Opening Up The Middle East

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The Post described the events following Khashoggi's killing as a cover-up, leading to a campaign in Saudi Arabia to boycott Amazon and Souq. Still, Amazon is aggressively recruiting sellers into the market. The acquisition of Souq was designed to help Amazon quickly gain a foothold in the Middle East, as Souq was already one of the largest online retailers in the region. But the company hasn't made any significant moves since the acquisition. It's unclear whether Amazon plans to shutter Souq altogether or is just de-emphasizing it to focus on its main site.

Though it cited profitability challenges for the closure, Amazon had little need for Quidsi because it was selling the same products on Amazon. For now, Amazon still lists dozens of job openings for Souq, with most of the positions in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman, Jordan. The company is looking to hire software developers and vendor managers. Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox.

Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services. Privacy Policy. All Rights Reserved. Data also provided by. Skip Navigation. Top Stories Top Stories By the numbers: Best June for the Dow since Wall Street wrapped up a roaring June and first half of the year as investors cheered the prospects of easier monetary policy from the Federal Reserve Markets read more. Technology read more. Joe Biden loses support of top financier after segregationist Politics read more.

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In , the region was further plagued by the Turko-Mongol, Timur , and his ferocious raids. By then, another group of Turks had arisen as well, the Ottomans. By the early 15th century, a new power had arisen in western Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman khans, who in captured the Christian Byzantine capitol of Constantinople and made themselves sultans. The Mamluks held the Ottomans out of the Middle East for a century, but in Selim the Grim began the systematic Ottoman conquest of the region.

Syria was occupied in and Egypt in , extinguishing the Mameluk line. Iraq was conquered almost in 40 years from the Iranian Safavids , who were successors of the Aq Qoyunlu. The Ottomans united the whole region under one ruler for the first time since the reign of the Abbasid caliphs of the 10th century, and they kept control of it for years, despite brief intermissions created by the Iranian Safavids and Afsharids.

In the west, Europe was rapidly expanding, demographically, economically, and culturally. By , the Ottomans had been driven out of Hungary. Although some areas of Ottoman Europe, such as Albania and Bosnia , saw many conversions to Islam, the area was never culturally absorbed into the Muslim world. From to , the Ottomans gradually lost territory. By the 19th century, Europe had overtaken the Muslim world in wealth, population, and—most importantly—technology. The industrial revolution fueled a boom that laid the foundations for the growth of capitalism.

During the 19th century, Greece , Serbia , Romania , and Bulgaria claimed independence, and the Ottoman Empire became known as the " sick man of Europe ", increasingly under the financial control of European powers.


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Domination soon turned to outright conquest: the French annexed Algeria in and Tunisia in and the British occupied Egypt in , though it remained under nominal Ottoman sovereignty. In the Balkan Wars of —13 the Ottomans were driven out of Europe altogether, except for the city of Constantinople and its hinterland.

The Ottomans turned to Germany to protect them from the western powers, but the result was increasing financial and military dependence on Germany. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Middle Eastern rulers tried to modernize their states to compete more effectively with Europe. In the Ottoman Empire, the Tanzimat reforms re-invigorated Ottoman rule and were furthered by the Young Ottomans in the late 19th century, leading to the First Constitutional Era in the Empire that included the writing of the constitution and the establishment of the Ottoman Parliament.

The authors of the revolution in Persia all sought to import versions of the western model of constitutional government, civil law, secular education, and industrial development into their countries. Throughout the region, railways and telegraph lines were constructed, schools and universities were opened, and a new class of army officers, lawyers, teachers, and administrators emerged, challenging the traditional leadership of Islamic scholars.

This first Ottoman constitutional experiment ended soon after it began, however, when the autocratic Sultan Abdul Hamid II abolished the parliament and the constitution in favor of personal rule. Abdul Hamid ruled by decree for the next 30 years, stirring democratic resentment. The reform movement known as the Young Turks emerged in the s against his rule, which included massacres against minorities. The Young Turks seized power in the Young Turk Revolution and established the Second Constitutional Era , leading to a pluralist and multiparty elections in the Empire for the first time in After a power struggle between the two parties of Young Turks, the Committee emerged victorious and became a ruling junta, with Talaat as Grand Vizier and Enver as War Minister, and established a German-funded modernisation program across the Empire.

Enver Bey's alliance with Germany, which he considered the most advanced military power in Europe, was enabled by British demands that the Ottoman Empire cede their formal capital Edirne Adrianople to the Bulgarians after losing the First Balkan War , which the Turks saw as a betrayal by Britain. In , as the result of the Cyprus Convention , the United Kingdom took over the government of Cyprus as a protectorate from the Ottoman Empire. While the Cypriots at first welcomed British rule , hoping that they would gradually achieve prosperity, democracy and national liberation, they soon became disillusioned.

