix Fabri described Jerusalem
as "a collection of all manner of abominations". As
"abominations" he listed Saracens, Greeks, Syrians, Jacobites,
Abyssianians, Nestorians, Armenians, Gregorians, Maronites, Turcomans,
Bedouins, Assassins, a sect possibly Druzes, Mamelukes, and "the most
accursed of all", Jews. Only the Latin Christians "long with all
their hearts for Christian princes to come and subject all the country to the
authority of the Church of Rome".
Theodore Herzl publishes Der Judenstaat, “The State of the Jews” calling
for a Jewish state to solve the growing problem of anti-Semitism. First
Zionist Congress discusses plans to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.
Political Zionism begins.
The Ottoman Empire, ruler of the Arab world since
1500’s, is defeated.
pledges support for Arab independence from Ottoman Empire.
Hussein and McMahon later disagreed over whether Palestine
was included in the territory to be granted independence.
– divides the Ottoman Arab lands into zones exercised by either French or
British spheres of influence. Palestine
comes under British influence
issues Balfour Declarationwhich calls for “support of the
establishment in Palestine of a
national home for the Jewish people…it being clearly understood that nothing
shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing
non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
Council of the League of Nations divides Arab
lands; British mandate for Palestine
Arab-Jewish riots in Hebron
and elsewhere left nearly 250 Arabs and Jews dead and the Jewish community of
Hebron ceased to exist.
Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.
Jewish migration into Palestine
Arab Revolt – First major outbreak of Arab-Jewish hostilities. Revolt
leads to the Peel Commission recommendation in 1937 of
partitioning Palestine into
Jewish and Arab states. Arabs rejected and Jews accepted but wanted more
land. White Paper limits Jewish immigration; Jews found
the Mossad to arrange for illegal immigration.
Holocaust;Haj Amin El Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem sides with
Nazis. Jewish migration into Palestine
intensifies (680,000 Jews in Palestine
in 1946). Lebanon
becomes independent in 1943; Syria
in 1944; Jordan
UN General Assembly Resolution 181is passed, partitioning Palestine
into Jewish and Arab states. Greater Jerusalem
was to be an international city (corpus separatum). UNGA Res. 181 rejected by Arabs.
Tensions escalate. Deir Yassin Massacre (over 100 Palestinian civilians
killed in Jerusalem village).
mandate ends; Israel
declares statehood. Arab armies attack Israel.
War results in a divided Jerusalem
and 650,000 Palestinian refugees. UNGA
Res 194 establishes commission to facilitate the
repatriation or compensation of refugees.
(forms basis for what became known as the “Green Line”.) Israel
holds 77% of territory. Jordan
annexes East Jerusalem and West Bank.
controls Gaza Strip. UNRWA established. Jews from Arab countries
begin migration into Israel.
The Israeli Knesset passes the “Law of Return,” which entitles any Jew to
full Israeli citizenship.
Crisis. Nasser’s nationalization of the canal
leads to military action by France,
Britain and Israel.
US forces allies’ withdrawal. Eisenhower threatens economic sanctions on Israel
if it failed to do so.
Liberation Organization (PLO) is established, with the stated aim of
“eliminating Zionism in Palestine.”
Day War: – Israel
launches a preemptive strike and conquers the Sinai, Golan Heights,
Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East
Jerusalem, which it annexed. 600,000 Palestinians become
refugees. UNSC Res 242
calls for Israeli withdrawal and establishes “land for peace” principle.
begins establishing settlements in occupied territories. Jordan
drives PLO out of Jordan:
PLO forms base in southern Lebanon.
of Attrition” against Israel,
with Soviets aiding Nasser, leads to the Rogers Plan
which sets UNSC Res. 242 as the basis for negotiations.
Kippur War – Egypt
No territorial change. UNSC Res 338
calls for negotiations between the parties. Arab oil
embargo begins and lasts for 5 months.
National Counciladopts a political program. Israelis interpret
this as staged liberation of Palestine;
it comes to be viewed as meaning that a state in part of Palestine
was acceptable to the PLO.
Begin and Likud coalition win Israeli elections. Settlements in
occupied territories increase. Egypt’s
President Sadat goes to Israel’s
Knesset and expresses desire for Egypt
and Israel to
live together in “permanent peace based on justice” and calls for Palestinian
right to own state.
David Accords – through negotiations led
by President Carter, Sinai returned to Egypt
in exchange for recognition of Israel;
sets framework for settling Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arab League expels Egypt.
occupies its southern border.
government declares Jerusalem its
eternal, undivided capital, affirming the de facto annexation of
East Jerusalem, and its expanded municipal lines that
included West Bank land, in 1967.
annexes Golan Heights, captured from Syria
a second time and lays siege to Beirut.
PLO moves its headquarters from Beirut
to Tunis. Reagan Peace Initiative and FezSummit Peace Proposal
a Palestinian popular uprising against the Israeli occupation of the
territories, begins in Gaza and
spreads to West Bank
PLO accepts UN resolution 242 and 338, renounces violence and recognizes the
right of Israel
to exist within its pre-1967 borders. The United
States opens dialogue with the PLO.
Hamas, also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement is founded.
War begins in January in response to Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
in 1990. Madrid
Conference – Israel
and Arabs begin bilateral and multilateral negotiations.
Administration holds up $10 Billion in U.S.
loan-guarantees to Israel
(fiscal years 1993 to 1997) in attempt to limit Israeli settlement building. Israel
expels 415 Palestinians suspected of pro-Islamist sympathies to South
Peace Process, the agreement between the two sides to make gradual
steps towards a final settlement of the conflict, begins. Clinton
hosts PLO and Israel
signing of the “Declaration of
recognizes the PLO and gives it limited autonomy in the West Bank
and Gaza, creating the
Palestinian Authority. In return, the PLO gives up its claims to Israel’s
territory as defined by its pre-1967 borders. First Hamas suicide
Authority is established in Gaza
and Jericho. Arafat arrives in Gaza.
Jordan & Israel
sign peace treaty. Rabin, Peres, Arafat receive Nobel Peace Prize.
II” establishes 3 areas in West Bank: Area
A— direct Palestinian control. Area B –jointly controlled:
Palestinian civilian control and Israeli security control. Area C –
exclusive Israeli control. Prime Minister Rabin is assassinated by right-wing
Israeli fanatic in Tel Aviv.
elect Yasser Arafat as President. Israel
launches “Operation Grapes of Wrath” in southern Lebanon;
Netanyahu becomes Prime Minister of Israel. Summit
in Washington between Arafat,
Netanyahu, King Hussein, and Clinton.
Hebron Protocolsigned dividing city of Hebron.
building a settlement, Har Homa, on a hill overlooking East
Jerusalem resulting in widespread protests. Peace process
Wye River Memorandum, outlining
further Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, is
signed but frozen. PNC renounces clauses in PLO charter offensive to Israel.
postpones declaration of statehood. Ehud Barak elected as Prime Minister,
pledges to work for peace. Sharm el Sheik
memorandum signed between Israel
and PLO, final status talks begin. President Clinton attends PNC
Meeting in Gaza.
David II – Clinton-led negotiations on final status issues between
Barak and Arafat breakdown, largely over the issue of Jerusalem.
Sharon makes provocative visit to
Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Protesting Israeli-Arabs shot by Israeli
police. Second Intifada,
a violent and sustained uprising, begins.
Talks: Arafat and Barak find common ground but no agreements.
Bush inaugurated. Sharon elected
Prime Minister. Violence escalates. Mitchell
Report released. Ceasefire attempts are made but
of Palestinian areas begins. Arafat placed under house arrest. Occupation of Church
of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Saudi Crown Prince peace plan, endorsed by Arab League, promises recognition
of Israel for
ending occupation. UNSC Res. 1397affirms 2-state vision, welcomes Saudi initiative and Quartet diplomacy.
President Bush declares vision for a “viable Palestinian state next to a
construction of “security fence” around the West Bank.
war in Iraq.
Occupation of Iraq
begins. The Road Mapis
released by the US,
and the EU. Geneva Accordsand
People’s Voice Initiativereleased.
announces unilateral Gaza withdrawal plan and gains U.S.
support. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat dies.
International Court of Justice rules that the route of Israel’s
“separation barrier” violates international law.
Abbas elected President of the Palestinian Authority on a non-violent
platform. Second Intifada ends with Sharm
el-Sheikh summit in February and declaration of cease-fire
by militant groups in March. In State of the Union address Bush
recommits to two-state solution and asks Congress for additional aid to the
withdrawal is completed in September.
Minister Sharon suffers a serious stroke; Deputy PM Ehud Olmert assumes
power. Hamas, which is on the US State Department’s list of terrorist
organizations, wins majority in the Palestinian
Legislative Council elections.
OK if you
peruse the above you will see that various folks have occupied Jeruslaem.
of Jerusalem to Muslims
The importance of Jerusalem to Muslims is related to Islamic Doctrine, and to the
Nocturnal Journey and Ascension of Prophet Muhammad as stated in the glorious
“Exalted is He who took His Servant in a night journey
from the Sanctified Mosque (in Mekkah) to Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed, to show Him some of
Our Signs. Verily it is He Who is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing.”
Prophet Muhammad was the first Muslim who
entered Jerusalem and prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque, as Imam with the prophets
during the Nocturnal Journey and Ascension. Also the prayer ordinance became a
Muslim obligation from over Jerusalem
during Ascension. Hence Al-Aqsa Mosque became the first Qiblah and the third Mosque
On the other hand, there are several sayings in
which prophet Muhammad confirms the importance and holiness of Al-Aqsa Mosque,
and urges all Muslims to visit Jerusalem continuously and to defend it.
As for the Arab Christians, Jerusalem is sanctified because it embraces inside its historical
stone-walls the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and many other ChristianChurches. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built by Helenah
in AD 330 on the same site of the 14th station of the Cross, where Jesus
Christ was ascended to the skies.
According to the Old Testament, the first Jewish
Temple was constructed by King David on a land purchased from Arnan, the
Jebusite. That site had no sanctity or holiness as Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre, because it was a farm belonging to an Arabic citizen.
In the end, I say to the Israelis that it is
against human rights and logic to declare Jerusalem as an eternal capital for 14 million Israelis, living
all over the world, neglecting the religious and political rights of one and a
quarter billion Muslims and two billion Christians.
Here is another less
devout take on the importance of Jerusalem
This posting may be unpleasant reading for devout Moslems.
If you are not interested in
reading the following facts about Islam, just delete this message.
If you agree with my position,
please forward it to any interested parties.
Feel free to quote from this
Dr. M. Kedar, Dept. of Arabic, Bar-Ilan University,
52900 Ramat-Gan, Israel
Phone+Fax: 972 9 7449162 email: email@example.com
How Did Jerusalem
Come to be so Holy to Moslems?
Why and when the myth of al-Aqsa was created?
Muhammad, the Prophet,
hardly made any innovations when he established Islam. He used the hallowed
personages, historic legends and sacred sites of Judaism, Christianity, and
even paganism, by Islamizing them. Thus, according to Islam, Abraham was the
first Moslem and Jesus and St. John
(the sons of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aron) were prophets and guardians
of the second heaven. Many Biblical legends (asatir al-awwalin), which
were familiar to the pagan Arabs before the dawn of Islam, underwent an Islamic
conversion and the Koran as well as the Hadith (the Islamic oral tradition),
are replete with them.
The practice of Islamization was
performed on places as well as persons: Mecca and the holy stone - al-Ka'bah - were
holy sites of the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs. The Umayyads' Mosque in Damascus and the Great Mosque of Istanbul were built
on the sites of Christian-Byzantine churches which were converted into mosques
- good examples of Islamic treatment of sanctuaries of other faiths. Jerusalem
underwent the same process: at first Muhammad attempted to convince the Jews
near Medina to join his young community, and in order to persuade them, he
established the direction of prayer (kiblah) to be to the north, towards
Jerusalem, like the Jews; but after he failed in this attempt he fought the
Jews, killed many of them, and turned the kiblah southward, to Mecca.
His abandonment of Jerusalem explains the fact that this city is not mentioned in the Koran even
once. After Palestine was occupied by the Moslems, its capital was
in Ramlah, 30 miles to the west of Jerusalem, since this city meant nothing to them.
Islam rediscovered Jerusalem 50 years after Muhammad's death.
In 682 CE, 'Abd allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Islamic rulers in Damascus, conquered Mecca and prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca for the Hajj. 'Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad
Calif, needed an alternative site for the pilgrimage and settled on Jerusalem which was under his control. In order to
justify this choice, a verse from the Koran was chosen (sura 17, verse 1) which
states (trans. by Majid Fakhri): "Glory to Him who caused His servant to
travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts
We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs, He is indeed the
All-Hearing, the All-Seeing." The meaning ascribed to this verse is
that "the furthest mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa) is in Jerusalem
and that Muhammad was conveyed there one night (although at that time the
journey took three days by camel), on the back of al-Buraq, his magical horse
with the head of a woman, wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock, and whose
hoofs reach to the horizon. He tethered the horse to the Western Wall of the TempleMount and from there
ascended to the seventh heaven together with the angel Gabriel. On his way he
met the prophets of other religions who are the guardians of heaven: Adam,
Jesus, St. John, Joseph, Seth, Aaron, Moses and Abraham who accompanied him on
his way to the seventh heaven, to Allah, and who accepted him as their master.
(see the commentary of Al-Jalalayn on this verse).
Thus Islam tries to gain legitimacy
over other, older religions, by creating a scene in which the former prophets agree
to Muhammad's mastery, thus making him Khatamal-Anbiya' ("the Seal
of the Prophets"). The strange thing here is that this fantastic story
contradicts a number of the tenets of Islam: How can a man of flesh and blood
ascend to heaven? How can a mythical creature carry a mortal to a real
destination? Questions such as these have caused orthodox Moslem thinkers to
conclude that the whole story of the nocturnal journey was a dream of
Muhammad's. Thus Islam tried to "go one better" than the Bible: Moses
"only" went up to Mt. Sinai, in the middle of nowhere, and drew close
to heaven, whereas Muhammad went all the way up to Allah, and from Jerusalem
shouldn't we also believe that the al-Aqsa mosque is in Jerusalem? One good reason is that the people of Mecca, who knew Muhammad well, did not believed
this story. Only Abu Bakr, the first Calif, believed him and thus was called "al-Siddiq"
("the believer"). The second reason is that Islamic tradition itself
tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian peninsula. This was unequivocally stated in
"Kitab al-maghazi", a book by the Moslem historian and geographer
al-Waqidi (Oxford UP, 1966, vol. 3, pp. 958-9). According to al-Waqidi, there
were two "masjeds" (places of prayer) in al-gi'ranah, a
village between Mecca and Ta'if. One
was the "the closer mosque" (al-masjid al-adana) and the other
was "the further Mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa), and Muhammad
would pray there when he went out of town.
description by al-Waqidi was not "convenient" for the Islamic
propaganda of the 7th century. In order to establish a basis to the
awareness of the "holiness" of Jerusalem in Islam, the Califs of the Ummayid dynasty
invented many "traditions" upholding the value of
Jerusalem ("fadha'il bayt al-Maqdis"),
which would justify pilgrimmage to Jerusalem to the faithful Moslems. Thus was al-masjid
"transported" to Jerusalem. It should be noted that Saladin also adopted the myth of al-Aqsa and
those "traditions" in order to recruit and inflame the Moslem
warriors against the Crusaders in the 12th century.
Another aim of the Islamization of Jerusalem was to undermine the legitimacy of
the older religions, Judaism and Christianity, which
consider Jerusalem to be a holy city. Thus Islam is presented
as the only legitimate religion, taking the place of the other two because they
had changed and distorted the Word of God, each in its turn. (About the alleged
forgeries of the Holy Scriptures, made by Jews and Christians, see the third
chapter of: M. J. Kister, "haddithU 'an banI isra'Il wa-la haraja",
IOS 2 (1972), pp. 215-239. Kister quotes dozens of Islamic sources).
and Christianity can exist side by side in Jerusalem, Islam regards both of
them as a betrayal of Allah and his teachings, and has done and will do all in
its power to expel both of them from the city. It is interesting to note that
this expulsion is retroactive: The Islamic announcers of the Palestinian radio
stations keep claiming that the Jews never had a temple on the Temple mount and certainly not two temples. Where,
according to them, did Jesus preach?
Arafat, himself a secular person (ask the Hamas), is doing today exactly what
the Califs of the Umayyad dynasty did: he is recruiting the holiness of Jerusalem to serve his political ends. He must not
give control of Jerusalem over to the Jews since according to Islam they are
impure and the wrath of Allah is upon them (al-maghdhoub 'alayhim, Koran, sura.
1, verse 7, see al-Jalalayn and other commentaries; Note that verse numbers may
differ slightly in different editions of the Koran). The Jews are the sons of
monkeys and pigs (s. 5, v. 60). (For the idea that Jews are related to pigs and
monkeys see, for example, Musnad al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, (Beyrut 1969) vol. 3,
p. 241. See also pages 348, 395, 397, 421, and vol. 6, p. 135.) The Jews are
those who distorted the holy writings which were revealed to them (s. 2, v. 73,
s. 3, v. 72) and denied God's signs (s. 3, v. 63). Since they violated the
covenant with their God (s. 4, v. 154), God cursed them (s. 5, v. 16) and
forever they are the inheritors of hell (s. 3, v. 112). So how can Arafat
abandon Jerusalem to the Jews?
The Palestinian media these days is full of messages of Jihad calling to
broaden the national-political war between Israel and the Palestinians into a
religious-Islamic war between the Jews and the Moslems. READ THEIR LIPS: for
them Christianity is as good as Judaism, since both of them lost their right to
rule over Jerusalm. Only Islam, Din al-Haqq ("the Religion of Truth")
has this right, and forever (shaykh 'Ikrima Sabri, the mufti of Jerusalem, in Friday's khutbah 4 weeks ago, Sawt
falastin - the PA official radio).
Since the holiness of Jerusalem to Islam always was and still is no more than a
politically motivated holiness, Arafat is putting his political head on the
block should he give it up.
Must the whole world bow
down to myths concocted by Islam, long after Jerusalem
is, and has been, the true center of Judaism and Christianity?
Should UN forces be sent to the Middle East just because
Arafat recycles the Umayyads' political problems, or even Muhammad's dreams
That is some background of
religions and timelines. Now on to the subject. We have yellowed
and bolded some of the important dates and events.
This timeline focuses on Middle Eastern history since 1900.
prior to 1900 are included to provide points of reference, but these should
not be taken as a comprehensive summary of earlier history in the region.
1901: The Jewish National Fund is established to purchase
land in Palestine.
Under the guidance of Theodor Herzl, the Jewish National
Fund (JNF) is established to purchase land in Palestine.
The JNF makes its first purchase in 1903, and at the 1948 declaration of the
State of Israel, Jews will own nearly 7 percent of the whole country.
Aswan Dam, built by the British, opens.
The original Aswan Dam, or Aswan Low Dam, is built by the
British. In 1970, it will be determined that the Aswan Low Dam is neither large
enough nor strong enough to control extreme flooding, and a second High dam
will be built.
1902-1932: Wahhabi leader Abd
al-Aziz ibn Saud recaptures a major city in Saudi Arabia, beginning a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian Peninsula.
Wahhabi leader Abd al-Aziz ibn
Saud is the founder of Saudi Arabia and its first king. He spends his youth, along with his family, the
Saud family -- leaders of the ultraorthodox Wahhabi movement in Islam -- in
exile. In 1902 Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud and a small group of relatives and servants
recapture Riyadh (now Saudi Arabia's country's capital and major city) and reclaim power for his family.
Over the next 30 years, ibn Saud will lead a campaign to unify, under his rule,
the many warring tribes who live on the Arabian Peninsula. This unification
lays the foundations for the modern state of Saudi Arabia, which is officially recognized on September 23, 1932. Many people in
the Arabian Peninsula practice a revivalist form of Islam called Wahhabi Islam, after its
founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It is sometimes unfairly characterized as
"extremist" in today's media and society.
1905: Attendees at the Seventh Zionist Congress decide that Palestine
is the only suitable place for a Jewish state.
At the Sixth Zionist Congress two years earlier, delegates
had agreed to consider the establishment of a Jewish settlement in East
Africa. But after considering a site in Uganda
attendees at the Seventh Congress (held in Basel,
that an East African site would be inappropriate for a mass Jewish settlement.
1905: Ottoman-controlled Northern Yemen
and British-controlled Southern Yemen
are officially divided.
In 1918, the Violet Line, as it is known, is a boundary
drawn to separate the Ottoman and British spheres of influence in Yemen
and to prevent future clashes. It is literally drawn on a map with a ruler,
using violet ink. This line will later form the border between Northern and Southern
Yemen when these lands gain statehood in the
1960s. The two divisions are united in 1990.
1906: The All-India Muslim League is founded by Aga Khan
The Aga Khan, a hereditary spiritual leader, is elected
president of the All-India Muslim League. He will hold the position until his
resignation in 1912. The League is founded to protect the political rights of
Muslims living in India.
1906: Persia's (Iran's) Constitutional Revolution forces the ruler of Persia to accept a constitution.
Muzaffar al-Din Shah signs Persia's first constitution. The Constitutional Revolution aims to make the
state leader accountable to a written code of law, thereby limiting royal power
and lessening government corruption. The constitution also calls for the
establishment of the Majlis, or elected parliament.
1906: Excavations in Turkey
uncover the ruins of an ancient city.
The city unearthed by the excavations near Angora
(now Ankara), Turkey,
is the ancient Hittite city Hattusas, the capital of the Hittite Empire during
the second millennium B.C.E. Though the Hittites inhabit Anatolia
(the Asian part of what is now called Turkey),
they are not the first Turks. The first Turks, nomadic tribes who bring Islam
will not settle in Anatolia until about 1030 C.E.
1907: The Shah of Persia (Iran)
dies and is succeeded by his son.
Muzaffar al-Din Shah, who had become Shah after his father's
death by assassination in 1896, dies in 1907. His son, Mohammed Ali Shah,
succeeds him. Like his father, he is considered a weak leader, and after two
years he is deposed and replaced on the throne by his son, 12-year-old Sultan
Ahmed Shah, and a regency.
1907: The first Egyptian girl graduates from high school.
Nabawiya Moussa is the first Egyptian girl to earn a
baccalaureate degree and finish her high school education. Twenty-one years
will pass before another Egyptian girl earns this degree. Throughout her life,
Moussa is a pioneering figure in women's education, teaching, writing, and
speaking about its importance.
1907: The first major underwater archaeological exploration
takes place off the coast of Tunisia.
The Tunisian Antiquities Service finds bronze Greek statues
from a ship believed to have sunk en route from Greece
to Italy around
divided into three zones, each one controlled by a different country.
To protect their economic interests in the region, Russia
and Great Britain
into three zones. Russia
controls the northern zone, Great Britain
the southern zone, and the Shah of Iran controls the neutral middle zone.
May 1908: Oil is discovered in Persia (Iran).
British adventurer William Knox
D'Arcy strikes oil in 1908, seven years after obtaining drilling rights to the
land from the Persian government. In 1909, D'Arcy joins with Burmah Oil to form
the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909. By 1917, the British government, which
owns 51 percent of the company, is the most influential power in Persia. Britain uses the company's reserves during World War I.
July 6-24, 1908:
The Young Turk Party leads the Turkish Revolution, demanding the restoration of
the Ottoman constitution.
Concerned with the continuing centralization of power under
Sultan Abdul Hamit and convinced that the growing economic influence of foreign
powers will end the Ottoman Empire, the predominantly
upper-class Young Turk movement takes action. The revolution, largely organized
from France by
the movement's exiled leaders, is proclaimed on July 6. The Young Turks manage
to convince the troops sent to oppose any revolutionaries to refuse their
orders. On July 21, the party sends a telegraph to the sultan demanding the
immediate restoration and implementation of the constitution of 1876 and the
restoration of a parliamentary form of government, threatening him with
dethronement should he not comply. On July 24, the sultan announces that the
old constitution is again in effect.
December 21, 1908:
The Egyptian University (later renamed CairoUniversity) opens.
The establishment of a university in Cairo
had been opposed by the British occupation authorities, who fear that the
creation of an institution that produces well-educated citizens might lead to
calls for independence.
1909: Tel Aviv is built
by the Jews.
A group of Jews
intent on founding an alternative city to the crowded, predominantly Arab port
city of Jaffa buy uninhabited sand dunes to the north
and create a garden suburb. They name it Tel Aviv, which translates to
"Hill of Spring." Tel Aviv becomes the first modern Jewish city, with
a population of 35,000 by 1921 and 200,000 by 1948.
1911: The Ottoman Turks grant Imam Yahya bin Muhammad
autonomy in the highlands of Northern Yemen.
Starting in 1904, Yahya bin Muhammad, an imam, or religious
leader, has been leading Yemeni tribes opposed to Ottoman occupation. In 1911,
he, and not the centralized Ottoman government, is recognized as the ruling
power of the Northern Yemen highland people.
1913: The founder of the Emirate of Qatar dies.
Sheikh Qassim bin Muhammad al-Thani dies 35 years after
founding the Emirate of Qatar. His son, Sheikh Abdullah, formally assumes
1914-1918: World War I breaks out.
The Ottomans side with Germany
against Allied forces.
1915-1916: The Ottomans initiate a policy of ethnic
cleansing and kill 1.5 million Armenians.
The Young Turk government, the final Ottoman regime,
massacres more than 1.5 million ethnic Armenians, a Christian minority within
the empire. The killings are condemned by the world's major powers of the time
-- even by their German and Austrian allies in World War I. Today, the Turkish
government denies that there was an Armenian genocide, saying instead that
Armenians were only relocated from the eastern war zone.
March 1915-January 1916: An estimated 500,000 are injured
and 100,000 die when Ottoman forces fight against an Allied attack at
Two waterways -- the Dardanelles and BosporusStraits -- provided the only
passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean
Sea; thus, this was the only supply route between France
and Britain and
their ally Russia.
The Allied forces wanted to wrest control of these waterways from Ottoman
strongholds along the GallipoliPeninsula,
and committed nearly a half million troops in their attempt to do so. Naval and
air strikes were followed by troop landings and ground combat at close range.
The standoff was epic, and the number of casualties on both sides high.
Ultimately, the Turkish forces repelled the Allied attack. With so many Allied
troops committed to the unsuccessful campaign at Gallipoli, Germany was able to
more easily pursue its military objectives on the eastern front, and World War
I continued another two years. The courage shown by the Turkish forces in
defending their positions, as well as the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, served
as great examples for their War of Liberation, which followed in 1920.
July 1915-March 1916: Britain gains the support of Arabs in World War I after promising independence
for Arab states.
While the Ottoman Empire enters the war on
Germany's side, the Arabs (led by Sherif Hussein of Mecca) agree to side with the Allies (Britain, France, and Russia). They do so because of an agreement known as the Hussein-McMahon
Correspondence in which Britain promises independence to what is now Syria,
Palestine (Israel), Jordan, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula should the Allies
win the war. Unbeknownst to the Arabs, however, Britain also signs the Sykes-Picot Agreement with France later in 1916. This pact, which directly contradicts Hussein-McMahon,
details a plan to split up most of the Middle East region between Britain and France should they defeat the Axis powers. Britain makes a third conflicting
agreement, the Balfour Declaration. After ousting the Ottomans from both Jerusalem and Baghdad, they promise to support the establishment of a national home for the
Jewish people in Palestine.
May 1916: British and
French negotiate the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
understanding negotiated during World War I between Great Britain and France (with Russian consent), the Sykes-Picot
agreement outlines the division of Ottoman-controlled lands into various
French- and British-administered areas. The agreement is named after its
negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France. The agreement, implemented in 1919,
contradicts the agreement the British made with the Arabs at the start of the
war (the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence), which promised the Arabs independence
of what is now Syria, Palestine (Israel), Jordan, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula.
1917: In the Balfour
Declaration, the British promise to help create a national home for the Jews in
Since the late 1800s, Zionists
had wanted a Jewish state to be created in Palestine, part of the Jews' holy land. Though the wording of the Balfour
Declaration is vague, it implies that Great Britain will support the Zionists in establishing such a state. "His
Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a
national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to
facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that
nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of
existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political
status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." The Arabs perceive the
Balfour Declaration as an act of British dishonesty. They believe the British
had promised them to help with the establishment of a united Arab country reaching
from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf in return for their support during World War I.
1918-1922: A nationalist
movement in Egypt leads to Egyptian independence.
Saad Zaghlul leads a delegation
to meet with the ruling British High Commissioner and demand independence for Egypt. He is refused, and his subsequent arrest and deportation spark
anti-British riots. The growing popular support of the nationalistic Wafd Party
-- "wafd" is Arabic for "delegation" -- prompts Britain to grant Egypt limited independence in February 1922 and install a king as head of
state. Britain, which has served as Egypt's protectorate since 1914, retains
control over essential government institutions, including the parliament;
finances; education; and the Sudan. It also keeps troops in the Suez Canal zone. Egypt will gain full independence after World War II.
1918-1919: Famine devastates the Persian (Iranian) people.
As much as a quarter of the population living in the north
of Iran dies in
a famine. The devastating effect of a world war and a period of severe drought
and widespread crop failure are the primary contributing factors to the famine.
August 18, 1919: Afghanistan declares its independence from Great Britain.
When Afghan King Emir Habibullah
Khan is murdered in February near Jalalabad, his son, Amanullah Khan, seizes
power, proclaims Afghanistan a sovereign and independent nation, and attacks British troops in India. The Third Anglo-Afghan War lasts just one month. Britain agrees to an armistice and recognizes Afghan independence.
1919-1929: Amanullah Khan rules Afghanistan
for a decade, instituting reforms and encouraging modernization.
first constitution (1923) guarantees civil rights and creates a legislature and
court system to enforce the new laws. Amanullah privatizes land, abolishes
slavery, and improves educational opportunities for boys and girls. He also
seeks to Westernize Afghan culture, overturning centuries-old customs.
Conservative tribal and religious leaders resist these changes, however, and
call for new leadership.
1920s: The first mosque built in America,
called the Mother Mosque, is built in Cedar Rapids,
The Mother Mosque, the first built in America,
will serve the Muslim population of Cedar Rapids
for 40 years before a second is built. The Iowa city
is also home to the first burial ground exclusively for Muslims in the U.S.
1920s: Iraqi women move to gain more rights and a better
Iraqi women seek to be recognized as full citizens and want
freedom from having to wear a veil in public, as per Islamic tradition. Aswa
Zahawi founds the Women's Rising Group, which begins to publish Leila, a
journal promoting education and employment rights for women.
April 25, 1920:
Former Ottoman-controlled territories in the Middle East
are assigned as mandates to Allied powers.
At the post-World War I San Remo Conference in Italy,
former Ottoman-controlled territories are allotted as "mandates"
among the victorious Allies. Established as part of the Treaty of Versailles,
the mandate system entrusts Britain
and France with
the task of governing the territories until it is determined that they are
ready for independence. Syria
and Lebanon are
assigned to France,
Palestine and Iraq
to Britain. Transjordan
is created from the Palestine Mandate in 1921.
July 1920: Arabs in Iraq
rebel against British rule.
Riots break out in what becomes known as the Great Iraqi
is placed under British mandate.
August 10, 1920:
Turkish forces attack Greece
As part of the armistice ending World War I, the sultan
signs the Sevres Treaty, promising to give land to Greece
Mustafa Kemal, a former Ottoman army officer and president of the recently
formed Grand National Assembly, denounces the sultan's decision and leads an
army to recapture and hold this territory as a Turkish state. This resistance
becomes known as the War of Liberation.
October 1920: Iraq
elects a new king.
A temporary government is established in Iraq,
to be assisted by British advisors. Britain
had promised Arab independence in exchange for their support in World War I, so
this was a repayment. Popular support lies with Prince Faisal, who becomes king
in 1921. Iraq
remains a British mandate until 1932.
1921: The Hollywood movie The
Sheik includes the first significant portrayal of an Arab character.
Rudolph Valentino plays the title character in The Sheik,
a film which promotes stereotypes and distorts Arab culture.
1921: An ancient part of the city of Carthage
is discovered in Tunisia.
A holy place from the ancient Punic period in Carthage
is discovered in Tunisia
in 1921. Carthage, originally built
in 814 B.C.E. as a colony of the Phoenician Empire (1200-330 B.C.E.), was
completely destroyed by fire by the Romans.
February 21, 1921:
Reza Khan takes control of Persia
Reza Khan, a Persian army officer, deposes the Qajar dynasty
that had taken control of the country. He appoints himself Shah in 1925 and
seeks to free Iran
from foreign influence; his reign will last until 1941. To achieve his ends, he
resists the strict laws and archaic customs of the religious mullahs and
reduces the influence of the nobles and sheikhs who rule nomadic tribes. He
renames the country Iran
July 24, 1922: The League of Nations issues a mandate
to Britain to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
Following the disintegration of
the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the territories formerly under the empire's control
are divided between France and Britain. In 1920, the principal Allied powers award Britain the mandate for Palestine. Two years later, the League of Nations confirms the mandate, which lays out the terms under which Britain is given responsibility for the temporary administration of Palestine on behalf of both the Jews and Arabs living there. According to the
mandate, Britain "shall be responsible for placing the country [Palestine] under such political, administrative, and economic conditions as will
secure the establishment of the Jewish national home ... and also for
safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race or religion." (from the Balfour
November 1, 1922:
The Turkish Grand National Assembly abolishes the office of the sultanate.
The Grand National Assembly, led by Mustafa Kemal, hero of
the War of Liberation, abolishes the office of the sultanate, thereby ending
631 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire.
November 26, 1922:
A British archaeologist opens King Tutankhamun's tomb.
British archaeologist Howard Carter discovers the
undisturbed tomb of "King Tut" in Egypt's
Valley of the Kings after a decade-long search. Known as
the "Boy King," Tutankhamun became Pharaoh at the age of 10. He ruled
Egypt more than
3,000 years ago.
1923: The Lebanese American Khalil Gibran publishes The
Prophet, a book of 26 poetic essays.
Khalil Gibran, a writer and artist (he studied with the
French sculptor Rodin), is one of the most familiar literary figures in the
Arab American community. The Prophet has been translated into more than
1923: Three leaders of the Egyptian women's movement return
to Cairo from a feminist conference
in Rome and remove their veils in
In a daring act of defiance, Huda Shaarawi, Ceza Nabarawi,
and Nabawiya Moussa take off their hijab (veils) at the Cairo
train station to symbolize their liberation. They demand equality, the right to
education and the vote, and reform of the law that regulates marriage, divorce,
child custody, and alimony.
1923: Oil is discovered in Iraq.
The first oil strike floods the countryside with oil for 10
days before workers can bring it under control. The well produces 80,000
barrels of oil a day. In 1934, the first oil pipeline connects Iraq
with Tripoli in Lebanon.
A second line to Haifa, Palestine,
opens in January 1935.
May 15, 1923: Britain formally recognizes the independent state of Transjordan.
Since the end of World War I, the British have divided the land
of Transjordan into three local
administrative districts, with a British "advisor" appointed to each.
Faced with the determination of Emir Abdullah to unify Arab lands, the British
proclaim him ruler of the three districts, known collectively as Transjordan.
On May 15, 1923, Britain
formally recognizes the Emirate of Transjordan as a state under the leadership
of Emir Abdullah. The treaty stipulates that Transjordan
will be prepared for independence under the general supervision of the British
high commissioner in Jerusalem.
October 29, 1923: The Republic of Turkey is established.
Mustafa Kemal wins unanimous election as the first president
Though nearly all of the population practices Islam, Kemal's government assumes
control of religious functions so that religion will not interfere in the
affairs of state. Under his leadership, the country undergoes Western-style
economic, social, and political modernization. In the first wave of reforms, Turkey
abolishes the offices of its religious head of state (the caliphate) and the
courts (the sharia). Separate educational and judicial systems are introduced.
The country adopts Sunday as the official weekend holiday (the traditional
Muslim day of rest is Friday), as well as the Western calendar.
February 10, 1925:
The first of many institutions devoted to scientific research is established in
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is established
in Haifa. The Hebrew University of
Jerusalem follows in April, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1946. In
addition to its advances in irrigation, agriculture, and the medical sciences, Israel
also leads research into solar power.
a French mandate, becomes a semiautonomous republic.
In 1926, Lebanon,
now semiautonomous, adopts a constitution that will remain in effect, albeit
frequently amended, until 1987. Lebanon
will gain full independence from France
1926: The Kurdish city of Mosul
is awarded to Iraq,
rather than Turkey,
by the League of Nations.
At the end of World War I, a proposal is put forth to
establish an independent Kurdish state, borrowing land from the region that now
comprises Iraq, Turkey, and Iran to do so. The failure to pursue that idea
further results in the Kurdish issue still in question in both Iraq
and Turkey to
the present day.
February 17, 1926:
Secular law replaces religious law in Turkey.
The Turkish Civil Code is adopted from Swiss Civil Code. The
old code and sharia (Islamic law), which had been the foundation of Ottoman
personal status law, are replaced. Women gain important rights. Polygamy is
forbidden; marriages are to be performed in accordance with civil code, not
religious code; and a court decree is required for divorce.
1927-1929: The Wahhabi Ikhwan
turn against central Arabian ruler ibn Saud.
The Ikhwan (translated as
"brethren") is a group of Muslims who practice Wahhabism, a puritan
form of Islam. Ibn Saud had recruited the Ikhwan to help massacre his
non-Wahhabi rivals and add Mecca and the Hejaz region of central Arabia to his domain. He loses his authority over the Ikhwan, however, when
he chooses not to battle rivals who hold protective treaties with Britain. In 1929, ibn Saud confronts the Ikhwan militarily, and they are
forced to surrender to the British in Kuwait in January 1930. Not all of the Ikhwan revolt, however, and those who
remain loyal to ibn Saud continue to receive government support and remain an
influential religious force. They are eventually absorbed into the Saudi
Arabian National Guard.
1928: The Muslim Brotherhood is founded as an Islamic
revivalist movement in Egypt.
Elementary school teacher Hasan al-Banna founds the Muslim
Brotherhood based on his ideas that Islam should not only be a religious
observance, but a comprehensive way of life. He supplements the traditional
Islamic education with Tarbeyah training for the Society's male students that
includes education, scouting, and militia-type activities to resist the British
occupation. Over the next several decades, the Brotherhood becomes increasingly
involved in politics and is banned, reinstated, and then banned again in 1954
by the Egyptian government for its alleged involvement in the attempted
assassination of Egyptian president Nasser. Nasser's
successor, Anwar al-Sadat, once in office promises the group that sharia
(Islamic law) will be implemented as the Egyptian law and releases all
imprisoned Brothers, or members of the group. But in September 1981, he himself
is assassinated by four men in a group known as Jama'at Al Jihad, after signing
a peace treaty with Israel.
Hamas, in Palestine, claims to be
the military wing of the Palestinian Brotherhood.
November 1928: Turkey
adopts a new alphabet and simplifies the Turkish language.
In adopting a new alphabet, Arabic script is replaced with
Latin letters. The changes are consistent with other Westernizing social reforms
implemented under Atat¸rk. Many Arabic and Persian words and phrases are
removed from the language, replaced instead with Turkish ones. These changes
are also designed to help combat illiteracy.
1929: Tribal rebellion in Afghanistan
forces Amanullah Khan to flee the country.
After a year of civil war, Nadir Khan, Amanullah's former
minister of war, is crowned King of Afghanistan. King Nadir Shah's reactionary
measures undo Amanullah's reforms and reinstate customary Afghan laws and
August 1929: Palestinian Arabs attack Jews following
disputes over prayer rights to the Wailing Wall.
In 1928, Arab Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem
begin to clash over their respective communal religious rights at the Wailing
Wall (known to Muslims as al-Buraq). Controversies about the site were inflamed
by nationalists on both sides and resulted in full-scale riots. British troops
were called in to restore order. The week-long riots leave 133 Jews dead and
339 wounded, almost all by Arabs. Arab casualties include 116 dead and 232
wounded, most by British troops. Another result of the riots was the
termination of the ancient Jewish community Hebron
and the Jewish community of Beer-Sheva.
ruler outlaws the veil and requires men to dress in European fashions.
Reza Shah Pahlevi bans traditional clothing (e.g.,
pantaloons and turbans for men, veils for women) in favor of Western garb. Many
people choose to ignore the new law. Among other reforms advocated by the Shah
at this time include reinstating Persian names for months, the solar calendar,
and the history of pre-Islamic Iran
to emphasize Iranian identity.
1930s-1950s: Oil exploration begins in the desert, and later
offshore, of what is now the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Only 150,000 people, many of them nomadic Bedouins, inhabit
the land that will comprise the UAE. With no roads, schools, hospitals, or
factories, these people experience one of the lowest standards of living in the
developing world until oil is discovered in the region.
1930: The pearl market collapses, leaving Qatar's
economy in ruins.
The world pearl market collapses with the Japanese invention
of cultured pearls, devastating the already weak pre-oil economy of Qatar.
Although present-day Qatar
enjoys a high standard of living, the sparsely populated region was one of the
poorest in the Arab world before the discovery of oil, with an economy almost
entirely reliant on the pearl industry.
1932: The first Maccabiah Games are held in Israel.
Jewish athletes from all over the world go to Tel Aviv, Israel,
to compete in an Olympic-style event also known as the "Jewish
Olympics." First held in 1932 and 1935, the Maccabiah Games are suspended
from 1938-50. The Games resume in 1950, and have been held in Israel
every four years since.
September 23, 1932:
Abd al-Aziz proclaims the kingdom of Saudi
Having reigned over much of Arabia
during the early part of the 1800s, the al-Saud family loses part of its
territory to the Turks in the latter half of the century and is driven from its
capital, Riyadh, by the rival House
of Rashid. In 1902, Abd al-Aziz recaptures the capital city and begins to
reconquer and reunify the country, which he completes some three decades later.
In 1927, Abd al-Aziz is officially proclaimed king, and five years later, the
country is named the Kingdom of Saudi
October 3, 1932:
recognized as an independent monarchy.
As previously agreed, Britain
terminates its mandate to govern Iraq.
maintains a strong presence in Iraq,
however, so this independence is limited. Iraq
joins the League of Nations and is officially recognized
as a sovereign state ruled by a monarch. Iraq
receives full autonomy after World War II, when British troops complete their
1933: Iraqi King Faisal dies and is succeeded by his son,
King Faisal is succeeded by his 21-year-old son, Ghazi, who
rules from 1933 until his accidental death in 1939. A product of Western
education, Ghazi has little experience with the complexities of Iraqi tribal
life. While Faisal had the prestige and ability to draw politicians around the
idea of national interest, Ghazi is unable to balance competing nationalist and
British pressures. As time passes, the nationalist movement begins to view the
Ghazi monarchy as little more than a British puppet.
1934: Women in Turkey
earn full voting rights.
Atat¸rk grants women full voting rights, making Turkey
the first Middle Eastern country to allow this. Women had obtained the right to
vote in municipal elections in 1930.
June 21, 1934:
The Surname Law is adopted in Turkey;
Mustafa Kemal adopts the name Atat¸rk.
Before the 20th century, the Turks, like the Arabs, didn't
use family names. Mustafa Kemal -- Kemal is actually the name his
schoolteachers gave him, meaning "perfect" -- officially adopts the
surname "Atat¸rk," or "Father of the Turks." The honor is
given by the Grand National Assembly in appreciation for his having founded and
shaped the new TurkishRepublic.
1936-1939: Palestinians protest British support of the Zionist
movement in Palestine with a strike
and three years of unrest.
By 1936, the increase in Jewish immigration and land
acquisition, as well as general Arab frustration at the continuation of
European rule, mobilizes increasing numbers of Palestinian Arabs. In April of
that year, an Arab attack on a Jewish bus leads to a series of incidents that
escalate into a major Palestinian rebellion. The revolt lasts until 1939, when
the British, in part to obtain Arab support for the recently erupted war with Germany,
ban most land sales to Jews.
