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1950: Israel proclaims Jerusalem its capital.

Though the U.S. still favored keeping Jerusalem an international zone as per the 1947 UN partition plan, Israel proclaims Jerusalem its capital. East Jerusalem, which includes the old city, will remain under Jordan's control until June 1967.


March 7, 1951: Iranian prime minister Ali Razmara is shot to death.

After Prime Minister Ali Razmara advises against nationalizing the oil industry on technical grounds, he is assassinated by Khalil Tahmasebi, a member of the terrorist group of the Fadayan-e Islam.

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March 1951: Ultranationalist Mohammed Mossadeq becomes Iranian prime minister following death of Ali Razmara.

Before being appointed prime minister, Mossadeq served as a minister and governor in the 1920s. His opposition to the accession of Reza Shah results in imprisonment and later house arrest. Mossadeq returns to parliament in 1941 after Reza Shah is removed from power and replaced by his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.

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March 1951: Mossadeq nationalizes the oil industry.

To prevent foreign interests from controlling the Iranian economy, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq nationalizes the oil industry. This move meets with tremendous resistance, especially from the British, who own substantial oil interests. Mossadeq becomes a national hero to many Iranians and gains international prestige -- Time magazine names him Man of the Year for 1951.

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December 24, 1951: Libya declares its independence under King Idris.

Libya gains independence on December 24, 1951. Setting the stage for independence was a 1949 United Nations resolution stating that Libya should become independent before January 1, 1952. The first country to gain independence through a UN resolution, Libya had been an Italian colony from the early 1900s through World War II and was then under French and British control in the postwar period (1945-1951).

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February 18, 1952: Already a founding member of the UN, Turkey becomes a member of NATO.

Turkey celebrates its acceptance into NATO. With it, the country gains protection from any Soviet aggression. It is also more likely to receive foreign aid to assist with modernization. Many Turks interpret the event as symbolic of Western nations finally accepting Turkey as one of their own.

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July 23, 1952: A military coup removes Egypt's King Faruq from power.

Gen. Muhammad Naguib establishes Egyptian sovereignty; King Faruq I formally abdicates his throne three days later. The events are collectively known as the Egyptian Revolution. Col. Gamal Abd al-Nasser, who leads the nationalist forces in the coup, ultimately seizes power from Naguib in 1954.

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1953: Lebanese women gain the right to vote.



1953: The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is founded.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is founded to promote sustainable development of the land. SPNI sponsors tours, research, educational activities, and public campaigns for environmental protection and historic preservation.

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May 18, 1953: The Israeli Knesset establishes Yad Vashem, a memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

The Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, serves as a repository for archives and books on the Holocaust and for biographical information about those who died in it. The compound houses two museums, exhibit halls, and monuments.

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August 15-19, 1953: A U.S.-backed coup removes Iranian prime minister Mossadeq from power.

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, British and American intelligence groups worry that Mossadeq's nationalist aspirations will lead to an eventual communist takeover. To avoid this, U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower approves a joint British-American operation to overthrow Mossadeq. After the first day it appears the coup has failed, and the Shah flees to Baghdad. Widespread rioting ensues, flamed by the CIA and British intelligence services, and Mossadeq is defeated. Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi returns to power, and Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, the leader of military coup, becomes prime minister.

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1953: The Sudan gains independence from Egypt and Britain.

Ending years of Egyptian demands, the British agree to withdraw from the Sudan and provide the Sudanese people an opportunity for self-government. The joint pact, signed in 1953, allows for a three-year transitional period leading to full independence. Elections are held late in 1953, and the first republican government takes office in 1954.

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October 19, 1954: Britain agrees to leave the Suez Canal and its occupation of Egypt.

Egypt and Britain conclude a pact on the Suez Canal, ending 72 years of British occupation. In return, Egypt agrees to maintain freedom of canal navigation. The last of the 80,000-strong British force leaves the canal zone by June 14, 1956.

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November 1954-July 1962: Algeria fights its War of Independence against the French.

Algeria fights a long and bloody war before it reclaims its independence from France in 1962. More than 500,000 from both sides die in the conflict.

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1956: Egypt grants women equal voting rights.

The new Egyptian constitution grants women the right to vote and to run for elected office.

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1956: The Baalbeck International Festival, a showcase for music, theater, and dance in Lebanon, holds its first season.

The Baalbeck International Festival inaugurates its first season with a performance of Jean Cocteau's La Machine Infernale. The festival runs annually until 1975, ceases performances during the civil war, and resumes in 1997. It has featured the Arab world's most popular performers as well as international artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Rudolf Nureyev, and the Bolshoi Ballet.

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March 1956: Sultan Mohammed becomes King of Morocco, ending the French protectorate of Morocco.



March 20, 1956: Tunisia gains independence from France.

