Understanding the wars in the Near and Middle East: explanations and chronology

Here is a summary of the History and wars for each country, in order to better understand what is happening in the Near and Middle East, what is the situation, and what crises are going on in the region.

Of course this article will not give you an exhaustive presentation of all the issues and all the nuances that should be brought to have an expert opinion. But it will give you enough general knowledge to understand everything that is happening in this very troubled region of the world. It will also give you the essential reference points to put in relation with relevance to the information that you hear every day through the media or in the framework of your studies.

Situation of the Middle East countries, current facts and history to understand the wars in the Middle East

Carte du Proche et Moyen-Orient

> Understanding the conflicts in Syria

  • Capital of Syria: Damascus
  • Population of Syria: 20 million
  • President of Syria: Bashar al-Assad

Summary of the history of Syria:

In 1970, Hafez el-Assad’s coup d’état with the Ba’ath Party (originally, the Ba’ath Party wanted the unification of all Arab states).
In 2000, his son Bassar el-Assad succeeded him.
In March 2011, the Arab Spring has already reached Syria, and the demonstrations are repressed by the army
From 2012 to 2016, the division of the Syrian people and the breakthrough of the Islamic State degenerated into civil war, massacres, and refugee flows

> Understanding the conflicts in Lebanon

  • Capital of Lebanon: Beirut
  • Population of Lebanon: 4 million
  • President of Lebanon: Michel Sleiman

Summary of Lebanon’s History:

In 1920, France exercises a mandate over Lebanon
In 1943, Lebanon gained its independence
In 1982, Israel invaded southern Lebanon against the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) based in Lebanon
Also in 1982, as a reaction, the Hezbollah (“Party of God”) was born, a rather terrorist organization, thanks to the help of Iran.
In 2006, a war between Lebanon and Israel
In 2015, the Syrian crisis has repercussions in Lebanon, which is facing the influx of more than one million refugees

> Understanding the conflicts in Israel

  • Capital of Israel: Jerusalem (not recognized), Tel Aviv (recognized)
  • Population of Israel: 7.5 million
  • President of Israel: Shimon Peres (born in 1923, he is 89 years old in 2012, and has Benyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister)

Summary of Israel’s history:

A sacred and biblical land
In 1948, the independence of Israel previously under the British mandate.
In 1967, the Six-Day War: Israel attacks Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, which leads to the capture of Jerusalem (capital not recognized internationally)
In 1973, the Yom Kippur War: Egypt and Syria attacked Israel
In 1978, the Camp David treaty which concludes that: Israel withdraws from the Sinai, and Egypt recognizes Israel.
In 1982, a war in Lebanon against the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization)
In 1987, the first Intifada: Palestinian uprising leading to the death of ~1,000 Palestinians and ~150 Israelis
In 1993, the Oslo Accords put an end to the intifada
In 2000, second intifada: death of ~4,500 Palestinians and ~1,000 Israelis until 2006.
In 2006, a war against the Lebanese Hezbollah (Palestinian resistance movement)
In 2008, Gaza war: Israel attacks Hamas (extreme Palestinian Islamist movement) to stop Hamas rocket fire which controls the Gaza Strip
In 2012, Israel’s “Pillar of Defense” operation was again aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire (800 shots in five days, since the launch of the operation on November 14).
In 2014, the Israeli air force conducted 160 raids on the Gaza Strip after intercepting rocket fire

> Understanding the conflicts in Jordan

  • Capital of Jordan: Amman
  • Population of Jordan: 6.5 million
  • King of Jordan: Abdullah II

Summary of Jordan’s history:

In 1946, the Hashemite Kingdom (the name of the ruling dynasty) of Transjordan gained its independence
In 1948, the Palestine War: the Kingdom of Transjordan controls the West Bank and East Jerusalem
In 1949, the Kingdom of Transjordan became Jordan
In 1967, Jordan fights against Israel in the 6-day war

> Understanding the conflicts in Iraq

  • Capital of Iraq: Baghdad
  • Population of Iraq: 31 million
  • President of Iraq: Jalal Talabani