August 1936: Yasar Erkan wins Turkey's
first Olympic medal in wrestling, its national sport.
April 1936: Egypt's
King Faruq begins his reign.
Faruq, son of the deceased King Fuad, ascends the Egyptian
throne. The Wafd Party initially supports the new king and his nationalistic
leanings. Within a year, however, Faruq signs the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. Though
it brings Egypt
closer to full independence, it allows British forces the right to remain in
the Suez Canal zone.
August 1936: The Peel Commission, a royal commission headed
by Lord Earl Peel, is appointed to examine the Palestine
In response to the Arab Revolt against British rule in Palestine,
the Peel Commission hears testimony from more than 130 Jews, Zionists,
Palestinian Arabs, and other Arab nationalists before issuing its report. The
commission's report, published in July 1937, calls for the partition of Palestine
into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a British-controlled corridor from Jerusalem
to the coast at Jaffa. It also
recommends relocating people to deal with the delicate population balance
between Jews and Arabs in the proposed Jewish state. The partition plan was
accepted as a pragmatically valid principle for settling the Arab-Jewish dispute
by the majority of the offical leadership of the Zionist movement who urged
further examination of the Bristish proposals. The Arab side rejected the
compromise, with the exception of Abdullah of Transjordan.
1938: Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.
When oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938, the U.S. founds the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco). By 1980, Saudi Arabia has gained full control over the company.
November 1938: The Woodhead Commission, created to examine
the recommendation of the Peel Commission that Palestine
be partitioned, issues its report.
After Palestinian Arabs reject the 1937 Peel Commission's
partition plan (dividing Palestine
into a Jewish state and an Arab state), the British government assembles a team
to devise a new plan. (The Zionist Organization had accepted the principle of
partition.) The written report includes a statement of policy rejecting
partition as impracticable, but suggests that Arab-Jewish agreement might still
May 1939: Britain
publishes the MacDonald White Paper, effectively ending its commitment to a
In May 1939, Great Britain
publishes a White Paper, also known as the MacDonald White Paper (named for the
British colonial secretary), that marks the end of its commitment to the Jews
and a Jewish state under the Balfour Declaration. The White Paper calls for the
establishment of a Palestinian (Arab) state within 10 years. It limits the
number of Jews to be admitted to Palestine
over the next five years to 75,000 and places severe restrictions on land
purchases by Jews. The White Paper receives a mixed Arab reception, and the
Jewish Agency rejects it emphatically, calling it a total repudiation of
Balfour and mandate obligations. David Ben-Gurion, then chairman of the Jewish
Agency, declares, "We shall fight the war against Hitler as if there were
no White Paper, and we shall fight the White Paper as if there were no
1939-1945: World War II
The outbreak of World War II pits the Allied powers (Britain,
New Zealand, Soviet
Union, and the U.S.)
against the Axis powers (Germany,
Italy, and Japan).
After six years of fighting, the Allies win the war.
May 1941: Iraqi prime minister Rashid Ali attempts a coup,
which results in rebellion and an invasion of British troops.
Strong anti-British sentiment and an increasingly powerful
urban nationalist movement come together to spark Prime Minister Ali's 1941
coup attempt. The coup is ultimately unsuccessful in ousting the monarchy, but
the landing of British forces completely divorces Iraq's
monarchy from the nationalist group.
August-September 1941: Allied powers invade Iran
and force Reza Shah Pahlevi into exile.
declares its neutrality at the start of World War II, but Britain
is upset at Iran's
refusal of Allied demands to expel all German nationals from the country. (Germany
had been Iran's
largest trading partner prior to the war.) After Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet
Union, the Allies desperately need to create a transportation
route across Iran
and into the Soviet Union, and on August 26, Britain
and the Soviet Union simultaneously invade Iran.
On September 16, with the collapse of the resistance, Reza Shah Pahlevi
abdicates the throne to his son, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi. Exiled to Mauritius
and then to Johannesburg, South
Africa, Reza Shah dies in July 1944.
King Faruq to appoint a pro-British prime minister.
King Faruq's appointment of Mustafa al-Nahhas to head the
Egyptian government virtually destroys Faruq's authority inside his country.
Despite the fact he takes this action under the pressure of British tanks
laying siege to his palace, many nationalists view Faruq as corrupt and
1943: The National Pact divides the legislative powers of
the newly independent Lebanon
along sectarian lines.
The National Pact, an oral agreement between President
Bishara al-Khouri and Prime Minister Riad al-Sulh, devises a formula for the
distribution of seats in parliament according to population figures derived
from the 1932 census. Six seats are reserved for all Christian sects, and five
for all Muslim sects.
January 1, 1944:
France grants Lebanon
ends the colonial administration it has held over Lebanon
since the end of World War I. Though Lebanon's
independence is proclaimed on November
26, 1941, full independence is realized in stages. France
transfers most of its governing powers to the Lebanese government on January 1, 1944, and completes troop
evacuation in 1946.
March 22, 1945:
Saudi Arabia, Transjordan,
and northern Yemen
form the Arab League.
This loose affiliation of states favors unity among the Arab
people and opposes the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
The charter is signed in Cairo.
January 7, 1946:
A second political party, the Democratic Party, is formed in Turkey,
ending years of single-party rule.
Held in 1950, Turkey's
first elections see the Republican People's Party (Atat¸rk's old party) lose
out to the right-wing Democratic Party. After 10 years of majority rule
characterized by abuses of power, however, the armed forces stage a coup, and
the Democratic Party is banned.
January 19, 1946: Iran complains
to the newly formed UN Security Council, demanding that Soviet troops withdraw.
Soviet troops, originally
positioned in northern Iran in 1942 to prevent a possible German move and to
protect Iranian oil, intentionally ignore an agreement that calls for the
removal of all occupying forces by 1943. They stall as they debate whether they
can carve out of the oil-rich northern Iranian province of Azerbaijan an autonomous entity that would be subject to their control. The
Soviets ultimately leave after the U.S. threatens military action. The incident contributes to the start of
the Cold War.
January 22, 1946:
The Kurdish Democratic Party, or KDP, is formed in Iraq.
The KDP's primary goal is autonomy in northern Iraq.
The organization is founded by Mustafa Barzani.
April 1946: Syria gains hard-fought independence from the French.
Charles de Gaulle promises Syria
independence, but the transition is filled with strife. France demands that its cultural, economic, and strategic interests be
protected by treaty before agreeing to withdraw its troops. In May 1945,
demonstrations take place in Damascus and Aleppo; the French respond by bombing the capital. Fighting breaks out in
other cities as well. Only after Britain's prime minister, Winston Churchill, threatens to send troops to Damascus does de Gaulle order a cease-fire. A UN resolution in February 1946
calls on France to evacuate. The French accede, and by April 15, 1946, all French troops have left Syria.
1947: The Middle East Science Cooperation Office (MESCO) is
established to foster scientific work in the region.
MESCO is established in Cairo
as part of UNESCO. Like UNESCO, its goal is to resuscitate international and
regional scientific research and policy after World War II. Its specific goals
are tailored to regional needs such as water conservation and the development of
May 14, 1948: The State of Israel is established.
After World War II, a showdown
is looming between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Despite their numerical superiority (1.3 million Arabs to 650,000
Jews), the Arabs are less prepared for conflict than the Jews, who have a
government under David Ben-Gurion and an army. The Palestinian Arabs are still
in disarray from the Arab Revolt, and most of their leaders have been exiled.
By 1947, mounting violence, including terrorist acts by both Arabs and Jews,
leads Britain to declare its mandate over Palestine unworkable. Britain makes plans for its withdrawal and leaves the question of what to do
with Palestine to the UN. In August, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommends the creation of independent Jewish and Arab
states. The plan divides Palestine into roughly equal halves, with Jerusalem and religiously significant surrounding sites under the control of a
separate international authority. The report also calls for the Arab and Jewish
states to form a united economic bloc. The Jews accept this plan, but the
Palestinian Arabs do not. The partition plan is approved by majority vote of
the UN General Assembly on November 29. Britain completes its withdrawal from
Palestine in early May 1948, and on May 14, the State of Israel is declared, with David Ben-Gurion as its first prime minister. Both
the United States and the USSR immediately recognize the new state. In support of the Palestinian
Arabs, however, neighboring Arab nations -- Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Syria -- declare war on Israel the next day. The Israelis repel the Arab attack. The 1948 War, also
known as the Israeli War of Independence, ends in July 1949. Israel signs separate cease-fire agreements with Transjordan,
Syria, and Egypt and now controls about 70 percent of what had been Mandatory Palestine. Egypt holds the Gaza Strip, Jordan annexes the West Bank, and Syria retains the Golan Heights.
1949: Women in Syria
are given the right to vote and stand for election.
begins to produce and export oil.
1950: Israel proclaims Jerusalem its capital.
Though the U.S. still favored keeping Jerusalem an international zone as per the 1947 UN partition plan, Israel proclaims Jerusalem its capital. East Jerusalem, which includes the old city, will remain under Jordan's control until June 1967.
March 7, 1951:
Iranian prime minister Ali Razmara is shot to death.
After Prime Minister Ali Razmara advises against
nationalizing the oil industry on technical grounds, he is assassinated by
Khalil Tahmasebi, a member of the terrorist group of the Fadayan-e Islam.
March 1951: Ultranationalist Mohammed Mossadeq becomes Iranian prime minister
following death of Ali Razmara.
Before being appointed prime minister, Mossadeq served as a
minister and governor in the 1920s. His opposition to the accession of Reza
Shah results in imprisonment and later house arrest. Mossadeq returns to
parliament in 1941 after Reza Shah is removed from power and replaced by his son,
Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.
March 1951: Mossadeq nationalizes the oil industry.
To prevent foreign interests from controlling the Iranian
economy, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq nationalizes the oil industry. This
move meets with tremendous resistance, especially from the British, who own
substantial oil interests. Mossadeq becomes a national hero to many Iranians
and gains international prestige -- Time magazine names him Man of the
Year for 1951.
December 24, 1951: Libya declares its independence under King Idris.
Libya gains independence on December 24, 1951. Setting the stage for
independence was a 1949 United Nations resolution stating that Libya should become independent before January 1, 1952. The first country to
gain independence through a UN resolution, Libya had been an Italian colony
from the early 1900s through World War II and was then under French and British
control in the postwar period (1945-1951).
February 18, 1952: Already
a founding member of the UN, Turkey
becomes a member of NATO.
celebrates its acceptance into NATO. With it, the country gains protection from
any Soviet aggression. It is also more likely to receive foreign aid to assist
with modernization. Many Turks interpret the event as symbolic of Western
nations finally accepting Turkey
as one of their own.
July 23, 1952: A military
coup removes Egypt's
King Faruq from power.
Gen. Muhammad Naguib establishes Egyptian sovereignty; King
Faruq I formally abdicates his throne three days later. The events are
collectively known as the Egyptian Revolution. Col. Gamal Abd al-Nasser, who
leads the nationalist forces in the coup, ultimately seizes power from Naguib
1953: Lebanese women gain the right to vote.
1953: The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is founded.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is
founded to promote sustainable development of the land. SPNI sponsors tours,
research, educational activities, and public campaigns for environmental
protection and historic preservation.
May 18, 1953: The Israeli
Knesset establishes Yad Vashem, a memorial to victims of the Holocaust.
The Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes'
Remembrance Authority, serves as a repository for archives and books on the
Holocaust and for biographical information about those who died in it. The
compound houses two museums, exhibit halls, and monuments.
August 15-19, 1953: A U.S.-backed coup removes Iranian prime minister Mossadeq from
Set against the backdrop of the
Cold War, British and American intelligence groups worry that Mossadeq's
nationalist aspirations will lead to an eventual communist takeover. To avoid
this, U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower approves a joint British-American
operation to overthrow Mossadeq. After the first day it appears the coup has
failed, and the Shah flees to Baghdad. Widespread rioting ensues, flamed by the CIA and British intelligence
services, and Mossadeq is defeated. Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi returns to
power, and Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, the leader of military coup, becomes prime
1953: The Sudan
gains independence from Egypt
Ending years of Egyptian demands, the British agree to
withdraw from the Sudan
and provide the Sudanese people an opportunity for self-government. The joint
pact, signed in 1953, allows for a three-year transitional period leading to
full independence. Elections are held late in 1953, and the first republican
government takes office in 1954.
October 19, 1954: Britain
agrees to leave the Suez Canal and its occupation of Egypt.
conclude a pact on the Suez Canal, ending 72 years of
British occupation. In return, Egypt
agrees to maintain freedom of canal navigation. The last of the 80,000-strong
British force leaves the canal zone by June
November 1954-July 1962: Algeria
fights its War of Independence against the French.
fights a long and bloody war before it reclaims its independence from France
in 1962. More than 500,000 from both sides die in the conflict.
grants women equal voting rights.
The new Egyptian constitution grants women the right to vote
and to run for elected office.
1956: The Baalbeck International Festival, a showcase for music, theater, and
dance in Lebanon,
holds its first season.
The Baalbeck International Festival inaugurates its first
season with a performance of Jean Cocteau's La Machine Infernale. The
festival runs annually until 1975, ceases performances during the civil war,
and resumes in 1997. It has featured the Arab world's most popular performers
as well as international artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Rudolf Nureyev,
and the Bolshoi Ballet.
March 1956: Sultan Mohammed becomes King of Morocco, ending the French
protectorate of Morocco.
March 20, 1956:
independence from France.
bey, or hereditary ruler, assumes control of a new constitutional monarchy. A
year later, Habib Bourguiba, president of the country's legislative body, the
National Assembly, moves to adopt a constitution that ends the centuries-old
tradition of rule by the bey. Bourguiba's policies over the next decade aim to
further secularize and modernize Tunisian society.
July 26, 1956: Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal.
Most likely in response to the
U.S. decision to revoke its foreign aid pledge to help build the Aswan High Dam
project, Nasser decides to nationalize the Suez Canal. Its toll revenues
provide a significant source of needed income. This angers Britain and France, the former owners of the canal.
October 31-November 7, 1956: Suez Crisis: Israel, Britain, and France attack Egypt after the Egyptian president Nassar nationalizes the Suez Canal.
Britain and France conspire to recapture the canal they once owned, with Israeli
assistance. Israel invades Sinai, and Britain and France "intervene" and occupy the canal zone. They withdraw under U.S. and Soviet pressure, unsuccessful in their attempt.
revokes the Anglo-Jordanian treaty.
In 1956, Arab nationalism receives a huge boost from the
failed attempt of Britain
and France to
regain control of the Suez Canal from Egypt;
in the aftermath, Jordan's
King Hussein relieves all British commanders of their positions in the Arab
League. In 1957, with Arab nations promising to provide Jordan
with enough money to free it from its dependence on British subsidies, Hussein
revokes the Anglo-Jordanian treaty that had given Jordan
full independence from the British mandate in 1946 in exchange for ongoing
British use of military facilities within Jordan.
Troops will fully withdraw from Jordan
later in the year.
February 1958: The United Arab Republic, a union of Egypt
and Syria, is
and Syria merge
to form a single political unit, with Gamal Abd al-Nasser as its president.
This is designed as a first step toward creating a pan-Arab union. As such, the
inhabitants are simply known as Arabs, the country called "Arab
territory." In 1958, the UAR forms a loose federation with Yemen,
called the United Arab States. A 1961 military coup in Syria
forces the breakup of the UAR, though Egypt
continues to use the name until 1971.
July 14, 1958: Iraq's
British-backed monarch is overthrown in a military coup.
King Faisal II is assassinated for being perceived as too
closely aligned with former colonial power Britain.
Iraq is declared
a republic, and Gen. Abdel Karim Qasim becomes president. The new government
pursues a foreign policy that is decidedly anti-Western.
July 15, 1958: Lebanon's
Christian and Muslim factions engage in civil war.
pan-Arab movement stirring up sentiments among Lebanon's
religious groups, Lebanon's
fragile coalition government weakens. The Lebanese army's loyalty to President
Kamil Shamun wavers. With the outbreak of civil war between Christians and
Muslims, Shamun calls on the U.S.
to send troops to secure peace. The U.S.,
wanting to avoid another coup (as had just occurred in Iraq),
sends 5,000 Marines to Lebanon.
1959: Oil is discovered in Libya.
The oil boom provides Libya with newfound financial
independence, transforming a country with one of the lowest standards of living
into one full of opportunities, with growing employment and plans for improved
housing, health care, and education. Investing much of its oil profits in other
parts of the economy, Libya
expands its industry, mining, and agricultural base, irrigating new areas of
the desert. Most of the large farms, which are owned by the government, produce
foods that were formerly imported, including corn, wheat, and citrus fruits, as
well as cattle, sheep, and poultry.
1959: The first big oil reserve is discovered just off
the coast of Abu Dhabi (now part of the United Arab Emirates).
Oil is first discovered off of Abu
Dhabi in 1959. Just a year later, oil is also found in
Abu Dhabi's desert. Dubai,
Sharjah, and Ras al-Khaimah follow with discoveries of their own over the next
several years. Abu Dhabi, once
known as a fishing village, is today the richest of all the emirates. Dubai,
originally known for its pearl trade, is the second richest.
May 27, 1960: In Turkey, a
military coup replaces the Democratic Party government with the Committee of
National Unity (CNU).
military agrees with Atat¸rk, the founder of modern Turkey,
that they stay out of politics, they make an exception when it comes their role
as guardian of the constitution and Kemalism. By 1960, the military determines
that the government has departed from Kemalist principles and that the republic
is in danger. On May 27, 1960,
the army seizes the principal government buildings and communications centers
and arrests most of the Democratic Party (DP) representatives, as well as the
president and prime minister. The government is replaced by the Committee of
National Unity (CNU), an interim government comprised mainly of military
personnel. By January 1961 a new constitution is ratified, and in October
elections are held, returning the government to civilian rule.
September 10-14, 1960: Iraq,
form OPEC, a federation of oil-producing nations.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
forms as a group of developing oil-producing countries seeking to enter the
international oil market. Its objective today is to coordinate oil policies and
to secure fair prices for its member countries (which now number 13) and
dependable supply to its customer nations.
May 6, 1961: The White
Revolution: Reza Shah Pahlevi dissolves Iran's
legislative body and suspends its constitution.
The Shah's suspension of the constitution and his
dissolution of the legislature free him to proceed with his plan for
modernization, which has been opposed by religious conservatives in the Majlis.
The Shah abolishes the practice of sharecropping, nationalizes dwindling
forests, gives women voting rights, and starts a massive rural literacy
1961: As Britain ends its protectorate in Kuwait, Iraq threatens to claim its neighbor for its own.
After Kuwait gains its independence from Britain on June 19, President Abdel Karim Qasim of Iraq asserts a longstanding Iraqi claim to Kuwait. Kuwait seeks and receives British military support, which in the end
is not needed, as Iraq does not launch an offensive. Iraq never formally withdraws its claim, however, and in 1990 invades Kuwait and claims it as Iraq's 19th province.
1962: Abu Dhabi begins to
Massive amounts of money flow into Abu
Dhabi (now part of UAE) when it begins to export
petroleum. Because the small local population cannot meet the need for planned
construction projects (e.g., of hospitals, roads, schools), foreign workers are
hired by the hundreds of thousands.
February 6, 1962: Marc
Chagall presents windows for the new synagogue of the Hadassah-HebrewUniversityMedicalCenter in Israel.
Chagall's windows, which depict scenes of the 12 sons of
Jacob, are presented at the synagogue's dedication ceremony. Four of the
windows suffer damaged in the Six-Day War in 1967, and Chagall installs
replacements in 1969. Three windows are still marked by bullet holes.
1962: Civil war erupts when the YemenArabRepublic
is established in the north.
When army officers in the north overthrow the new imam,
Muhammad al-Badr, the YemenArabRepublic is established. Civil war
ensues. The republicans are backed by Egypt
and the Soviet Union, and the imam's supporters are
backed by Saudi Arabia
February 8, 1963: President
Qasim of Iraq
is ousted in a coup led by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.
The Ba'ath Party, upset with the President Qasim's
dictatorial rule, joins forces with the military to force him out of power.
Col. Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif becomes president and rules until his untimely
death in a helicopter crash nine months later.
1964: Conflict over access to fresh water from the Jordan River
against its Arab neighbors.
The countries sharing the basin of the Jordan
River have extremely limited sources of fresh water, and water
rights have been one of the leading sources of conflict in this troubled
region. In 1964, Israel's
National Water Carrier system, a complex of canals, pipelines, and tunnels
built to convey water to the coastal plain of Israel and the NegevDesert, began diverting water from
the JordanRiver Basin.
This diversion led to the Arab Summit of 1964, where a plan was developed to
divert the headwaters of the Jordan River into Syria
and Jordan --
preventing Jordan River water from reaching Israel.
As the activities of the Headwater Diversion Plan began to take shape from
attacked construction sites. These incidents regarding water issues led up to
the outbreak of the Six-Day War in June 1967.
May 1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is founded.
Composed of various political
factions and guerrilla groups, the PLO is founded to serve as the coordinating
council for Palestinian organizations. The Palestinain national charter of 1968
will call for an end to the Jewish state. In 1988 the PLO will accept the two
state solution implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist. The PLO has employed both terrorism and diplomacy in
pursuit of its goals. Al-Fatah is the PLO's largest faction, and its leader,
Yasser Arafat, has been chairman of the PLO since 1968.
July 1964: The Turkish film Susuz Yaz, or Dry
Summer, wins the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
has a long history of producing films. The first Turkish film on record is a
documentary produced in 1914, and the republic's first private film studio,
Kemal Films, began operations in 1921.
November 4, 1964: Critical of the Shah's new Western-influenced policies, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini is exiled to Turkey.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and
other religious conservatives are angered by policies that they believe
contradict Islamic customs. Outspoken on a number of issues, Khomeini's
denunciations of the Shah's Status of Forces bill (which allows U.S. military personnel diplomatic immunity for crimes committed in Iran) results in his exile to Turkey. In 1965, Khomeini moves to Iraq, where he remains until 1978.
1965: Zaynab al-Ghazali, Islamic activist and founder of the Muslim Women's
Association, is imprisoned in Egypt.
