The Middle East: Cold War Allegiances


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I think it is fascinating how society is affected by political events that took place thousands of years ago, or for that matter, barely seventy years ago. For example, at the end of World War II, Middle Eastern countries tended to align with one of the super powers in the hopes of receiving financial aid and military arms. One example would be Mustafa Barzani’s working with the Soviets. From the Soviet point of view, Barzani was working with them implanting communist ideals into the minds of the Kurdish people, who were looking for support in their fight for autonomy.

Middle East cold-war-mapThe United States spent millions of dollars bolstering the Pahlavi government in Iran. By helping the Shah in modernizing he country, selling the United States oil, and buying US weapons, the goal of the United States was to have a friendly government, with a military that would stand up against the Communist threat in the Middle East. In doing so, the United States ignored the totalitarian methods the Shah used while ruling the country. The Westernizing of Iran with America as a close ally backfired when the religious community headed by the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini led a rebellion that deposed the Shah. Continue reading

Jihad Or Just Expansionism


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muhammad-bin-abdul-wahab In the late 1700’s, the House of Saud began an era of expansionism via the ideology of the Wahabbi Islamic movement. In 1744 Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab created an alliance with the House of Ibn Saud. This alliance was based on a fundamental form of Sunni belief of an older Salafiyya doctrine. Ibn Saud’s felt that by creating an army of holy warriors, driven by an idea rather than a person, he can expand his tribal empire across the Nadj and eventually into the Hejaz. Although not technically colonialism, it is a form of expansionism.

Colonialism can take the form of an ideology as well. In the 1950’s Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of Egypt. Nasser had a plan to rule the Arab world, not by force, but with his political views of Pan Arabism. Similar to the House of Saud and the Wahabbi movement, Nasser planned to unite the Arab countries under him with an ideology with Egypt as the core and the Arab peninsula as the center of a new Arab world. Although Nasser didn’t conquer any other lands, however, the ideals of Pan Arabism did influence the mind of Saddam Hussein.

Before the Ottoman Turks the Rashidun Caliphs and then the Umayyads, the Arabs rapidly expanded the territory under Muslim control outside of Arabia. Muslim colonialism expanded from the Arabian Peninsula, through Northern Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. Unlike the Saudi example or the example of Pan Arabism, the expansionist efforts of the Umayyads and the Rashidun Caliphs is a true form of colonialism. However, it may be that the ideology of Nasserism and Pan Arabism may continue to exist longer than these tow Caliphates.

Separation of Powers

Simon BolivarThe LiberatorWhat I found interesting while watching the film Libertador” (The Liberator) starring Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez, was that after all that Simon Bolivar and the men he worked with to achieve freedom from Spain, was that he never achieved his true goal of the Gran Colombia.  Like the founding fathers of the United States, Bolivar came from the merchant class and was a  land owner.  His greatest challenges came, not on the battlefield, but were political.  His inability to set up a government that encompassess a whole continent, became illusive, and that my be because of a lack of structure that the United States worked out during the creation of the United States Constitution.  Below we examine bicameralism and how the founding fathers in North America crafted this system. Continue reading

Is political Islam is inevitable?


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ISIL takes Turkey govt. hostage: Terrorists raises flag at Turkish borderAs I watched the news today, the group known variously as ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) or simply Islamic State takes up a good half of the news cast. Was the creation of an Islamic State inevitable? Islam and politics go hand in hand. Throughout the centuries, the Muslim faith has been a major part in Islamic politics. Since the time that the Prophet Muhammad was invited to Medina to arbitrate between feuding families in the town, Islam became the basis of local law and politics. As the laws of the west are influenced by Christian ideals, so too is the Middle East. Muhammad based the laws he gave the citizens of Medina came from the revelations of the Quran. He therefore became both the secular leader, as well as the spiritual leader of the community. Continue reading

The Hub of Ancient Humanity


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Ancient Hub of Ancient HumanityWhile studying the Middle East as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ one can see that the three basis of ancient civilization were Agriculture, Civilization, and War. Although life existed in the African continent prior to a migration of human settlers into the area we now call the Middle East about 50,000 years ago. The area within the Middle East, that is historically known as the ‘Fertile Crescent’ provided humans with the ability to stop their wandering (hunters – gathers) in search of food, due primarily to an abundant water supply, rich soil in which to plant grains, and the ability to herd cattle and sheep.

The ability to provide an agricultural base let to the settling of towns, where trade could take place. These towns grew into cities, and then into empires. Trade disputes required laws and the family patriarchs, became rulers. Around the Tigris and Euphrates and the Nile Valley are were the first ancient cities cropped up. Jericho, near the Jordan river sprung up as well and provided man with fortifications against other tribes, from taking their land for their agriculture purposes. Continue reading