Tunisia's bey, or hereditary ruler, assumes control of a new constitutional monarchy. A year later, Habib Bourguiba, president of the country's legislative body, the National Assembly, moves to adopt a constitution that ends the centuries-old tradition of rule by the bey. Bourguiba's policies over the next decade aim to further secularize and modernize Tunisian society.

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July 26, 1956: Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal.

Most likely in response to the U.S. decision to revoke its foreign aid pledge to help build the Aswan High Dam project, Nasser decides to nationalize the Suez Canal. Its toll revenues provide a significant source of needed income. This angers Britain and France, the former owners of the canal.

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October 31-November 7, 1956: Suez Crisis: Israel, Britain, and France attack Egypt after the Egyptian president Nassar nationalizes the Suez Canal.

Britain and France conspire to recapture the canal they once owned, with Israeli assistance. Israel invades Sinai, and Britain and France "intervene" and occupy the canal zone. They withdraw under U.S. and Soviet pressure, unsuccessful in their attempt.

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1957: Jordan revokes the Anglo-Jordanian treaty.

In 1956, Arab nationalism receives a huge boost from the failed attempt of Britain and France to regain control of the Suez Canal from Egypt; in the aftermath, Jordan's King Hussein relieves all British commanders of their positions in the Arab League. In 1957, with Arab nations promising to provide Jordan with enough money to free it from its dependence on British subsidies, Hussein revokes the Anglo-Jordanian treaty that had given Jordan full independence from the British mandate in 1946 in exchange for ongoing British use of military facilities within Jordan. Troops will fully withdraw from Jordan later in the year.

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February 1958: The United Arab Republic, a union of Egypt and Syria, is formed.

Egypt and Syria merge to form a single political unit, with Gamal Abd al-Nasser as its president. This is designed as a first step toward creating a pan-Arab union. As such, the inhabitants are simply known as Arabs, the country called "Arab territory." In 1958, the UAR forms a loose federation with Yemen, called the United Arab States. A 1961 military coup in Syria forces the breakup of the UAR, though Egypt continues to use the name until 1971.

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July 14, 1958: Iraq's British-backed monarch is overthrown in a military coup.

King Faisal II is assassinated for being perceived as too closely aligned with former colonial power Britain. Iraq is declared a republic, and Gen. Abdel Karim Qasim becomes president. The new government pursues a foreign policy that is decidedly anti-Western.

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July 15, 1958: Lebanon's Christian and Muslim factions engage in civil war.

With Egypt and Syria's pan-Arab movement stirring up sentiments among Lebanon's religious groups, Lebanon's fragile coalition government weakens. The Lebanese army's loyalty to President Kamil Shamun wavers. With the outbreak of civil war between Christians and Muslims, Shamun calls on the U.S. to send troops to secure peace. The U.S., wanting to avoid another coup (as had just occurred in Iraq), sends 5,000 Marines to Lebanon.

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1959: Oil is discovered in Libya.

The oil boom provides Libya with newfound financial independence, transforming a country with one of the lowest standards of living into one full of opportunities, with growing employment and plans for improved housing, health care, and education. Investing much of its oil profits in other parts of the economy, Libya expands its industry, mining, and agricultural base, irrigating new areas of the desert. Most of the large farms, which are owned by the government, produce foods that were formerly imported, including corn, wheat, and citrus fruits, as well as cattle, sheep, and poultry.

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1959: The first big oil reserve is discovered just off the coast of Abu Dhabi (now part of the United Arab Emirates).

Oil is first discovered off of Abu Dhabi in 1959. Just a year later, oil is also found in Abu Dhabi's desert. Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras al-Khaimah follow with discoveries of their own over the next several years. Abu Dhabi, once known as a fishing village, is today the richest of all the emirates. Dubai, originally known for its pearl trade, is the second richest.

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May 27, 1960: In Turkey, a military coup replaces the Democratic Party government with the Committee of National Unity (CNU).

While Turkey's military agrees with Atat¸rk, the founder of modern Turkey, that they stay out of politics, they make an exception when it comes their role as guardian of the constitution and Kemalism. By 1960, the military determines that the government has departed from Kemalist principles and that the republic is in danger. On May 27, 1960, the army seizes the principal government buildings and communications centers and arrests most of the Democratic Party (DP) representatives, as well as the president and prime minister. The government is replaced by the Committee of National Unity (CNU), an interim government comprised mainly of military personnel. By January 1961 a new constitution is ratified, and in October elections are held, returning the government to civilian rule.

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September 10-14, 1960: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela form OPEC, a federation of oil-producing nations.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forms as a group of developing oil-producing countries seeking to enter the international oil market. Its objective today is to coordinate oil policies and to secure fair prices for its member countries (which now number 13) and dependable supply to its customer nations.

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May 6, 1961: The White Revolution: Reza Shah Pahlevi dissolves Iran's legislative body and suspends its constitution.

The Shah's suspension of the constitution and his dissolution of the legislature free him to proceed with his plan for modernization, which has been opposed by religious conservatives in the Majlis. The Shah abolishes the practice of sharecropping, nationalizes dwindling forests, gives women voting rights, and starts a massive rural literacy program.