At the same time that President Gamal Abd al-Nasser's
government cracks down on the Muslim Brotherhood, other groups suspected of
agitating the public against the government are also shut down. One such group
is Zaynab al-Ghazali's Muslim Women's Association. Al-Ghazali founded the
Muslim Women's Association in 1936, at age 18, to instill the doctrines of
Islam in women's minds, teach them about their rights and duties, and call for
the establishment of an Islamic state guided by the Quran and the Sunnah of the
Prophet Muhammad. (The Sunnah is the example of practical leadership and the
ideological guidance provided by Muhammad, which transforms belief in God into
a culture and a civilization, and enables men and women to evolve a way of
life.) Brought to trial in 1966 and sentenced to a life term, al-Ghazali is
released in 1971 by Nasser's successor, Anwar al-Sadat.
She continues to be a proponent of the establishment of a united Islamic state.
1965: Archaeologists working in Qatar
discover signs of human life dating back to 4000 B.C.E.
A Danish archaeological expedition uncovers signs of human
habitation on the Qatar
peninsula going back to 4000 B.C.E. A British team in 1973 and a French team in
1976 continue the dig and add to its findings.
October 3, 1965: A second
wave of Middle Eastern immigration to the United
States begins with the passage of new
The Immigration Act of 1965 abolishes the quota system
established in 1921 that restricted admission to the U.S.
according to a person's national origins. Prior to 1961, strong preference had
been shown for people from Western hemisphere countries, while those from
Eastern countries were given far fewer visas. In the late 1970s, with people
fleeing political crises in Iran,
immigration from Middle Eastern countries to the U.S.
will again rise dramatically.
1966: A banking crisis hits Beirut
and temporarily slows Lebanon's
A commercial banking crisis slows the go-go banking industry
of Beirut, which at mid-century had
been the repository of choice for oil money from Saudi
Arabia and the Gulf
of the Middle East," was also a favored destination
of the European and American elite. After the banking crisis settles, the
Lebanese economy will be strong again until the civil war in 1975.
April 17, 1966: Iraqi
president Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif dies in a helicopter crash.
Upon his death, President Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif of Iraq
is succeeded by his older brother, Abd al-Rahman Arif.
1966: Israeli writer S.Y. Agnon wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Agnon's novels and short stories primarily concern the
experiences of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jews. His writing combines
traditional sources with 20th-century literary experimentation (such as stream
of consciousness). His best known novel, The Day Before Yesterday (Temol
Shilshom), was published in 1945.
June 5-10, 1967: The Six-Day
War is fought between Israel
and the Arab states.
Conflict ignites after three weeks of increasing tensions,
including a massive Arab troop buildup in the Sinai Peninsula,
as well as an Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran in the Red
Sea of ships to or from Israel.
On June 5, 1967, Israel
responds by launching a surprise attack on Egypt.
Other Arab nations, including Syria,
join Egypt in
the fighting. Israel
seizes the Golan Heights from Syria,
Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Egypt,
and East Jerusalem and the West Bank
before a cease-fire is agreed upon.
June 5, 1967: Egypt closes the Suez Canal in conjunction with the Six-Day War.
Closed during the Six-Day War by
the Egyptians, the Suez Canal becomes part of the boundary separating Egypt and the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula after the war. Remaining closed for the next eight years, Egypt loses considerable revenue. Many ships built after the closing
(especially tankers) are too large to navigate the canal.
June 9-10, 1967: President Nasser of Egypt resigns.
In response to Egypt's
military defeat by Israel
in the Six-Day War, President Gamal Abd al-Nasser resigns. Popular demand,
however, quickly compels him to resume his post.
November 28, 1967:
gains independence from Britain.
1967: Southern Yemen
accepts Soviet economic aid, becoming the first and only Marxist Arab state.
The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (Southern
Yemen) is in economic shambles with the
closure of the Suez Canal following the Six-Day War and
the loss of British trade. The country accepts aid from the Soviet
Union and other communist countries to stay afloat.
1968: Yasser Arafat is elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation
Yasser Arafat, leader of the al-Fatah faction of the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), is elected chairman of the executive
committee. After his election, he shifts the PLO's main guerrilla forces to Jordan.
1968: Amos Oz publishes Mikhael sheli (My Michael) in Hebrew.
This book, Oz's best known novel, is thought to symbolize
the struggles of the diverse cultures in Jerusalem
July 17, 1968: A
Ba'athist-led coup ousts President Arif of Iraq.
Following the Ba'athist coup, Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr
becomes president of Iraq.
The country's political system enjoys relative stability over the next 10
years. Money from oil exports contributes to an economic boom. Between 1972 and
1975, annual oil revenues increase from $1 billion to $8.2 billion.
"New Wave" in filmmaking begins with the production of Dariush
Mehrjui's The Cow.
The film The Cow, which concerns a poor village that
loses its only cow and the devastation of that loss, is banned in Iran
upon its release for its depiction of poverty and poor social conditions.
Mehrjui's controversial, critically acclaimed film ushers in the Iranian New
Wave in filmmaking, noted for its rejection of commercialism and melodrama in
favor of social consciousness. Iran's
film tradition is currently among the most celebrated in the world.
1969-1974: Golda Meir serves as Israeli prime minister, becoming the world's
second female head of government.
Kiev-born and Milwaukee-raised Golda Meir emigrated to Palestine
in 1921. After holding positions in Israel's
first government beginning in 1948 -- as an ambassador, a member of the
Knesset, and foreign minister for 10 years -- Meir assumes the role of prime
minister upon the death of Levi Eshkol in 1969. Under her leadership, Israel
strengthens relations with the U.S. Presiding over Israel
during the Yom Kippur War, Meir is harshly criticized for Israel's
lack of preparedness against the surprise attack. In April 1974 she resigns,
despite having won the election a few months earlier. She dies at age 80 in
June 1969: President Salim Rubayi Ali assumes power in Southern
Ali succeeds Qahtan al-Shabi, who is overthrown by the
Marxist National Liberation Front. The following year the country is renamed
the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and during Ali's rule, most of the
economy is placed under government control.
September 1969: Revolutionary leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi takes power of Libya
in a military coup.
Qaddafi creates his own political system, the Third
International Theory, as an alternative to capitalism and communism. It is a
combination of socialism and Islam. From this point on on, all aspects of
Libyan life will be controlled by Qaddafi. He declares a jamahariyya
(government of the masses) and calls for political, legal, and social changes
in accord with his "green book."
November 2, 1969: The
secret Cairo Agreement is signed by Arafat and Lebanese army commander Gen.
The year 1969 sees periodic clashes between PLO guerrillas
based in Lebanon
and the Lebanese army. In October, the Lebanese army begins an active campaign
against Palestinian forces. But support for the PLO is evenly split across the
country. Army leaders fear that a decisive defeat of the Palestinians will
splinter the nation. As a result, army commander Gen. Emil Bustani signs the
Cairo Agreement with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Officially secret, the Cairo
Agreement apparently grants the Palestinians the right to keep weapons in their
camps and to attack Israel
nationalizes its manufacturing and private-sector industries.
Food-processing, textiles and traditional handicrafts, and
the banking industries in Libya
are among those put under government control. The economy depends primarily on
revenues from the oil sector, and although Libya
enjoys immense oil revenues coupled with a small population, most of the money
stays within the centralized government, and little flows to the general
1970: The Aswan High Dam is built in Egypt,
controlling the Nile's annual flood but changing the
A second, or "High," Aswan Dam is built with
Soviet assistance to replace the older, less effective Aswan
"Low" Dam. The dam has stopped the river's annual floods by trapping
its waters in a reservoir and slowly releasing it during the dry season. This
allows farmers along the Nile to plant year round.
Unfortunately, the dam also traps the river's fertile silt, forcing the use of
artificial fertilizers by farmers and causing pollution. Other effects of the
dam are riverbank erosion and high levels of soil salinity.
1970: Northern Yemen's eight-year civil war ends.
Imam Muhammad al-Badr, Northern Yemen's
leader, is exiled to Britain.
A new government established by the republicans lasts only four years before
army leaders seize control and steer the country in a conservative direction.
March 11, 1970: Kurdish
autonomy is proclaimed in Iraq.
With the March Proclamation, signed by Iraq's
Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader
Mullah Mustafa Barzani, the Iraqi government and the Kurds agree to the
creation of a Kurdish autonomous region within the next four years. Although
the RCC issues decrees in 1974 and '75 that provide for its administration,
these terms are not acceptable to all Kurdish leaders, and a major war ensues.
By 1988 the Kurds are defeated. Guerrilla activities, however, continue to this
day in parts of Kurdistan.
July 23, 1970:
Sultan Qaboos takes over control of Oman
from his father and ends the country's isolation from the world.
As sultan, Qaboos holds absolute power over Oman
and makes all important decisions. Both sultan and prime minister, he heads the
foreign, defense, and finance ministries. After a period of Omani isolation
from the rest of the world, Sultan Qaboos bin Said opens up the country to the
rest of the world.
September 1970: The PLO launches a failed attempt to overthrow Jordan's
The PLO's failed attempt to overthrow King Hussein of
Jordan, known as Black September, results in the PLO's moving its main base of
operations out of Jordan and into Lebanon.
September 28, 1970:
Egyptian president Nasser dies.
Egyptian president Gamal Abd al-Nasser dies of cardiac
arrest after negotiating a Jordan-Palestinian truce. His vice president, Anwar
al-Sadat, succeeds him, running unopposed in the presidential election.
Habib Bourguiba advocates mutual recognition with Israel.
Bourguiba becomes the first Arab leader to publicly advocate
mutual recognition with Israel.
1971: Natural gas is discovered in northeast Qatar.
The North Gas Field is among the top five largest natural
gas reserves in the world.
March 12, 1971:
The coup by memorandum: Turkey
undergoes its second military coup.
Gen. Faruk G¸rler, leader of the armed forces chiefs,
presents a memorandum to Turkish president Cevdet Sunay demanding a
"strong and credible government." The civilian officials are told
that the military will take over the administration of the state unless a
government is found that can rein in the violence and implement the economic
and social reforms, including land reform, stipulated in the 1961 constitution.
Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel resigns the same day. Nihat Erim replaces
Demirel and sets about forming a "national unity, above-party
government" that will enlist the support of the major parties. This event
is known as the "coup by memorandum."
September 3, 1971: Qatar
declares independence from Great Britain.
refuse to join the United Arab Emirates.
December 2, 1971:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is formally recognized as an independent state.
The UAE is founded as a federation of six independent
emirates, or sheikhdoms. The provisional constitution, made permanent in 1996,
allows for a multitiered national government consisting of executive,
legislative, and judicial branches. In 1972 a seventh emirate joins the UAE.
1972: Saudi Arabia
negotiates for control of 25 percent of the Arabian American Oil Company
Until the early '70s, Aramco is owned by California Arabian
Standard Oil Company (Casoc), Texaco, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (later
renamed Exxon), and Socony-Vacuum (now Mobil Oil Company). In 1968 the Saudi
minister of petroleum and mineral resources had publicly broached the idea of Saudi
participation in Aramco, and after long negotiations, it is agreed that the
Saudi government will buy 25 percent of the company. Over the next 16 years,
Aramco will be converted to a totally Saudi-owned company called Saudi Arabian
Oil Company (Saudi Aramco).
1972: Feminist author Nawal El Saadawi publishes her book Women
and Sex, angering many of Egypt's
political and religious authorities.
The publication of El Saadawi's book results in her
dismissal by the Ministry of Health as its director of public health. Over the
next decade, she is imprisoned for criticizing government policies. El Saadawi
goes on to found the Arab Women's Solidarity Association (AWSA), the first
legal, independent feminist organization in Egypt.
The AWSA, which is dedicated to "lifting the veil from the mind of Arab
women," is banned in 1991 after criticizing U.S.
involvement in the Gulf War.
February 22, 1972:
Sheikh Khalifa becomes Emir of Qatar.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, the grandson of Sheikh
Abdullah, becomes Emir of Qatar. He is generally considered the first modern
ruler of Qatar.
Before becoming emir, he served in various capacities and branches of the
Qatari government -- ministries of foreign affairs, finance, petroleum,
education, culture, and as prime minister.
April 1972: Iraq
and the Soviet Union sign a 15-year Treaty of Friendship
The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation serves as the basis
of friendly relations between the two countries and will continue to do so into
the 21st century.
June 1972: Iraq
becomes the first Arab country to nationalize a Western oil corporation.
Prior to 1972, U.S.
and British companies held a three-quarter share in Iraq's
oil production. Soviet petroleum experts help Iraq
develop its oil industry to the extent that Baghdad
ends its reliance on Western companies; the Soviets also help Iraq
nationalize the Iraq Petroleum Company. In the ensuing years, Iraq
rapidly increases its oil output, becoming the world's second largest exporter
of oil by 1979.
July 18, 1972:
President Anwar al-Sadat orders Soviet advisors and experts to leave Egypt.
A strained Soviet-Egyptian relationship ruptures on July 18, 1972, when Sadat orders the
immediate withdrawal of 5,000 Soviet military advisors and 15,000 air combat
personnel. Contributing factors are Moscow's
refusal of economic and military aid, Egypt's
unwillingness to play the role of a Soviet foreign-policy pawn, and efforts by
the U.S. to
undermine the relationship. The break in relations also reflects a shift in Egypt
to more pro-Western policies.
September 5, 1972:
Israeli athletes are taken hostage at the Munich Olympic Games.
Gunmen from an underground terrorist organization calling
itself Black September, linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization, take the
Israeli men's Olympic team hostage. Two of the Israelis are killed almost
immediately. In the ensuing botched rescue attempt, the remaining nine
Israelis, as well as several of the captors and German police officers, are
government prohibits fishing and hunting without a license.
In addition to the prohibition on fishing and hunting
without a license, Jordanian law also prohibits its citizens from cutting
trees, shrubs, and plants. The steps are taken as part of a focus on conservation
of the environment.
April 1973: Jordanian women gain the right to vote.
In 1974 King Hussein gives women the right to vote and run
for public office. But because there are no parliamentary elections between
1968 and 1989, women must wait 15 years to exercise this right.
October 6, 1973: Egypt
attack Israeli forces in the Sinai and Golan Heights on
Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.
The Egyptians and the Syrians attack Israel,
hoping to reclaim the lands lost in the 1967 Six-Day War. At the start of the
war they make initial gains but are forced to retreat after an Israeli
counterattack. This war becomes known as both the October War and the Yom
Kippur War. Many Israelis, upset at their country's unpreparedness for this
attack, blame Prime Minister Golda Meir, who later resigns. While Egypt
and Syria are
ultimately unsuccessful in their bid, both sides appear to be hurt in the war.
November 1973: Saudi Arabia
leads an oil boycott against the U.S.
and other Western countries.
A supporter of Egypt,
Jordan, and Syria
in the 1967 Six-Day War against Israel,
still harbors resentment when the Yom Kippur War (October War) erupts. In
retaliation for U.S.
support of Israel,
participates in a 1973 Arab oil boycott of the U.S.
and other Western nations. The price of oil quadruples, dramatically increasing
wealth and political influence.
June 2, 1974: Yitzhak Rabin
becomes prime minister of Israel.
The Knesset installs Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister following
Golda Meir's resignation. Under Rabin's leadership, the government places
special emphasis on strengthening the economy, solving social problems, and
reinforcing Israeli defense. Three years after his election, however, he is
forced to resign when a journalist reveals that his wife has a bank account in
the U.S., in
violation of Israeli law at the time. After stepping down as prime minister,
Rabin serves in several roles for the Labor Party. In July 1992, the Labor
Party wins the election, and Rabin becomes prime minister once again -- a role
he holds until his assassination in 1995.
July 20, 1974:
Turkey invades Cyprus.
Turkish and Greek Cypriots lived together on the island
of Cyprus for almost five
centuries. On July 15, 1974,
the president is overthrown in a military coup. Diplomacy fails to resolve the
by sea and air on July 20, 1974,
asserting its right to protect the Turkish minority. Peace talks fail, and the
Turks gain control of 40 percent of the island -- amounting to partition of Cyprus.
continues to refuse to remove its troops, despite repeated condemnations by the
November 11, 1974:
State-owned Oman Television begins broadcasting.
Oman TV, which is operated by the Ministry of Information,
broadcasts one channel in Arabic. The Omani government prohibits the
establishment of privately owned radio or television companies, but people are
allowed to use satellite dishes to access many foreign channels.
1975: Women are admitted to KingSaudUniversity
as full-time students.
Although they have been allowed to attend classes at Saudi
since 1961, women are not admitted as full-time students eligible to pursue a
degree until 1975. The next year, the Center for Women's University Studies
will be founded to oversee all aspects of women's education. Today, women are
free to pursue higher degrees in a wide range of areas. Founded in 1957 as RiyadhUniversity, KingSaudUniversity
is one of the oldest universities in Saudi
February 3, 1975:
Kulthum, considered the greatest modern singer of Arabic music, dies.
In a career that spanned decades, Umm Kulthum, the
"Star of the East," was a beloved fixture on Egyptian radio. Her
songs, which combined the Western popular tradition with traditional
Arab-Egyptian music, often had political overtones, supporting Egyptian
self-rule and the revolution of 1952. Following her country's defeat in the
Six-Day War, she embarked on a tour of Egypt
and donated all the proceeds to the Egyptian government.
March 1975: King Faisal of Saudi
Arabia is assassinated by a nephew and
succeeded by his brother, Khalid.
March 6, 1975:
Iraq and Iran
sign the Algiers Agreement, ending their border disputes.
On March 6, 1975,
Iraq and Iran
sign a treaty known as the Algiers Agreement, or more precisely the Iran-Iraq
Treaty on International Borders and Good Neighborly Relations, whose provisions
are brokered by Jordan's
King Hussein. The signing takes place at an OPEC convention in Algiers.
The agreement delineates the international border between the two countries as
the deepest point of the Shatt al-Arab estuary, as opposed to its eastern
shore. Baghdad agrees to the treaty
in return for Tehran's commitment
to stop covert U.S.
and Iranian support for the Kurds. In 1980 Iraqi president Saddam Hussein
hoping in part to reverse the 1975 agreement.
April 1975: Civil war erupts in Lebanon
between the Christian majority and the growing Muslim population.
One cause for conflict is a power imbalance between the
dominant right-wing Christian population and the growing Muslim population who
feels excluded from real government. A second area of conflict is the
Arab-Israeli conflict, with Israel's
support for the Lebanese Christian groups, and increasing PLO attacks on Israel
from Lebanese bases. In the summer of 1975 full-scale civil war breaks out
between the Muslim coalition allied with Palestinian groups and the
Christian-dominated militias. In April 1976, an uneasy cease-fire is imposed
when Syrian military forces intervene at the request of the Lebanese president
and with the approval of the Arab League of States. Nevertheless, sporadic
violence continues, and in 1978 Israel
invades southern Lebanon
in an attempt to eliminate Palestinian bases. By mid-1981, 53 private armies
are operating in Lebanon.
Cease-fire efforts by the U.S.
and others have fleeting impact. Political assassinations, civilian massacres,
and kidnappings continue, including a 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks
in Beirut. Following one of many
cease-fires, a plan is formed at a conference in Taif,
Saudi Arabia, calling for
a new constitution increasing Muslim representation and accepting a special
Syrian relationship. By late 1990, the civil war is at an end. Since then,
Hezbollah rocket attacks, alternating with Israeli air strikes and a 1996
Israeli incursion, has kept the situation fluid in southern Lebanon.
Both sides hope to end the combat, but neither will compromise on a demand for
Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
August 28, 1975:
The UAE Women's Federation, a special interest group led by Sheikha Fatima, is
Assembled from several smaller women's societies and under
the leadership of Sheikha Fatima, the wife of UAE president Sheikh Zayed, this
federally funded organization makes recommendations to the government on such
matters as health and education.
1977: Kurdish is recognized as an official language in Iraq.
The Kurds -- an ethnic group acutely conscious of its
cultural differences from the Arabs -- have long struggled to achieve
recognition within Iraq,
staging rebellions since 1961. By the end of 1977, the Kurdish people are
granted greater autonomy, and Kurdish is recognized in Iraq
as an official language.
1977: The UAEUniversity,
the country's first university, opens in al-Ain.
By 1998, 15,000 students will attend UAE University (UAEU).
The Higher Colleges of Technology, today with 10 campuses, open in 1988,
providing a further 10,000 students with advanced technical training. These
universities, like other development projects, are funded by oil money.
November 19, 1977:
Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat arrives in Jerusalem,
becoming the first Arab leader to visit Israel.
During his visit to Israel,
President Sadat addresses the Knesset, Israel's
parliament, and officially recognizes the state of Israel.
This breakthrough in relations paves the way for peace between Egypt
1978: Palestinian-American literary scholar Edward Said
publishes his landmark work, Orientalism.
Said's theory of how the West creates the image of the
exotic East, published in the book Orientalism, influences many areas of
critical thought. Said has written extensively about the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict in works such as The Question of Palestine (1979). His memoir, Out
of Place (2000), examines a boyhood defined by personal and political
1978: Ali Abdullah Saleh is elected president and embraces a
Western-style market economy for Northern Yemen.
While Northern Yemen practices a
market economy, Southern Yemen's
economy is controlled by the state. Saleh will rule for two decades before
being declared senile and removed from power.
June 15, 1978:
Hussein marries Lisa Najeeb Halaby, an Arab American.
Queen Noor, born Lisa Halaby in the United
States, plays a highly visible role during
her husband's reign, working hard to advance causes important to Jordan
and the wider world. She directs and sponsors programs committed to the
advancement of women in society, children's health care, education, the arts,
and environmental protection. She also actively promotes international exchange
as a means by which to enhance understanding of Middle Eastern politics and
improve Arab-Western relations.
September 8, 1978: "Black Friday" occurs in Iran as Mohammed Reza Shah imposes martial rule to put an end to violent
From the middle of 1978, street
demonstrations against the Shah's policies of Westernization, as well as his
authoritarian rule, are reaching an unprecedented level. Many cities are placed
under martial law, but people flood the streets to defy the Shah. During one
such demonstration on September 8, army tanks are used to disperse
demonstrators. Soldiers are ordered to shoot. More than 600 people are killed
in Zhaleh Square alone. This day becomes known as Black Friday, and the square's name
is later changed to the Square of Martyrs.
