1517-1918: The Ottoman Empire extends over most of the Arab world.
The Ottoman Empire begins in the 1300s in what is now Turkey. Between 1516 and 1517, the Ottomans conquer the Arab provinces. Islam is one of the major forces holding the diverse empire together. Ottoman law, in fact, is derived from both Islamic law and edicts of the sultan. In the 1700s and 1800s, though, the once-powerful Ottoman Empire starts to lose power. On the hunt for new territories to conquer, Great Britain, France, and Russia begin to interfere in the affairs and territories of the Ottoman Empire as well as in Egypt. The Ottomans retain control over the Balkans until the early 1900s, and over most of the Arab world until 1918. On the losing side of World War I, their lands are dispersed to Allied powers, including Great Britain and France.
1798-1801: Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military commander, invades and conquers Egypt.
Napoleon, one of the greatest military commanders in history, wants to destroy British trade with the Middle East. After landing in Egypt with 35,000 troops, he quickly captures Alexandria. He then leads his soldiers across the desert, and Cairo falls to him as well. After fighting the Turks in Syria, Napoleon leaves his troops in Egypt to return to France.
1830: France conquers and colonizes Algeria.
Algeria is France's first colony in North Africa. With it, France begins a policy of assimilation aimed at making the colonists into model French citizens, with little regard for their native culture and history.
1853-1971: Britain maintains control over several independent emirates of the Persian Gulf.
In 1853, Britain and the Arab sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf sign the Perpetual Maritime Truce, in which the Arabs agree to recognize Britain as the dominant power in the Gulf. Though it never assumes sovereignty over them, Britain controls the foreign affairs of these emirates and maintains responsibility for their protection. The Trucial States, as they were called, will later join together to make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
1881: The French conquer and colonize Tunisia.
Tunisia will not regain independence until the 1950s.
September 1882: British troops take control of Egypt.
After Egyptian nationalist supporters rebel against Egypt's British-backed government, British troops attack and occupy Alexandria before defeating opposition forces. Britain is primarily interested in protecting its investment in the Suez Canal, a crucial communication and transportation link to British colonies in India.
February 1896: Theodor Herzl publishes his vision for a state where Jews could live free from persecution.
After covering the Dreyfus Affair, a trial of a Jewish officer in the French army who was wrongfully accused as a traitor, Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist from Vienna, publishes a pamphlet called "The Jewish State." Disturbed by the wave of anti-Semitism set off by the trial, Herzl calls for a state in which Jews can live without fear of persecution. He travels the world over to find monetary and political support for his vision.
1902-1932: Wahhabi leader Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud recaptures a major city in Saudi Arabia, beginning a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian Peninsula.
Wahhabi leader Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud is the founder of Saudi Arabia and its first king. He spends his youth, along with his family, the Saud family -- leaders of the ultraorthodox Wahhabi movement in Islam -- in exile. In 1902 Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud and a small group of relatives and servants recapture Riyadh (now Saudi Arabia's country's capital and major city) and reclaim power for his family.
Over the next 30 years, ibn Saud will lead a campaign to unify, under his rule, the many warring tribes who live on the Arabian Peninsula. This unification lays the foundations for the modern state of Saudi Arabia, which is officially recognized on September 23, 1932. Many people in the Arabian Peninsula practice a revivalist form of Islam called Wahhabi Islam, after its founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It is sometimes unfairly characterized as "extremist" in today's media and society.
1905: Attendees at the Seventh Zionist Congress decide that Palestine is the only suitable place for a Jewish state.
At the Sixth Zionist Congress two years earlier, delegates had agreed to consider the establishment of a Jewish settlement in East Africa. But after considering a site in Uganda (now Kenya), attendees at the Seventh Congress (held in Basel, Switzerland), conclude that an East African site would be inappropriate for a mass Jewish settlement.
1905: Ottoman-controlled Northern Yemen and British-controlled Southern Yemen are officially divided.
In 1918, the Violet Line, as it is known, is a boundary drawn to separate the Ottoman and British spheres of influence in Yemen and to prevent future clashes. It is literally drawn on a map with a ruler, using violet ink. This line will later form the border between Northern and Southern Yemen when these lands gain statehood in the 1960s. The two divisions are united in 1990.
1906: The All-India Muslim League is founded by Aga Khan III.
The Aga Khan, a hereditary spiritual leader, is elected president of the All-India Muslim League. He will hold the position until his resignation in 1912. The League is founded to protect the political rights of Muslims living in India.
1906: Persia's (Iran's) Constitutional Revolution forces the ruler of Persia to accept a constitution.
Muzaffar al-Din Shah signs Persia's first constitution. The Constitutional Revolution aims to make the state leader accountable to a written code of law, thereby limiting royal power and lessening government corruption. The constitution also calls for the establishment of the Majlis, or elected parliament.
1907: The Shah of Persia (Iran) dies and is succeeded by his son.
Muzaffar al-Din Shah, who had become Shah after his father's death by assassination in 1896, dies in 1907. His son, Mohammed Ali Shah, succeeds him. Like his father, he is considered a weak leader, and after two years he is deposed and replaced on the throne by his son, 12-year-old Sultan Ahmed Shah, and a regency.
1907: Persia (Iran) is divided into three zones, each one controlled by a different country.
To protect their economic interests in the region, Russia and Great Britain divide Persia into three zones. Russia controls the northern zone, Great Britain the southern zone, and the Shah of Iran controls the neutral middle zone.
July 6-24, 1908: The Young Turk Party leads the Turkish Revolution, demanding the restoration of the Ottoman constitution.
Concerned with the continuing centralization of power under Sultan Abdul Hamit and convinced that the growing economic influence of foreign powers will end the Ottoman Empire, the predominantly upper-class Young Turk movement takes action. The revolution, largely organized from France by the movement's exiled leaders, is proclaimed on July 6. The Young Turks manage to convince the troops sent to oppose any revolutionaries to refuse their orders. On July 21, the party sends a telegraph to the sultan demanding the immediate restoration and implementation of the constitution of 1876 and the restoration of a parliamentary form of government, threatening him with dethronement should he not comply. On July 24, the sultan announces that the old constitution is again in effect.
1909: Tel Aviv is built by the Jews.
A group of Jews intent on founding an alternative city to the crowded, predominantly Arab port city of Jaffa buy uninhabited sand dunes to the north and create a garden suburb. They name it Tel Aviv, which translates to "Hill of Spring." Tel Aviv becomes the first modern Jewish city, with a population of 35,000 by 1921 and 200,000 by 1948.
1911: The Ottoman Turks grant Imam Yahya bin Muhammad autonomy in the highlands of Northern Yemen.
Starting in 1904, Yahya bin Muhammad, an imam, or religious leader, has been leading Yemeni tribes opposed to Ottoman occupation. In 1911, he, and not the centralized Ottoman government, is recognized as the ruling power of the Northern Yemen highland people.
1913: The founder of the Emirate of Qatar dies.
Sheikh Qassim bin Muhammad al-Thani dies 35 years after founding the Emirate of Qatar. His son, Sheikh Abdullah, formally assumes leadership.
1914-1918: World War I breaks out.
The Ottomans side with Germany against Allied forces.
1915-1916: The Ottomans initiate a policy of ethnic cleansing and kill 1.5 million Armenians.
The Young Turk government, the final Ottoman regime, massacres more than 1.5 million ethnic Armenians, a Christian minority within the empire. The killings are condemned by the world's major powers of the time -- even by their German and Austrian allies in World War I. Today, the Turkish government denies that there was an Armenian genocide, saying instead that Armenians were only relocated from the eastern war zone.
March 1915-January 1916: An estimated 500,000 are injured and 100,000 die when Ottoman forces fight against an Allied attack at Gallipoli.
Two waterways -- the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits -- provided the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea; thus, this was the only supply route between France and Britain and their ally Russia. The Allied forces wanted to wrest control of these waterways from Ottoman strongholds along the Gallipoli Peninsula, and committed nearly a half million troops in their attempt to do so. Naval and air strikes were followed by troop landings and ground combat at close range. The standoff was epic, and the number of casualties on both sides high. Ultimately, the Turkish forces repelled the Allied attack.
With so many Allied troops committed to the unsuccessful campaign at Gallipoli, Germany was able to more easily pursue its military objectives on the eastern front, and World War I continued another two years. The courage shown by the Turkish forces in defending their positions, as well as the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, served as great examples for their War of Liberation, which followed in 1920.
July 1915-March 1916: Britain gains the support of Arabs in World War I after promising independence for Arab states.