1961: As Britain ends its protectorate in Kuwait, Iraq threatens to claim its neighbor for its own.

After Kuwait gains its independence from Britain on June 19, President Abdel Karim Qasim of Iraq asserts a longstanding Iraqi claim to Kuwait. Kuwait seeks and receives British military support, which in the end is not needed, as Iraq does not launch an offensive. Iraq never formally withdraws its claim, however, and in 1990 invades Kuwait and claims it as Iraq's 19th province.

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1962: Abu Dhabi begins to export petroleum.

Massive amounts of money flow into Abu Dhabi (now part of UAE) when it begins to export petroleum. Because the small local population cannot meet the need for planned construction projects (e.g., of hospitals, roads, schools), foreign workers are hired by the hundreds of thousands.

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February 6, 1962: Marc Chagall presents windows for the new synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Israel.

Chagall's windows, which depict scenes of the 12 sons of Jacob, are presented at the synagogue's dedication ceremony. Four of the windows suffer damaged in the Six-Day War in 1967, and Chagall installs replacements in 1969. Three windows are still marked by bullet holes.

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1962: Civil war erupts when the Yemen Arab Republic is established in the north.

When army officers in the north overthrow the new imam, Muhammad al-Badr, the Yemen Arab Republic is established. Civil war ensues. The republicans are backed by Egypt and the Soviet Union, and the imam's supporters are backed by Saudi Arabia and Britain.

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February 8, 1963: President Qasim of Iraq is ousted in a coup led by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.

The Ba'ath Party, upset with the President Qasim's dictatorial rule, joins forces with the military to force him out of power. Col. Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif becomes president and rules until his untimely death in a helicopter crash nine months later.

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1964: Conflict over access to fresh water from the Jordan River pits Israel against its Arab neighbors.

The countries sharing the basin of the Jordan River have extremely limited sources of fresh water, and water rights have been one of the leading sources of conflict in this troubled region. In 1964, Israel's National Water Carrier system, a complex of canals, pipelines, and tunnels built to convey water to the coastal plain of Israel and the Negev Desert, began diverting water from the Jordan River Basin. This diversion led to the Arab Summit of 1964, where a plan was developed to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River into Syria and Jordan -- preventing Jordan River water from reaching Israel. As the activities of the Headwater Diversion Plan began to take shape from 1965-67, Israel attacked construction sites. These incidents regarding water issues led up to the outbreak of the Six-Day War in June 1967.


May 1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is founded.

Composed of various political factions and guerrilla groups, the PLO is founded to serve as the coordinating council for Palestinian organizations. The Palestinain national charter of 1968 will call for an end to the Jewish state. In 1988 the PLO will accept the two state solution implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist. The PLO has employed both terrorism and diplomacy in pursuit of its goals. Al-Fatah is the PLO's largest faction, and its leader, Yasser Arafat, has been chairman of the PLO since 1968.


July 1964: The Turkish film Susuz Yaz, or Dry Summer, wins the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Turkey has a long history of producing films. The first Turkish film on record is a documentary produced in 1914, and the republic's first private film studio, Kemal Films, began operations in 1921.

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November 4, 1964: Critical of the Shah's new Western-influenced policies, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini is exiled to Turkey.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and other religious conservatives are angered by policies that they believe contradict Islamic customs. Outspoken on a number of issues, Khomeini's denunciations of the Shah's Status of Forces bill (which allows U.S. military personnel diplomatic immunity for crimes committed in Iran) results in his exile to Turkey. In 1965, Khomeini moves to Iraq, where he remains until 1978.

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1965: Zaynab al-Ghazali, Islamic activist and founder of the Muslim Women's Association, is imprisoned in Egypt.

At the same time that President Gamal Abd al-Nasser's government cracks down on the Muslim Brotherhood, other groups suspected of agitating the public against the government are also shut down. One such group is Zaynab al-Ghazali's Muslim Women's Association. Al-Ghazali founded the Muslim Women's Association in 1936, at age 18, to instill the doctrines of Islam in women's minds, teach them about their rights and duties, and call for the establishment of an Islamic state guided by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. (The Sunnah is the example of practical leadership and the ideological guidance provided by Muhammad, which transforms belief in God into a culture and a civilization, and enables men and women to evolve a way of life.) Brought to trial in 1966 and sentenced to a life term, al-Ghazali is released in 1971 by Nasser's successor, Anwar al-Sadat. She continues to be a proponent of the establishment of a united Islamic state.

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1965: Archaeologists working in Qatar discover signs of human life dating back to 4000 B.C.E.

A Danish archaeological expedition uncovers signs of human habitation on the Qatar peninsula going back to 4000 B.C.E. A British team in 1973 and a French team in 1976 continue the dig and add to its findings.

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October 3, 1965: A second wave of Middle Eastern immigration to the United States begins with the passage of new immigration laws.