September 17, 1978: Israel and Egypt negotiate peace accords at Camp David.
Just five years after the Yom Kippur War, U.S.
president Jimmy Carter hosts Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian
president Anwar al-Sadat at Camp David. This historic
meeting will result in the first peace accord to be signed by Israel
and one of its Arab neighbors. Several months of more detailed negotiations
lead to the signing of a peace treaty on March 26, 1979, in Washington,
D.C. Under the treaty's terms, control of
the Sinai returns to Egypt,
retains the Gaza Strip. In exchange for the Sinai's return, Egypt
and establishes full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Furthermore, Egypt
guarantees that most of its forces will stay more than 50 kilometers from the
Israeli border. The treaty also allows Egyptian and Israeli citizens to travel
between the two countries. Most Arab nations boycott Egypt
as a result of the treaty; Oman
is the one exception. Less than three years after the treaty is signed, Islamic
extremists assassinate Sadat.
January 16, 1979: Iranian Revolution: The Shah is overthrown.
During the late 1970s, dissent
and demonstrations protesting the dictatorship of the Shah increase in Iran. The writings of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, Shii Muslim Supreme
Leader, begin to circulate widely. Throughout the final months of the 1978,
demonstrators seize government buildings, shut down businesses with massive
strikes, and assassinate government officials. On January 16, 1979, the Shah flees Iran; Khomeini returns on February 1. Less than a month later, on February 12,
the prime minister flees as well.
February 1, 1979: Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran from exile.
After the Shah is driven from Iran,
Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile to a welcoming crowd of several million.
The Islamic Revolutionary Council is formed, and the country is declared the
Islamic Republic of Iran on April 1. Khomeini and his supporters blame the Shah
and Western influences for oppressing Iran
and corrupting Iranian Islamic traditions.
1979-2002: Islamic fundamentalism takes hold in Iran.
Under the Ayatollah Khomeini, law codes based on Islam are
introduced in Iran,
ending the Shah's radical modernization policies. Khomeini's strict version of
Islamic religious standards become the law of everyday life. Some Iranians are
upset by the strict religious system. Many people who accepted Western cultural
influences leave Iran,
including most Jews and Christians. The "Islamicization" of the
government continues into the 21st century.
July 16, 1979: Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq.
Iraqi president Ahmad Hassan
al-Bakr resigns his position citing health reasons. Vice President Saddam
Hussein succeeds him as president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command
Council (RCC). One year later, Hussein leads Iraq into a bloody war with the new Islamic Republic of Iran that will last for almost a decade.
November 1979: Militant Islamic extremists seize the Holy
Mosque of Mecca to protest increasing Western influence, but are defeated by
A group of Sunni Muslim fundamentalists calling for the
overthrow of the pro-Western Saudi government barricades themselves inside the
Holy Mosque of Mecca. After two weeks of fighting, the siege ends, leaving 27
Saudi soldiers and more than 100 rebels dead. Sixty-three more rebels are later
November 4, 1979: Ninety people, including 63 Americans,
are taken hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students.
students demand the return of the Shah to stand trial for crimes. Though some
hostages are released, 52 of the Americans are held for 444 days before their
release. In response to this hostage crisis, the U.S. freezes all Iranian assets
invested in the U.S.
December 24, 1979: The Soviet military invades and
occupies Afghanistan, beginning a decade-long conflict.
The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan
in an effort to stabilize its government and support socialism. The conflict
lasts 10 years and is often referred to as the Soviet Union's
Seventy thousand Soviet soldiers will die in the course of the conflict.
1979: The Jordanian government opens a national crafts center.
1980s: Most Libyans enjoy educational opportunities, health
care, and housing that are among the best in Africa and
the Middle East.
March 1980: The Iraqi National Assembly is formed.
Members of the National Assembly are elected to four-year
terms. All members must demonstrate loyalty to the goals of the Ba'ath Party
and to Saddam Hussein. Iraq
had no national legislature between 1958 and 1980.
April 8, 1980:
Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, an Islamist and a key figure in the Iraqi Dawa Party,
is executed by the Iraqi government.
A scholar and proponent of Islamic government, Muhammad
Baqir al-Sadr is executed by Saddam Hussein's government. He had advocated the
establishment of Iraq
as an Islamic state. His sister, fellow activist and novelist Amina Sadr, is
also killed. All political opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime risk a similar
September 12, 1980:
undergoes a third military coup.
On September 12,
1980, the armed forces seize control of Turkey
for the third time. While the 1960 and 1971 military coups were driven by
institutional reform, the 1980 action is deemed necessary to shore up the order
created by the earlier interventions. A five-member executive body, the
National Security Council, is appointed. On September 21, the NSC installs a
predominantly civilian Cabinet.
September 22, 1980: Iraq invades Iran.
Though the reasons behind the war are complex, border
skirmishes and a dispute over rights to the Shatt al-Arab waterway contribute
to the warfare. Iraq
seizes thousands of square miles and several important oil fields. Over an
eight-year period, more than 500,000 Iraqis and Iranians die, with neither side
able to claim victory.
October 6, 1981: Islamists
assassinate President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt.
Anwar al-Sadat's conflicts with Islamic groups in Egypt
-- including a crackdown that led to the arrest of more than 1,500 people -- as
well as enduring anger over the peace treaty he signed with Israel
lead to his assassination. Hosni Mubarak succeeds him as president.
launches programs designed to combat pollution and prevent other environmental
During the 1980s in Oman,
oil and tar from passing ships cover the country's beaches, pollution endangers
many of its migratory birds, and corals are being damaged by anchors, fishing
nets, and other equipment. One plan to eliminate oil spills focuses on building
an area where tankers can safely discharge their ballast.
February 1982: Syrian forces suppress a Muslim Brotherhood
uprising in Hama, killing 10,000 to
In 1976, the arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood leads an
armed insurgency against the al-Asad regime, which is criticized for being
secular and representing only minority interests. This particular public
demonstration is met with heavy artillery fire and ends in massive casualties.
June 6, 1982:
Israel invades Lebanon,
cutting off food and water in Beirut.
to drive out Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, which had been
using the country as a base for anti-Israeli operations. The United
States sends Marines to oversee the peaceful
withdrawal of the PLO from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
September 16, 1982:
Christian militiamen massacre hundreds at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian
refugee camps in Lebanon.
Lebanese Christian Maronite president-elect Bashir Gemayel
is assassinated. Two days later, Christian militias allied with Israel
against the PLO enter the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut
and massacre some 800 unarmed Palestinians. The Kahan Commission (an Israeli
commission of inquiry) finds that Defense Minister Ariel Sharon bears personal
responsibility because he did not order 'appropriate measures for preventing or
reducing the chances of a massacre.' As a result, Sharon
gave up his defense portfolio but remained in the cabinet.
1983: A Banquet of Seaweed by the
Syrian novelist Haidar Haidar is banned in Egypt.
Islamists in Egypt
accuse the book A Banquet of Seaweed (which isn't published in Egypt
until 2000) of blasphemy. The plot focuses on two leftist Iraqi intellectuals
who flee the injustice of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in the late 1970s. The
Egyptian authorities have banned many books and films in recent years because
of Islamist complaints that they contain anti-Islamic material.
1983: The UAE government outlaws the shooting and hunting of
birds, gazelles, and hares.
Hunting and rapid land development, which threaten critical
habitat, have driven many animals in the UAE to the point of extinction over a
very short time.
May 1983: An Israeli-Lebanese peace deal calls for Israel
to make a phased withdrawal from Lebanon.
mediates a peace and withdrawal agreement between Israel
and Lebanon in
May 1983. The PLO had been using Lebanon
as a base of operations against Israel,
and several times in the 1970s and '80s Israel
had invaded Lebanon
as a result. Under the terms of the peace agreement, Israeli forces begin to
but maintain control over a 12-mile-wide "security zone" in southern Lebanon,
near the Israeli border. The Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel's
presence in Lebanon,
continues to attack military posts in southern Lebanon
and northern Israel.
Israeli forces will continue to combat these forces for another 22 years, until
entirely in January of 2000.
May 1983: Gen. Kenan Evren returns Turkey
to democratic rule following three years of military rule.
Gen. Evren leads a 1980 coup and imposes military rule in an
attempt to end years of fighting between opposing radical groups that
ultimately leads to 5,000 deaths. Returning the country to democratic rule in
1983, he will serve as Turkey's
president until 1989.
September 15, 1983:
Menachem Begin resigns as prime minister of Israel.
Begin's resignation, an event publicly attributed to his
depression following his wife's death, follows the Israeli invasion of Lebanon
(which fails to accomplish all of its objectives) and the embarrassing
massacres at the hands of Israel-allied Christian militias of Palestinian
civilians in the refugee camps of Beirut.
Yitzhak Shamir succeeds Begin as prime minister, replacing him as head of the
October 23, 1983:
The U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon
is attacked by a suicide bomber.
During the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war, a suicide bomber
detonates a truck full of explosives, killing 241 U.S. Marines and wounding
more than 100 others. The 241 were part of a contingent of 1,800 Marines sent
to Lebanon as
part of a multinational force to help separate the warring Lebanese factions.
No group claims responsibility for the attack.
1984: Kurdish terrorists in Turkey
begin a bloody campaign for independence.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party, founded in 1978, launches a
campaign of terror designed to win independence for the ethnic Kurdish people
living primarily in southeastern Turkey.
Between 1984 and 1998, an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people die in clashes
between Turkish troops and Kurdish militants and civilians.
and Saudi Arabia
clash over the discovery of oil in the Empty Quarter.
Oil reserves are discovered in the Empty Quarter,
a vast desert that extends over much of Northern Yemen
and southeastern Saudi Arabia.
Conflicting claims to the potentially valuable land cause conflict, largely
because there is no defined boundary between the two countries.
June 17, 1985:
Sultan Salman al-Saud of Saudi Arabia
is the first Arab in space.
Sultan Salman al-Saud flies aboard the space shuttle Discovery
as a payload specialist.
1986: Commercial extraction of Yemen's
natural oil reserves begin.
Earnings from oil production and refinement will result in
significant contributions to the Yemeni economy over the next decade. Talks of
the reunification of Northern and Southern Yemen
January 1986: Civil war breaks out in Southern
A Marxist clash with the government of Southern
Yemen results in civil war.
November 1986: The arms-for-hostages deal that comes to be
known as the Iran-Contra Affair comes to light.
After a week of denying any covert activities, U.S.
president Ronald Reagan publicly confirms that the U.S.
secretly sold arms to Iran,
using Israel as
an intermediary, with the goal of improving relations with Iran.
Reagan later admits the arrangement had become a swap -- arms assistance in
return for hostages in Lebanon.
The American public is outraged by the dealings with a hostile Iran,
as well as with Reagan himself, for breaking his campaign promise to never
enter into such negotiations. Some of the arms profits are later discovered to
have been diverted to illegally aid Nicaraguan Contra rebels, who are locked in
combat with the Communist-backed Sandinistas.
December 9, 1987: The
Palestinian intifada, a spontaneous popular uprising against Israeli
occupation, starts in the West Bank and Gaza.
Young Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones and incendiary
devices at Israeli troops in the OccupiedTerritories. The Israeli military
responds with rubber bullets and live ammunition, consistent with its
"iron-fist policy." Curfews are imposed on Palestinians, and arrests
and deportations follow. More than 20,000 people, both Israelis and
Palestinians, are killed or injured between 1987 and 1993.
1988: Women comprise about 25 percent of Iraq's
Iraqi women hold professional positions (e.g., doctors,
lawyers), as well as positions in education and social welfare offices. They
are allowed to vote and serve as elected officials in the National Assembly.
March 16, 1988:
chemical weapons against the Kurds.
The Kurdish areas of northern Iraq
have long been in conflict with the Baghdad
regime. In the Kurdish town of Halabjah,
chemical weapons, killing between 50,000 and 100,000 people.
July 1988: King Hussein of Jordan
severs political links with the PLO and orders its main offices closed.
Although King Hussein recognized the Palestine Liberation
Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in
1974, he severs political links with the PLO and orders its main offices
closed. His actions stem from his frustration over the PLO's issuing of a
14-point statement calling for an end to Israeli occupation and an independent
Palestinian state, and Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept UN resolutions as a
basis for peace talks.
July 3, 1988:
A U.S. Navy ship shoots down an Iranian passenger plane carrying 290 people.
The USS Vincennes opens fire on a civilian airbus as
it crosses the Gulf on a scheduled flight. The Navy claims that the aircraft
was mistaken for a fighter jet. The Iranians regard the shooting down of the
plane as a "terrorist" act and seek retribution through the World
Court. The U.S.
pays $131.8 million in compensation in 1996.
August 8, 1988:
UN secretary-general Javier Perez de Cuellar announces a cease-fire between Iran
ending the Iran-Iraq War.
The cease-fire ends eight years of war between Iran
and Iraq. The
Iraqis now turn their attention to the Kurdish population, many of whom had supported
of Kurds flee Iraq
for refuge in Turkey.
August 29, 1988:
The first Afghan travels in space.
A talented pilot in the Afghan air force, Abdul Ahad
Mohmand, is chosen to train as a Russian cosmonaut and travel to the Mir space
station as part of International Group 6. Mohmand remains in space for nine
November 15, 1988:
A Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers
proclaims the State of Palestine.
Citing UN Partition Plan 181 from 1947 to support its claim,
the PLO's legislative body, the Palestine National Council (PNC), declares a
Palestinian state that includes land under Israeli occupation since 1967
(namely the Gaza Strip and West Bank). A flag and a national anthem for the new
state are also adopted.
December 2, 1988:
Benazir Bhutto becomes prime minister of Pakistan.
Benazir Bhutto, daughter of the country's ex-premier, is
sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan.
She is the first woman to head the government of an Islamic state.
December 10, 1988:
Mahfouz is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Best known for his Cairo
trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street, written
between 1956-57), author Naguib Mahfouz has written more than 30 novels that
combine the Western narrative style with traditional Arabic storytelling. Over
his long career, he has written in both realistic and fantastic styles.
December 14, 1988:
The PLO recognizes the State of Israel and calls for negotiations.
The United States
had long refused to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization until it
accepted certain conditions: The PLO, headed by Yasser Arafat, must recognize Israel's
right to exist and renounce the use of terrorism. By the late 1980s, talk of
peace negotiations is in the air. To participate, though, Arafat and the PLO
acknowledge that they must satisfy the U.S.'s
preconditions, and in December, Arafat promises PLO recognition of Israel
and renouncement of terrorism. A U.S.-PLO dialogue begins shortly thereafter;
these talks ultimately lead to the 1991 Madrid Conference.
December 21, 1988:
Terrorists believed to be sponsored by Libya
blow up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
All 270 people onboard Pan Am flight 103 are killed in a
bombing believed to be in retaliation for U.S.
bombing raids on Tripoli in 1986.
The 1986 raids led to the destruction of Libyan president Qaddafi's house and
the death of his young daughter. Qaddafi is widely suspected of using Libya's
oil funds to support terrorism abroad, including groups as disparate as the
Black Panthers in the United States
and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern
1989: Osama bin Laden founds the al-Qaeda network.
In 1989 Osama bin Laden forms al-Qaeda. Meaning "the
base," al-Qaeda grows out of the network of Arab volunteers who had gone
in the 1980s to fight the Soviets under the banner of Islam. Its creation
coincides with the Soviets' withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The charismatic bin Laden uses the contacts he had made there to organize this
international group of motivated Islamic radicals. Since 1996, al-Qaeda has
been headquartered in Afghanistan,
where bin Laden was able to forge a close relationship with the ruling Taliban.
Al-Qaeda, however, is thought to operate in 40 to 50 countries, not only in the
Middle East and Asia but also in North
America and Europe. A loosely knit group,
it operates across continents as a chain of interlocking networks comprising
different groups, or "cells." While bin Laden is the founder and
leader of al-Qaeda, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri is regarded as the mastermind of
many of its most infamous operations, including the attacks on two U.S.
embassies in Africa in 1998 and the September 11 attacks
against New York and Washington.
issues its first tourist visas and begins to build its tourism industry.
In the mid-1980s, a number of museums open, including the EthnographicalMuseum and the QatarNationalMuseum
in Doha. Qatar Airways is
established in 1994, carrying passengers to and from points in the Middle
East, Asia, and Europe.
Though still not a popular destination for tourists, Qatar
hosts a number of conferences, summits, and athletic competitions each year.
February 14, 1989:
Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran calls on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The
Many Muslims believe that The Satanic Verses, a novel
about a young Indian's life in Britain
and the roots of his Muslim faith, irreverently fictionalizes the early Islamic
community and Muslim life. Khomeini issues a fatwa, or religious opinion, on
the matter. A $2.5 million price is also put on Rushdie's head. Rushdie spends
nine years in hiding until Iran's
government announces it no longer supports attempts to kill him.
May 1989: Oman's
Muscat Stock Exchange opens.
This popular stock exchange attracts investors from the Gulf
and from the West.
June 4, 1989:
Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran dies and is succeeded by Ali Khameini.
Some two million Iranians attend the Ayatollah Khomeini's
funeral in Tehran in 1989.
Thousands of mourners are injured in the chaos. After Khomeini's death, Ali
Khameini becomes ayatollah, Iran's
chief religious leader (also known as the Supreme Leader).
June 30, 1989:
A military coup backed by the National Islamic Front brings Lt. Gen. Omar
Hassan al-Bashir to power in the Sudan.
Stricter interpretations of Islamic law are imposed under
Lt. Gen. al-Bashir's regime.
1990s: Female literacy in Yemen
reaches 26 percent.
Whereas only 3 percent of Yemeni women are literate in 1975,
by the early '90s the country's female literacy rate hits 26 percent. Yemeni
women share the same right to education as men.
May 22, 1990: Northern and
unite in a democratic republic.
North and south reunite after nearly a decade of trying. The
formation of the Republic of Yemen
ends centuries of tribal and religious squabbles and signals the end of
absolute rule. A democratic system of government based on popular elections,
freedom of speech, and an independent judiciary is installed.
August 2, 1990: Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invades
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is triggered in part because of Iraq's inability to repay more than $20 billion in loans to Kuwait, but also because of other issues related to historical border
disputes. By a vote of 14-0, the UN Security Council condemns the invasion and
demands unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. On August 6, the UN imposes sanctions on Iraq, ending all trade with the aggressor nation. A U.S.-led coalition
forms to forcibly remove Iraq from Kuwait. The Persian Gulf War will cost $8.1 billion and 383 U.S. lives before it ends in March 1991.
August 1990: King Fahd invites U.S.-led troops to use Saudi
Arabia as a base of operations against Iraq.
After Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait,
King Fahd fears his kingdom will be Saddam's next target, and does not hesitate
to host U.S.
troops on Saudi soil.
September 1990: Saudi Arabia
sends 600,000 Yemeni workers home over Persian Gulf
Many Yemenis had long sought work in Saudi
Arabia, as Yemen
produces few goods for export and depends on jobs outside the country for good
wages. When the Yemeni government calls for an "Arab solution" to the
conflict in the Gulf and insists on Western troop withdrawal from the region, Saudi
Arabia orders Yemeni workers home. The
Yemeni workforce and the country's economy suffer greatly as a result.
September 21, 1990:
The Taif Accord balances power in Lebanon's
executive branch between Christians and Muslims, ending the 25-year civil war.
The Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation, or the Taif
Accord, is signed into law. It establishes a more representative executive
branch based on recent estimates of the population. A half-Christian,
half-Muslim Cabinet assumes many of the powers of the president, and the Muslim
prime minister is given powers more equitable to those of the Christian
1991: As emigration restrictions are loosened in Russia
and former Eastern bloc countries, about a million Jews arrive in Israel.
Over the past decade, many Eastern European countries have
begun to mitigate their foreign policies on Israel,
opening diplomatic relations and lifting emigration bans. The migration of Jews
from Russia and
former Soviet states gives Israel
the largest Russian-speaking population outside the former Soviet
January 15, 1991-March 3, 1991: A U.S.-led military
coalition, with support from key Muslim states, fights to remove Iraqi forces
Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Japan, and much of Europe and the Middle East condemn the attack and resolve to drive the invaders out. Of note, Turkey, the sole Muslim member of NATO, allows the U.S. to use its territory as a staging point for strikes on Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. Saudi Arabia does likewise. Some 100,000 Iraqis are killed in the war, with
relatively few reported coalition casualties. Though his army is forced to
surrender, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein does not relinquish power.
February 28, 1991: Kuwait
is liberated from Iraq
by coalition forces led by the U.S.
Coalition ground operations begin and last only three days
before occupying Iraqi troops are expelled from Kuwait.
March 2, 1991: The Iraqi
army kills 50,000 Kurds and Shii Muslims.
The Iraqi army suppresses an uprising of Kurds in the north
and Shii Muslims in southern Iraq.
More than a million Kurds flee to Turkey
April 1991: Facing foreign pressures, Egypt
launches an economic reform program.
In return for foreign lenders agreeing to wipe out $10
billion in debt, Egypt
promises to adopt a sales tax, cut fuel subsidies, and slash tariffs on foreign
goods. For the first time since Egypt
nationalized major industries in the 1960s, the government also lets foreigners
buy Egyptian property, control Egyptian banks, and even own and operate
Egyptian power stations and highways.
April 6, 1991: Iraq
accepts UN terms of a cease-fire in the Persian Gulf War.
Under the terms of the agreement, Iraq
agrees to pay war damages to Kuwait
and to destroy its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles and production
facilities. The United Nations is charged with enforcing the agreement. U.S.
forces withdraw from southern Iraq
on April 14.
comes under severe economic and diplomatic strain as a result of the Persian
Gulf crisis following Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait.
Insisting on an Arab solution to the Persian Gulf crisis
(which began in August 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait), King Hussein of
Jordan and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat spearhead peace initiatives, but
are regarded as appeasers of Iraq's Saddam Hussein by the West and the US's
Gulf Arab allies. Both King Hussein and Yasser Arafat suffer global diplomatic
isolation while, more locally, Gulf states
cut off their financial aid. As aid from Gulf Arab states and other income
sources contract, refugees flood Jordan,
stunting its GDP growth and straining government resources. Because Jordan is a
small country with inadequate supplies of water and other natural resources
such as oil, the loss of aid from neighboring Arab states aggravates its
already serious economic problems, forcing the government to stop most debt
payments and suspend rescheduling negotiations.
