An Israeli settlement as seen from Bethlehem in the West Bank lands belong to Jews by divine right.
The United States, Russia, the United Nations,
and the European Union have repeatedly called
on Israel to halt construction of new settlements,
which they see as an obstacle to peace talks as
well as a violation of international law. Jewish
settlers continue to resist calls for them to
evacuate their homes, and the Israeli government
continues to defend the building of settlements—
particularly in East Jerusalem.
The Barrier Wall: In the mid-1990s, the Israeli government constructed a barrier between israel and the Gaza Strip to prevent unauthorized entry of Palestinians into israel and attacks by terrorists. In June 2002, Israel decided to construct a similar barrier in the West Bank. Though it is not yet complete, the path of the barrier is contested. The planned path incorporates Jewish settlements, cuts across Palestinian famrland, and will make it more difficult for Palestinians in the West Bank to travel freely to work. When completed, the wall will total more than four hundred miles. The United States has defended Israel’s right to build a barrier at its borders bu has expressed concern that the path does not follow the borders agreed upon in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbors. It is estimated that the barrier will result in almost 10 percent of Palestinian land being on the Israeli side of the wall.
Palestinian Refugees: Nearly two million Palestinian refugees live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The total population of the West Bank and Gaza is 4.5 million. As many as 4.7 million other Palestinians live scattered throughout the Middle East, mostly in Jordan. Palestinian leaders argue that all Palestinians—many of whom were forced to flee during the 1948 and 1967 wars—should have the right to return to their former homes in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel as promised in UN Resolution 194. Israeli authorities have resisted opening the Palestinian territories to unresticted immigration. They worry that Palestinians returning to Israel would eventually change the nature of their state. Israelis also note that more than 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel already live within Israel’s borders.
“Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and…compenstation should be paid for the property fo those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
-UN Resolution 194, 1948
Water Resources: The right to water and water usage in the region is another significant stumbling block. Limited supply and water sources that cross borders remain significant obstacles to any agreement. Currently, Israel controls the water resources of the West Bank and Gaza and sells water to Palestinians. The Israeli-Jordanian Peace Agreement of 1994 contains a water protocol. Other water agreements between Israel and its neighbors will be necessary to govern the use of this scarce resource.
Borders: Finally, it remains unclear what the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state would be. Jerusalem remains an important obstacle. Jewish settlemetns are pushing Israeli land ownership further into Palestinian territory, and the plans for a barrier around the West Bank extend beyond the borders agreed to in the past. Israeli suggestions of “land exchanges” have been dismissed by Palestinians who do not want to lose fertile and water-rich land in the West Bank.
8.7 United States Invasion of Iraq
U.S. efforts to contain Saddam Hussein’s regime continued after the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. At the urging of the United States, the UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions and limited the sale of Iraqi oil in order to damage the Iraqi economy and limit Saddam Hussein’s power. The sanctions had devastating effects on the Iraqi economy and people, but failed to force Hussein from power.
As part of the Gulf War cease-fire agreement, UN monitors conducted regular inspections of Iraq to prevent the production of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. UN weapons inspectors also destroyed vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. In late 1998, Iraq refused to allow UN inspectors a free hand in continuing their search for WMD and, in response, U.S. and Bristih forces conducted a series of air strikes. Iraq then refused to allow UN inspectors to operate in Iraq at all until late 2002. Without inspections, the international community had very little information about whether Iraq had an active WMD program.
In 2002, the President Bush stated that Iraq had WMD and that Saddam Hussein would use them to threaten the United States and its allies. President Bush denounced Saddam Hussein as a ruthless dictator who endangered his own people, his neighbors, and the world. Additionally, in February 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell argued before the UN Security Coucil that the United States had evidence of Iraqi links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group based in Afghanistan. Although the UN resumed weapons inspections in 2002 and found no signs of WMD, the Bush administartion questioned the effectiveness of inspections.
In addition, many members of the Bush administration argued that the United States should use its military might to promote U.S. values and interests abroad. They discounted the role of international cooperation and rejected any role for the UN in preserving international security. Instead they argued that the United States should dictate international security and spread its values in a variety of ways, including through a policy of regime change (ousting the government in a country to install a new one). These officials argued that overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime would help bring democracy, capitalism, and human rights to the entire region—and solve the problem of terrorism in the Middle East.
