The Middle East- Topics – RantAWeek

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The Middle East- Topics

Arab Spring

In December of 2010, Moamed Boazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia, set himself on fire in protest of government oppression. This sparked protests in Tunisia that eventually spread to much of the rest of the Arab world, spanning 18 countries from Western Sahara to Oman, and led to the overthrow of severaloppressive governments.  However, what started off as a largely nonviolent series of governmental transitions has led to disturbing violence in Syria and political instability in affected nations.


After the 9-11 attacks, the US, with other NATO allies and the Afghan United Front, invaded Afghanistan for the sake of breaking down al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Taliban government has since been overthrown, but al-Qaeda remains a force and the Taliban remains an insurgent group. The US involvement has been incredibly long and has led to disagreement within the US. Many other world leaders were skeptical from the start and remain that way. The US has often pushed back its date of withdraw from Afghanistan, but U.S. President Obama now pledges to leave the country by the end of 2014.   However, some observers fear that the military, police force and economy are not strong enough to maintain stability without constant US help.


After Hosni Mubarak’s was overthrown, Egypt experienced a period of military rule as its government transitioned from autocratic to democratic. However, a presidential election in 2012 led to Mohamed Morsi assuming the presidency in a free and fair election.  Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his tenure in office led to Egypt assuming a more theocratic government.  In 2013, Morsi was ousted by the army, resuming the period of military rule and casting further doubt on Egypt’s future.


Recently, the biggest issue with Iran has been nuclear development. For the past few years, Iran has been enriching uranium, much to the chagrin of the rest of the world. The US and much of the Western world has continually sanctioned Iran, to no avail– until recently.   Recent economic hardships caused by international sanctions have led to discontent among the Iranian people.  This discontent showed itself in the 2013 presidential election, where voters picked a moderate candidate in Hassan Rouhani.  While Iran has largely been ruled by very conservative theologians in recent decades, the election of Rouhani may signal the beginning of a shift in Iranian politics.


At the end of 2011, the United States finally withdrew troops from Iraq. After invading Iraq in 2003 in search of Weapons of Mass Destruction, only to be humiliated when there were none, the US overthrew Saddam Hussein’s government. The US has then remained in Iraq to help rebuild the government and help it maintain peace and order. In the summer of 2011, the US started handing over various provinces to entirely Iraqi control with mixed results. The US handover was slightly accelerated at the end, and Iraq’s future is still uncertain.


When Israel was established in 1948, it soon signed a peace treaty to allow the Palestinian lands of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to be part of Arab Egypt and Jordan, respectively. However in 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel essentially took over these lands. Since then, there has been a large point of contention over Israel and Palestine. Basically the entire Arab world hates Israel and supports Palestine. Meanwhile, the US and the western world has always supported Israel and will continue to, while treading a fine line in trying to support peace. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is arguably one of the most complex and personal conflicts to date.


As a a part of the Arab Spring, Syrian rebels began protests again President Bashir al-Assad. These protests soon turned bloody and have since caused an all out civil war. Assad has been exceptionally violent, and the death toll has likely reached above 100,000.  While most countries are in support of the rebels, more than anything else, everyone wants there to be no more bloodshed. Many nations and bodies have condemned Assad’s actions and sanctioned his government, but the issue of direct military intervention is a tough line to walk. Intervening in Syria poses many risks, especially when Russian President Vladimir Putin is strongly against extensive foreign intervention to support the rebels.  Chemical weapons usage in Syria by Assad has led to international debate about whether military action should be used against Assad’s regime.


  • On August 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm Anonymous said

    Thanks for all the great info! Just a few questions: if Palestine isn’t an official country, how can it have land? And, in 2005, why did Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip?


    • On August 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm Tyler Miksanek said

      When we say that Palestine isn’t an official country, that means it is not officially recognized by the U.N. The land is (mainly) administered by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. The 2005 withdrawal was simply an end to Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip.


  • On August 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm Anonymous said

    Sorry for all the questions, but how come Israel just gave up on the Gaza Strip? I thought they had claim over the land.


    • On August 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm Tyler Miksanek said

      They still control the airspace and adjacent water, so they have far from ‘given up’. However, there were plenty of bombings against Israeli troops and civilians within the Strip that made continuing the occupation not worth it.


      • On August 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm Anonymous said

        Oh I see. Thank you so much!


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