1991: Smoke from burning oil wells in Iraq
causes severe health and environmental problems throughout the Middle
The entire Middle East region, even
those countries not directly involved in the fighting, suffers a toll from the
Gulf War. Weather patterns are disrupted, black rain (from oil residues and
acids) destroys crops, and the number of respiratory ailments soars.
1991: The UN deems Iraq
a pre-industrial state as a result of its recent wars.
The war with Iran
from 1980-88 and the recent Gulf War, together with the subsequent imposition
of international sanctions, has a devastating effect on Iraq's
economy and society. UN reports describe living standards as being at subsistence
level. Some 47,000 children under 5 years of age are believed to have died from
war-related causes following the Gulf War alone.
lifts its decade-long ban on the use of the Kurdish language in publications.
Although the Kurdish-language ban -- in effect since Turkey's
military rule in 1980 -- is lifted for use in publications, the ban on its use
in the political arena remains in place.
May 1991: Yemen
ratifies its constitution.
The constitution of the Republic
of Yemen is ratified, providing for
a president, vice president, House of Representatives, and Council of
May 24-25, 1991: Operation
Solomon, a dramatic airlift, brings 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to live in Israel.
Airlifts to Israel of Ethiopian Jews suffering from famine
and oppression had begun in the 1980s, prior to Operation Solomon. The
integration of Ethiopians into Israeli society has not been smooth for reasons
both of culture and race.
Summer 1991: Scandal rocks Abu Dhabi's
Bank of Credit and Commerce International in the UAE.
Riddled by fraud, Abu Dhabi's
Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) fails, creating huge liability
claims from international investors with accounts there. Twelve bank officials
are sent to jail and fined $9 billion in damages.
October 30-November 1, 1991:
Israeli, Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese, and Palestinian delegations attend the
Madrid Peace Conference.
The Madrid Peace Conference is jointly sponsored by the United
States and Russia.
Two negotiating tracks are established: Separate bilateral talks involving Israel,
the Palestinians, Jordan,
Syria, and Lebanon
are intended to resolve past conflicts and sign peace treaties; and
multilateral negotiations are aimed at building the Middle East
of the future.
December 1991: The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) wins the first round of
general elections in Algeria.
In the first round of general elections in Algeria
in 1991, the FIS wins 188 seats outright and seems sure to obtain an absolute
majority in the second round. The National People's Assembly is dissolved by
presidential decree, and a military council takes power. After violent
demonstrations, the FIS is disbanded. In June, President Mohammed Boudiaf is
assassinated by a bodyguard with Islamist links. Increasing violence is linked
to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The FIS election victory and response by the
Algerian state opens a debate in the Middle East and the
West on whether Islamists should be allowed to come to power democratically and
what the consequences would be. Islamists feel frustrated with the democratic
process, and many turn to more radical methods.
1992: Heavy soil erosion prompts two Turkish businessmen to raise public
awareness of environmental issues.
Businessmen Hayrettin Karaca and Nihat Gokyigit establish
the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the
Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) in 1992. Because 45 percent of Turkey's
work force is involved in agriculture and nearly 80 percent of total land area
is threatened by soil erosion in particular, this is considered a major concern
January 1, 1992: Boutros
Boutros-Ghali of Egypt
becomes secretary general of the United Nations.
A native of Cairo,
Boutros Boutros-Ghali increases the number of UN peacekeeping missions
worldwide during his five-year term, sending troops into hotspots like Bosnia,
Rwanda, and Somalia.
dissatisfied with his performance, prevents his reelection in 1996.
May 9, 1992: Iraqi Kurds
elect a regional parliament and establish their own government.
The citizens of the Kurdish-controlled area of Iraqi
Kurdistan elect a National Assembly and leader of the Kurdistan Liberation
Movement. The stated purpose of the election is to fill the legal and
administrative vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Iraqi government and to
facilitate a negotiated settlement for self-government within Iraq
by organizing a democratically elected body to represent Kurdish interests.
November 1992: A UN human rights envoy reports widespread
repression of Kurds in Iraq.
Max van der Stoel, special rapporteur of the UN Commission
on Human Rights, says that internal blockades of food and emergency supplies to
Kurdish populations in northern Iraq
threaten a disaster "on the scale of Bosnia
Characterizing the human rights situation in Iraq
as "absurd," he points out that "here we have one of the most
oil-rich states of the world, and still tens of thousands of Kurds are in
danger of freezing to death."
1993: The Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf wins the French prize for literature,
the Prix de Goncourt.
Like many other Lebanese novelists and writers, Maalouf is
profoundly concerned with the meeting of and conflict between East and West.
February 26, 1993: A van bomb explodes in the garage of the WorldTradeCenter in New York City.
At approximately , a bomb in a van, planted by terrorists allegedly backed by Osama bin
Laden, explodes in the underground garage of the WorldTraceCenter, NorthTower. Six people are killed, and more than 1,000 injured. Millions of
dollars' worth of damage is sustained. Six Islamic extremist conspirators are
convicted of the crime in 1997 and '98, receiving prison sentences of 240 years
March 1993: President Clinton establishes the cooperative
U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission.
The U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission aims to
encourage and oversee cooperative scientific, agricultural, and environmental
research and projects. The 1990s sees a number of cooperative efforts between
the U.S. and Israel,
in areas including food industry regulation, cosmetics production standards,
intellectual property rights, and information technology.
May 12, 1993-present: The
National Museum in Afghanistan
falls to ruins.
Afghanistan's first national museum housed an impressive
record of Central Asian history dating back as far as the sixth century B.C.E.
Twice slammed by rockets and recklessly looted, many of the finer artifacts are
being sold on the international art market. Attempts have been made to secure
the remaining collection, but many pieces were too large to move, and
deteriorated in the ruins. More than 70 percent of its collection has been
destroyed or stolen. With the fall of the Taliban, efforts are under way to
protect and conserve what remains.
June 1993: Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is elected
president of Iran.
Iran's president, prime
minister, and Cabinet ministers do not have independent decision-making power.
They answer to the spiritual leader and to a group of religious scholars
appointed by the spiritual leader. A legislature, appointed by the people every
four years, makes laws in keeping with Islam. A council made up of six lawyers
and six clergy oversee this legislature.
June 1993: Tansu Ciller becomes Turkey's
first female prime minister.
Ciller, a Western-educated economist, professor, and leader
of the True Path Party, serves three years before leaving her position as prime
minister in 1996.
June 26, 1993: The U.S.
bombs Baghdad, Iraq.
bombs Iraqi intelligence headquarters after a report that the Iraqis have
planned to assassinate former president George Bush on his trip to Kuwait
in April 1993.
August 20, 1993: Israel
and the PLO sign the Declaration of Principles (Oslo Accords).
The agreement reached in Oslo
outlines an Israeli redeployment from parts of the occupied West
Bank and Gaza Strip and the establishment of a provisional
Palestinian self-rule government. The two sides agree to recognize one another
publicly. The U.S.
hosts a ceremony at which the Declaration of Principles, also called the Oslo
Accords, is signed on September 13.
1994: Omani women are encouraged to have fewer children.
Omani women, who traditionally gained status by having a
large number of children, have one of the highest birthrates in the world -- on
average, Omani women will bear 7.7 children. To help women and the children to
whom they give birth become healthier, Oman
provides Birth Spacing Services.
1994: Saudi production of desalinated water reaches cities in the center of the
Because of its lack of fresh water resources, Saudi
Arabia develops a process to remove salt
from sea water (desalination) to serve the water needs of its people. Saudi
Arabia currently produces more desalinated
water than any other country in the world. This water is used both for drinking
water and agricultural irrigation. In 1994, the production capacity for
desalinated water had reached 714,218,000 gallons per day -- enough water to
cover the needs of the cities on the eastern and western coasts as well as some
cities inland. By 2000, the capital city of Riyadh
would receive desalinated water from the Gulf, 500 kilometers away.
1994: The Lebanese economy rebounds four years after the end of the civil war.
Inflation drops from 75 percent to 18 percent as the economy
rebounds after the end of the civil war. Beirut's
absence from the international banking scene has led to the ascendance of Amman
and Tel Aviv as Middle East banking centers, but the
Lebanese government instates financial and commercial measures that will return
Beirut to prominence in banking and
tourism in the 1990s.
1994: A Marriage Fund is established to increase the percentage of UAE
nationals in the country.
Concerned with the percentage of male emirati, or UAE
nationals, marrying foreign women, UAE president Sheikh Zayed announces this
program in which UAE men and UAE women can receive long-term loans of up to
$19,000 to assist with wedding expenses and the purchase of a house. The loan
is interest-free and reduces by 20 percent with the birth of each child.
April 1994: Civil war breaks out in Yemen.
Supporters of the president, a northerner, and those of the
vice president, a southerner, clash. The president's troops win out, and he
retains control over the republic.
April 9, 1994: Osama bin
Laden is stripped of his Saudi citizenship.
Osama bin Laden is of Saudi Arabian origin, but his citizenship
is revoked in reaction to his attempts to overthrow the regime of Saudi
Arabia. Being in contact with bin Laden
after 1994 is considered by the Saudi government a hostile gesture, even an act
May 4, 1994: Israel
and the PLO agree on the initial implementation of the Oslo Accords in the
Gaza-Jericho Agreement (Cairo Accords).
As a result of the Oslo
peace process, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement -- also known as the Cairo Accords --
includes an Israeli military withdrawal from about 60 percent of the Gaza Strip
(Jewish settlements and their environs excluded) and the West Bank
town of Jericho. The agreement
envisages further withdrawals from yet-to-be-agreed-on areas of the OccupiedTerritories. A five-year period
begins in which a permanent resolution is to be negotiated on Jerusalem,
settlements, Palestinian refugees, and sovereignty.
July 1, 1994: Arafat returns
to Gaza to take up his new position
as head of the new Palestinian Authority.
Following the signing of the Declaration of Principles and
the Cairo Agreement, Yasser Arafat enters Gaza
after 27 years living outside of Israel.
He had spent the past 12 years running the PLO from Tunis.
September 17, 1994:
Lebanese national icon Fairuz holds a concert in Beirut
to celebrate the end of the civil war.
Since the 1950s, Fairuz has drawn her songs from traditional
Arabic music, operettas, and jazz. She achieved iconic status when she refused
to leave Beirut during the civil
war. Her Beirut concert in 1994,
and her return to the Baalbeck Festival in 1998, symbolize a new beginning for
postwar Lebanese culture.
October 26, 1994: Jordan
signs a peace treaty with Israel,
ending a 46-year official state of war.
Only the second such agreement between Israel
and one of its Arab neighbors, the peace treaty between Jordan
establishes a solid framework for cooperation in the political, economic, and
cultural fields. The treaty is the formalization of secret arrangements between
the two countries that had been in place for many years. Because Jordan
is dependent on Iraq
for oil, has a large Palestinian Arab population hostile to Israel,
and faces constant pressure from Syria,
Hussein had in the past been reluctant to reveal his more moderate policies
The elements that had prevented open and peaceful relations between the former
enemies, however, were finally offset by the Gulf War and by the Oslo
peace process, which made it politically acceptable for an Arab entity to be in
peace negotiations with Israel.
November 1994: The Atat¸rk Dam opens in Turkey.
The Atat¸rk Dam is one of 22 planned dams and 19 planned
hydroelectric plants on the Euphrates and TigrisRivers. The overall project costs
exceed $34 billion and result in the displacement of largely Kurdish
1995: Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos emphasizes economic reform in his country.
has less oil than other Gulf states,
and its reserves are running low. Additionally, its deficit is climbing. Sultan
Qaboos is trying to diversify Oman's
economy in part by reducing its dependence on oil and encouraging its private
sector to be more competitive and efficient.
1995: The U.S.
imposes oil and trade sanctions against Iran.
imposes oil and trade sanctions on Iran
for allegedly sponsoring terrorism, seeking to acquire nuclear arms, and
promoting hostility to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Iran
denies the charges.
1995: The United Arab Emirates
joins the World Trade Organization.
Membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) gives the
UAE a voice in future commercial policymaking decisions that could help boost
March 1995: Thirty-five thousand Turkish troops are sent to fight Kurdish
rebels in Iraq.
A civil war between Kurds and Turks has been going on for
years. As a result, many Kurds have fled Turkey
for Iraq, where
Kurdish guerrillas continue to enter Turkey.
The Turks' invasion, called Operation Steel, backfires, as only 158 Kurdish
rebels are killed in the first week.
June 1995: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar
deposes his father in a bloodless coup.
Sheikh Hamad deposes his father with the support of the
Qatari armed forces after accusing him of stealing from oil and gas revenues.
Born in Doha in 1950 and educated
in Qatar and
abroad, Sheikh Hamad's policies modernize Qatar
through the expansion of business and foreign relations, the use of natural
resources, and the loosening of restrictions on the press and media.
June 22, 1995: Oman
and the U.S.
each pledge $3 million to build a Middle EastDesalinationResearchCenter in Oman.
The shortage of fresh water is a growing problem for Oman
and other Gulf states. Many
states get fresh water by desalination, the process of purifying salt water. Oman,
which has built dams to collect rainwater that runs down mountains, continues
to look for other ways to collect more fresh water.
September 28, 1995: PLO
chairman Arafat and Israel's
prime minister Rabin sign the Taba Agreement.
In Washington, D.C.,
Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin sign the Taba Agreement, known as Oslo II, to
expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza
and to allow Palestinian elections. In those elections, held on January 20, 1996, Arafat wins roughly
85 percent of the votes in his bid to head the Palestinian National Authority.
October 1995: Qatar
is the first Gulf nation to open economic relations with Israel.
becomes the first Gulf nation to have economic relations with Israel,
supplying Tel Aviv with natural gas.
November 4, 1995:
Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated.
Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by Yigal Amir,
an Orthodox Jewish student opposed to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West
Bank. Shimon Peres succeeds Rabin as the new prime minister.
November 1995-March 1996: Israel
and Syria make
considerable progress in peace talks at the Wye Plantation in Maryland.
Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres decides to push for a
far-reaching peace deal with Syria,
in contrast to the earlier, more cautious negotiations conducted by his predecessor,
the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Supreme Court rules that qualified women cannot be excluded from air force
Supreme Court makes this ruling after hearing a case brought by Alice Miller
against the Israeli air force. Although the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had
allowed women officers to train male soldiers, women themselves had been
excluded from combat prior to the ruling. By some estimations, 60 percent of
the women serving in the armed forces never get beyond desk work.
March 7, 1996:
Syrian playwright Sadallah Wannous delivers the keynote speech celebrating the
International Day of Theater.
Wannous's career as a playwright began in the early 1960s
with several one-act plays which were characterized by his fundamental theme:
the relationship between the individual and society and its authorities.
March 27, 1996:
The world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, is first run in the United
Horse racing is an ancient Arabian sport. The Dubai World
Cup is considered to be in the same class as other world-renowned horse races,
such as the English Derby and Oaks Classics. Dubai
also hosts professional golf events -- golf is the fastest growing sport in the
UAE -- as well as prestigious motorcar rallies.
April-September 1996: The U.S. Congress passes the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
These laws allow secret evidence to be used against
immigrants and foreign visitors for purposes of deportation. The law has been
implemented almost exclusively against Arabs and Arab Americans.
May 1996: Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden is welcomed by the ruling
Taliban in Afghanistan.
Hailed as a hero for his involvement against the Soviets in
the 1980s, the Islamic militia in power offers Osama bin Laden support and
safety within Afghan borders. From 1991 to 1996, prior to accepting the
Taliban's invitation, bin Laden had been in Sudan,
from which he was expelled in 1996 under pressure from the U.S.
and Saudi Arabia.
May 3, 1996: Emile Habibi,
noted Palestinian-Israeli author and proponent of coexistence, dies.
Emile Habibi dies in Haifa,
where he was born. A founder of the Israeli Communist Party, Habibi served in
the Knesset from 1953 to 1972. His 1974 novel Said the Pessoptimist was
widely acclaimed. Accepting literary prizes from both the PLO and Israel
was controversial but reflected his belief in coexistence, also evident in the
documentary Emile Habibi -- I Stayed in Haifa.
July 1996: Necmettin Erbakan's coalition government signals Turkey's
first turn toward Islamic politics since Atat¸rk's era.
Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan,
leader of Turkey's Welfare Party (Refah), is forced to step down in 1997, and
the party itself outlawed, after being judged a threat to Turkey's secular
constitution. In 2002 he is sentenced to more than two years in prison for
embezzling party political funds.
1996-2002: The Taliban severely restricts women's role in
Under the rule of the Taliban in
Afghanistan, women are banished from the workforce, forbidden an education, and
prohibited to leave their homes unless a close male relative escorts them. In
public, they must wear special dress (burqa) that completely covers the body
and leaves only a small mesh-covered opening through which they can see.
Windows of women's houses visible to the public must be painted black.
Religious minorities and secular individuals also suffer intolerance under the
November 1996: The ruler of Oman,
Sultan Qaboos, outlines a bill of rights based on Islamic law.
constitution, called the Basic Law, ensures press freedoms, tolerance for all
religious faiths, and equality for everyone, regardless of race, creed, or sex.
It also calls for a court system that would interpret the law. Oman
and Qatar are
the only Gulf states in which
women can vote.
November 1996: Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television
The Al-Jazeera network broadcasts Arab-related news and
current-affairs programming. It is the first Arab TV news outlet that is not
state-censored. Known as "Arab CNN" to some, Al-Jazeera becomes well
known in the West when it airs a videotape of Osama bin Laden responding to U.S.
air strikes against Afghanistan
and celebrating the September 11 attacks.
November 1996: The Pharos lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
World, is rediscovered in Egypt.
Archaeologists find the ruins of the Pharos lighthouse,
which was toppled in the 1300s after a series of earthquakes, submerged off Alexandria,
Egypt. Dating to about
285 B.C.E., the lighthouse stood on the island
of Pharos. It was the tallest
building on Earth at the time, and its light, reflected off a mirror, was visible
from more than 35 miles away.
December 12, 1996:
A coup attempt against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein fails.
Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday, is seriously wounded in an
assassination attempt against the president in Baghdad's
May 1997: Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of
Cherry wins the Palme d'Or in Cannes.
The Palme d'Or is the grand prize at the Cannes Film
Festival. When Taste of Cherry is named best film, Kiarostami becomes
the first Iranian director ever to receive the prestigious award.
May 26, 1997: Iranian
voters elect Mohammed Khatami president.
Mohammed Khatami campaigns for president for just two weeks
on a platform emphasizing return to the rule of law and restoration of civil
society. Almost immediately, police stop hassling women for improper dress, and
bolder women start wearing their head scarves further back on the head, showing
more of their hair. Newspapers report freely about the government.
June 29, 1997: Uday Hussein
jails and tortures the Iraqi national soccer team after losses in World Cup
After the Iraqi national soccer team suffers its second loss
in World Cup qualifying matches, Uday Hussein, eldest son of President Saddam
Hussein and head of the Iraqi soccer federation, reportedly has the team jailed
July 27, 1997:
Iraqi poet Mohammed Mahdi al-Jawahri dies in Syria.
Al-Jawahri, along with Maruf al-Rusafi and Jamil Sidqi
al-Zahawi, were among the Arab world's most prominent poets during the 1920s
and 1930s. Al-Jawahri became closely affiliated with the Communists in the
1940s, expressing strong anti-colonialist sentiment in his poetry.
September 1997: Turkey
reinforces its ban on wearing head scarves in government offices and
In the year following the implementation of the ban, 2,000
women are expelled from universities for choosing to wear head scarves.
November 1997: Turkey's
culture ministry bans a film about homosexuals from consideration in the
Hamam, or Turkish Bath, a fictional film about
two men who fall in love in a Turkish bath, is selected by an independent film
board as Turkey's
nomination for the Academy Awards. The selection is overruled by the culture
ministry, however, and another film, Eskiya, or Bandit, is put
1998: Conservatives in Iran
react with hostility to some of the changes occurring under President Mohammed
Five political dissidents and noted intellectuals are
killed. President Khatami orders an investigation of the murders. That the
investigation takes place at all proves to be one of Khatami's biggest
successes. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security determines that its own
members committed the murders.
1998: Al-Halaqa is established to promote the visual arts in Yemen.
A non-governmental organization, al-Halaqa seeks to bring
the republic's contemporary art movement to international attention.
1998-1999: A drought reduces water levels in Israel's
to dangerously low levels.
contains most of Israel's
water supply. As a desert region, Israel
and the rest of the Middle East engage in ongoing
negotiations about water supplies, water partnerships, and water technologies.
1998-2002: Years of severe drought create a food crisis in Afghanistan.
Crop and livestock losses threaten more than three million
Afghans with starvation. A way of life is also in jeopardy: Eighty-five percent
of the population of Afghanistan
depends directly on agriculture for employment, but most households will soon
be left without breeding stock or work animals. The current food shortage is
compounded by two decades of civil instability.
January 15, 1998: Turkey's
parliament allows husbands to be indicted for domestic abuse.
parliament passes legislation that states that husbands can be indicted for
domestic abuse even if their wives refuse to press charges. Later in the year,
a constitutional court rules that adultery is no longer a crime for women.
Though adultery has long been legal for men, women previously faced up to three
years in prison if found guilty.
February 4-May 30,
1998: Two of the poorest and most isolated provinces in Afghanistan
are rocked by two earthquakes just three months apart.
Two major quakes measuring 6.1 and 6.9 on the Richter scale
originate from nearly the same site in the northeast provinces of Takhar and
Badakshan. Landslides level homes and villages, trapping many under rubble and
leaving thousands of terrified survivors clinging to exposed mountainsides. An
estimated 10,000 people are killed and 45,000 left homeless.
April 1, 1998: An
Israeli-Palestinian co-production of Sesame Street airs in Israel
and the Palestinian territories.