The Immigration Act of 1965 abolishes the quota system established in 1921 that restricted admission to the U.S. according to a person's national origins. Prior to 1961, strong preference had been shown for people from Western hemisphere countries, while those from Eastern countries were given far fewer visas. In the late 1970s, with people fleeing political crises in Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, immigration from Middle Eastern countries to the U.S. will again rise dramatically.

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1966: A banking crisis hits Beirut and temporarily slows Lebanon's vibrant economy.

A commercial banking crisis slows the go-go banking industry of Beirut, which at mid-century had been the repository of choice for oil money from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Beirut, the "Switzerland of the Middle East," was also a favored destination of the European and American elite. After the banking crisis settles, the Lebanese economy will be strong again until the civil war in 1975.

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April 17, 1966: Iraqi president Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif dies in a helicopter crash.

Upon his death, President Abd al-Salam Muhammad Arif of Iraq is succeeded by his older brother, Abd al-Rahman Arif.

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1966: Israeli writer S.Y. Agnon wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Agnon's novels and short stories primarily concern the experiences of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jews. His writing combines traditional sources with 20th-century literary experimentation (such as stream of consciousness). His best known novel, The Day Before Yesterday (Temol Shilshom), was published in 1945.

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June 5-10, 1967: The Six-Day War is fought between Israel and the Arab states.

Conflict ignites after three weeks of increasing tensions, including a massive Arab troop buildup in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as an Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran in the Red Sea of ships to or from Israel. On June 5, 1967, Israel responds by launching a surprise attack on Egypt. Other Arab nations, including Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, and Jordan, join Egypt in the fighting. Israel seizes the Golan Heights from Syria, Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan before a cease-fire is agreed upon.

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June 5, 1967: Egypt closes the Suez Canal in conjunction with the Six-Day War.

Closed during the Six-Day War by the Egyptians, the Suez Canal becomes part of the boundary separating Egypt and the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula after the war. Remaining closed for the next eight years, Egypt loses considerable revenue. Many ships built after the closing (especially tankers) are too large to navigate the canal.


June 9-10, 1967: President Nasser of Egypt resigns.

In response to Egypt's military defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War, President Gamal Abd al-Nasser resigns. Popular demand, however, quickly compels him to resume his post.


November 28, 1967: Southern Yemen gains independence from Britain.



1967: Southern Yemen accepts Soviet economic aid, becoming the first and only Marxist Arab state.

The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (Southern Yemen) is in economic shambles with the closure of the Suez Canal following the Six-Day War and the loss of British trade. The country accepts aid from the Soviet Union and other communist countries to stay afloat.

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1968: Yasser Arafat is elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Yasser Arafat, leader of the al-Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), is elected chairman of the executive committee. After his election, he shifts the PLO's main guerrilla forces to Jordan.

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1968: Amos Oz publishes Mikhael sheli (My Michael) in Hebrew.

This book, Oz's best known novel, is thought to symbolize the struggles of the diverse cultures in Jerusalem to coexist.

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July 17, 1968: A Ba'athist-led coup ousts President Arif of Iraq.

Following the Ba'athist coup, Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr becomes president of Iraq. The country's political system enjoys relative stability over the next 10 years. Money from oil exports contributes to an economic boom. Between 1972 and 1975, annual oil revenues increase from $1 billion to $8.2 billion.

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1969: Iran's "New Wave" in filmmaking begins with the production of Dariush Mehrjui's The Cow.

The film The Cow, which concerns a poor village that loses its only cow and the devastation of that loss, is banned in Iran upon its release for its depiction of poverty and poor social conditions. Mehrjui's controversial, critically acclaimed film ushers in the Iranian New Wave in filmmaking, noted for its rejection of commercialism and melodrama in favor of social consciousness. Iran's film tradition is currently among the most celebrated in the world.

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1969-1974: Golda Meir serves as Israeli prime minister, becoming the world's second female head of government.

Kiev-born and Milwaukee-raised Golda Meir emigrated to Palestine in 1921. After holding positions in Israel's first government beginning in 1948 -- as an ambassador, a member of the Knesset, and foreign minister for 10 years -- Meir assumes the role of prime minister upon the death of Levi Eshkol in 1969. Under her leadership, Israel strengthens relations with the U.S. Presiding over Israel during the Yom Kippur War, Meir is harshly criticized for Israel's lack of preparedness against the surprise attack. In April 1974 she resigns, despite having won the election a few months earlier. She dies at age 80 in December 1978.

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June 1969: President Salim Rubayi Ali assumes power in Southern Yemen.

Ali succeeds Qahtan al-Shabi, who is overthrown by the Marxist National Liberation Front. The following year the country is renamed the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and during Ali's rule, most of the economy is placed under government control.

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September 1969: Revolutionary leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi takes power of Libya in a military coup.

