27-1 The Middle East in
Political Directions
From World Cultures A Global Mosaic
and Wagnall's Encyclopedia
► Arab
Nationalism and Islamic
fundamentalism reflected the desire of the
Muslim nations of the Middle East to end
western domination.
Lesson Questions
► What
role has pan-Arabism played in the
Middle East?
► What different kinds of government have
emerged in the Middle East?
► Why did civil war break out in Lebanon?
► What changes do Islamic fundamentalists
Gamal Abdel Nasser
► Code
word “Lesseps Lesseps”
► Nasser, the leader of Egypt, said the name
of the French engineer who constructed the
Suez Canal on the Egyptian radio
► His military knew it was time to take over
the Suez Canal from the British and French
► This led to a war in 1956
► Egypt versus Britain, France, and Israel
Lesseps (1805-94), French diplomat and
engineer, born in Versailles.
Lesseps, Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de
He entered the consular service in 1825 and held many
diplomatic posts. While assistant vice-consul (1832-37)
in Egypt, he began to plan a project for constructing a
canal across the Isthmus of Suez. Work was begun on
April 25, 1859, and the canal was formally opened on
Nov. 17, 1869. De Lesseps was awarded many honors
for his remarkable engineering and executive ability.
Because of his success with the Suez Canal, he was
chosen president of the French company that worked on
the construction of a canal across the Isthmus of
Panama from 1881 to 1888. The project was given up
for political and financial reasons. Scandals concerning
the direction of affairs resulted in an investigation. De
Lesseps and his son Charles (1849-1923) were tried for
mismanagement and misappropriation of company
funds. They were fined and sentenced to prison, but the
sentences were never executed.
Gamal Nasser, president of Egypt 1956-1970
First president of Egypt. This Egyptian army officer and political leader
became the first president of the republic of Egypt, 1956-1970, although he
ruled as a dictator. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company in 1956, an
event that caused Britain and France to seize the canal. Nasser later led
Egypt during the Six Day War, in which Israel routed the combined forces of
Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and seized the Sinai Peninsula
Gamal Abd al-Nasser (1918-1970)
At the 1963 Organization of African Unity meeting in Addis Ababa. An
Egyptian army officer, Nasser helped engineer the overthrow of King
Farouk in 1952 and emerged after a power struggle as prime minister in
1954. He attempted unsuccessfully to unify the Arab world, and also
sought to implement socio-economic reforms in Egypt. The 1967 defeat by
Israel was a bitter humiliation for him. Nasser's death in 1970 evoked a
huge outpouring of emotion in Egypt and the Arab world.
Gamal Abdel Nasser
President Nasser of Egypt Dies (1970)
Pan Arabism
By 1950, most Middle Eastern nations had won independence
However, most still felt great effects from western imperialism
Muslims wanted western technology but not all Muslims
wanted western culture
Pan Arabism sought to unite all Arab nations with a
common language and customs
To promote this, the Arab League was formed in 1945 by
Flag of the Arab League
Arab League -1945
► Formal
name the League of Arab
States, voluntary association of
independent countries whose peoples
are mainly Arabic-speaking. Its stated
purposes are to strengthen ties among
the member states, coordinate their
policies, and promote their common
The league was founded in Cairo in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq,
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan (now Jordan), and
Countries that later joined, listed alphabetically, are the following:
Algeria (1962),
Bahrain (1971),
Comoros (1993),
Djibouti (1977),
Kuwait (1961),
Libya (1953),
Mauritania (1973),
Morocco (1958),
Oman (1971),
Qatar (1971),
Somalia (1974),
Sudan (1956),
Tunisia (1958),
United Arab Emirates (1971).
The League of Arab States
Palestine (as represented by the Palestine Liberation
Organization) was admitted in 1976. Egypt's membership
was suspended in 1979, after it signed a peace treaty with
Israel, and the league's headquarters was then moved to
Tunis. The league voted in 1987 to allow its members to
restore diplomatic ties with Egypt; in 1990 the league's
headquarters was moved back to Cairo.
Remember that the Middle East is a
cultural term the west uses to
describe most of southwest Asia
The Arab League
► It
has managed to settle some Arab
disputes and to limit conflicts such as the
Lebanese civil wars of 1958 and 1975-76.
The league has been more effective in
activities fostering economic, social, and
cultural cooperation among Arab states.
United Arab Republic (1958)
► Egypt
and Syria joined together but was shortlived when Egypt dominated its government.
United Arab Republic (1958)
Obstacles To Unity
Nationalism – Countries
were loyal to their own
nation and not an Arab
► No Geographic unity
► Too many different ethnic
► Too many different types
of government
► Economic differences
► Rich – Have Natural
► Poor – No Natural
Political Traditions- Forms of Government
► Most
states built
powerful central
Different types of government
► Republic – Egypt, Iraq, and Iran
► Monarchy – Saudi Arabia, Jordan,
and Kuwait
► Old Law – The teaching of the
► Modern Law – Western law
► Turkey and Israel have multiparty
Political Traditions
► Iraq
became a dictatorship under Saddam
Hussein and the Baath party
Saddam Hussein
King Faisal (ca.1906-1975), King of Saudi Arabia
King Faisal (ca.1906-1975), King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975,
meeting with President Richard Nixon in 1971. Faisal was the son of Ibn
Saud, founder of the Saudi state, and oversaw the Arabian kingdom during
its rise to power as a major world exporter of oil. Fiercely anti-communist,
Faisal sought good relations with the United States, as this photo illustrates,
but was frustrated by American support for Israel. The U.S. government
sought to keep oil policy separate from the Arab-Israeli conflict, and largely
succeeded until the 1973 war when the Arab oil embargo occurred. Faisal
was assassinated by one of his nephews in 1975.