While the Ottoman Empire enters the war on Germany's side, the Arabs (led by Sherif Hussein of Mecca) agree to side with the Allies (Britain, France, and Russia). They do so because of an agreement known as the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence in which Britain promises independence to what is now Syria, Palestine (Israel), Jordan, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula should the Allies win the war. Unbeknownst to the Arabs, however, Britain also signs the Sykes-Picot Agreement with France later in 1916. This pact, which directly contradicts Hussein-McMahon, details a plan to split up most of the Middle East region between Britain and France should they defeat the Axis powers.
Britain makes a third conflicting agreement, the Balfour Declaration. After ousting the Ottomans from both Jerusalem and Baghdad, they promise to support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
May 1916: British and French negotiate the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
A secret understanding negotiated during World War I between Great Britain and France (with Russian consent), the Sykes-Picot agreement outlines the division of Ottoman-controlled lands into various French- and British-administered areas. The agreement is named after its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France.
The agreement, implemented in 1919, contradicts the agreement the British made with the Arabs at the start of the war (the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence), which promised the Arabs independence of what is now Syria, Palestine (Israel), Jordan, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula.
1917: In the Balfour Declaration, the British promise to help create a national home for the Jews in Palestine.
Since the late 1800s, Zionists had wanted a Jewish state to be created in Palestine, part of the Jews' holy land. Though the wording of the Balfour Declaration is vague, it implies that Great Britain will support the Zionists in establishing such a state.
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
The Arabs perceive the Balfour Declaration as an act of British dishonesty. They believe the British had promised them to help with the establishment of a united Arab country reaching from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf in return for their support during World War I.
1918-1922: A nationalist movement in Egypt leads to Egyptian independence.
Saad Zaghlul leads a delegation to meet with the ruling British High Commissioner and demand independence for Egypt. He is refused, and his subsequent arrest and deportation spark anti-British riots. The growing popular support of the nationalistic Wafd Party -- "wafd" is Arabic for "delegation" -- prompts Britain to grant Egypt limited independence in February 1922 and install a king as head of state. Britain, which has served as Egypt's protectorate since 1914, retains control over essential government institutions, including the parliament; finances; education; and the Sudan. It also keeps troops in the Suez Canal zone. Egypt will gain full independence after World War II.
August 18, 1919: Afghanistan declares its independence from Great Britain.
When Afghan King Emir Habibullah Khan is murdered in February near Jalalabad, his son, Amanullah Khan, seizes power, proclaims Afghanistan a sovereign and independent nation, and attacks British troops in India. The Third Anglo-Afghan War lasts just one month. Britain agrees to an armistice and recognizes Afghan independence.
1919-1929: Amanullah Khan rules Afghanistan for a decade, instituting reforms and encouraging modernization.
Afghanistan's first constitution (1923) guarantees civil rights and creates a legislature and court system to enforce the new laws. Amanullah privatizes land, abolishes slavery, and improves educational opportunities for boys and girls. He also seeks to Westernize Afghan culture, overturning centuries-old customs. Conservative tribal and religious leaders resist these changes, however, and call for new leadership.
1920s: Iraqi women move to gain more rights and a better education.
Iraqi women seek to be recognized as full citizens and want freedom from having to wear a veil in public, as per Islamic tradition. Aswa Zahawi founds the Women's Rising Group, which begins to publish Leila, a journal promoting education and employment rights for women.
April 25, 1920: Former Ottoman-controlled territories in the Middle East are assigned as mandates to Allied powers.
At the post-World War I San Remo Conference in Italy, former Ottoman-controlled territories are allotted as "mandates" among the victorious Allies. Established as part of the Treaty of Versailles, the mandate system entrusts Britain and France with the task of governing the territories until it is determined that they are ready for independence. Syria and Lebanon are assigned to France, Palestine and Iraq to Britain. Transjordan is created from the Palestine Mandate in 1921.
July 1920: Arabs in Iraq rebel against British rule.
Riots break out in what becomes known as the Great Iraqi Revolution. Iraq is placed under British mandate.
August 10, 1920: Turkish forces attack Greece and Armenia.
As part of the armistice ending World War I, the sultan signs the Sevres Treaty, promising to give land to Greece and Armenia. Mustafa Kemal, a former Ottoman army officer and president of the recently formed Grand National Assembly, denounces the sultan's decision and leads an army to recapture and hold this territory as a Turkish state. This resistance becomes known as the War of Liberation.
October 1920: Iraq elects a new king.
A temporary government is established in Iraq, to be assisted by British advisors. Britain had promised Arab independence in exchange for their support in World War I, so this was a repayment. Popular support lies with Prince Faisal, who becomes king in 1921. Iraq remains a British mandate until 1932.
February 21, 1921: Reza Khan takes control of Persia (Iran).
Reza Khan, a Persian army officer, deposes the Qajar dynasty that had taken control of the country. He appoints himself Shah in 1925 and seeks to free Iran from foreign influence; his reign will last until 1941. To achieve his ends, he resists the strict laws and archaic customs of the religious mullahs and reduces the influence of the nobles and sheikhs who rule nomadic tribes. He renames the country Iran in 1935.
July 24, 1922: The League of Nations issues a mandate to Britain to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
Following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the territories formerly under the empire's control are divided between France and Britain. In 1920, the principal Allied powers award Britain the mandate for Palestine. Two years later, the League of Nations confirms the mandate, which lays out the terms under which Britain is given responsibility for the temporary administration of Palestine on behalf of both the Jews and Arabs living there. According to the mandate, Britain "shall be responsible for placing the country [Palestine] under such political, administrative, and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home ... and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race or religion." (from the Balfour Declaration)
November 1, 1922: The Turkish Grand National Assembly abolishes the office of the sultanate.
The Grand National Assembly, led by Mustafa Kemal, hero of the War of Liberation, abolishes the office of the sultanate, thereby ending 631 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire.
May 15, 1923: Britain formally recognizes the independent state of Transjordan.
Since the end of World War I, the British have divided the land of Transjordan into three local administrative districts, with a British "advisor" appointed to each. Faced with the determination of Emir Abdullah to unify Arab lands, the British proclaim him ruler of the three districts, known collectively as Transjordan. On May 15, 1923, Britain formally recognizes the Emirate of Transjordan as a state under the leadership of Emir Abdullah. The treaty stipulates that Transjordan will be prepared for independence under the general supervision of the British high commissioner in Jerusalem.
October 29, 1923: The Republic of Turkey is established.
Mustafa Kemal wins unanimous election as the first president of Turkey. Though nearly all of the population practices Islam, Kemal's government assumes control of religious functions so that religion will not interfere in the affairs of state. Under his leadership, the country undergoes Western-style economic, social, and political modernization.
In the first wave of reforms, Turkey abolishes the offices of its religious head of state (the caliphate) and the courts (the sharia). Separate educational and judicial systems are introduced. The country adopts Sunday as the official weekend holiday (the traditional Muslim day of rest is Friday), as well as the Western calendar.
1926: Lebanon, a French mandate, becomes a semiautonomous republic.
In 1926, Lebanon, now semiautonomous, adopts a constitution that will remain in effect, albeit frequently amended, until 1987. Lebanon will gain full independence from France in 1943.
1926: The Kurdish city of Mosul is awarded to Iraq, rather than Turkey, by the League of Nations.
At the end of World War I, a proposal is put forth to establish an independent Kurdish state, borrowing land from the region that now comprises Iraq, Turkey, and Iran to do so. The failure to pursue that idea further results in the Kurdish issue still in question in both Iraq and Turkey to the present day.
February 17, 1926: Secular law replaces religious law in Turkey.
The Turkish Civil Code is adopted from Swiss Civil Code. The old code and sharia (Islamic law), which had been the foundation of Ottoman personal status law, are replaced. Women gain important rights. Polygamy is forbidden; marriages are to be performed in accordance with civil code, not religious code; and a court decree is required for divorce.
1927-1929: The Wahhabi Ikhwan turn against central Arabian ruler ibn Saud.
The Ikhwan (translated as "brethren") is a group of Muslims who practice Wahhabism, a puritan form of Islam. Ibn Saud had recruited the Ikhwan to help massacre his non-Wahhabi rivals and add Mecca and the Hejaz region of central Arabia to his domain. He loses his authority over the Ikhwan, however, when he chooses not to battle rivals who hold protective treaties with Britain. In 1929, ibn Saud confronts the Ikhwan militarily, and they are forced to surrender to the British in Kuwait in January 1930.
Not all of the Ikhwan revolt, however, and those who remain loyal to ibn Saud continue to receive government support and remain an influential religious force. They are eventually absorbed into the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
1928: The Muslim Brotherhood is founded as an Islamic revivalist movement in Egypt.
Elementary school teacher Hasan al-Banna founds the Muslim Brotherhood based on his ideas that Islam should not only be a religious observance, but a comprehensive way of life. He supplements the traditional Islamic education with Tarbeyah training for the Society's male students that includes education, scouting, and militia-type activities to resist the British occupation.
Over the next several decades, the Brotherhood becomes increasingly involved in politics and is banned, reinstated, and then banned again in 1954 by the Egyptian government for its alleged involvement in the attempted assassination of Egyptian president Nasser. Nasser's successor, Anwar al-Sadat, once in office promises the group that sharia (Islamic law) will be implemented as the Egyptian law and releases all imprisoned Brothers, or members of the group. But in September 1981, he himself is assassinated by four men in a group known as Jama'at Al Jihad, after signing a peace treaty with Israel.
Hamas, in Palestine, claims to be the military wing of the Palestinian Brotherhood.
1929: Tribal rebellion in Afghanistan forces Amanullah Khan to flee the country.
After a year of civil war, Nadir Khan, Amanullah's former minister of war, is crowned King of Afghanistan. King Nadir Shah's reactionary measures undo Amanullah's reforms and reinstate customary Afghan laws and practices.
August 1929: Palestinian Arabs attack Jews following disputes over prayer rights to the Wailing Wall.
In 1928, Arab Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem begin to clash over their respective communal religious rights at the Wailing Wall (known to Muslims as al-Buraq). Controversies about the site were inflamed by nationalists on both sides and resulted in full-scale riots. British troops were called in to restore order. The week-long riots leave 133 Jews dead and 339 wounded, almost all by Arabs. Arab casualties include 116 dead and 232 wounded, most by British troops. Another result of the riots was the termination of the ancient Jewish community Hebron and the Jewish community of Beer-Sheva.
September 23, 1932: Abd al-Aziz proclaims the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Having reigned over much of Arabia during the early part of the 1800s, the al-Saud family loses part of its territory to the Turks in the latter half of the century and is driven from its capital, Riyadh, by the rival House of Rashid. In 1902, Abd al-Aziz recaptures the capital city and begins to reconquer and reunify the country, which he completes some three decades later. In 1927, Abd al-Aziz is officially proclaimed king, and five years later, the country is named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
October 3, 1932: Iraq is recognized as an independent monarchy.
As previously agreed, Britain terminates its mandate to govern Iraq. Britain maintains a strong presence in Iraq, however, so this independence is limited. Iraq joins the League of Nations and is officially recognized as a sovereign state ruled by a monarch. Iraq receives full autonomy after World War II, when British troops complete their withdrawal.
1933: Iraqi King Faisal dies and is succeeded by his son, Ghazi.
King Faisal is succeeded by his 21-year-old son, Ghazi, who rules from 1933 until his accidental death in 1939. A product of Western education, Ghazi has little experience with the complexities of Iraqi tribal life. While Faisal had the prestige and ability to draw politicians around the idea of national interest, Ghazi is unable to balance competing nationalist and British pressures. As time passes, the nationalist movement begins to view the Ghazi monarchy as little more than a British puppet.
1934: Women in Turkey earn full voting rights.
Atat¸rk grants women full voting rights, making Turkey the first Middle Eastern country to allow this. Women had obtained the right to vote in municipal elections in 1930.
June 21, 1934: The Surname Law is adopted in Turkey; Mustafa Kemal adopts the name Atat¸rk.
Before the 20th century, the Turks, like the Arabs, didn't use family names. Mustafa Kemal -- Kemal is actually the name his schoolteachers gave him, meaning "perfect" -- officially adopts the surname "Atat¸rk," or "Father of the Turks." The honor is given by the Grand National Assembly in appreciation for his having founded and shaped the new Turkish Republic.
1936-1939: Palestinians protest British support of the Zionist movement in Palestine with a strike and three years of unrest.
By 1936, the increase in Jewish immigration and land acquisition, as well as general Arab frustration at the continuation of European rule, mobilizes increasing numbers of Palestinian Arabs. In April of that year, an Arab attack on a Jewish bus leads to a series of incidents that escalate into a major Palestinian rebellion. The revolt lasts until 1939, when the British, in part to obtain Arab support for the recently erupted war with Germany, ban most land sales to Jews.
April 1936: Egypt's King Faruq begins his reign.
Faruq, son of the deceased King Fuad, ascends the Egyptian throne. The Wafd Party initially supports the new king and his nationalistic leanings. Within a year, however, Faruq signs the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. Though it brings Egypt closer to full independence, it allows British forces the right to remain in the Suez Canal zone.
August 1936: The Peel Commission, a royal commission headed by Lord Earl Peel, is appointed to examine the Palestine problem.
In response to the Arab Revolt against British rule in Palestine, the Peel Commission hears testimony from more than 130 Jews, Zionists, Palestinian Arabs, and other Arab nationalists before issuing its report. The commission's report, published in July 1937, calls for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a British-controlled corridor from Jerusalem to the coast at Jaffa. It also recommends relocating people to deal with the delicate population balance between Jews and Arabs in the proposed Jewish state. The partition plan was accepted as a pragmatically valid principle for settling the Arab-Jewish dispute by the majority of the offical leadership of the Zionist movement who urged further examination of the Bristish proposals. The Arab side rejected the compromise, with the exception of Abdullah of Transjordan.
November 1938: The Woodhead Commission, created to examine the recommendation of the Peel Commission that Palestine be partitioned, issues its report.
After Palestinian Arabs reject the 1937 Peel Commission's partition plan (dividing Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state), the British government assembles a team to devise a new plan. (The Zionist Organization had accepted the principle of partition.) The written report includes a statement of policy rejecting partition as impracticable, but suggests that Arab-Jewish agreement might still be possible.
May 1939: Britain publishes the MacDonald White Paper, effectively ending its commitment to a Jewish state.
In May 1939, Great Britain publishes a White Paper, also known as the MacDonald White Paper (named for the British colonial secretary), that marks the end of its commitment to the Jews and a Jewish state under the Balfour Declaration. The White Paper calls for the establishment of a Palestinian (Arab) state within 10 years. It limits the number of Jews to be admitted to Palestine over the next five years to 75,000 and places severe restrictions on land purchases by Jews.
The White Paper receives a mixed Arab reception, and the Jewish Agency rejects it emphatically, calling it a total repudiation of Balfour and mandate obligations. David Ben-Gurion, then chairman of the Jewish Agency, declares, "We shall fight the war against Hitler as if there were no White Paper, and we shall fight the White Paper as if there were no war."
1939-1945: World War II
The outbreak of World War II pits the Allied powers (Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Soviet Union, and the U.S.) against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan). After six years of fighting, the Allies win the war.
May 1941: Iraqi prime minister Rashid Ali attempts a coup, which results in rebellion and an invasion of British troops.
Strong anti-British sentiment and an increasingly powerful urban nationalist movement come together to spark Prime Minister Ali's 1941 coup attempt. The coup is ultimately unsuccessful in ousting the monarchy, but the landing of British forces completely divorces Iraq's monarchy from the nationalist group.
August-September 1941: Allied powers invade Iran and force Reza Shah Pahlevi into exile.
Iran declares its neutrality at the start of World War II, but Britain is upset at Iran's refusal of Allied demands to expel all German nationals from the country. (Germany had been Iran's largest trading partner prior to the war.) After Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, the Allies desperately need to create a transportation route across Iran and into the Soviet Union, and on August 26, Britain and the Soviet Union simultaneously invade Iran. On September 16, with the collapse of the resistance, Reza Shah Pahlevi abdicates the throne to his son, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi. Exiled to Mauritius and then to Johannesburg, South Africa, Reza Shah dies in July 1944.
1942: Britain forces Egypt's King Faruq to appoint a pro-British prime minister.
King Faruq's appointment of Mustafa al-Nahhas to head the Egyptian government virtually destroys Faruq's authority inside his country. Despite the fact he takes this action under the pressure of British tanks laying siege to his palace, many nationalists view Faruq as corrupt and ineffective.
1943: The National Pact divides the legislative powers of the newly independent Lebanon along sectarian lines.
The National Pact, an oral agreement between President Bishara al-Khouri and Prime Minister Riad al-Sulh, devises a formula for the distribution of seats in parliament according to population figures derived from the 1932 census. Six seats are reserved for all Christian sects, and five for all Muslim sects.
January 1, 1944: France grants Lebanon full independence.
France ends the colonial administration it has held over Lebanon since the end of World War I. Though Lebanon's independence is proclaimed on November 26, 1941, full independence is realized in stages. France transfers most of its governing powers to the Lebanese government on January 1, 1944, and completes troop evacuation in 1946.
March 22, 1945: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, and northern Yemen form the Arab League.
This loose affiliation of states favors unity among the Arab people and opposes the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The charter is signed in Cairo.
January 7, 1946: A second political party, the Democratic Party, is formed in Turkey, ending years of single-party rule.