Qaddafi creates his own political system, the Third International Theory, as an alternative to capitalism and communism. It is a combination of socialism and Islam. From this point on on, all aspects of Libyan life will be controlled by Qaddafi. He declares a jamahariyya (government of the masses) and calls for political, legal, and social changes in accord with his "green book."

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November 2, 1969: The secret Cairo Agreement is signed by Arafat and Lebanese army commander Gen. Emil Bustani.

The year 1969 sees periodic clashes between PLO guerrillas based in Lebanon and the Lebanese army. In October, the Lebanese army begins an active campaign against Palestinian forces. But support for the PLO is evenly split across the country. Army leaders fear that a decisive defeat of the Palestinians will splinter the nation. As a result, army commander Gen. Emil Bustani signs the Cairo Agreement with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Officially secret, the Cairo Agreement apparently grants the Palestinians the right to keep weapons in their camps and to attack Israel across Lebanon's border.


1970s: Libya nationalizes its manufacturing and private-sector industries.

Food-processing, textiles and traditional handicrafts, and the banking industries in Libya are among those put under government control. The economy depends primarily on revenues from the oil sector, and although Libya enjoys immense oil revenues coupled with a small population, most of the money stays within the centralized government, and little flows to the general population.

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1970: The Aswan High Dam is built in Egypt, controlling the Nile's annual flood but changing the river's ecosystem.

A second, or "High," Aswan Dam is built with Soviet assistance to replace the older, less effective Aswan "Low" Dam. The dam has stopped the river's annual floods by trapping its waters in a reservoir and slowly releasing it during the dry season. This allows farmers along the Nile to plant year round. Unfortunately, the dam also traps the river's fertile silt, forcing the use of artificial fertilizers by farmers and causing pollution. Other effects of the dam are riverbank erosion and high levels of soil salinity.

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1970: Northern Yemen's eight-year civil war ends.

Imam Muhammad al-Badr, Northern Yemen's leader, is exiled to Britain. A new government established by the republicans lasts only four years before army leaders seize control and steer the country in a conservative direction.

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March 11, 1970: Kurdish autonomy is proclaimed in Iraq.

With the March Proclamation, signed by Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani, the Iraqi government and the Kurds agree to the creation of a Kurdish autonomous region within the next four years. Although the RCC issues decrees in 1974 and '75 that provide for its administration, these terms are not acceptable to all Kurdish leaders, and a major war ensues. By 1988 the Kurds are defeated. Guerrilla activities, however, continue to this day in parts of Kurdistan.


July 23, 1970: Sultan Qaboos takes over control of Oman from his father and ends the country's isolation from the world.

As sultan, Qaboos holds absolute power over Oman and makes all important decisions. Both sultan and prime minister, he heads the foreign, defense, and finance ministries. After a period of Omani isolation from the rest of the world, Sultan Qaboos bin Said opens up the country to the rest of the world.

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September 1970: The PLO launches a failed attempt to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein.

The PLO's failed attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, known as Black September, results in the PLO's moving its main base of operations out of Jordan and into Lebanon.


September 28, 1970: Egyptian president Nasser dies.

Egyptian president Gamal Abd al-Nasser dies of cardiac arrest after negotiating a Jordan-Palestinian truce. His vice president, Anwar al-Sadat, succeeds him, running unopposed in the presidential election.


1971: Tunisia's Habib Bourguiba advocates mutual recognition with Israel.

Bourguiba becomes the first Arab leader to publicly advocate mutual recognition with Israel.


1971: Natural gas is discovered in northeast Qatar.

The North Gas Field is among the top five largest natural gas reserves in the world.


March 12, 1971: The coup by memorandum: Turkey undergoes its second military coup.

Gen. Faruk G¸rler, leader of the armed forces chiefs, presents a memorandum to Turkish president Cevdet Sunay demanding a "strong and credible government." The civilian officials are told that the military will take over the administration of the state unless a government is found that can rein in the violence and implement the economic and social reforms, including land reform, stipulated in the 1961 constitution. Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel resigns the same day. Nihat Erim replaces Demirel and sets about forming a "national unity, above-party government" that will enlist the support of the major parties. This event is known as the "coup by memorandum."

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September 3, 1971: Qatar declares independence from Great Britain.

Qatar and Bahrain refuse to join the United Arab Emirates.


December 2, 1971: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is formally recognized as an independent state.

The UAE is founded as a federation of six independent emirates, or sheikhdoms. The provisional constitution, made permanent in 1996, allows for a multitiered national government consisting of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In 1972 a seventh emirate joins the UAE.


1972: Saudi Arabia negotiates for control of 25 percent of the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco).

Until the early '70s, Aramco is owned by California Arabian Standard Oil Company (Casoc), Texaco, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (later renamed Exxon), and Socony-Vacuum (now Mobil Oil Company). In 1968 the Saudi minister of petroleum and mineral resources had publicly broached the idea of Saudi participation in Aramco, and after long negotiations, it is agreed that the Saudi government will buy 25 percent of the company. Over the next 16 years, Aramco will be converted to a totally Saudi-owned company called Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco).