Summary of Iraq’s history:

In 1932, Iraq gained independence from Great Britain
In 1948, the Arab-Israeli war
In 1979, Saddam Hussein came to power
In 1980, the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted 8 years
In 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait, leading to the intervention of the United States, which retaliates the following year
In 2003, the Iraq war: the United Kingdom and the United States attacked Iraq (France refused to participate), causing the fall and execution of Saddam Hussein for his massacres.
In 2011, the last American soldiers withdraw from Iraq. December 31 becomes a holiday in Iraq to celebrate this withdrawal as the return of Iraqi sovereignty.
In 2014, Iraq faces the Islamic State, which has seized territory in the northwest

> Understanding the conflicts in Iran

  • Capital of Iran: Tehran
  • Population of Iran: 78 million
  • President of Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Summary of Iran’s history:

In 1934, the kingdom of Persia was renamed Iran by royal decree.
In 1955, Iran joined Pakistan and the United Kingdom in the Baghdad Pact
In 1960, Iran joined Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Venezuela to find the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
In 1979, Islamic revolution: after numerous violent demonstrations, the Shah (= the monarch) left the country for Egypt.
Also in 1979, Khomeini (spiritual guide of the Islamic revolution) returns to Iran after 15 years of exile and proclaims the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In 2002, George W. Bush denounced the “axis of evil”: Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
In 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) denounced the development of nuclear weapons in Iran.
In 2006, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iranian president) declared that Iran had “joined the club of countries with nuclear technology.
In 2012, November 16: the IAEA reports that Iran has completed the installation of its nuclear site of Fordo, increasing its uranium enrichment capacity, despite the many international sanctions, including economic sanctions against Iran.
In 2015, an agreement is reached on the nuclear crisis in Iran, which accepts controls to avoid economic sanctions

General chronology of conflicts and crises in the Near and Middle East

→ Why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

1947: the UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 181, separating Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, and protecting the Holy Places “under special international regime”.

1948: David Ben Gourion proclaims the birth of the State of Israel.

1956: Suez Canal crisis

1964: Creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Jerusalem.

1967: June 5 to 10: Six-Day War. The Israeli army seized Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

1969: Yasser Arafat chairs the PLO.

1970: Black September: repression of Palestinians by the Jordanian army in 1970

1972: Munich Massacre: Black September (Palestinian organization with the same name as the event) killed eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

1973: Yom Kippur War: offensive of the Egyptian and Syrian armies against Israel to recover their territories.

1978: Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David agreements, thanks to the United States (President Jimmy Carter).

1982 Israel invades Lebanon, leading to the flight of the PLO based in Beirut to Tunisia.

1987: until 1993, First Intifada: spontaneous uprising of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

1990–1991: Kuwait War or Gulf War: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invades Kuwait

1993: Mutual recognition of Israel and the PLO.

1995: Oslo II agreements giving more autonomy to the West Bank – Assassination of Israeli signatory Yitzhak Rabin (1994 Nobel Peace Prize) by an Israeli extremist opposed to these agreements.

2000: second Intifada: virulent insurrection of the Palestinian people repressed by Israel

2011: outbreak of a civil war in Syria, which degenerates into a regional and even international conflict

2012: for the first time since the Kuwait war, a Palestinian rocket falls near Tel Aviv

2014: proclamation of a caliphate by the Islamic terrorist organization Daesh, which calls itself the Islamic State.

2015: Iranian nuclear agreement

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11 thoughts on “Understanding the wars in the Near and Middle East: explanations and chronology

  1. You forgot to mention the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 when Arab countries simultaneously attacked Israel on the day of its independence)…

  2. I would like to point out the oblivion of the 1947-48 war when the Arab-Muslim troops declared war and invaded the newly created state of Israel.

  3. I’m a little late, but I would just like to point out that there is a small mistake, not very important, in the paragraph on the description of Lebanon, where the word Syria appears. thanks anyway

  4. Thank you very much for these articles! Your site allows me to understand international news, in particular these complex conflicts.

  5. Thank you for these very clear explanations and for the site in general!! a gold mine !

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