Public debtes about what to do about Iraq were intense. Some critics of a potential invasion did not believe that Iraq actually possessed WMD or supported al-Qaeda. They argued that the U.S. governement had focused on these facotrs in order to gain support for a war that was acutally about asserting U.S. power in the Middle East after September 11 and controlling Iraq’s massive oil reserves. Other opponents of war were concerned about the costs, in both dollars and lives. On February 15, 2003, millions of anti-war activists marched in coordinated demonstartions in cities throughout the world (including many in the United States) in what has been called the largest protest in human history. Despite this opposition, the Bush administration and its supporters argued that the United States needed to take military action, and the U.S. Congress authorized the use of force. Although the UN Security Council did not authorize the use of force in Iraq, President Bush ordered the U.S. military to invade.
8.9 Building Democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq
In Afghanistan, with the Taliban ousted from power, the United States and the United Nations worked with Afghan opposition groups to establish a democratically elected government. By 2005, the nation had a new president and a constitution. The constitution included rights and freedoms found in many Western democracies. It made Afghanistan an Islamic republic, but it also guaranteed freedom of religion. In addition, it ensured that women would have the same rights as men a sytem far different from the oppressive rules enforced by the Taliban.
In 2005, Iraqis took advantage of their new democratic rights to elect a national assembly. Many proudly showed off their ink stained fingers—proof that they had voted in the election. The United States also helped bring democracy to iraq. In October 2005, Iraqis voted by a large majority to approve a new constitution. As in Afghanistan, Islam would play a role in the nation’s laws, but Iraqis would enjoy most of the rights and freedoms of other deomcracies. Two months later, in a spectacular display of civic participation, more than 50 percent of Iraq’s registered voters cast ballots to elect a national assembly. But desptie progress toward democracy, both Iraq and Afghanistan continued to suffer from political violence. In Afghanistan, the Taliban resurfaced as an armed force, launching attakcs on the Afghan army and coalition forces. In Iraq, the insurgency forged on. Attempting to destabilize the new government, insurgents used guerilla warfare and terror tactics, such as the assassination of Iraqi leaders. Meanwhile, armed conflicts between rival Sunni and Shi’a militias increased, especially in Baghdad. Many analysts began calling the iraq conflict a civil war.
U.S. forces remained a prime target of the violence. By early 2007, more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers had died in the Iraq War. At home, many Americans opposed the U.S. policy in Iraq. Although President Bush asserted that the U.S. presence in Iraq was necessary to fight terrorism and spread democracy, critics disputed the president’s claims. They argued that the Iraq War was actually inciting terrorism by fueling Muslim anger toward the United States and serving as a breeding ground for terrorists. Some critics also questioned the value of antion building in Iraq. They wondered whether the attempt to build democracy was worth the cost in money and lives. However, the Bush administration stood behind its policy that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq until the Iraqi government was stable and the country could defend itself. The new Iraqi government has held elections, but major challenges
to stability and democracy remain. Iraqis complain about the
government’s inability to provide basic services such as clean
drinking water, electricity, employment, and security.
In addition, after U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq, the violent
extremist group AQI grew in strength. In 2012, AQI adopted a
new name, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also some-
times called ISIL. ISIS aims to establish a caliphate (a medieval
term for Islamic state) across Iraq and Syria and follows an extreme
and intolerant interpretation of Sunni Islam. ISIS has used violence
and fear to target Shi’i Muslims and members of other religious
Four years after the invasion in Iraq, U.S. forces remained in the country to combat violence and to support the new government. Here, U.S. soldiers patrol the streets of Baghdad. groups.
In 2014, ISIS took control of a larger portion of northern Iraq and
eastern Syria, and threatened to conquer more territory. The U.S.
trained Iraqi army failed to stop ISIS’s advance, and U.S. President
Obama ordered U.S. airstrikes against the group and U.S. military
personnel to support the Iraqi army. Obama, who had sharply criticized the U.S. war in Iraq, found himself drawn into another military conflict in that same country. Many people around the world now believe that the violence and terror that has emerged in iraq since the U.S. invasion and after the withdrawal of U.S. forces is worse than it was during Saddam Hussein’s rule.
