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Overview of Middle Eastern Countries

Overview of Middle Eastern Countries

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Overview of Middle Eastern Countries

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  1. Overview of Middle Eastern Countries

  2. Syria • Part of Ottoman Empire until 1918 • French and British take over until 1947 • Independence led to Civil War / Internal Conflict • Ethnic and Religious divisions – 60% Arab Sunni Muslim, 11% Alawites Shia Muslims, 9% Arab Christians, 8% Kurdish Sunni Muslims

  3. Syria Civil War • 1970 – Present Country ruled by Alawites Shia Muslims – Bashir Al Assad dictatorship • Arab Spring began in 2010 • Civil War- Sunni Rebels rise up against Assad regime • Atrocities committed by both sides • Civil War continues

  4. Radical Political Groups and Militant/Insurgent Groups • Hezbollah- Radical Shiite group founded by Iranians influencing Lebanon, Syria, and Iran • Hamas- Extremist Sunni group involved in acts of terror and politics pushing for Palestinian Nation • Al-Qaeda- Extremist Sunni Terrorist organization with cells throughout the world • Taliban- Strict group of Sunni Muslims controlling parts of Afghanistan • ISIS / ISIL- Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria /Levant- Extremist Wahhabi Sunni Group

  5. Afghanistan • “A place where empires go to die.” • Ethnic / religious divisions • Difficult terrain and climate • Long history of conflict

  6. Political Unrest in Afghanistan • Towards end of Cold War • 1979 invasion by Soviet Union • U.S. covertly backs Mujahideen- Strict Islamic group of Afghani rebels • About 5-6 separate rebel Afghani groups • 1989 Mujahideen with CIA backing forces Soviet Union out • Vacuum of power led to ethnic conflict / civil war

  7. Foreign Assistance to Afghanistan • U.S. Funding provided with help of Congressman Charlie Wilson • Money and weapons funneled through Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan (keep it a Cold War) • Saudis including Bin Laden go to Afghanistan for Jihad • Saudis matched U.S. financial aid with private and gov’t spending • Aid went directly to President Zia of Pakistan and ISI (Pakistan’s version of FBI and CIA)

  8. War in Afghanistan • 1996 Bin Laden moves to Afghanistan • 1998 Taliban emerges from Civil War as government • Taliban aided by Bin Laden and Al Qaeda • 9/9/01 Ahmad Shah Massoud (moderate) assassinated by Taliban • 9/11 attacks planned in Afghanistan • 2001 Taliban shelters Bin Laden after 9/11

  9. Current Conflict in Afghanistan • 2001 Taliban shelters Osama bin Laden and other members of Al-Qaeda • October 2001 U.S. forces invade and help establish new gov’t • Hamid Karzai emerges as leader.

  10. Current Conflict • Taliban reemerges along Pakistani border • Corruption in Karzai administration • President Obama announces surge • Bin Laden killed in Pakistan • Hearts & Minds / Afghanization

  11. Map of the Disputed Area

  12. Iran (Shia majority) • Europeans fought over oil in early 1900s • 1950-1970s Reza Shah encouraged westernization leads to his exile • 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini emerged as leader • 1986 Iran Contra Scandal • Currently tension between U.S. and Iran over Iraq and policies of current leader Mahmoud Ahmedinejad,

  13. Background of Saudi Arabia • Birthplace of Islam • 1916 Great Britain encourages independence from Ottoman Empire • 1936 Oil discovered and the Saudi Royal Family builds ties with U.S. and Europe

  14. Current Issues in Saudi Arabia • 1990s Sided with U.S. and Kuwait against Iraq during Persian Gulf War • Currently maintains strong economic ties with U.S. • Growing problems with Muslim extremists and terrorist groups

  15. Current Issues • Al Saud family possesses all political power • Strict censorship / No political parties • Osama bin Laden originally from Saudi Arabia • Majority of 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia