COLD WAR CONFLICTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Mohhamed Reza Phalavi
Mohhamed Reza Phalavi

Confrontations in the Middle East, Religious, and Secular Values Clash in Iran


Shah Reza Pahlavi, the leader of Persia, which is modern day Iran (Beck 456), decided to accept western government and oil companies. However, Iranian nationalists overthrow the Shah and the British seize the nationalized British-owned oil company (Cold War 64). The United States later restores the Shah to power because they feared that Iran would turn to the Soviets for support (Beck 552).

The United States Supports Secular Rule

The United States supported the westernization of Iran, which was controlled by Shah Mohhamed Reza Pahlavi at the time (Cold War 68). Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomein was a leader in Iran who opposed western modernization and influences. He also wanted to weaken the political influence of Iran's Muslim conservative leaders (The Cold War: Collapse of Communism). In 1978, Iranians rioted every major city because of Ayatollah's recorded messages that he sent to the people from his home. The Shah fled in 1979 (Beck 552).

Confrontation in the Middle East-Khomeini's Anti-U.S. Policies

Since the United States helped to westernize Iran and aided Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, the Islam people hated them. After the United States reinstated the Shah to keep oil flowing into the U.S. in 1953, the Shah had made some poor decisions. He promised rights and freedoms to his people, and didn't keep his promise. The Shah was replaced again in 1979. Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, the new ruler, rebelled against the United States government and called it the "Enemy of Islam". Tensions between the Iran people and the United States broke after the United States treated Mohammed Reza Pahlavi with lymphoma disease.

On November 4th, 1979, 300 to 500 Islam revolutionaries seized the United States Embassy in Iran and took 66 Americans hostage. They demanded that the United States return the Shah to Iran, apologize and never interfere with Iranian affairs in the future ("Iran Hostage Crisis"). This was known as the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and lasted for 444 days. Less than a year later Iraq took control of Iran, which increased tensions between the two countries. Due to Iran's hatred of the United States the U.S. aided Iraq in the war against Iran. Ironically, this helped bring the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to power. Throughout the 8-year Iraq-Iran War, however, the United States aided both sides. The Soviet Union helped Iraq in fear of Saddam Hussein being lost as an ally and the Iranian President vowing to overthrow Iraq (Beck 552-553).

Conflicts in the Middle East-Israel Becomes a State-A Jewish Nation

Up until this point, the Arab people and the
Jews had both claimed the Palestine lands, even though the Jews had been exiled from Palestine in the 7th century. In 1917, the British Balfour Declaration guaranteed a Jewish homeland in Palestine in return for the Jewish help to the British in World War I. This put Britain in control of the Palestine territory ("On This Day: Israel Becomes A State"). By 1936, Arabs were performing guerilla fighting in fear that Palestine would become a national homeland for Jews.

Declaration of the State of Israel
Declaration of the State of Israel

In 1947, the Holocaust causes the United Nations General Assembly to propose splitting the Palestine land into a Jewish section and an Arab section, releasing Britain from its power over Palestine. While the Jews had a mixed reaction, the Arabs were not in favor of the idea, and rejected the proposal. On May 14th, 1948, the state of Israel was established from the Palestine land ("On This Day: Israel Becomes A State"). It included both an Arab and a Jewish homeland. The next day, the Arabs responded by invading Israel, which began the first Arab-Israeli War.

Israel and Arab States in Conflict: Wars Break Out

In 1948, Israel's six neighbors, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, attack Israel the day after it becomes a new nation. Though still a young country, Israel repels the attack in 1949 and seizes additional land. It had already established an effective army and weapons even before it was a state, and many of its soldiers had World War II experience. Even though the Israeli army was being used for other internal problems, the neighbors of Israel fought separately while Israel fought united. This proved to be a major disadvantage for the neighboring countries, and they even signed their own peace treaties with Israel after they had been defeated. Only Iraq pulled their forces out but did not sign a peace treaty ("Israel and the 1948 War").

