Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Middle East

There are no hard rules about where exactly the Middle East is.  Some consider it to be a geographical term and others consider it a political one.  The term "Middle East" began as a Eurocentric term for the area separating Europe from the Far East.  Most agree that the area consists of the transcontinental region from Turkey to Central Asia, plus the Gulf Area.  Many also include Egypt due to its territory in the Sinai Peninsula.  Others consider North Africa to be part of the Middle East as well.

Definite Middle East countries include: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

North African countries that often get lumped in are Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, and Sudan.

Middle East history goes all the way back to ancient times.  It is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Many other ancient belief systems such as Zoroastrianism were also established here.

Islam is the largest religion in the area.  Almost every country, except Cyprus and Israel, have Muslim majorities.  Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain are mostly Shia while most of the other countries are predominately Sunni.  Islam plays a huge role here as the legal systems in most of these countries are influenced by Islamic law.

©Test Tube News

It's a scary place for gays.  Being gay is illegal and punishable by imprisonment in Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the U.A.E.  In Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen, it is punishable by death.   Most of these places aren't high on my travel bucket list anyway.

Arabs are the largest ethnic group in the Middle East.  The five most spoken languages are Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Kurdish, and Hebrew.

With such a large region there are of course many problems.  One of the biggest problems is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  One of the biggest mistakes lately was President Trump, going against years of U.S. prescient and recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.  Almost every other country in the world recognises Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem as illegal which is why all of the foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.  Here's an NBC video I found out on YouTube showing some of the reaction to the U.S. action.

©NBC

There's currently a big regional power struggle in the Middle East between Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Each wants to be calling the shots in the region.
 
©Test Tube News

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