The Israeli-Palestinian version of Sesame
Street features an Israeli and a Palestinian
muppet who together teach tolerance (in addition to letters and counting).
Segments produced since the September 2000 outbreak of violence in the
Palestinian territories and Israel
are called Sesame Stories, which tell stories from each culture
separately in an attempt to humanize each side in the conflict.
April 30, 1998:
Syrian writer Nizar Qabbani dies.
One of the most prominent figures in the Arab literary
world, the Syrian writer Nizar Qabbani, dies at his home in London;
he is 75. He became popular in the 1950s and later became known throughout the
Arab world for his love poetry. Qabbani adopted a more political role when he
wrote a volume of poetry lamenting what he saw as the bitter defeat of the Arab
states in 1967, in the Six-Day War with Israel.
May 7, 1998:
the first Gulf nation to allow women to compete in an athletic tournament.
The Qatar Amateur Athletic Federation (QAAF) hosts the Qatar
International Athletic Grand Prix II at Khalifa Stadium. At the games, Qatar
becomes the first Gulf country to allow women to compete in an athletic
tournament. In the 1990s, Qatar
had become a more frequent stopping point for international athletics, twice as
the host of some qualifying rounds for the 1994 and 1998 soccer World Cup.
1998: Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi agrees to hand over for trial the two
Libyan men accused of the 1988 Pan Am/Lockerbie airplane bombing.
In handing over the suspects accused of the 1988 Pan Am
bombing, Qaddafi submits to pressure from the United Nations, Nelson Mandela,
and the Arab League.
August 6, 1998: Hanan
Ashrawi, a female political activist for the Palestinian people, resigns her
government post in protest against political corruption.
After holding several official posts, including head of the
political committee of the Palestinian Authority, Hanan Ashrawi leaves the
government to protest the political corruption she observed in Yasser Arafat's
handling of peace talks. A Christian educated at the AmericanUniversity in Beirut
and the University of Virginia,
she first enters the political scene in 1988, advancing an image of
Palestinians as victims of oppression and becoming one of the first Palestinian
figures to transcend the media's popular "terrorist" stereotype. An
activist as well as an academic, in 1999 Ashrawi founds MIFTAH, a group
dedicated to promoting the Palestinian cause and ending Israeli occupation by
focusing on humanitarian rather than ideological or historical arguments. She
continues to serve as the organization's secretary general and as a Palestinian
August 7, 1998: U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar
es Salaam, Tanzania, are bombed simultaneously.
Four men are tried on charges
related to the simultaneous bombings in Africa, which killed 224 people and
wounded thousands. Charges include conspiring in the bombing and other acts of
terrorism as part of Osama bin Laden's international organization, al-Qaeda.
All four are convicted in May 2001 and sentenced to life in prison without
parole on October 18, 2001.
September 1998: Iranians stand to honor the U.S.
national anthem when it is played at the wrestling world championships in Iran.
wrestler wins first place in the World Championships held in Iran.
When the U.S.
national anthem is played, Iranians present at the event stand in respect for
the first time in nearly 20 years.
October 1998: The U.S. government launches Radio Free Iraq and RFE/RL Iran.
In 1998 two new U.S.-funded radio services begin
transmitting in Iran
and Iraq. Also
available via the Internet, the shortwave broadcasts, in Persian and Arabic
respectively, are produced by Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the U.S.
government-funded surrogate broadcaster based in Prague.
Both Iran and Iraq
criticize the radio broadcasts as interference in their internal affairs.
October 23, 1998: Israeli
prime minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Arafat sign the Wye
River Memorandum, outlining further Israeli withdrawal from the West
After a peace summit held by U.S. president Bill Clinton,
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman
Yasser Arafat sign an agreement calling for, among other things, the Israeli
military to pull back from portions of the West Bank and the Palestinian
Authority to combat terrorist organizations more effectively.
1999-2001: In Iran, pro-reform newspapers critical of the conservatives in
government are shut down for press-law violations.
In addition to newspapers being shut down, several writers
and publishers are jailed as a result of the violations. In the late 1990s,
though liberals under President Khatami control the executive branch of
government, religious conservatives control the legislative and judicial
1999: The Iranian film Children of Heaven is nominated for an Academy
Award for best foreign film.
Directed by Majid Majidi, this genial crowd-pleaser, about a
poor brother and sister temporarily obliged to share the same pair of shoes,
walked away with almost every award offered at the 1997 Montreal World Film
Festival, including the grand prize, the critics' prize, the people's prize,
and the ecumenical jury prize. It did not, however, take home the Oscar.
January 1999: The Israeli Defense Forces sends a woman to serve in a combat
unit for the first time.
Lt. Dr. Elina Weismann becomes the first woman officer in
the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to serve in a combat unit, as a battalion
physician in southern Lebanon.
At the same time, the IDF announces other changes in women's service, from
requirements for apparel to participation in elite jumpmasters training. The
IDF also announces plans to conduct coeducational basic training for soldiers
in identical positions.
January 4, 1999: Israel's
Knesset votes to move elections forward after the Netanyahu coalition collapses.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had lost support
from both hard-line conservatives in his government and opposition Labor Party
members. Hard-liners were angry with Netanyahu for agreeing to turn over
additional land to Palestinians in the October 1998 WyeRiver accords. Opposition members
turned against Netanyahu when he suspended those same accords a few weeks
later, citing security concerns. Increasing violence also may have also been a
factor in the Knesset's decision. Palestinian militants are suspected of
opening fire on a van of Jewish settlers in the West Bank
city of Hebron earlier in the week,
wounding two Israeli women. The Israeli army responds by imposing a curfew on
Palestinians in the area who live under Israeli control. The violence, coupled
with an overall lack of confidence in the government's ability to secure true
peace, contribute to a growing lack of hope and a general change from optimism
February 7, 1999:
King Hussein of Jordan
During his 46-year reign, King Hussein worked hard to
normalize relationships between Israel
and the Arab states. His death leaves his country still struggling for economic
and social survival, as well as for regional peace. His son and successor, King
Abdullah, faces the task of maintaining the country's stability while
accommodating growing calls for political reform.
March 8, 1999: Qatar
becomes the first Gulf nation to allow women to vote in municipal elections.
is the first Gulf country to allow women to vote in municipal elections
following a ruling by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in 1998. Six of the 227
candidates for the central municipal council are women. More than 40 percent of
the voters are women, although none of the six women candidates wins.
April 1999: Egypt
has more than 200,000 Internet users and 52,000 online subscribers.
These figures represent an increase of nearly 50 percent
since December 1998. There are four Internet service providers in Egypt.
April 1999: Saudi Arabia
reportedly has 112,500 Internet users and 45,000 online subscribers.
These figures represent a rapid increase in subscribers of
140 percent since December 1998.
April 1999: Qatar's
personal-computer market grows steadily.
growth in the personal-computer market is ranked third behind that of China
Among a population of 650,000, there are 27,500 Internet users and 11,000
April 1999: Technosphere '99 is organized to discuss the
impact of science and technology on Arab women.
Participants in the three-day conference Technosphere '99
come from 20 Arab countries. They resolve to expand technological and
vocational education for women in the Arab world.
May 18, 1999:
Labor Party leader Ehud Barak wins Israel's
general elections and becomes prime minister.
Ehud Barak, widely regarded as more amenable to peace
negotiations with the Palestinians than the incumbent, Likud prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, pledges he will be a prime minister "for all
Israelis." He defeats Netanyahu in a divisive campaign.
1999: Ten men who removed a stone head from an ancient statue in Khorsabad,
Iraq, are executed.
Thievery is identified as a major threat to Iraq's
rich archaeological history. Since the Gulf War, numerous sites that hold clues
to some of the earliest and greatest civilizations in the world (Assyria,
and to the origins of writing and many religious traditions have been looted.
The men who were executed attempted to sell pieces of the statue's head to
wealthy Western collectors.
July 23, 1999:
King Hassan II of Morocco
Upon his death, King Hassan II is succeeded by his son, King
Mohammed VI. King Hassan ruled Morocco
for 38 years.
August 17, 1999: Nearly
18,000 die when two major earthquakes hit western Turkey.
The August earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale,
is centered near the city of Izmit,
in densely populated western Turkey.
In addition to the 18,000 deaths, another 27,000 people are injured. Damage
extends to 340,000 houses and businesses. The quake is believed to have pushed Anatolia
four feet closer to Europe. On November 12, another 760
are killed and 5,000 injured when a second large earthquake, measuring 7.2,
hits Duzce. The total damage for the two quakes is estimated at between $10
billion and $25 billion.
August 30, 1999: Abdullah
most famous poet, dies.
Blind since childhood, al-Baradouni advocated democracy and
women's rights through his poetry, which was translated into several foreign
languages. He also wrote books on politics, literature, and folklore.
Al-Baradouni was jailed several times for his criticism of both religious
extremists and military insurgents.
September 4, 1999:
The Israelis and Palestinians sign a revised deal aimed at reviving the Middle
East peace process.
At Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt,
Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat sign an
agreement restating the commitment of both sides to full implementation of all
agreements reached since the first Oslo Agreement of September 1993. They
pledge to resolve the outstanding issues of the interim status, in particular
those set out in the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, in order to accelerate
completion of the interim period toward initiation of negotiations on permanent
December 1999: A Lebanese court acquits Marcel Khalife, one of the Arab world's
most popular musicians, of insulting Islam.
Marcel Khalife is a Christian Lebanese composer, most famous
in the Arab world for the nationalist songs he composed during the 15-year
Lebanese civil war. Religious authorities accused Khalife of including Koranic
verses in a song -- based on a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish --
about the plight of the Palestinians. His trial is seen as a test case for
freedom of expression in a country perceived as one of the most liberal in the
Arab world. Similar trials in Egypt
convict numerous authors and publishers.
December 10, 1999: The
Egyptian American scientist Ahmed Zewail wins the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
Dr. Zewail won the prize for his studies of the transition
states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy.
December 31, 1999: Shayef
al-Khaledi, Yemeni folk poet and master of riposte, dies.
Expressing the views of the working majority in everyday
language, al-Khaledi reached a wide audience in Yemen
and abroad, though he gained little attention from intellectuals and the
official media. He is best remembered for his mastery of "riposte,"
quick wit demonstrated in written exchanges with other poets.
2000: One-sixth of the Israeli population is online.
Internet and telecommunications companies thrive in a nation
known for its vigorous cell-phone use.
2000: The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) estimates that about
one half of the Israeli population has completed military service.
Military service is compulsory at age 18 for most Israelis;
exceptions are made for the ultra-Orthodox. Men serve for three years and women
for two, with reserve service for men lasting until age 51 and for single women
until age 24.
January 2000: President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
signs a legal-reform package that provides women equal divorce rights.
The new law signed into law by Egyptian president Mubarak
essentially gives women the same divorce rights as men. Women no longer need to
show proof of physical abuse or adultery, for example, to end a marriage. Egypt
becomes only the second country in the Arab world, after Tunisia,
to grant women these rights.
January 25, 2000: In
Kuwait, two women writers are given prison sentences after one is convicted of
blasphemy and the other of using indecent language.
Laila al-Othman's use of the word "lustful" to
describe sea waves in her book The Departure is interpreted by
authorities as having a sexual connotation. She claims this was unintended. Alia
Shuaib, a professor at KuwaitUniversity,
is found guilty of "publishing opinions that ridicule religion" in a
book she published in 1993, Spiders Bemoan a Wound. Each receives a
suspended two-month sentence.
February 16, 2000: Haifa
al-Baker becomes the first woman lawyer in Qatar.
February 23, 2000:
Ofra Haza, Yemeni-Israeli singer, dies.
Ofra Haza's sound, a mix of traditional songs and dance
beats, made her an international star. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in
the World Beat category in 1992 and even performed at the 1994 Nobel Peace
Prize ceremony in Oslo at the
request of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak
deliver eulogies at Haza's funeral.
2000: The United Arab Emirates
a free-trade zone located in Dubai
for Internet businesses.
a hub for global media companies, opens in 2001, also in Dubai.
March 21, 2000:
over some of the West Bank territory to the
The West Bank land handed over in a
transfer from Israeli to Palestinian control amounts to 6.1 percent of the
This completes the transfer agreement made at WyeRiver in 1998.
May 2000: Israelis withdraw earlier than planned from the security zone in Lebanon
due to military pressure by Hezbollah.
Despite the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon,
Hezbollah continues cross-border attacks on Israel.
June 30, 2000: Dr. Saad
Eddin Ibrahim is arrested on charges of fraud, bribery, and spreading false
A prominent Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist,
Dr. Ibrahim had advocated voter registration and election monitoring and
reported on attacks on Egypt's
Coptic Christian community. Convicted of the charges of fraud, bribery, and
spreading false information, he is sentenced to a seven-year prison term, but
is later granted a new trial. On July
29, 2002, he will be convicted for a second time and given another
seven-year sentence. Many human rights watch groups contend the charges against
Ibrahim are politically motivated and that his conviction is designed to
"muzzle civil society in Egypt."
July 2000: Iranian singer Googoosh performs in New York
Faegheh Atashin, popularly known as Googoosh, is an Iranian
pop star and icon of female freedom and sexuality. She and other female solo
artists were banned from singing in Iran
by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
2000: Women's rights activists continue their struggle to
gain the right to vote and stand for political office in Kuwait.
After being turned away by officials from registration
centers, which opened in February to update the all-male voters lists, a number
of women file a complaint against the interior minister, al-Shaikh Mohammad
Khaled al-Sabah. This challenge to the legitimacy of Kuwait's
electoral law, which denies women the right to vote, is heard by the Constitutional
Court in June and is rejected.
July 25, 2000: A peace
summit at Camp David between Israeli prime minister Ehud
Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat ends without agreement.
A peace summit hosted at Camp David
president Bill Clinton ends after two weeks, with the parties unable to come up
with a formula to reconcile divisive issues concerning competing Israeli and
Palestinian claims to Jerusalem,
security, borders, and refugees. At the summit, Barak offers far-reaching
compromises to resolve the disputes, while Arafat offers nothing. President
Clinton publicly blames Arafat for the failure. Barak and Arafat, however,
promise to continue to work toward a permanent peace agreement.
July 28, 2000: The leader of Afghanistan's Taliban regime bans the growing of opium poppy.
Before the beginning of the
November planting season, Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader,
bans poppy growing in Afghanistan. He augments the ban with a religious edict declaring the crop to be
contrary to the tenets of Islam. According to the United Nations, in 2000 Afghanistan produced nearly 4,000 tons of opium, about 75 percent of the world's
August 2000: Natural gas is discovered off the coast of Israel.
Should the recently discovered reserves of natural gas off
coast prove large, tapping them could reduce the country's immense dependence
on foreign suppliers of energy, as could Israeli research into solar and wind
power. Currently, for political reasons, Israel's
energy demand is met by suppliers outside of the Arab world.
September 2000: Turkish weightlifter Halil Mutlu wins an
Olympic gold medal in Sydney.
Turkish weightlifters compete exceptionally well in
international competitions. Halil Mutlu, nicknamed "Little Dynamo"
because of his small stature (123 pounds), wins the gold medal in the Sydney
Olympics, lifting more than 300 pounds. His mentor, Naim Suleymanoglu, a.k.a. "Pocket
Hercules," has also won a gold medal in Olympic competition.
September 15, 2000:
Two Omani women are elected to serve on Sultan Qaboos's advisory council.
The advisory council, or Majlis al-Shura, has no formal
powers but is consulted by Oman's
ruler, Sultan Qaboos, on new laws and public policy.
September 28, 2000:
Ariel Sharon's visit to the al-Aqsa mosque marks the beginning of a second Arab
Ariel Sharon, leader of Israel's
right-wing opposition party, Likud, visits the area around the al-Aqsa mosque
in Jerusalem accompanied by 1,000
armed policemen and riot forces. A large police presence at a site sacred to
Muslims, together with the timing of the visit -- on the heels of failed talks
to end Israeli occupation peacefully -- strike a nerve with many Palestinians.
Clashes ensue between Palestinian rioters and Israeli soldiers. The Islamic
resistance movement Hamas calls on Palestinians to storm Israeli army outposts
in the OccupiedTerritories.
This marks the beginning of the second intifada, or "shaking off,"
known as the al-Aqsa intifada. Violence spreads from Gaza,
the West Bank, and East Jerusalem
to northern Israeli towns such as Nazareth
and Umm al-Fahem. By mid-December, more than 300 are dead, including 13 Israeli
October 12, 2000: The USS Cole
is attacked in a Yemeni harbor.
Seventeen American sailors are killed in an explosion on the
USS Cole, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer docked in the Yemeni port
of Aden. The Cole was moored
for refueling when a rubber boat blew up alongside it. It is the deadliest
attack on the U.S.
military since the 1996 bombing of a U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi
Arabia that killed 19.
November 12, 2000: Leah
Rabin, widow of Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin, dies of cancer.
Leah Rabin, a homemaker-turned-peace campaigner, was feted
abroad as an advocate of Israeli-Arab coexistence but was shunned by some in Israel
as a divisive figure. She counted political leaders, including U.S.
president Bill Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, among her close friends,
and after her husband's assassination, she crisscrossed the world to carry the
torch for his peace policies. Mrs. Rabin's harshest critics were the supporters
of hard-line leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whom she accused of fanning the hatred
that led to her husband's murder at a Tel Aviv peace rally in 1995. Netanyahu
had opposed the land-for-security agreements Yitzhak Rabin signed with the
December 10, 2000: Israeli
prime minister Ehud Barak resigns.
With his governing coalition on the verge of collapse, Prime
Minister Barak submits his resignation to Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The
next election, scheduled to take place within 60 days, is to serve as a vote of
confidence or no-confidence on Barak and his policies.
2001: Adult literacy rates in Iran
reach 95 percent.
high adult literacy rate represents a vast improvement since the start of the
1979 revolution, when the figure was only 48 percent. Iran
now has more than 30 free public universities, 15 of them located in Tehran.
2001: Analysts predict that Israel's
booming economy will slow down as a result of its political situation.
The outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in September
2000, the collapse of Ehud Barak's government in December, and the worldwide
slowdown in the high-tech industry, lead some experts to suggest that Israel's
surging economy will soften. Part of the economic boom in the 1990s has been
attributed to the influx of scientific and economic professionals who emigrated
from the former Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s.
January 28, 2001: Egypt,
and Jordan sign
an agreement on a $1 billion gas pipeline project.
The project promises to build two pipelines to transport
Egyptian natural gas to Middle East partners and to
January 31, 2001:
A Libyan intelligence agent is found guilty of murdering 270 people in the 1988
Pan Am Lockerbie bombing.
Abdel Basset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is found guilty of murder
and is sentenced to life in a Glasgow,
prison. A second man charged in the bombing, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, is found
not guilty of murder and freed. The trial was held in a Netherlands
courtroom under Scottish law.
February 6, 2001: Ariel
Sharon wins election as Israel's
Ariel Sharon wins election to the office of prime minister
with the largest vote margin ever in Israeli politics. The Likud Party leader
begins efforts to unite the country by attracting members of the defeated Labor
Party to his administration. The unity government that he forms is the largest
history and is split into a broad spectrum of left, right, center, and
February 26, 2001: Taliban
leader Mullah Omar issues an edict to destroy all pre-Islamic statues and
shrines in Afghanistan.
Led by Mullah Omar, the Taliban evokes international outrage
when it smashes ancient cultural icons, including two giant fifth-century
Buddha statues in Bamiyan; one was the tallest standing Buddha in the world.
March 1, 2001: The Hawar
Islands are awarded to Bahrain
The International Court of Justice settles a five-year-old
dispute between neighboring countries Bahrain
and Qatar over
territorial rights to the HawarIslands
and adjoining natural-gas fields in the Gulf
April 9-11, 2001:
An international commission gathers in Lebanon
to discuss sustainable development.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
convenes a Thematic Round Table in Beirut
to discuss regional concerns about sustainable development, fresh water
supplies, land use, poverty, standards of living, and technology. The
commission representatives prepare for the "Rio +
10" World Summit on Sustainable Development.
June 2001: Israel
divests Merhav, the largest joint Arab-Israeli commercial venture to date.
The Israeli company Merhav announces that it has sold its 20
percent share in the Middle East Oil Refinery Ltd. (MIDOR) to the National Bank
ending what had been the largest Arab-Israeli joint commercial venture to date.
September 11, 2001: Two
commercial airliners strike the World Trade Center complex in New York City,
and one strikes the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Believed to have been on course for the U.S. Capitol, a
fourth jet crashes into an open field in western Pennsylvania.
About 3,000 people die in the events, which result in the complete destruction
of the WorldTradeCenterTwinTowers
and severe damage to the Pentagon building. The U.S.
labels the incidents terrorist actions and suspects Muslim extremists are
responsible. The U.S.
launches attacks in Afghanistan,
eventually ousting the ruling Muslim fundamentalist regime known as the
Taliban. The Taliban and its leader, Mullah Omar, are thought to sponsor the
terrorist network al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
October 2001: Qatar
wins one of four Asian seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
seat on the council is one of four reserved for Asian member countries.
November 2001: Egypt
launches its first privately owned satellite network.
Dream TV is launched with two channels: Dream 1 targets
youth viewers, while Dream 2 shows movies and variety programming. A third
channel, Dream 3, is set to launch at a later date.
November 9-13, 2001:
The World Trade Organization meets in Doha, Qatar,
to discuss the developing world's economy.
The meetings produce the Doha Development Agenda, which
ensures that industrialized nations aid developing nations by providing markets
for their agricultural and manufactured goods. Violent anti-globalization
demonstrations that occurred at the 1999 Seattle
meeting are not repeated in Doha,
but threats are made against Qatar
for inviting Israel
December 7, 2001: Afghan opposition forces conquer
Kandahar, effectively ending Taliban authority.
In previous weeks, the first major incursion of U.S.
ground troops had landed near Kandahar,
the last major city under Taliban control, to support Afghans fighting Taliban
and al-Qaeda forces. A series of U.S.
air strikes opens the way for the anti-Taliban forces to take control of the
2002: Saudi Arabia's
unemployment rate stands at between 15 and 20 percent.
Foreign migrants continue to account for some 65 percent of
the Saudi work force, raising fears that unemployed youth could be increasingly
drawn to radical Islamist groups.