Held in 1950, Turkey's first elections see the Republican People's Party (Atat¸rk's old party) lose out to the right-wing Democratic Party. After 10 years of majority rule characterized by abuses of power, however, the armed forces stage a coup, and the Democratic Party is banned.
January 19, 1946: Iran complains to the newly formed UN Security Council, demanding that Soviet troops withdraw.
Soviet troops, originally positioned in northern Iran in 1942 to prevent a possible German move and to protect Iranian oil, intentionally ignore an agreement that calls for the removal of all occupying forces by 1943. They stall as they debate whether they can carve out of the oil-rich northern Iranian province of Azerbaijan an autonomous entity that would be subject to their control. The Soviets ultimately leave after the U.S. threatens military action. The incident contributes to the start of the Cold War.
January 22, 1946: The Kurdish Democratic Party, or KDP, is formed in Iraq.
The KDP's primary goal is autonomy in northern Iraq. The organization is founded by Mustafa Barzani.
April 1946: Syria gains hard-fought independence from the French.
Charles de Gaulle promises Syria independence, but the transition is filled with strife. France demands that its cultural, economic, and strategic interests be protected by treaty before agreeing to withdraw its troops. In May 1945,
demonstrations take place in Damascus and Aleppo; the French respond by bombing the capital. Fighting breaks out in other cities as well. Only after Britain's prime minister, Winston Churchill, threatens to send troops to Damascus
does de Gaulle order a cease-fire. A UN resolution in February 1946 calls on France to evacuate. The French accede, and by April 15, 1946, all French troops have left Syria.
May 14, 1948: The State of Israel is established.
After World War II, a showdown is looming between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Despite their numerical superiority (1.3 million Arabs to 650,000 Jews), the Arabs are less prepared for conflict than the Jews, who have a government under David Ben-Gurion and an army. The Palestinian Arabs are still in disarray from the Arab Revolt, and most of their leaders have been exiled.
By 1947, mounting violence, including terrorist acts by both Arabs and Jews, leads Britain to declare its mandate over Palestine unworkable. Britain makes plans for its withdrawal and leaves the question of what to do with Palestine to the UN. In August, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommends the creation of independent Jewish and Arab states. The plan divides Palestine into roughly equal halves, with Jerusalem and religiously significant surrounding sites under the control of a separate international authority. The report also calls for the Arab and Jewish states to form a united economic bloc.
The Jews accept this plan, but the Palestinian Arabs do not. The partition plan is approved by majority vote of the UN General Assembly on November 29.
Britain completes its withdrawal from Palestine in early May 1948, and on May 14, the State of Israel is declared, with David Ben-Gurion as its first prime minister. Both the United States and the USSR immediately recognize the new state. In support of the Palestinian Arabs, however, neighboring Arab nations -- Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Syria -- declare war on Israel the next day. The Israelis repel the Arab attack. The 1948 War, also known as the Israeli War of Independence, ends in July 1949. Israel signs separate cease-fire agreements with Transjordan, Syria, and Egypt and now controls about 70 percent of what had been Mandatory Palestine. Egypt holds the Gaza Strip, Jordan annexes the West Bank, and Syria retains the Golan Heights.
1949: Women in Syria are given the right to vote and stand for election.
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. Related Links
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. Related Links
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. Related Links
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).Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
1953: Lebanese women gain the right to vote.
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. Related Links
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.Related Links
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.
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.
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.
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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."Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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. Related Links
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.
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."
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: 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.
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.
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.
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: 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.Related Links
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.Related Links
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.
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.
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.Related Links
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 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.Related Links
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.Related Links
March 1980: The Iraqi National Assembly is formed.
Members of the National Assembly are elected to four-year terms. All members must demonstrate loyalty to the goals of the Ba'ath Party and to Saddam Hussein. Iraq had no national legislature between 1958 and 1980.
April 8, 1980: Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, an Islamist and a key figure in the Iraqi Dawa Party, is executed by the Iraqi government.
A scholar and proponent of Islamic government, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr is executed by Saddam Hussein's government. He had advocated the establishment of Iraq as an Islamic state. His sister, fellow activist and novelist Amina Sadr, is also killed. All political opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime risk a similar fate.
September 12, 1980: Turkey undergoes a third military coup.
On September 12, 1980, the armed forces seize control of Turkey for the third time. While the 1960 and 1971 military coups were driven by institutional reform, the 1980 action is deemed necessary to shore up the order created by the earlier interventions. A five-member executive body, the National Security Council, is appointed. On September 21, the NSC installs a predominantly civilian Cabinet. Related Links
September 22, 1980: Iraq invades Iran.
Though the reasons behind the war are complex, border skirmishes and a dispute over rights to the Shatt al-Arab waterway contribute to the warfare. Iraq seizes thousands of square miles and several important oil fields. Over an eight-year period, more than 500,000 Iraqis and Iranians die, with neither side able to claim victory.Related Links
October 6, 1981: Islamists assassinate President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt.
Anwar al-Sadat's conflicts with Islamic groups in Egypt -- including a crackdown that led to the arrest of more than 1,500 people -- as well as enduring anger over the peace treaty he signed with Israel lead to his assassination. Hosni Mubarak succeeds him as president.Related Links
June 6, 1982: Israel invades Lebanon, cutting off food and water in Beirut.
Israel invades Lebanon to drive out Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, which had been using the country as a base for anti-Israeli operations. The United States sends Marines to oversee the peaceful withdrawal of the PLO from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.Related Links
September 16, 1982: Christian militiamen massacre hundreds at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Lebanese Christian Maronite president-elect Bashir Gemayel is assassinated. Two days later, Christian militias allied with Israel against the PLO enter the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut and massacre some 800 unarmed Palestinians. The Kahan Commission (an Israeli commission of inquiry) finds that Defense Minister Ariel Sharon bears personal responsibility because he did not order 'appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the chances of a massacre.' As a result, Sharon gave up his defense portfolio but remained in the cabinet.
May 1983: An Israeli-Lebanese peace deal calls for Israel to make a phased withdrawal from Lebanon.
The U.S. mediates a peace and withdrawal agreement between Israel and Lebanon in May 1983. The PLO had been using Lebanon as a base of operations against Israel, and several times in the 1970s and '80s Israel had invaded Lebanon as a result. Under the terms of the peace agreement, Israeli forces begin to leave Lebanon, but maintain control over a 12-mile-wide "security zone" in southern Lebanon, near the Israeli border. The Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel's presence in Lebanon, continues to attack military posts in southern Lebanon and northern Israel. Israeli forces will continue to combat these forces for another 22 years, until Israel leaves southern Lebanon entirely in January of 2000.
May 1983: Gen. Kenan Evren returns Turkey to democratic rule following three years of military rule.
Gen. Evren leads a 1980 coup and imposes military rule in an attempt to end years of fighting between opposing radical groups that ultimately leads to 5,000 deaths. Returning the country to democratic rule in 1983, he will serve as Turkey's president until 1989.
September 15, 1983: Menachem Begin resigns as prime minister of Israel.
Begin's resignation, an event publicly attributed to his depression following his wife's death, follows the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (which fails to accomplish all of its objectives) and the embarrassing massacres at the hands of Israel-allied Christian militias of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Beirut. Yitzhak Shamir succeeds Begin as prime minister, replacing him as head of the Herut Party.
October 23, 1983: The U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon is attacked by a suicide bomber.
During the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war, a suicide bomber detonates a truck full of explosives, killing 241 U.S. Marines and wounding more than 100 others. The 241 were part of a contingent of 1,800 Marines sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational force to help separate the warring Lebanese factions. No group claims responsibility for the attack.Related Links
1984: Kurdish terrorists in Turkey begin a bloody campaign for independence.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party, founded in 1978, launches a campaign of terror designed to win independence for the ethnic Kurdish people living primarily in southeastern Turkey. Between 1984 and 1998, an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people die in clashes between Turkish troops and Kurdish militants and civilians.
Mid-1980s: Yemen and Saudi Arabia clash over the discovery of oil in the Empty Quarter.
Oil reserves are discovered in the Empty Quarter, a vast desert that extends over much of Northern Yemen and southeastern Saudi Arabia. Conflicting claims to the potentially valuable land cause conflict, largely because there is no defined boundary between the two countries.
January 1986: Civil war breaks out in Southern Yemen.
A Marxist clash with the government of Southern Yemen results in civil war.
November 1986: The arms-for-hostages deal that comes to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair comes to light.
After a week of denying any covert activities, U.S. president Ronald Reagan publicly confirms that the U.S. secretly sold arms to Iran, using Israel as an intermediary, with the goal of improving relations with Iran. Reagan later admits the arrangement had become a swap -- arms assistance in return for hostages in Lebanon. The American public is outraged by the dealings with a hostile Iran, as well as with Reagan himself, for breaking his campaign promise to never enter into such negotiations. Some of the arms profits are later discovered to have been diverted to illegally aid Nicaraguan Contra rebels, who are locked in combat with the Communist-backed Sandinistas.Related Links
December 9, 1987: The Palestinian intifada, a spontaneous popular uprising against Israeli occupation, starts in the West Bank and Gaza.