The British imposed heavy taxes to cover the compensation they paid to the Sultan for conceding Cyprus to them. Moreover, the people were not given the right to participate in the administration of the island, since all powers were reserved to the High Commissioner and to London. He abolished the caliphate , emancipated women, enforced western dress and the use of a new Turkish alphabet based on Latin script in place of the Arabic alphabet , and abolished the jurisdiction of the Islamic courts.

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In effect, Turkey, having given up rule over the Arab world, was now determined to secede from the Middle East and become culturally part of Europe. Another turning point came when oil was discovered, first in Persia and later in Saudi Arabia as well as the other Persian Gulf states, Libya , and Algeria.

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The Middle East, it turned out, possessed the world's largest easily accessible reserves of crude oil , the most important commodity in the 20th century. While western oil companies pumped and exported nearly all of it to fuel the rapidly expanding automobile industry among other developments, the kings and emirs of these oil states became immensely rich, allowing them to consolidate their hold on power and giving them a stake in preserving western hegemony over the region. Initially, the Western oil companies established a dominance over oil production and extraction.

However, indigenous movements towards nationalizing oil assets, oil sharing, and the advent of OPEC ensured a shift in the balance of power towards the Arab oil states. The British saw the Ottomans as the weak link in the enemy alliance, and concentrated on knocking them out of the war. When a direct assault failed at Gallipoli in , they turned to fomenting revolution in the Ottoman domains, exploiting the awakening force of Arab , Armenian , and Assyrian nationalism against the Ottomans.

The British found an ally in Sharif Hussein , the hereditary ruler of Mecca and believed by Muslims to be a descendant of Muhammad , who led an Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, after being promised independence. The Allies, led by Britain, won the war and seized most of the Ottoman territories; Turkey just managed to survive. The war transformed the region in terms of increased British and French involvement; the creation of the Middle Eastern state system as seen in Turkey and Saudi Arabia; the emergence of explicitly more nationalist politics, as seen in Turkey and Egypt; and the rapid growth of the Middle Eastern oil industry.

When the Ottoman Empire was defeated by an Arab uprising and the British forces after the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in , the Arab population did not get what it wanted. Islamic activists of more recent times have described as an Anglo-French betrayal. British and French governments concluded a secret treaty the Sykes—Picot Agreement to partition the Middle East between them.

The British in announced the Balfour Declaration promised the international Zionist movement their support in re-creating the historic Jewish homeland in Palestine. When the Ottomans departed, the Arabs proclaimed an independent state in Damascus , but were too weak, militarily and economically, to resist the European powers for long, and Britain and France soon established control and re-arranged the Middle East to suit themselves. Syria became a French protectorate as a League of Nations mandate. The Christian coastal areas were split off to become Lebanon , another French protectorate.

Iraq and Palestine became British mandated territories. Iraq incorporated large populations of Kurds , Assyrians and Turkmens , many of whom had been promised independent states of their own. Palestine became the " British Mandate of Palestine " and was split in half. The eastern half of Palestine became the " Emirate of Transjordan " to provide a throne for another of Husayn's sons, Abdullah. The western half of Palestine was placed under direct British administration.


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The Jewish population of Palestine which numbered less than 8 percent in was given free rein to immigrate, buy land from absentee landlords, set up a shadow government in waiting and establish the nucleus of a state under the protection of the British Army which suppressed a Palestinian revolt in Saud created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in While Zaghloul would later become Prime Minister, the British repression of the anticolonial riots led to around deaths. In , Syrian forces were defeated by the French in the Battle of Maysalun and Iraqi forces were defeated by the British when they revolted.

In , the nominally independent Kingdom of Egypt was created following the British government's issuance of the Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence. Although the Kingdom of Egypt was technically "neutral" during World War II, Cairo soon became a major military base for the British and the country was occupied.

The British cited the treaty that allowed it to station troops on Egyptian soil to protect the Suez Canal. In Palestine, conflicting forces of Arab nationalism and Zionism created a situation the British could neither resolve nor extricate themselves from. The rise of German dictator Adolf Hitler had created a new urgency in the Zionist quest to immigrate to Palestine and create a Jewish state.

A Palestinian state was also an attractive alternative to the Arab and Persian leaders, instead of the de facto British, French, and perceived Jewish colonialism or imperialism, under the logic of " the enemy of my enemy is my friend ". After the war, however, seven Middle East states gained or regained their independence:.