1972: Feminist author Nawal El Saadawi publishes her book Women and Sex, angering many of Egypt's political and religious authorities.

The publication of El Saadawi's book results in her dismissal by the Ministry of Health as its director of public health. Over the next decade, she is imprisoned for criticizing government policies. El Saadawi goes on to found the Arab Women's Solidarity Association (AWSA), the first legal, independent feminist organization in Egypt. The AWSA, which is dedicated to "lifting the veil from the mind of Arab women," is banned in 1991 after criticizing U.S. involvement in the Gulf War.


February 22, 1972: Sheikh Khalifa becomes Emir of Qatar.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, the grandson of Sheikh Abdullah, becomes Emir of Qatar. He is generally considered the first modern ruler of Qatar. Before becoming emir, he served in various capacities and branches of the Qatari government -- ministries of foreign affairs, finance, petroleum, education, culture, and as prime minister.


April 1972: Iraq and the Soviet Union sign a 15-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.

The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation serves as the basis of friendly relations between the two countries and will continue to do so into the 21st century.


June 1972: Iraq becomes the first Arab country to nationalize a Western oil corporation.

Prior to 1972, U.S. and British companies held a three-quarter share in Iraq's oil production. Soviet petroleum experts help Iraq develop its oil industry to the extent that Baghdad ends its reliance on Western companies; the Soviets also help Iraq nationalize the Iraq Petroleum Company. In the ensuing years, Iraq rapidly increases its oil output, becoming the world's second largest exporter of oil by 1979.


July 18, 1972: President Anwar al-Sadat orders Soviet advisors and experts to leave Egypt.

A strained Soviet-Egyptian relationship ruptures on July 18, 1972, when Sadat orders the immediate withdrawal of 5,000 Soviet military advisors and 15,000 air combat personnel. Contributing factors are Moscow's refusal of economic and military aid, Egypt's unwillingness to play the role of a Soviet foreign-policy pawn, and efforts by the U.S. to undermine the relationship. The break in relations also reflects a shift in Egypt to more pro-Western policies.


September 5, 1972: Israeli athletes are taken hostage at the Munich Olympic Games.

Gunmen from an underground terrorist organization calling itself Black September, linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization, take the Israeli men's Olympic team hostage. Two of the Israelis are killed almost immediately. In the ensuing botched rescue attempt, the remaining nine Israelis, as well as several of the captors and German police officers, are killed.


1973: Jordan's government prohibits fishing and hunting without a license.

In addition to the prohibition on fishing and hunting without a license, Jordanian law also prohibits its citizens from cutting trees, shrubs, and plants. The steps are taken as part of a focus on conservation of the environment.


April 1973: Jordanian women gain the right to vote.

In 1974 King Hussein gives women the right to vote and run for public office. But because there are no parliamentary elections between 1968 and 1989, women must wait 15 years to exercise this right.

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October 6, 1973: Egypt and Syria attack Israeli forces in the Sinai and Golan Heights on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

The Egyptians and the Syrians attack Israel, hoping to reclaim the lands lost in the 1967 Six-Day War. At the start of the war they make initial gains but are forced to retreat after an Israeli counterattack. This war becomes known as both the October War and the Yom Kippur War. Many Israelis, upset at their country's unpreparedness for this attack, blame Prime Minister Golda Meir, who later resigns. While Egypt and Syria are ultimately unsuccessful in their bid, both sides appear to be hurt in the war.


November 1973: Saudi Arabia leads an oil boycott against the U.S. and other Western countries.

A supporter of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War against Israel, Saudi Arabia still harbors resentment when the Yom Kippur War (October War) erupts. In retaliation for U.S. support of Israel, Saudi Arabia participates in a 1973 Arab oil boycott of the U.S. and other Western nations. The price of oil quadruples, dramatically increasing Saudi Arabia's wealth and political influence.

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June 2, 1974: Yitzhak Rabin becomes prime minister of Israel.

The Knesset installs Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister following Golda Meir's resignation. Under Rabin's leadership, the government places special emphasis on strengthening the economy, solving social problems, and reinforcing Israeli defense. Three years after his election, however, he is forced to resign when a journalist reveals that his wife has a bank account in the U.S., in violation of Israeli law at the time. After stepping down as prime minister, Rabin serves in several roles for the Labor Party. In July 1992, the Labor Party wins the election, and Rabin becomes prime minister once again -- a role he holds until his assassination in 1995.


July 20, 1974: Turkey invades Cyprus.

Turkish and Greek Cypriots lived together on the island of Cyprus for almost five centuries. On July 15, 1974, the president is overthrown in a military coup. Diplomacy fails to resolve the crisis. Turkey invades Cyprus by sea and air on July 20, 1974, asserting its right to protect the Turkish minority. Peace talks fail, and the Turks gain control of 40 percent of the island -- amounting to partition of Cyprus. Turkey continues to refuse to remove its troops, despite repeated condemnations by the United Nations.