Young Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones and incendiary devices at Israeli troops in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli military responds with rubber bullets and live ammunition, consistent with its "iron-fist policy." Curfews are imposed on Palestinians, and arrests and deportations follow. More than 20,000 people, both Israelis and Palestinians, are killed or injured between 1987 and 1993.Related Links
July 1988: King Hussein of Jordan severs political links with the PLO and orders its main offices closed.
Although King Hussein recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974, he severs political links with the PLO and orders its main offices closed. His actions stem from his frustration over the PLO's issuing of a 14-point statement calling for an end to Israeli occupation and an independent Palestinian state, and Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept UN resolutions as a basis for peace talks.
July 3, 1988: A U.S. Navy ship shoots down an Iranian passenger plane carrying 290 people.
The USS Vincennes opens fire on a civilian airbus as it crosses the Gulf on a scheduled flight. The Navy claims that the aircraft was mistaken for a fighter jet. The Iranians regard the shooting down of the plane as a "terrorist" act and seek retribution through the World Court. The U.S. pays $131.8 million in compensation in 1996.
August 8, 1988: UN secretary-general Javier Perez de Cuellar announces a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq, ending the Iran-Iraq War.
The cease-fire ends eight years of war between Iran and Iraq. The Iraqis now turn their attention to the Kurdish population, many of whom had supported Iran. Thousands of Kurds flee Iraq for refuge in Turkey.
November 15, 1988: A Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers proclaims the State of Palestine.
Citing UN Partition Plan 181 from 1947 to support its claim, the PLO's legislative body, the Palestine National Council (PNC), declares a Palestinian state that includes land under Israeli occupation since 1967 (namely the Gaza Strip and West Bank). A flag and a national anthem for the new state are also adopted.
December 2, 1988: Benazir Bhutto becomes prime minister of Pakistan.
Benazir Bhutto, daughter of the country's ex-premier, is sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan. She is the first woman to head the government of an Islamic state.
December 14, 1988: The PLO recognizes the State of Israel and calls for negotiations.
The United States had long refused to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization until it accepted certain conditions: The PLO, headed by Yasser Arafat, must recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce the use of terrorism. By the late 1980s, talk of peace negotiations is in the air. To participate, though, Arafat and the PLO acknowledge that they must satisfy the U.S.'s preconditions, and in December, Arafat promises PLO recognition of Israel and renouncement of terrorism. A U.S.-PLO dialogue begins shortly thereafter; these talks ultimately lead to the 1991 Madrid Conference.
December 21, 1988: Terrorists believed to be sponsored by Libya blow up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
All 270 people onboard Pan Am flight 103 are killed in a bombing believed to be in retaliation for U.S. bombing raids on Tripoli in 1986. The 1986 raids led to the destruction of Libyan president Qaddafi's house and the death of his young daughter. Qaddafi is widely suspected of using Libya's oil funds to support terrorism abroad, including groups as disparate as the Black Panthers in the United States and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland.Related Links
1989: Osama bin Laden founds the al-Qaeda network.
In 1989 Osama bin Laden forms al-Qaeda. Meaning "the base," al-Qaeda grows out of the network of Arab volunteers who had gone to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviets under the banner of Islam. Its creation coincides with the Soviets' withdrawal from Afghanistan. The charismatic bin Laden uses the contacts he had made there to organize this international group of motivated Islamic radicals.
Since 1996, al-Qaeda has been headquartered in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was able to forge a close relationship with the ruling Taliban. Al-Qaeda, however, is thought to operate in 40 to 50 countries, not only in the Middle East and Asia but also in North America and Europe. A loosely knit group, it operates across continents as a chain of interlocking networks comprising different groups, or "cells."
While bin Laden is the founder and leader of al-Qaeda, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri is regarded as the mastermind of many of its most infamous operations, including the attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the September 11 attacks against New York and Washington.
1989: Qatar issues its first tourist visas and begins to build its tourism industry.
In the mid-1980s, a number of museums open, including the Ethnographical Museum and the Qatar National Museum in Doha. Qatar Airways is established in 1994, carrying passengers to and from points in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Though still not a popular destination for tourists, Qatar hosts a number of conferences, summits, and athletic competitions each year.
June 4, 1989: Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran dies and is succeeded by Ali Khameini.
Some two million Iranians attend the Ayatollah Khomeini's funeral in Tehran in 1989. Thousands of mourners are injured in the chaos. After Khomeini's death, Ali Khameini becomes ayatollah, Iran's chief religious leader (also known as the Supreme Leader).
June 30, 1989: A military coup backed by the National Islamic Front brings Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir to power in the Sudan.
Stricter interpretations of Islamic law are imposed under Lt. Gen. al-Bashir's regime.
May 22, 1990: Northern and Southern Yemen unite in a democratic republic.
North and south reunite after nearly a decade of trying. The formation of the Republic of Yemen ends centuries of tribal and religious squabbles and signals the end of absolute rule. A democratic system of government based on popular elections, freedom of speech, and an independent judiciary is installed.Related Links
August 2, 1990: Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invades neighboring Kuwait.
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is triggered in part because of Iraq's inability to repay more than $20 billion in loans to Kuwait, but also because of other issues related to historical border disputes. By a vote of 14-0, the UN Security Council condemns the invasion and demands unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. On August 6, the UN imposes sanctions on Iraq, ending all trade with the aggressor nation. A U.S.-led coalition forms to forcibly remove Iraq from Kuwait. The Persian Gulf War will cost $8.1 billion and 383 U.S. lives before it ends in March 1991.Related Links
August 1990: King Fahd invites U.S.-led troops to use Saudi Arabia as a base of operations against Iraq.
After Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, King Fahd fears his kingdom will be Saddam's next target, and does not hesitate to host U.S. troops on Saudi soil.Related Links
September 1990: Saudi Arabia sends 600,000 Yemeni workers home over Persian Gulf sentiments.
Many Yemenis had long sought work in Saudi Arabia, as Yemen produces few goods for export and depends on jobs outside the country for good wages. When the Yemeni government calls for an "Arab solution" to the conflict in the Gulf and insists on Western troop withdrawal from the region, Saudi Arabia orders Yemeni workers home. The Yemeni workforce and the country's economy suffer greatly as a result.
September 21, 1990: The Taif Accord balances power in Lebanon's executive branch between Christians and Muslims, ending the 25-year civil war.
The Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation, or the Taif Accord, is signed into law. It establishes a more representative executive branch based on recent estimates of the population. A half-Christian, half-Muslim Cabinet assumes many of the powers of the president, and the Muslim prime minister is given powers more equitable to those of the Christian president.Related Links
1991: As emigration restrictions are loosened in Russia and former Eastern bloc countries, about a million Jews arrive in Israel.
Over the past decade, many Eastern European countries have begun to mitigate their foreign policies on Israel, opening diplomatic relations and lifting emigration bans. The migration of Jews from Russia and former Soviet states gives Israel the largest Russian-speaking population outside the former Soviet Union.
January 15, 1991-March 3, 1991: A U.S.-led military coalition, with support from key Muslim states, fights to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Japan, and much of Europe and the Middle East condemn the attack and resolve to drive the invaders out. Of note, Turkey, the sole Muslim member of NATO, allows the U.S. to use its territory as a staging point for strikes on Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. Saudi Arabia does likewise. Some 100,000 Iraqis are killed in the war, with relatively few reported coalition casualties. Though his army is forced to surrender, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein does not relinquish power.Related Links
February 28, 1991: Kuwait is liberated from Iraq by coalition forces led by the U.S.
Coalition ground operations begin and last only three days before occupying Iraqi troops are expelled from Kuwait.Related Links
March 2, 1991: The Iraqi army kills 50,000 Kurds and Shii Muslims.
The Iraqi army suppresses an uprising of Kurds in the north and Shii Muslims in southern Iraq. More than a million Kurds flee to Turkey and Iran.Related Links
April 6, 1991: Iraq accepts UN terms of a cease-fire in the Persian Gulf War.
Under the terms of the agreement, Iraq agrees to pay war damages to Kuwait and to destroy its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles and production facilities. The United Nations is charged with enforcing the agreement. U.S. forces withdraw from southern Iraq on April 14.Related Links
1991: Jordan comes under severe economic and diplomatic strain as a result of the Persian Gulf crisis following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Insisting on an Arab solution to the Persian Gulf crisis (which began in August 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait), King Hussein of Jordan and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat spearhead peace initiatives, but are regarded as appeasers of Iraq's Saddam Hussein by the West and the US's Gulf Arab allies. Both King Hussein and Yasser Arafat suffer global diplomatic isolation while, more locally, Gulf states cut off their financial aid.