The 2011 revolution in Egypt overthrew the undemocratic and repressive regime of President hosni Mubarak. After eighteen days of protests by millions, Mubarak stepped down from power on February 11, 2011. He had ruled Egypt for close to thirty years.
Egypt under Mubarak had close ties to the United States and was a top recipient of U.S. aid. The United States considered Egypt’s secular government to be an important source of stability in the region. For example, Egypt helped broker agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. In the early days of protests, U.S. officilas continued to identify Mubarak as a U.S. ally, but they changed their tone as the protests intensified. U.S. officials condemned the government’s attacks on peaceful demonstrators and called for an orderly and peaceful transition of power.
No longer limited by Mubarak’s regime, Islamic groups began to participate in politics. The Muslim Brotherhood—Egypts oldest and largest political Islamic group—had a stong showing in Egypt’s first parliamentary elecitons in November 2011. Mohmammed Morsi, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders, won the elction to become Egypt’s president in June 2012. The United States continued its cooperative relationship with Egypt even though there was a government in place led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Protesters in Cairo, Egypt, demonstrating against President Mohammed Morsi in August 2012. A little more than one year later, disatisfaction with the economy and Morsi’s government led to massive protests throughout Egypt. The Egyptian military forced Morsi from power and put him in prision, suspended the constitution, and called for new elections. Morsi supporters took to the streets in protest, and hundreds were killed by the army and police. In May 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the army in ousting Morsi, became president in a controversial election. He only faced one opponent, largely because the Muslim Brotherhood had been banned by the military
Egypt continues to be an important ally of the United States. The country controls the Suez Canal and is one of the few Arab countries that has friendly relations with Israel—even helping to enforce the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Because of this, the U.S. government has been cautious in its responses to the Egyptian government’s violence against its people. The Obama administration did cut some of the military aid it was sending to Egypt after the crackdown on Morsi supporters, but continues to treat Egypt as a trusted ally.
The United States has historically had tense relations with Syria. The United States has had Syria on its list of state sponsors of terrorism for decades, and has accused Syria of supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. Syria’s ties to Iran have also unsettled the United States.
In 2011, the arrest of teenagers for writing revolutionary messages on a wal sparked protests in the Syrian city of Daraa. Soon, the protests spread throughout Syria, with people denouncing government corruption and demanding an end to the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad. Assad responded to the civilian protests with planes, helicopters, tanks, and snipers. The violence only made the protesters more determined, and hundreds of thousands of people took to the street. Eventually, the opposition groups took up arms to defend themselves against the military. This was the beginning of an ongoing civil war that has led to the deaths of over 200,000 Syrians, most of them civilians. More than five million Syrians have fled Syria to neighboring coutnries where they live as refugees.
The Syrian Civil War has been particularly brutal. The forces
opposing the Syrian government are not united, and oftern
end up fighting each other. The Syrian government has been
accused of using chemical weapons and rountinely targets
civilians. Fighters from Hezbollah, which is supported by
Iran, have entered the conflict on behalf of the Syrian govern-
ment. Israeli aricraft have attacked targets in Syria to prevent
weapons from falling inot the hands of Hezbollah. The danger
Protests in Hama, Syria against the government of Bashar al-Assad, July 22, 2011. At least half a million people participated in the demonstration. Syria a top concern for leaders in the region and around the
In late 2011, President Obama and other world leaders called
on Assad to step down from power. Some politicians in the
United States have called for U.S. military intervention. The
Arab League expelled Syria as a member and imposed
sanctions on the Syrian government. Although Russia and
China have blocked international intervention by the United Nations, the United States and Russia worked to organize talks to end the war. The talks started in January 2014 and broke down after only two rounds. So far, the only successes of negotiations have led to Syria giving up its store of chemical weapons.
In 2014, the world became aware of the growing threat of ISIS. The United States has used airstrikes against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq and has encouraged the Kurds to fight ISIS. The fact the Assad government is also fighting ISIS, and that U.S. strikes aginst ISIS help Assad, illustrate the complexity of the situation.
8.12 The Islamic State Group (ISIS) Part 1 Article by Adam Schreck and Zeina Karam
The Islamic State militant group that has taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq and declared a self-styled caliphate poses one of the most significant threats to stability int eh Middle East in years. But what danger does it immediately pose?