Saudi Arabia, an Absolute Monarchy
Saudi Arabian leaders, Khalid and Fahd
Khalid ruled Saudi Arabia from 1975 until his death in 1982; he was
succeeded by his half-brother Fahd. Despite the dizzying social changes
brought about by huge oil revenues in recent decades, the Saudi political
system remained in its traditional form, under the control of the Saudi ruling
family. The Saudi regime continued to affirm its Islamic identity, taking
seriously its responsibility for the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina.
Nevertheless, the Islamic revolution in Iran and the war between Iran and
Iraq threatened to destabilize the Saudi government
King Abdullah (noted as prince in
your textbook)
Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia
Not long ago a sleepy, mud-walled town, by 1974 Riyadh had grown into a
city of about 660,000 people. Its growth has been due in large part to the
development of the Arabian-American Oil Company.
The city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia's major Red Sea port.
It had more than a half million inhabitants in 1974. Oil revenues have allowed
Saudi Arabia and the other states of the Persian Gulf to erect modern buildings
and to add urban refinements in their cities.
An old town in central Saudi Arabia.
During the middle ages the people of Arabia who lived in
cities built them in this fashion, using mud bricks.
Carved cliff tombs at Madain Salik, in present-day Saudi Arabia.
These are the tombs of wealthy Nabataean merchants, who controlled the
caravan trade routes of the Near and Far East. These tombs are about 2000
years old. On the left is a "battlement tomb," so-called because of the shape
of its frontispiece. At right is a "staircase tomb."
A closer view of the green dome of the Mosque at Medina, where Muhammad
is buried.
The four successors to Muhammad, known as the "Rightly Guided" caliphs,
consolidated and then expanded the Islamic state founded by Muhammad.
Because Muhammad had left no clear process of selecting his successor
prior to his sudden death in 632 A.D., there was dissension over who
merited selection as caliph. Those who favored Ali became the founders of
the Shi'ite faction. The four caliphs and dates of rule were Abu Bakr (632634), Umar (634-644), Uthman (644-656), and Ali (656-661).
Pilgrims arriving at Mecca to perform hajj.
► Islam
Islamic Law
in the past has been a religion and basis of
► The Koran is held by Muslims to be the revealed
word of God.
► It is the highest authority of Islamic law.
► Islamic Law is called Shariah
► It governs all aspects of life.
► It provides guidance for political, social, and
economic life, as well as for private behavior.
Islamic Law continued
► Saudi
Arabia and Iran rely on Shariah.
► Most Middle Eastern countries have western
style law codes.
► Nonetheless, the legal ideas of Shariah
effect the region.
A Koranic school in Cairo in the late 19th century
Literacy has been highly prized throughout the Islamic world. The
educational system was founded on the Quran, as the source of law
and wisdom. Here the master is teaching the students Arabic, utilizing
the Koran as the text.
Challenges to Stability
► Reasons
 Minority ethnic groups such as the Kurds have
demanded self-rule.
 Rapid Population growth
 Urbanization
 Widespread poverty
 Illiteracy
Civil War in Lebanon
One of the most unstable places in the Middle East
Beirut, its capital, has sometimes been ranked as the most
deadliest city in the world
► Muslim and different Christian groups live there
► The Lebanese constitution divided power amongst the
► Muslims were given less political power even though their
population is increasing
► In 1975 civil war broke out lasting 16 years
► Palestinians also fled to Lebanon from Israel
► The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) launched
terrorist attacks on Israel from bases in Lebanon.
Ruins of Beirut residential neighborhood, 1982
(PLO) Palestinian Liberation Organization
Foreign Involvement in the Civil War
in Lebanon
► Syria,
Israel, Iran, and the United States all
became involved in the struggle.
► Syria and Israel occupied parts of Lebanon
► Thousands of Lebanese died
► The economy and infrastructure were destroyed
► 1991 – the Lebanese government gave more
power to Muslims
► Peace was finally restored
► Year
1. 1976
2. 1982
3. 1983
Lebanon Civil War
Main Idea
The Force of Islamic Tradition
Many of the conflicts in the Middle East are based on
traditional Islamic culture versus Western culture
After many Middle Eastern nations gained independence,
they also inherited any elements of western culture
Islamic law or Shariah was replaced with western secular
law codes
In cities, many young people listened to western music,
dressed in western clothing, and embraced western values
Women gained more rights, were allowed in public, and did
not have to cover their heads and faces
The Islamist Movement
► Westernization
was viewed as colonialism, an evil
force undermining Islamic society
► Some Muslims wanted to return to the values of
the Koran and a time before western domination
► Supporters wanted more power given to religious
► Wanted a strict separation of men and women in
public places (workplace and schools)
► A religious revival that seemed to counter a rapid
social and economic change in the Middle East
Most Islamist opposed violence but one branch resorted to
al Qaeda is one group that used violence and terror, they
claim to be involved in a holy struggle against the enemies
of Islam
The opposed the US for spreading its culture as a new
form of imperialism
They also dislike the US for supporting the state of Israel
Most Middle Eastern leaders reject the actions of Islamic
extremists and believe that westernization is a natural
process, not the fault of any one country
Governments such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Algeria
cracked down on terrorism even before 9/11
Al Qaeda

27-1 The Middle East in Transition