As aid from Gulf Arab states and other income sources contract, refugees flood Jordan, stunting its GDP growth and straining government resources. Because Jordan is a small country with inadequate supplies of water and other natural resources such as oil, the loss of aid from neighboring Arab states aggravates its already serious economic problems, forcing the government to stop most debt payments and suspend rescheduling negotiations. Related Links
1991: The UN deems Iraq a pre-industrial state as a result of its recent wars.
The war with Iran from 1980-88 and the recent Gulf War, together with the subsequent imposition of international sanctions, has a devastating effect on Iraq's economy and society. UN reports describe living standards as being at subsistence level. Some 47,000 children under 5 years of age are believed to have died from war-related causes following the Gulf War alone.Related Links
1991: Turkey lifts its decade-long ban on the use of the Kurdish language in publications.
Although the Kurdish-language ban -- in effect since Turkey's military rule in 1980 -- is lifted for use in publications, the ban on its use in the political arena remains in place. Related Links
May 1991: Yemen ratifies its constitution.
The constitution of the Republic of Yemen is ratified, providing for a president, vice president, House of Representatives, and Council of Ministers.Related Links
October 30-November 1, 1991: Israeli, Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese, and Palestinian delegations attend the Madrid Peace Conference.
The Madrid Peace Conference is jointly sponsored by the United States and Russia. Two negotiating tracks are established: Separate bilateral talks involving Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon are intended to resolve past conflicts and sign peace treaties; and multilateral negotiations are aimed at building the Middle East of the future.Related Links
December 1991: The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) wins the first round of general elections in Algeria.
In the first round of general elections in Algeria in 1991, the FIS wins 188 seats outright and seems sure to obtain an absolute majority in the second round. The National People's Assembly is dissolved by presidential decree, and a military council takes power. After violent demonstrations, the FIS is disbanded. In June, President Mohammed Boudiaf is assassinated by a bodyguard with Islamist links. Increasing violence is linked to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA).
The FIS election victory and response by the Algerian state opens a debate in the Middle East and the West on whether Islamists should be allowed to come to power democratically and what the consequences would be. Islamists feel frustrated with the democratic process, and many turn to more radical methods.Related Links
January 1, 1992: Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt becomes secretary general of the United Nations.
A native of Cairo, Boutros Boutros-Ghali increases the number of UN peacekeeping missions worldwide during his five-year term, sending troops into hotspots like Bosnia, Cambodia, Haiti, Rwanda, and Somalia. The U.S., dissatisfied with his performance, prevents his reelection in 1996.Related Links
May 9, 1992: Iraqi Kurds elect a regional parliament and establish their own government.
The citizens of the Kurdish-controlled area of Iraqi Kurdistan elect a National Assembly and leader of the Kurdistan Liberation Movement. The stated purpose of the election is to fill the legal and administrative vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Iraqi government and to facilitate a negotiated settlement for
self-government within Iraq by organizing a democratically elected body to represent Kurdish interests.
November 1992: A UN human rights envoy reports widespread repression of Kurds in Iraq.
Max van der Stoel, special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, says that internal blockades of food and emergency supplies to Kurdish populations in northern Iraq threaten a disaster "on the scale of Bosnia or Somalia." Characterizing the human rights situation in Iraq as "absurd," he points out that "here we have one of the most oil-rich states of the world, and still tens of thousands of Kurds are in danger of freezing to death."Related Links
February 26, 1993: A van bomb explodes in the garage of the World Trade Center in New York City.
At approximately 12:00 noon, a bomb in a van, planted by terrorists allegedly backed by Osama bin Laden, explodes in the underground garage of the World Trace Center, North Tower. Six people are killed, and more than 1,000 injured. Millions of dollars' worth of damage is sustained. Six Islamic extremist conspirators are convicted of the crime in 1997 and '98, receiving prison sentences of 240 years each. Related Links
June 1993: Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is elected president of Iran.
Iran's president, prime minister, and Cabinet ministers do not have independent decision-making power. They answer to the spiritual leader and to a group of religious scholars appointed by the spiritual leader. A legislature, appointed by the people every four years, makes laws in keeping with Islam. A council made up of six lawyers and six clergy oversee this legislature.
June 1993: Tansu Ciller becomes Turkey's first female prime minister.
Ciller, a Western-educated economist, professor, and leader of the True Path Party, serves three years before leaving her position as prime minister in 1996.Related Links
June 26, 1993: The U.S. bombs Baghdad, Iraq.
The U.S. bombs Iraqi intelligence headquarters after a report that the Iraqis have planned to assassinate former president George Bush on his trip to Kuwait in April 1993.
August 20, 1993: Israel and the PLO sign the Declaration of Principles (Oslo Accords).
The agreement reached in Oslo outlines an Israeli redeployment from parts of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and the establishment of a provisional Palestinian self-rule government. The two sides agree to recognize one another publicly. The U.S. hosts a ceremony at which the Declaration of Principles, also called the Oslo Accords, is signed on September 13.Related Links
April 1994: Civil war breaks out in Yemen.
Supporters of the president, a northerner, and those of the vice president, a southerner, clash. The president's troops win out, and he retains control over the republic.Related Links
April 9, 1994: Osama bin Laden is stripped of his Saudi citizenship.
Osama bin Laden is of Saudi Arabian origin, but his citizenship is revoked in reaction to his attempts to overthrow the regime of Saudi Arabia. Being in contact with bin Laden after 1994 is considered by the Saudi government a hostile gesture, even an act of treason.
May 4, 1994: Israel and the PLO agree on the initial implementation of the Oslo Accords in the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (Cairo Accords).
As a result of the Oslo peace process, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement -- also known as the Cairo Accords -- includes an Israeli military withdrawal from about 60 percent of the Gaza Strip (Jewish settlements and their environs excluded) and the West Bank town of Jericho. The agreement envisages further withdrawals from yet-to-be-agreed-on areas of the Occupied Territories. A five-year period begins in which a permanent resolution is to be negotiated on Jerusalem, settlements, Palestinian refugees, and sovereignty.Related Links
July 1, 1994: Arafat returns to Gaza to take up his new position as head of the new Palestinian Authority.
Following the signing of the Declaration of Principles and the Cairo Agreement, Yasser Arafat enters Gaza after 27 years living outside of Israel. He had spent the past 12 years running the PLO from Tunis.
October 26, 1994: Jordan signs a peace treaty with Israel, ending a 46-year official state of war.
Only the second such agreement between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors, the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel establishes a solid framework for cooperation in the political, economic, and cultural fields. The treaty is the formalization of secret arrangements between the two countries that had been in place for many years.
Because Jordan is dependent on Iraq for oil, has a large Palestinian Arab population hostile to Israel, and faces constant pressure from Syria, Jordan's King Hussein had in the past been reluctant to reveal his more moderate policies toward Israel. The elements that had prevented open and peaceful relations between the former enemies, however, were finally offset by the Gulf War and by the Oslo peace process, which made it politically acceptable for an Arab entity to be in peace negotiations with Israel.Related Links
1995: The U.S. imposes oil and trade sanctions against Iran.
The U.S. imposes oil and trade sanctions on Iran for allegedly sponsoring terrorism, seeking to acquire nuclear arms, and promoting hostility to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Iran denies the charges.Related Links
1995: The United Arab Emirates joins the World Trade Organization.
Membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) gives the UAE a voice in future commercial policymaking decisions that could help boost its economy.Related Links
March 1995: Thirty-five thousand Turkish troops are sent to fight Kurdish rebels in Iraq.
A civil war between Kurds and Turks has been going on for years. As a result, many Kurds have fled Turkey for Iraq, where Kurdish guerrillas continue to enter Turkey. The Turks' invasion, called Operation Steel, backfires, as only 158 Kurdish rebels are killed in the first week.
June 1995: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar deposes his father in a bloodless coup.
Sheikh Hamad deposes his father with the support of the Qatari armed forces after accusing him of stealing from oil and gas revenues. Born in Doha in 1950 and educated in Qatar and abroad, Sheikh Hamad's policies modernize Qatar through the expansion of business and foreign relations, the use of natural resources, and the loosening of restrictions on the press and media.Related Links
September 28, 1995: PLO chairman Arafat and Israel's prime minister Rabin sign the Taba Agreement.
In Washington, D.C., Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin sign the Taba Agreement, known as Oslo II, to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza and to allow Palestinian elections. In those elections, held on January 20, 1996, Arafat wins roughly 85 percent of the votes in his bid to head the Palestinian National Authority.Related Links
October 1995: Qatar is the first Gulf nation to open economic relations with Israel.