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November 11, 1974: State-owned Oman Television begins broadcasting.

Oman TV, which is operated by the Ministry of Information, broadcasts one channel in Arabic. The Omani government prohibits the establishment of privately owned radio or television companies, but people are allowed to use satellite dishes to access many foreign channels.


1975: Women are admitted to King Saud University as full-time students.

Although they have been allowed to attend classes at Saudi Arabia's King Saud University since 1961, women are not admitted as full-time students eligible to pursue a degree until 1975. The next year, the Center for Women's University Studies will be founded to oversee all aspects of women's education. Today, women are free to pursue higher degrees in a wide range of areas. Founded in 1957 as Riyadh University, King Saud University is one of the oldest universities in Saudi Arabia.


February 3, 1975: Egypt's Umm Kulthum, considered the greatest modern singer of Arabic music, dies.

In a career that spanned decades, Umm Kulthum, the "Star of the East," was a beloved fixture on Egyptian radio. Her songs, which combined the Western popular tradition with traditional Arab-Egyptian music, often had political overtones, supporting Egyptian self-rule and the revolution of 1952. Following her country's defeat in the Six-Day War, she embarked on a tour of Egypt and donated all the proceeds to the Egyptian government.


March 1975: King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is assassinated by a nephew and succeeded by his brother, Khalid.



March 6, 1975: Iraq and Iran sign the Algiers Agreement, ending their border disputes.

On March 6, 1975, Iraq and Iran sign a treaty known as the Algiers Agreement, or more precisely the Iran-Iraq Treaty on International Borders and Good Neighborly Relations, whose provisions are brokered by Jordan's King Hussein. The signing takes place at an OPEC convention in Algiers. The agreement delineates the international border between the two countries as the deepest point of the Shatt al-Arab estuary, as opposed to its eastern shore. Baghdad agrees to the treaty in return for Tehran's commitment to stop covert U.S. and Iranian support for the Kurds. In 1980 Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invades Iran, hoping in part to reverse the 1975 agreement.


April 1975: Civil war erupts in Lebanon between the Christian majority and the growing Muslim population.

One cause for conflict is a power imbalance between the dominant right-wing Christian population and the growing Muslim population who feels excluded from real government. A second area of conflict is the Arab-Israeli conflict, with Israel's support for the Lebanese Christian groups, and increasing PLO attacks on Israel from Lebanese bases. In the summer of 1975 full-scale civil war breaks out between the Muslim coalition allied with Palestinian groups and the Christian-dominated militias. In April 1976, an uneasy cease-fire is imposed when Syrian military forces intervene at the request of the Lebanese president and with the approval of the Arab League of States. Nevertheless, sporadic violence continues, and in 1978 Israel invades southern Lebanon in an attempt to eliminate Palestinian bases. By mid-1981, 53 private armies are operating in Lebanon. Cease-fire efforts by the U.S. and others have fleeting impact. Political assassinations, civilian massacres, and kidnappings continue, including a 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. Following one of many cease-fires, a plan is formed at a conference in Taif, Saudi Arabia, calling for a new constitution increasing Muslim representation and accepting a special Syrian relationship. By late 1990, the civil war is at an end. Since then, Hezbollah rocket attacks, alternating with Israeli air strikes and a 1996 Israeli incursion, has kept the situation fluid in southern Lebanon. Both sides hope to end the combat, but neither will compromise on a demand for Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.


August 28, 1975: The UAE Women's Federation, a special interest group led by Sheikha Fatima, is formed.

Assembled from several smaller women's societies and under the leadership of Sheikha Fatima, the wife of UAE president Sheikh Zayed, this federally funded organization makes recommendations to the government on such matters as health and education.


1977: Kurdish is recognized as an official language in Iraq.

The Kurds -- an ethnic group acutely conscious of its cultural differences from the Arabs -- have long struggled to achieve recognition within Iraq, staging rebellions since 1961. By the end of 1977, the Kurdish people are granted greater autonomy, and Kurdish is recognized in Iraq as an official language.


1977: The UAE University, the country's first university, opens in al-Ain.

By 1998, 15,000 students will attend UAE University (UAEU). The Higher Colleges of Technology, today with 10 campuses, open in 1988, providing a further 10,000 students with advanced technical training. These universities, like other development projects, are funded by oil money.


November 19, 1977: Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat arrives in Jerusalem, becoming the first Arab leader to visit Israel.

During his visit to Israel, President Sadat addresses the Knesset, Israel's parliament, and officially recognizes the state of Israel. This breakthrough in relations paves the way for peace between Egypt and Israel.


1978: Palestinian-American literary scholar Edward Said publishes his landmark work, Orientalism.