This plan sought to create an Arab state and a separate Jewish state in the narrow space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The Jewish leaders accepted it, but the Arab leaders rejected this plan. About , Palestinians fled from areas annexed by Israel and became refugees in neighbouring countries, thus creating the "Palestinian problem", which has troubled the region ever since. Approximately two-thirds of ,—, of the Jews expelled or who fled from Arab lands after were absorbed and naturalized by the State of Israel.

On August 16, , Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Archbishop Makarios III , a charismatic religious and political leader, was elected its first independent president, and in it became the 99th member of the United Nations.

Egypt opens Middle East's biggest cathedral near Cairo - BBC News

The modern Middle East was shaped by three things: departure of European powers, the founding of Israel , and the growing importance of the oil industry. These developments led increased U. The United States was the ultimate guarantor of the region's stability as well as the dominant force in the oil industry after the s. These regimes gained popular support with promises to destroy the state of Israel, defeat the United States and other "western imperialists", and to bring prosperity to the Arab masses.

When the Six-Day War of with Israel ended in a decisive loss for the Muslim side, many viewed defeat as the failure of Arab socialism. This represents a turning point when " fundamental and militant Islam began to fill the political vacuum created".

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The United States, in response, felt obliged to defend its remaining allies, the conservative monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, and the Persian Gulf emirates, whose methods of rule were almost as unattractive in western eyes as those of the anti-western regimes. Iran in particular became a key U.

This forced the United States into a close alliance with Saudi Arabia. In Cyprus between and , conflict arising between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots led to Cypriot intercommunal violence and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The Cyprus dispute remains unresolved. In , Egypt under Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat , concluded a peace treaty with Israel, ending the prospects of a united Arab military front. From the s the Palestinians, led by Yasser Arafat 's Palestine Liberation Organization , resorted to a prolonged campaign of violence against Israel and against American, Jewish, and western targets generally, as a means of weakening Israeli resolve and undermining western support for Israel.

The Palestinians were supported in this, to varying degrees, by the regimes in Syria, Libya, Iran, and Iraq. The high point of this campaign came in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution condemning Zionism as a form of racism and the reception given to Arafat by the United Nations General Assembly.

Due to many of the frantic events of the late s in the Middle East it culminated in the Iran—Iraq War between neighbouring Iran and Iraq. The war, started by Iraq, who invaded Iranian Khuzestan in at the behest of the latter's chaotic state of country due to the Islamic Revolution, eventually turned into a stalemate with hundreds of thousands of dead on both sides. The fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism in the early s had several consequences for the Middle East.

It allowed large numbers of Soviet Jews to emigrate from Russia and Ukraine to Israel, further strengthening the Jewish state. It cut off the easiest source of credit, armaments, and diplomatic support to the anti-western Arab regimes, weakening their position.

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It opened up the prospect of cheap oil from Russia, driving down the price of oil and reducing the west's dependence on oil from the Arab states. It discredited the model of development through authoritarian state socialism, which Egypt under Nasser , Algeria, Syria, and Iraq had followed since the s, leaving these regimes politically and economically stranded. Rulers such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein increasingly relied on Arab nationalism as a substitute for socialism.

Saddam Hussein led Iraq into a prolonged and costly war with Iran from to , and then into its fateful invasion of Kuwait in Kuwait had been part of the Ottoman province of Basra before , and thus in a sense part of Iraq, even though Iraq had recognized its independence in President George H. Bush did not, however, attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein, which the United States later came to regret.

In the whole region, only Israel, Turkey and to some extent Lebanon and the Palestinian territories were considered to be democracies. Some countries had legislative bodies, but these were said to have little power. In the Persian Gulf states the majority of the population could not vote because they were guest workers rather than citizens.

In most Middle Eastern countries, the growth of market economies was said to be limited by political restrictions, corruption, and cronyism , overspending on arms and prestige projects and over-dependence on oil revenues. The successful economies were countries that had oil wealth and low populations, such as Qatar , Bahrain , Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates , where the ruling emirs allowed some political and social liberalization, but without giving up any of their own power.

Lebanon also rebuilt a fairly successful economy after a prolonged civil war in the s. At the beginning of the 21st century, all these factors intensified conflict in the Middle East, which affected the entire world. Bill Clinton 's failed attempt to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine at the Camp David Summit in led directly to the election of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister of Israel and to the Second Intifada , which conducted suicide bombings on Israeli civilians. This was the first major outbreak of violence since the Oslo Peace Accords of At the same time, the failures of most of the Arab governments and the bankruptcy of secular Arab radicalism led a section of educated Arabs and other Muslims to embrace Islamism , promoted both by Iran's Shi'a clerics as well as by Saudi Arabia's powerful Wahhabist sect.

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