Qatar becomes the first Gulf nation to have economic relations with Israel, supplying Tel Aviv with natural gas.
November 4, 1995: Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated.
Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by Yigal Amir, an Orthodox Jewish student opposed to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. Shimon Peres succeeds Rabin as the new prime minister.Related Links
November 1995-March 1996: Israel and Syria make considerable progress in peace talks at the Wye Plantation in Maryland.
Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres decides to push for a far-reaching peace deal with Syria, in contrast to the earlier, more cautious negotiations conducted by his predecessor, the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
April-September 1996: The U.S. Congress passes the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.
These laws allow secret evidence to be used against immigrants and foreign visitors for purposes of deportation. The law has been implemented almost exclusively against Arabs and Arab Americans.Related Links
May 1996: Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden is welcomed by the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan.
Hailed as a hero for his involvement against the Soviets in the 1980s, the Islamic militia in power offers Osama bin Laden support and safety within Afghan borders. From 1991 to 1996, prior to accepting the Taliban's invitation, bin Laden had been in Sudan, from which he was expelled in 1996 under pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.Related Links
May 3, 1996: Emile Habibi, noted Palestinian-Israeli author and proponent of coexistence, dies.
Emile Habibi dies in Haifa, where he was born. A founder of the Israeli Communist Party, Habibi served in the Knesset from 1953 to 1972. His 1974 novel Said the Pessoptimist
was widely acclaimed. Accepting literary prizes from both the PLO and Israel was controversial but reflected his belief in coexistence, also evident in the documentary Emile Habibi -- I Stayed in Haifa.Related Links
July 1996: Necmettin Erbakan's coalition government signals Turkey's first turn toward Islamic politics since Atat¸rk's era.
Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, leader of Turkey's Welfare Party (Refah), is forced to step down in 1997, and the party itself outlawed, after being judged a threat to Turkey's secular constitution. In 2002 he is sentenced to more than two years in prison for embezzling party political funds.
November 1996: The ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos, outlines a bill of rights based on Islamic law.
Oman's constitution, called the Basic Law, ensures press freedoms, tolerance for all religious faiths, and equality for everyone, regardless of race, creed, or sex. It also calls for a court system that would interpret the law.
Oman and Qatar are the only Gulf states in which women can vote.
December 12, 1996: A coup attempt against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein fails.
Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday, is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt against the president in Baghdad's al-Mansur district.
May 26, 1997: Iranian voters elect Mohammed Khatami president.
Mohammed Khatami campaigns for president for just two weeks on a platform emphasizing return to the rule of law and restoration of civil society. Almost immediately, police stop hassling women for improper dress, and bolder women start wearing their head scarves further back on the head, showing more of their hair. Newspapers report freely about the government.Related Links
September 1997: Turkey reinforces its ban on wearing head scarves in government offices and universities.
In the year following the implementation of the ban, 2,000 women are expelled from universities for choosing to wear head scarves.Related Links
1998: Conservatives in Iran react with hostility to some of the changes occurring under President Mohammed Khatami.
Five political dissidents and noted intellectuals are killed. President Khatami orders an investigation of the murders. That the investigation takes place at all proves to be one of Khatami's biggest successes. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security determines that its own members committed the murders.Related Links
January 15, 1998: Turkey's parliament allows husbands to be indicted for domestic abuse.
Turkey's parliament passes legislation that states that husbands can be indicted for domestic abuse even if their wives refuse to press charges. Later in the year, a constitutional court rules that adultery is no longer a crime for women. Though adultery has long been legal for men, women previously faced up to three years in prison if found guilty.
1998: Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi agrees to hand over for trial the two Libyan men accused of the 1988 Pan Am/Lockerbie airplane bombing.
In handing over the suspects accused of the 1988 Pan Am bombing, Qaddafi submits to pressure from the United Nations, Nelson Mandela, and the Arab League.Related Links
August 6, 1998: Hanan Ashrawi, a female political activist for the Palestinian people, resigns her government post in protest against political corruption.
After holding several official posts, including head of the political committee of the Palestinian Authority, Hanan Ashrawi leaves the government to protest the political corruption she observed in Yasser Arafat's handling of peace talks. A Christian educated at the American University in Beirut and the University of Virginia, she first enters the political scene in 1988, advancing an image of Palestinians as victims of oppression and becoming one of the first Palestinian figures to transcend the media's popular "terrorist" stereotype. An activist as well as an academic, in 1999 Ashrawi founds MIFTAH, a group dedicated to promoting the Palestinian cause and ending Israeli occupation by focusing on humanitarian rather than ideological or historical arguments. She continues to serve as the organization's secretary general and as a Palestinian legislator.Related Links
August 7, 1998: U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, are bombed simultaneously.
Four men are tried on charges related to the simultaneous bombings in Africa, which killed 224 people and wounded thousands. Charges include conspiring in the bombing and other acts of terrorism as part of Osama bin Laden's international organization, al-Qaeda. All four are convicted in May 2001 and sentenced to life in prison without parole on October 18, 2001.Related Links
October 1998: The U.S. government launches Radio Free Iraq and RFE/RL Iran.
In 1998 two new U.S.-funded radio services begin transmitting in Iran and Iraq. Also available via the Internet, the shortwave broadcasts, in Persian and Arabic respectively, are produced by Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the U.S. government-funded surrogate broadcaster based in Prague. Both Iran and Iraq criticize the radio broadcasts as interference in their internal affairs.Related Links
October 23, 1998: Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Arafat sign the Wye River Memorandum, outlining further Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.
After a peace summit held by U.S. president Bill Clinton, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat sign an agreement calling for, among other things, the Israeli military to pull back from portions of the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority to combat terrorist organizations more effectively.Related Links
1999-2001: In Iran, pro-reform newspapers critical of the conservatives in government are shut down for press-law violations.
In addition to newspapers being shut down, several writers and publishers are jailed as a result of the violations. In the late 1990s, though liberals under President Khatami control the executive branch of government, religious conservatives control the legislative and judicial branches.Related Links
January 4, 1999: Israel's Knesset votes to move elections forward after the Netanyahu coalition collapses.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had lost support from both hard-line conservatives in his government and opposition Labor Party members. Hard-liners were angry with Netanyahu for agreeing to turn over additional land to Palestinians in the October 1998 Wye River accords. Opposition members turned against Netanyahu when he suspended those same accords a few weeks later, citing security concerns.
Increasing violence also may have also been a factor in the Knesset's decision. Palestinian militants are suspected of opening fire on a van of Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron earlier in the week, wounding two Israeli women. The Israeli army responds by imposing a curfew on Palestinians in the area who live under Israeli control. The violence, coupled with an overall lack of confidence in the government's ability to secure true peace, contribute to a growing lack of hope and a general change from optimism to pessimism.
February 7, 1999: King Hussein of Jordan dies.
During his 46-year reign, King Hussein worked hard to normalize relationships between Israel and the Arab states. His death leaves his country still struggling for economic and social survival, as well as for regional peace. His son and successor, King Abdullah, faces the task of maintaining the country's stability while accommodating growing calls for political reform.Related Links
March 8, 1999: Qatar becomes the first Gulf nation to allow women to vote in municipal elections.
Qatar is the first Gulf country to allow women to vote in municipal elections following a ruling by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in 1998. Six of the 227 candidates for the central municipal council are women. More than 40 percent of the voters are women, although none of the six women candidates wins.Related Links
April 1999: Saudi Arabia reportedly has 112,500 Internet users and 45,000 online subscribers.
These figures represent a rapid increase in subscribers of 140 percent since December 1998.
May 18, 1999: Labor Party leader Ehud Barak wins Israel's general elections and becomes prime minister.
Ehud Barak, widely regarded as more amenable to peace negotiations with the Palestinians than the incumbent, Likud prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledges he will be a prime minister "for all Israelis." He defeats Netanyahu in a divisive campaign.Related Links
July 23, 1999: King Hassan II of Morocco dies.
Upon his death, King Hassan II is succeeded by his son, King Mohammed VI. King Hassan ruled Morocco for 38 years.Related Links
September 4, 1999: The Israelis and Palestinians sign a revised deal aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process.
At Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat sign an agreement restating the commitment of both sides to full implementation of all agreements reached since the first Oslo Agreement of September 1993. They pledge to resolve the outstanding issues of the interim status, in particular those set out in the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, in order to accelerate completion of the interim period toward initiation of negotiations on permanent status.Related Links
2000: The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) estimates that about one half of the Israeli population has completed military service.
Military service is compulsory at age 18 for most Israelis; exceptions are made for the ultra-Orthodox. Men serve for three years and women for two, with reserve service for men lasting until age 51 and for single women until age 24.Related Links
February 16, 2000: Haifa al-Baker becomes the first woman lawyer in Qatar.