Said's theory of how the West creates the image of the exotic East, published in the book Orientalism, influences many areas of critical thought. Said has written extensively about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in works such as The Question of Palestine (1979). His memoir, Out of Place (2000), examines a boyhood defined by personal and political conflict.


1978: Ali Abdullah Saleh is elected president and embraces a Western-style market economy for Northern Yemen.

While Northern Yemen practices a market economy, Southern Yemen's economy is controlled by the state. Saleh will rule for two decades before being declared senile and removed from power.


June 15, 1978: Jordan's King Hussein marries Lisa Najeeb Halaby, an Arab American.

Queen Noor, born Lisa Halaby in the United States, plays a highly visible role during her husband's reign, working hard to advance causes important to Jordan and the wider world. She directs and sponsors programs committed to the advancement of women in society, children's health care, education, the arts, and environmental protection. She also actively promotes international exchange as a means by which to enhance understanding of Middle Eastern politics and improve Arab-Western relations.

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September 8, 1978: "Black Friday" occurs in Iran as Mohammed Reza Shah imposes martial rule to put an end to violent antigovernment demonstrations.

From the middle of 1978, street demonstrations against the Shah's policies of Westernization, as well as his authoritarian rule, are reaching an unprecedented level. Many cities are placed under martial law, but people flood the streets to defy the Shah. During one such demonstration on September 8, army tanks are used to disperse demonstrators. Soldiers are ordered to shoot. More than 600 people are killed in Zhaleh Square alone. This day becomes known as Black Friday, and the square's name is later changed to the Square of Martyrs.


September 17, 1978: Israel and Egypt negotiate peace accords at Camp David.

Just five years after the Yom Kippur War, U.S. president Jimmy Carter hosts Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat at Camp David. This historic meeting will result in the first peace accord to be signed by Israel and one of its Arab neighbors. Several months of more detailed negotiations lead to the signing of a peace treaty on March 26, 1979, in Washington, D.C. Under the treaty's terms, control of the Sinai returns to Egypt, while Israel retains the Gaza Strip. In exchange for the Sinai's return, Egypt recognizes Israel and establishes full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Furthermore, Egypt guarantees that most of its forces will stay more than 50 kilometers from the Israeli border. The treaty also allows Egyptian and Israeli citizens to travel between the two countries. Most Arab nations boycott Egypt as a result of the treaty; Oman is the one exception. Less than three years after the treaty is signed, Islamic extremists assassinate Sadat.

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January 16, 1979: Iranian Revolution: The Shah is overthrown.

During the late 1970s, dissent and demonstrations protesting the dictatorship of the Shah increase in Iran. The writings of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, Shii Muslim Supreme Leader, begin to circulate widely. Throughout the final months of the 1978, demonstrators seize government buildings, shut down businesses with massive strikes, and assassinate government officials. On January 16, 1979, the Shah flees Iran; Khomeini returns on February 1. Less than a month later, on February 12, the prime minister flees as well.

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February 1, 1979: Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran from exile.

After the Shah is driven from Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile to a welcoming crowd of several million. The Islamic Revolutionary Council is formed, and the country is declared the Islamic Republic of Iran on April 1. Khomeini and his supporters blame the Shah and Western influences for oppressing Iran and corrupting Iranian Islamic traditions.

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1979-2002: Islamic fundamentalism takes hold in Iran.

Under the Ayatollah Khomeini, law codes based on Islam are introduced in Iran, ending the Shah's radical modernization policies. Khomeini's strict version of Islamic religious standards become the law of everyday life. Some Iranians are upset by the strict religious system. Many people who accepted Western cultural influences leave Iran, including most Jews and Christians. The "Islamicization" of the government continues into the 21st century.

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July 16, 1979: Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq.

Iraqi president Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr resigns his position citing health reasons. Vice President Saddam Hussein succeeds him as president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). One year later, Hussein leads Iraq into a bloody war with the new Islamic Republic of Iran that will last for almost a decade.


November 1979: Militant Islamic extremists seize the Holy Mosque of Mecca to protest increasing Western influence, but are defeated by Saudi forces.

A group of Sunni Muslim fundamentalists calling for the overthrow of the pro-Western Saudi government barricades themselves inside the Holy Mosque of Mecca. After two weeks of fighting, the siege ends, leaving 27 Saudi soldiers and more than 100 rebels dead. Sixty-three more rebels are later publicly beheaded.

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November 4, 1979: Ninety people, including 63 Americans, are taken hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students.

The students demand the return of the Shah to stand trial for crimes. Though some hostages are released, 52 of the Americans are held for 444 days before their release. In response to this hostage crisis, the U.S. freezes all Iranian assets invested in the U.S.

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December 24, 1979: The Soviet military invades and occupies Afghanistan, beginning a decade-long conflict.

The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan in an effort to stabilize its government and support socialism. The conflict lasts 10 years and is often referred to as the Soviet Union's Vietnam. Seventy thousand Soviet soldiers will die in the course of the conflict.

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1979: The Jordanian government opens a national crafts center.







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