The 1956 Suez Crisis
Suez Canal in 1956
Suez Canal in 1956

Tensions between Arabia and Israel continue to rise, and finally erupt in 1956, starting another
war. This conflict, known as the Suez Canal Crisis, begins when Egypt wrestles control of the Suez Canal from the British (Beck 584). Enraged, the British ally with France and Israel to take back the canal which connected the Mediterranean Sea to the Golf of Suez. Israel quickly crushes the Egyptians, winning the battle (Fiscus 17). Though Israeli forces won the canal back, international pressure from the United States, Soviet Union, and other countries forced Israel to return control of the Suez Canal to Egypt (Beck 584).

Arab-Israeli Wars Continue

Israel defeats the Arabian countries in the
Six-Day War during 1967, and gains profitable land (Broyles 5). This land included the areas of Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and the West Bank. In 1973, the Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat attacks Israel in the Yom Kippur War (Rosenberg 9). Israel leader Golda Meir responds by launching a counterattack and wins back most of the Israel land. The Yom Kippur War ends in a truce between Egypt and Israel (Beck 585).

The Palestine Liberation Organization


external image plo1.gifEstablished in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), quickly became one of the most feared terrorist organizations. Originally set up by Palestanian Officals, the organization started to represent the Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon. It then fathered several different groups with the same overarching idea: that the only way to achieve its goals would be through war and terrorism.

Palestinians living under Israeli rule wanted thier own
homeland. In 1967, the Palestinian Liberation Organization decided to make the destruction of Israel thier main goal. They started a mass campaign, supporting terrorism for ten years. Yassir Arafat, who led al-Fatah, a branch of the PLO, took power and led the Palestine Liberation Organization into becoming an international terrorist group ("Palestine Liberation Organization").

Efforts at Peace: Sadat Moves for Peace

During 1979, the countries of Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement called the Camp David Accords at the United States White House. This signing concluded twelve days of negotiating at Camp David. It was the first peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and was signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (Camp David Accords of 1979). At the time, the President of the United States was Jimmy Carter, who acted as a witness (Britanica Encyclopedia). The Camp David Accords created unity in the Middle East and set up negotiations about the establishment of a self-governing empire in the West Bank and Gaza. Two major events that occurred was that Egypt recognized Israel as a state and an ally, and Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula region to Egypt (Beck 586).

However, the aftermath of the Camp David Accords was unsuccessful. Due to Sadat signing the peace treaty with Israel and later winning the Nobel Peace Prize, caused many Arabian countries and people to become upset. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize was an extremely unpopular act according to the Arabs, and caused Egypt to be kicked out of the Arab League. Later on, the Egyptian Islamist Jihad group assassinated
Sadat on October 7th, 1981. They accused Sadat of rejecting their religious beliefs and for signing the peace treaty with Israel ("Aftermath of Camp David and the Assassination of Sadat").


Israeli-Palestinian Tensions Increase
Intifada
Intifada


The PLO decided to focus their main goal on politics and communication with other countries, instead of terrorizing Israel, in 1974. Some followers believed that the PLO was not going to be successful without terrorism. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the PLO strives for their own power. Later in the United Nations, the United States and the Arab people recognize the PLO while Arafat was able to control the meetings. Meanwhile, Israel sees the friendship between other nations and the PLO and tries to eliminate the Palestinian threat by invading Lebanon in 1982. They forced the PLO to retreat, and bargained with Arafat after the war. However, the meeting did little good to calm the disputes between the two opponents.

In 1987, the Palestinians performed an
Intifada, or rioting, that was widespread across Israel and was under no leadership control. It began after an Israeli car crash killed four civilians, and lasted until 1994. Rioting acts included English banners, demonstrations performed by women, and attacks on the Israel army. The Intifada attracted mass media, and the press was notified before each violent event ("The Intifada").