2002: Female attendance in schools reaches a record high in the United
About 98 percent of all females eligible for school attend.
In fact, 60 percent of the student body of the UAEUniversity in al-Ain are women.
Graduates make up a large percentage of teachers, health service professionals,
and government employees. The UAE's first woman pilot recently graduated from
its aviation college.
January 2002: More than 100 Israeli military reserve servicemen
sign a petition refusing to serve in the West Bank and
armed forces deal with internal dissent as some Israeli soldiers question the
government's 35-year policy of occupation of these territories and the harsh
measures adopted by the military against civilian populations there. There
remains, however, a substantially high rate of volunteer service among Israeli
soldiers in the OccupiedTerritories.
In March, women soldiers are deployed for the first time in Israeli settlements
in the West Bank.
January 29, 2002: U.S.
president George W. Bush says Iran,
Iraq, and North
Korea constitute an "axis of
In his first State of the Union address, President Bush
warns that the proliferation of long-range missiles, known to be under
development in these countries, is as great a danger to the U.S.
February 2002: Saudi Arabia's
authorities shut down more than 400 Internet sites.
The Saudi government fails to provide a clear explanation
for the censorship. Internet users, a fast-growing group that numbered 112,500
in April 1999, are largely undeterred, and can still obtain unauthorized
Internet access through neighbors Bahrain
and the United Arab Emirates.
April 2002: Israel
launches military raids against the Palestinian Authority and suspected
terrorists in the West Bank.
The Israeli government responds to an increase in suicide
bombings, including an attack on Jews celebrating Passover. Israel
defends its raids, saying they are designed to destroy the Palestinian terrorist
infrastructure. The Palestinians argue that Israel's
goal is to destroy the Palestinian Authority and its economic and civilian
May 2002: Locusts invade Afghanistan's
northern plains, threatening crop production.
The lack of an effective control program has allowed
hundreds of millions of locusts to threaten nearly 70 percent of the crops in
parts of northern Afghanistan,
the country's most productive agricultural area. Several million rural
households are potentially affected by the swarm. Insecticides and traditional
trench traps are being used to combat the insects.
May 29, 2002:
$2.7 billion to compensate the families of the 270 killed in the 1988 bombing
of Pan Am flight 103.
The offer comes with conditions: Forty percent is to be paid
when United Nations sanctions are lifted from Libya; another 40 percent is to
be paid when U.S. sanctions are lifted; and the remaining 20 percent is to be
paid when Libya is taken off the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism. Libya's
government quickly denies having made the offer, saying it might have come from
an unauthorized source. Some of the victims' families say they would refuse it
even if it were official.
June 10-16, 2002:
Hamid Karzai is elected head of Afghanistan's
Transitional Authority by the emergency loya jirga, or grand council.
The loya jirga, a centuries-old political institution made
up of representatives of Afghan society, convenes in Kabul
to restore the Afghan government. For the first time in Afghan history, women
are allowed to participate. It is decided that free and fair elections will be
held within two years.
23, 2002: Turkey
reaches the soccer World Cup semifinals for the first time.
Soccer is Turkey's
most popular sport, perhaps reflected in the government's decision to mint
commemorative coins celebrating the national team's third-place overall finish
in the 2002 World Cup.
Now on to Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan:
1. There are two maintypes of Muslims Sunni and Shiite
Saddam Hussein was Sunni. The Saudis are Sunni. Saddam took
power in Iraq
in 1979 at the same time as the Iranian revolution. Saddam’s tribe in his
hometown of Tikrit was Sunni and Sunnis became the powerful sect in Iraq
even though they were a minority versus the Shiite.
In 1979, when Hussein took power in Iraq,
he immediately began murdering large numbers of Kurds, the majority of whom are
Muslim. He destroyed scores of Kurdish villages, killed tens of thousands of
civilians — including by execution and the use of mustard gas and sarin — and
relocated thousands more to other parts of Iraq. Millions of Kurdish refugees
sought to escape Iraq.
Not until 1992, when the U.S.
stepped in, did Hussein's mass murder of the Kurds stop.
In 1980, Hussein started a bloody eight-year war against Iran.
Estimates of total killed run as high as 1.5 million. The populations of Iraq
and Iran are
overwhelmingly Muslim. And this war between these Muslim states was
particularly heinous. Air and missile strikes against large civilian
populations were common. Hussein used poison gas against Iranian soldiers to
reverse his battlefield losses. And prisoners of war were routinely tortured
In 1990, Hussein ordered an invasion of Kuwait
and then annexed it. Again, the vast majority of Kuwaitis are Muslim. During
the occupation, there were reports that the Iraqi army raped, pillaged, and
murdered at will. Hundreds of thousands of Kuwaitis fled their country in fear
of their lives. When the Iraqi army was chased out of Kuwait
by the Gulf War coalition, its soldiers caused tens of billions of dollars in
damage to the country's infrastructure, including torching oil fields. There
remain over six hundred Kuwaiti POWs for which Iraq
refuses to account.
3. The US restored
the Shah of Iran to power in 1953. The Shah was a secular ruler who tried to
He also made himself very rich and ruled with an iron hand.
is a Shiite Moslem country.
The Shah was overthrown in 1978-79 in the Iranian revolution
and the US lost
its base of influence in the Middle East. He was
overthrown by religious Shiites who were tired of the secular state and the
revolution paced a religious leader the Ayatollah Khomeini in power
4. The overthrow of the Shah and the Iranian hostage crisis
led to the election of Reagan and the defeat of Carter.
5. Because the US
lost its spheres of influence in the Middle East with
the fall of the Shah the US
began to make overtures to Iraq.
The US then
began supporting Hussein in Iraq.
Iraq was at war
Iraq and other Arab countries launch
an unsuccessful war against Israel, which
had declared statehood that year.
A military coup overthrows the
monarchy, kills King Faisal II, and declares Iraq a republic. General Abdul Karim
Kassem becomes Iraq's leader, and begins reversing the monarchy's pro-western policies
The Kurds, located in
northern Iraq, revolt and demand autonomy; fighting between the Kurds and the
government continues for decades.
Aref purges the government of Ba'ath
party, including President al-Bakr.
Aref dies; his brother, Abdul Rahman
Aref, takes over the presidency (Apr. 17).
Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr
overthrows Aref in a bloodless coup. The Ba'ath party again dominates (July
A peace agreement is signed between
the Iraqi government and the Kurds, granting the Kurds some self-rule (March
Iraq fights in the Arab-Israeli War (The Yom Kippur War)
and participates in the oil boycott against Israel's supporters.
Fighting again breaks out with the Kurds, who call
for their independence.
Al-Bakr resigns; his vice-president, Saddam Hussein,
succeeds him (July 16). Hussein swiftly executes political rivals.
The bloody eight-year Iran-Iraq war
begins. The main issue is control of the Shatt al Arab waterway,
an essential resource providing for water and transportation that runs along
the border of both countries (Sept. 22).
Iraq retaliates against the Kurds for
supporting Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, and through "Operation Anfal" slaughters civilians or
forces them to relocate. Thousands flee to Turkey (Feb.–Sept.).
ends in a stalemate. An estimated 1.5 million died in the conflict (Aug. 20).
Iraqi troops invade Kuwait. Saddam Hussein
justifies the attack by blaming Kuwait for falling oil prices that harm the Iraqi
economy (Aug. 2).
The UN imposes economic sanctions on Iraq (Aug 6).
Ground forces invade Kuwait and Iraq, vanquish the Iraqi army, and liberate Kuwait. President George H.
W. Bush declares a cease-fire on the fourth day (Feb. 24–28).
Kurds rebel, encouraged by the United States. Iraq quashes the rebellions, killing
Formal cease-fire is signed. Saddam
Hussein accepts UN resolution agreeing to destroy weapons of mass destruction
and allowing UN inspectors to monitor the disarmament (April 6).
A no-fly zone is established in Northern Iraq to protect the Kurds from Saddam Hussein
UN weapons inspectors report that Iraq has concealed much of its nuclear and
chemical weapons programs. It is the first of many such reports over the next
decade, pointing out Iraq's thwarting of the UN weapons inspectors (July 30).
A southern no-fly zone is created to
protect the Shiite population from Saddam Hussein and provide a buffer between Kuwait and Iraq ( Aug. 26).
U.S. launches cruise missile on
Baghdad, after Iraq attempts to assassinate President George H.
W. Bush while he visited Kuwait (June 27).
Iraq drains water from southern
marshlands inhabited Muslim Shiites, in retaliation for the Shiites'
long-standing opposition to Saddam Hussein's government (April).
A UN Security Council's
"oil-for-food" resolution (passed April 1995) allows Iraq to export oil in exchange for humanitarian
aid. Iraq delays accepting the terms for more than a
1½ years (Dec. 10).
The UN disarmament commission
concludes that Iraq has continued to conceal information on biological and chemical
weapons and missiles (Oct 23).
Iraq expels American members of the UN
inspection team (Nov. 13).
Iraq suspends all cooperation with the UN
inspectors (Jan. 13).
Kofi Annan brokers a peaceful solution to the standoff. Over the next
months Baghdad continued to impede the UN inspection
team, demanding that sanctions be lifted (Feb. 23).
Saddam Hussein puts a complete halt
to the inspections (Oct. 31).
Iraq agrees to unconditional
cooperation with the UN inspectors (Nov. 14), but by a month later, chief UN
weapons inspector Richard Butler reports that Iraq has not lived up to its
promise (Dec. 15).
The United States and Britain began four days of intensive air strikes,
dubbed Operation Desert Fox.
The attacks focused on command centers, missile factories, and airfields—targets
that the Pentagon believed would damage Iraq's weapons stores (Dec. 16–19).
Beginning in January, weekly,
sometimes daily, bombings
of Iraqi targets within the northern no-fly zone begin, carried out by U.S. and British bombers. More than 100 air
strikes take place during 1999, and continue regularly over the next years. The
U.S. and Britain hope the constant barrage of air strikes
will weaken Saddam Hussein's grip on Iraq (Jan. 1999–present).
From ally to enemy
A timeline of Iraq's recent history
17, 1968- Ba'athists, including Saddam Hussein, and
army officers overthrow dictatorial regime. Hussein emerges as president 11
Sept. 4, 1980 -
First shots fired in Iran-Iraq war that will last eight years.
June 7, 1981 -
Israeli warplanes destroy nuclear reactor near Baghdad.
Dec. 20, 1983 -
Donald Rumsfeld, President Ronald Reagan's special Middle East
envoy, travels to Baghdad to meet
Hussein and assure him of the United States'
military and financial support in the Iran-Iraq war. Rumsfeld is now President
George W. Bush's secretary of defense.
March 28, 1988 -
Iraqi chemical weapons kill an estimated 5,000 civilians in Kurdish town of Halabja
in first known use of chemical weapons by a state against its own people.
soldier from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force stands guard at a burning oil
well at the Rumayla oil fields Sunday in Iraq.
Several oil wells have been set ablaze by retreating Iraqi troops in the
Ramayla area, the second largest offshore oilfield in the country, near the
Aug. 2, 1990 - Iraq
U.N. Security Council condemns invasion and demands Iraqi withdrawal.
Aug. 6, 1990 -
Security Council imposes economic sanctions against Iraq.
Nov. 29, 1990 -
Security Council authorizes U.N. member states to use "all necessary
means" to force Iraq's
withdrawal from Kuwait
if Iraq does
not withdraw within six weeks.
Jan. 17, 1991 - U.S.-led
coalition launches air war against Iraq.
Feb. 23, 1991 -
Ground war begins.
Donald Rumsfeld shakes Saddam Hussein's hand in a 1983
Feb. 27, 1991 - President George H.W. Bush declares Kuwait
has been liberated and suspends offensive operations in Iraq.
April 3, 1991 -
Security Council demands that Iraq
unconditionally accept, under international supervision, the destruction,
removal or disabling of its weapons of mass destruction, and the council creates
weapons inspections processes, setting conditions for the removal of economic
April and August 1992 - "No-fly" zones over the northern
and southern thirds of Iraq
are created in order to protect the Kurds and Shiite Muslims in those areas.
April 13, 1993 -
Fourteen arrests are made in a plot to assassinate former President Bush one
day prior to his visit to Kuwait.
George H.W. Bush
CIA accuses Iraqi intelligence of organizing the attempt.
June 17, 1993 - U.S.
warships fire 24 cruise missiles at intelligence headquarters in Baghdad
in retaliation for what the United States
calls the plot to assassinate Bush.
Dec. 9, 1996 -
The United Nations allows Iraq
to make limited oil sales under closely monitored deal.
November 1997 - Iraq
orders American weapons inspectors to leave the country immediately, accusing
them of spying. President Bill Clinton orders aircraft carrier to the Gulf to
join a military force already in place.
Oct. 7, 1997 -
arms inspectors tell the Security Council that Iraq
still refuses to disclose full details of its banned weapons programs and is
imposing restrictions on the inspections.
Dec. 16, 1998 -
U.N. weapons inspectors withdrawn from Iraq,
which they accused of failing to cooperate with search for weapons of mass
destruction. Hours later, four days of U.S.-British air and missile strikes on Baghdad
Feb. 16, 2001 - Executing President George W. Bush's first military
attack order and first strike outside no-fly zones in more than two years, U.S.
warplanes join British fighters in bombing sites around Baghdad; 24 planes hit
air defense radars and other targets U.S. officials say pose growing threat to
allied air patrols.
George W. Bush
8, 2002 - Security Council unanimously approves
resolution 1441, threatening Hussein with "serious consequences" if Iraq
does not disarm.
Feb. 14-15 - Millions demonstrate around the world against a possible
U.S. attack on Iraq.
March 1 - United Arab Emirates,
at an Arab League summit, becomes first Arab government to publicly propose
that Hussein step down.
March 7 - United States,
Britain and Spain
propose ordering Hussein to give up banned weapons by March 17 or face war;
other nations led by France
on polarized Security Council oppose any new resolution authorizing military
March 16 - United States,
Britain and Spain
meet at the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic.
Hosted by Portugal,
the three nations develop a joint statement declaring the time for diplomacy is
nearing an end.
March 17 - In a televised address, Bush issues an ultimatum to
Hussein and his sons: Leave Iraq
within 48 hours or face direct military action. U.N. Secretary General Kofi
Annan withdraws all U.N. personnel from Iraq.
March 18 - Hussein and his sons reject Bush's ultimatum.
March 19 - Bush's deadline to leave Iraq
passes; United States
launches a "decapitation attack" aimed at killing or wounding
Hussein, his sons and other Iraqi leadership.
March 20 - Antiwar protests rock cities in Europe
and the United States.
Bombing of Iraq
continues as coalition ground forces enter Iraq.
World leaders react: Some condemn the war; others support it.
March 21 – War begins
6. During the 1980s the Russian invaded Afghanistan
and tried to bring it under the Russian sphere of influence.
Chronological History of Afghanistan
Part III (1747 - 1978)
Rule of Ahmad Shah
consolidates and enlarges Afghanistan.
He defeats the Moghuls in the west of the Indus,
and he takes Herat away from
the Persians. Ahmad Shah Durrani's empire extended from Central
Asia to Delhi,
from Kashmir to the Arabian sea.
It became the greatest Muslim empire in the second half of the 18th
Rule of Timur Shah
Capital of Afghanistan
transferred from Kandahar to
Kabul because of tribal
Rule of Zaman Shah
invade Khurasan (province)
Rule of Mahmood
Rule of Shah Shujah
(1805) Persian attack
on Herat fails.
Mahmood returns to the
War with Persia--indecisive
Sons of Timur Shah
struggle for the throne--Civil War--anarchy--
Afghans lose Sind
Dost Mohammad Khan
takes Kabul, and establishes
moves into Khurasan (province), and threatens Herat.
Afghans defend Herat
(May)--Afghans lose Peshawar
to the Sikhs; later they crushed the Sikhs under the leadership of Akbar
Khan who defeated the Sikhs near Jamrud, and killed the great Sikh
general Hari Singh. However, they failed to retake Peshawar
due to disunity and bad judgment on the part of Dost Mohammad Khan.
Dost Mohammad Khan is
proclaimed as Amir al-mu' minin (commander of the faithful). He was well
on the road toward reunifying the whole of Afghanistan
when the British, in collaboration with an ex-king (Shah Shuja), invade Afghanistan.
resistance, Amir Dost Mohammad Khan surrenders to the British and is
deported to India.
Shah Shuja is
installed as a "puppet king" by the British. (1839-1842)
Shuja killed by Afghans.
continue their struggle against the British.
hero--victorious against the British.
In January 1842, out
of 16,500 soldiers (and 12,000 dependents) only one survivor, of mixed
British-Indian garrison, reaches the fort in Jalalabad, on a stumbling
annihilation of British troops, Afghanistan
once again becomes independent, and the exiled Amir, Dost Mohammad Khan
comes back and occupies the royal throne (1843-1863).
Afghan hero, Akbar
Dost Mohammad Khan
signs a peace treaty with India.
British take Baluchistan,
becomes completely landlocked.
Sher Ali, Dost
Mohammad Khan's son, succeeds to the throne.
takes Bukhara, Tashkent,
occupies Kabul and proclaims
1867--Mohammad Afzal dies.
succeeds to the throne
flees to Persia
Sher Ali reasserts
established a fixed boundary between Afghanistan
and it's new territories.
promises to respect Afghanistan's
Start of second
The British invade
and the Afghans quickly put up a strong resistance.
Sher Ali dies in
Mazar-i-Shariff, and Amir Muhammad Yaqub Khan takes over until October
Amir Muhammad Yaqub
Khan gives up the following Afghan territories to the British: Kurram,
Khyber, Michni, Pishin, and Sibi. Afghans lose these territories
July 1880, Afghan
woman named Malalai carries the Afghan flag forward after the soldiers
carrying the flag were killed by the British. She becomes a heroine for
her show of courage and valour.
Abdur Rahman takes
throne of Afghanistan
The British, shortly
after the accession of the new Amir, withdraw from Afghanistan,
although they retain the right to handle Afghanistan's
establishes fixed borders and he loses a lot of Afghan land.
converted to Islam.
The Panjdeh Incident
Russian forces seize
the Panjdeh Oasis, a piece of Afghan territory north of the OxusRiver. Afghans tried to
retake it, but was finally forced to allow the Russians to keep Panjdeh
- Russians promised to honor Afghan territorial integrity in the future.
The Durand line
fixes borders of Afghanistan
with British India, splitting Afghan tribal
areas, leaving half of these Afghans in what is now Pakistan.
northern border is fixed and guaranteed by Russia
Abdur Rahman dies,
his son Habibullah succeeds him.
Slows steps toward
and Great Britain
sign the convention of St. Petersburg,
in which Afghanistan
is declared outside Russia's
sphere of influence.
Mahmud Tarzi (Afghan
Intellectual) introduces modern Journalism into Afghanistan
with the creation of several newspapers.
assassinated, and succeeded by his son Amanullah (The reform King)
The first museum in Afghanistan
is instituted at Baghe Bala.
Once again, the
British are defeated, and Afghanistan
gains full control of her foreign affairs.
initiates a series of ambitious efforts at social and political
changes his title from Amir to Padshah (King).
Amanullah Khan is
overthrown by Habibullah Kalakani.
After the fall of
Amanullah Khan, Mahmud Tarzi seeks asylum in Turkey.
The Rise and Fall of
Habibullah Kalakani, popularly known as "Bache Saqao"
Nadir Khan takes the
throne; his tribal army loots government buildings and houses of wealthy
citizens because the treasury was empty.
along with his supporters, and a few supporters of Amanullah Khan are
killed by Nadir Khan. Now Nadir Khan establishes full control.
Khan uprising put down by Nadir Khan.
Nadir Khan abolishes
reforms set forth by Amanullah Khan to modernize Afghanistan.
assassinated by a college student, and his son, Zahir, inherits the
throne. He rules until 1973.
Zahir Shah's uncles
serve as prime ministers and advisors until 1953.
Mahmud Tarzi dies in
at the age of 68 with a heart full of sorrow and despair toward his
States of America formally recognizes
Da Afghanistan Bank
(State Bank of Afghanistan)
Khan uprising (January 15)
Zahir Shah proclaims
as neutral during WW2
withdraws from India.
is carved out of Indian and Afghan lands.
Parliament denounces the Durand Treaty and refuses to recognize the
Durand line as a legal boundary between Pakistan
Pashtunistan (OccupiedAfghanLand) proclaim an
independent Pashtunistan, but their proclamation goes unacknowledged by
the world community.
Daoud becomes Prime Minister.
request to buy military equipment to modernize the army.
Daoud turns to the Soviet
for military aid.
(occupied Afghan land) issue flares up.
Kruschev and Bulgaria
agree to help Afghanistan.
Close ties between Afghanistan
The Purdah is made
optional, women begin to enroll in the University which has become
Women begin to enter
the workforce, and the government.
come close to war over Pashtunistan.
Zahir Shah demands
Daoud's resignation. Dr. Mohammad Yusof becomes Prime Minister.
The Afghan Communist
Party was secretly formed in January. Babrak Karmal is one of the
In September, first
nationwide elections under the new constitution.
Karmal was elected
to the Parliament, later instigates riots.
Zahir and Yussof
form second government.
Hafizullah Amin are elected.
becomes Prime Minister.
July 17th: Zahir
Shah is on vacation in Europe, when his
government is overthrown in a military coup headed by Daoud Khan and
PDPA (Afghan Communist Party).
Daoud Khan abolishes
the monarchy, declares himself President---Republic
of Afghanistan is
UNESCO names Herat
as one of the first cities to be designated as a part of the worlds
Daoud Khan presents a
new constitution. Women's rights confirmed.
Daoud starts to oust
suspected opponents from his government.
coup: Daoud is killed, Taraki is named President, and Karmal becomes his
deputy Prime Minister. Tensions rise.
tortures, and arrests takes place.
Afghan flag is
Taraki signs treaty
of friendship with the Soviet Union.
guerrilla (Mujahideen) movement is born.
The Taliban who were strict Shiite Muslims opposed the
Russians in Afghanistan
and received military support and training from the Americans.
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