Does the Islamic State group run a de facto country?
The Islamic State group holds roughly a third of Iraq and Syria, including several strategically important cities like Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. It rules over a population of several million people with its strict interpretation of Islamic law. It also controls many of the roads linking the communities it has conquered—although much of the territory in between is sparsely populated desert.
It claims thousands of heavily armed fighters, and has set up its own civil administartations and judiciaries.
“It acts as a state in areas that don’t have a state at the moment. It’s effective because it provides services, it has a military presence, it speaks as a state,” said Hassan Hassan, an analyst at The Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi.
In propaganda vides, the group lays out ambitious expansion plans that include targets such as Baghdad, Damascus, and Islam’s holiest city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
What resources does the Islamic State group have?
The Islamic State group controls oil fields, power plants, dams, and gactories in Iraq and Syria. Charles Lister, an analyst who closely tracks jihadist groups at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, estimates the group is capable of brining in some $2 million a day just from the sale of oil. The group has long gernerated cash too from extortion, kidnapping for ransom, illicit businesses, and other gangland-style criminal activity.
Militarily, the group has seized heavy weaponry, including tanks, artillery pieces and surface-to-surface missiles, from Iraqi and Syrian forces. Human Rights Watch has accused the group of using gound-fired cluster munitions in at least one place in northern Syria.
What danger does having the Islamic State group holding this territory in the Arab world pose?
The world has seen the risk of allowing a state sympathetic to Islamic extremists exist before. Al-Qaida was able to flourish and plot the September 11, 2001 attacks in large part because it had a safe haven in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The Islamic State group is a far superior threat today than al-Qaida was in 2001. It is richer, operates a modern, effective media arm, and holds much more territory than al-Qaida ever did. An while al-Qaida operated on the basis of a loose network of various cells in different coutnreis—a decentralization that worked in its favor in the beginning—the group eventually could no longer centralize its command in a coherent way.
“With the Islamic State we are seeing a highly centralized command and governing structure which will require a new counterterrorism strategy in the region,” said Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.
Colin Clarke, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation who researches global secruity, said even without the trappings of any kind of nationhood, the territory that the Islamic State gourp controls “can still prove to be an incubator for extremism..and exporter of terrorism.
8.13 The Islamic State Group (ISIS) Part 2 Article by Adam Schreck and Zeina Karam
Why has the Islamic State group attracted so many young Muslims?
Both Iraq and Syria are rife with corruption and weakened by sectarian divisions that the Islamic State group and other extremists exploit.
In an audio speech released in July, the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, listed instances of alleged oppression of Muslims around the world, describing the “Islamic State” as on the “will return your dignity, might , rights, and leadership.”
With its transnational agenda, the group has become a magnet for disenfranchised young Muslims from all over the world.
The group’s leader has called on scholars, judges, doctors and engineers to flock to the region to help build the state. In a recent article, the group’s English-language magazine offered them advice: “Do not worry about money or accommodation… There are plenty of homes and resources to cover you and your family.”
Does the Islamic State group want to strike the West?
The Islamic State group so far has shown little desire, let alone the capability, to launch major terroist attacks in the West. But that could change.
Islamic State militants called American journalist James Foley’s gruesome videotaped beheading revenge for U.S. airstrikes against the group, and they still hold at least three other Americans hostage, including freelance journalist Steven Sotloff. A video posted online Tuesday purported to show Sotloff’s beheading by the group.
Apart from Foley’s killing and random threats by individual fighters, however, there are few other instances in which the Islamic State group officially threratened the U.S. or the West. This sets apart the group from al-Qaida, which has long made attacks on the West a priority.
Can the Islamic State group export terrorism to the West?
Western officials are concerned about the threat posed by the Islamic State sympathizers. They point to the case of Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman who authorities say fought alongside Islamic State militants before he shot four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014.
Analysts believe the group is foremost a regional threat but acknowledge that “lone wolf” attackers inspired by the ghroup’s ideology do threaten the West.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah warned last week: “If neglected, I am certain that after a month they (ISIS) will reach Europe and, after another month, America.” British officials have raised the country’s terror threat level to “severe,” its second-highest level, because of developments in Iraq and Syria.
World History Vocabulary: 1st Semester Unit 1: The Rise of Democratic Ideas