March 21, 2000: Israel hands over some of the West Bank territory to the Palestinians.
The West Bank land handed over in a transfer from Israeli to Palestinian control amounts to 6.1 percent of the total Occupied Territories. This completes the transfer agreement made at Wye River in 1998.Related Links
May 2000: Israelis withdraw earlier than planned from the security zone in Lebanon due to military pressure by Hezbollah.
Despite the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah continues cross-border attacks on Israel.Related Links
June 30, 2000: Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is arrested on charges of fraud, bribery, and spreading false information.
A prominent Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist, Dr. Ibrahim had advocated voter registration and election monitoring and reported on attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christian community. Convicted of the charges of fraud, bribery, and spreading false information, he is sentenced to a seven-year prison term, but is later granted a new trial. On July 29, 2002, he will be convicted for a second time and given another seven-year sentence. Many human rights watch groups contend the charges against Ibrahim are politically motivated and that his conviction is designed to "muzzle civil society in Egypt."Related Links
2000: Women's rights activists continue their struggle to gain the right to vote and stand for political office in Kuwait.
After being turned away by officials from registration centers, which opened in February to update the all-male voters lists, a number of women file a complaint against the interior minister, al-Shaikh Mohammad Khaled al-Sabah. This challenge to the legitimacy of Kuwait's electoral law, which denies women the right to vote, is heard by the Constitutional Court in June and is rejected.Related Links
July 25, 2000: A peace summit at Camp David between Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat ends without agreement.
A peace summit hosted at Camp David by U.S. president Bill Clinton ends after two weeks, with the parties unable to come up with a formula to reconcile divisive issues concerning competing Israeli and Palestinian claims to Jerusalem, security, borders, and refugees. At the summit, Barak offers far-reaching compromises to resolve the disputes, while Arafat offers nothing. President Clinton publicly blames Arafat for the failure. Barak and Arafat, however, promise to continue to work toward a permanent peace agreement.Related Links
July 28, 2000: The leader of Afghanistan's Taliban regime bans the growing of opium poppy.
Before the beginning of the November planting season, Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, bans poppy growing in Afghanistan. He augments the ban with a religious edict declaring the crop to be contrary to the tenets of Islam. According to the United Nations, in 2000 Afghanistan produced nearly 4,000 tons of opium, about 75 percent of the world's supply. Related Links
September 15, 2000: Two Omani women are elected to serve on Sultan Qaboos's advisory council.
The advisory council, or Majlis al-Shura, has no formal powers but is consulted by Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos, on new laws and public policy.
September 28, 2000: Ariel Sharon's visit to the al-Aqsa mosque marks the beginning of a second Arab intifada.
Ariel Sharon, leader of Israel's right-wing opposition party, Likud, visits the area around the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem accompanied by 1,000 armed policemen and riot forces. A large police presence at a site sacred to Muslims, together with the timing of the visit -- on the heels of failed talks to end Israeli occupation peacefully -- strike a nerve with many Palestinians. Clashes ensue between Palestinian rioters and Israeli soldiers.
The Islamic resistance movement Hamas calls on Palestinians to storm Israeli army outposts in the Occupied Territories. This marks the beginning of the second intifada, or "shaking off," known as the al-Aqsa intifada. Violence spreads from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem to northern Israeli towns such as Nazareth and Umm al-Fahem. By mid-December, more than 300 are dead, including 13 Israeli Arabs.Related Links
October 12, 2000: The USS Cole is attacked in a Yemeni harbor.
Seventeen American sailors are killed in an explosion on the USS Cole,
a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer docked in the Yemeni port of Aden. The Cole
was moored for refueling when a rubber boat blew up alongside it. It is the deadliest attack on the U.S. military since the 1996 bombing of a U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia that killed 19.Related Links
November 12, 2000: Leah Rabin, widow of Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin, dies of cancer.
Leah Rabin, a homemaker-turned-peace campaigner, was feted abroad as an advocate of Israeli-Arab coexistence but was shunned by some in Israel as a divisive figure. She counted political leaders, including U.S. president Bill Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, among her close friends, and after her husband's assassination, she crisscrossed the world to carry the torch for his peace policies.
Mrs. Rabin's harshest critics were the supporters of hard-line leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whom she accused of fanning the hatred that led to her husband's murder at a Tel Aviv peace rally in 1995. Netanyahu had opposed the land-for-security agreements Yitzhak Rabin signed with the Palestinians.Related Links
December 10, 2000: Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak resigns.
With his governing coalition on the verge of collapse, Prime Minister Barak submits his resignation to Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The next election, scheduled to take place within 60 days, is to serve as a vote of confidence or no-confidence on Barak and his policies.Related Links
2001: Analysts predict that Israel's booming economy will slow down as a result of its political situation.
The outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000, the collapse of Ehud Barak's government in December, and the worldwide slowdown in the high-tech industry, lead some experts to suggest that Israel's surging economy will soften. Part of the economic boom in the 1990s has been attributed to the influx of scientific and economic professionals who emigrated from the former Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s.Related Links
January 31, 2001: A Libyan intelligence agent is found guilty of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Pan Am Lockerbie bombing.
Abdel Basset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is found guilty of murder and is sentenced to life in a Glasgow, Scotland, prison. A second man charged in the bombing, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, is found not guilty of murder and freed. The trial was held in a Netherlands courtroom under Scottish law.Related Links
February 6, 2001: Ariel Sharon wins election as Israel's prime minister.
Ariel Sharon wins election to the office of prime minister with the largest vote margin ever in Israeli politics. The Likud Party leader begins efforts to unite the country by attracting members of the defeated Labor Party to his administration. The unity government that he forms is the largest in Israel's history and is split into a broad spectrum of left, right, center, and religious parties. Related Links
September 11, 2001: Two commercial airliners strike the World Trade Center complex in New York City, and one strikes the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Believed to have been on course for the U.S. Capitol, a fourth jet crashes into an open field in western Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people die in the events, which result in the complete destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and severe damage to the Pentagon building. The U.S. labels the incidents terrorist actions and suspects Muslim extremists are responsible. The U.S. launches attacks in Afghanistan, eventually ousting the ruling Muslim fundamentalist regime known as the Taliban. The Taliban and its leader, Mullah Omar, are thought to sponsor the terrorist network al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden.Related Links
October 2001: Qatar wins one of four Asian seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Qatar's seat on the council is one of four reserved for Asian member countries.
December 7, 2001: Afghan opposition forces conquer Kandahar, effectively ending Taliban authority.
In previous weeks, the first major incursion of U.S. ground troops had landed near Kandahar, the last major city under Taliban control, to support Afghans fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. A series of U.S. air strikes opens the way for the anti-Taliban forces to take control of the city.Related Links
2002: Saudi Arabia's unemployment rate stands at between 15 and 20 percent.
Foreign migrants continue to account for some 65 percent of the Saudi work force, raising fears that unemployed youth could be increasingly drawn to radical Islamist groups.Related Links
January 2002: More than 100 Israeli military reserve servicemen sign a petition refusing to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel's armed forces deal with internal dissent as some Israeli soldiers question the government's 35-year policy of occupation of these territories and the harsh measures adopted by the military against civilian populations there. There remains, however, a substantially high rate of volunteer service among Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories. In March, women soldiers are deployed for the first time in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.Related Links
January 29, 2002: U.S. president George W. Bush says Iran, Iraq, and North Korea constitute an "axis of evil."
In his first State of the Union address, President Bush warns that the proliferation of long-range missiles, known to be under development in these countries, is as great a danger to the U.S. as terrorism.Related Links
April 2002: Israel launches military raids against the Palestinian Authority and suspected terrorists in the West Bank.
The Israeli government responds to an increase in suicide bombings, including an attack on Jews celebrating Passover. Israel defends its raids, saying they are designed to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. The Palestinians argue that Israel's goal is to destroy the Palestinian Authority and its economic and civilian infrastructure.Related Links
May 29, 2002: Libya offers $2.7 billion to compensate the families of the 270 killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103.
The offer comes with conditions: Forty percent is to be paid when United Nations sanctions are lifted from Libya; another 40 percent is to be paid when U.S. sanctions are lifted; and the remaining 20 percent is to be paid when Libya is taken off the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism. Libya's government quickly denies having made the offer, saying it might have come from an unauthorized source. Some of the victims' families say they would refuse it even if it were official.Related Links
June 10-16, 2002: Hamid Karzai is elected head of Afghanistan's Transitional Authority by the emergency loya jirga, or grand council.
The loya jirga, a centuries-old political institution made up of representatives of Afghan society, convenes in Kabul to restore the Afghan government. For the first time in Afghan history, women are allowed to participate. It is decided that free and fair elections will be held within two years.Related Links