The Oslo Peace Accords

The Oslo Peace Accords were a series of secret discussions between the PLO and Israel during 1993 that was established to end the hatred between the two groups. Major conflicts that needed to be resolved were the Intifada, the Palestinians’ desire of independence from the Israeli government and the terrorism against Israel by the Palestinians. The meetings were held in Oslo, Norway and the Oslo Accords created a five-year plan to reach a permanent solution. One major resolution was the Israeli government giving parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip territory to the Palestinians. This would give the Palestinians self-rule over a Palestinian government. The Accords also set up a Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation to achieve programs in the West Bank and Gaza territory. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat agreed the Oslo Peace Accords. United States President Bill Clinton hosted the ceremony.

Although the Accords brought peace, it also brought enmity. During 1995, Yigal Amir, a Jewish opponent to Palestinian
self-rule, assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin. Other bombings and attacks occurred over the next years, which caused the new Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, to break off the peace treaty. The five-year plan ended in 1999, but no discussions were held and the hatred in the area grew worse (The Palestinian-Israeli Peace Accord 27).


Peace Slips Away: The Conflict Intensifies
Camp David Proposal
Camp David Proposal

Leaders Israeli Barak and Palestinian Arafat were brought into meeting by the United State's president Bill Clinton at Camp David, in an attempt to revive peace (Beck 588). Between the 11th and 25th of July 2000, the enemies discussed in detail about conflicts that were left for future debates from the Oslo Peace Accords, such as boundaries, Jerusalem and refugees ("History of Failed Peace Talks"). Because the proposal was never formally written, there are several different variations of the actual proposal ("Israel's Generous Offer").

Israel supposedly offered a proposal known as the Camp David proposal that suggested that Palestine was to be separated into four different subdivisions ("Camp David Peace Proposal of July, 2000: Frequently Asked Questions"). The proposal also planned to fully enclose the area by Israel, placing Palestine's power under Israel's ("Israel's Generous Offer"). Control over water supplies, airspace and borders would no longer belong to the Palestinians and the territory was dotted with Israeli cities and settlements ("Camp David Peace Proposal of July, 2000: Frequently Asked Questions"). In exchange for the majority of East Jerusalem and all of the crucial settlements, Israel promised the Gaza Strip, a substantial part of the West Bank, and territory from the Negev desert. Israel also assured their protection over Palestine's holy city, Jerusalem, and constant donations for refugees.

In opposition, Palestine demanded the return to the former borders of 1967 and the right for the 4 million refugees to return to their homes from before 1948 ("History of Failed Peace Talks"). Palestine guaranteed certain rights for Israel over the Jewish sections. The two enemies met in hopes to end their long history of tension, but they refused to compromise on any subject and the Camp David proposal was shot down (Beck 588).


The hostilities between Israel and Palestine c
Ehud Barark, Bill Clinton, and Yasir Arafat at Camp David, 2000
Ehud Barark, Bill Clinton, and Yasir Arafat at Camp David, 2000
ontinued to dramatically increase.

Later that year on September 29, 2000, hundreds of Palestinians gathered in protested before the Haram el-Sharif, the center and Israeli sacred site of Jerusalem ("The Middle East: A Glossary of Terms"). Four Palestinians were killed that day by the police force of Israel and another 160 Palestinians were injured ("From Oslo to the Second Intifada"). The brutal conflict sparked the Second
Intifada, or uprising, which consisted of a string of suicide bombers attacking multiple Jewish settlements (Beck 588-589). At points the fights escalated and the Israeli police force responded with rock throwing, live fire, tear-gas as a protocol riot dispersion. Later, the police were charged with misconduct.

Barak also refused to continue toward
peace plans because of the brutal fights.

Working Towards a Solution


On March of 2003, Palestinians elected their first prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas (Beck 589). His purpose was to negotiate with Israel and to lead the Palestinian government, but his appointment to position was mainly to satisfy the United State's expectations for the peace plan ("Who was Mahmoud Abbas?").

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and United States President, George W. Bush, had refused to negotiate with former Palestinian leader Arafat. Abbas was later considered to be the turning point in establishing peace between Israel and Palestine. The PLO and
Israeli political leaders also agreed to explore the new United States-supported peace plan (Beck 589) .

The peace plan between Israel and Palestine enforced the two sides to meet to an agreement. It preset each stage of their process towards peace between the two powers. Called the "road map", the proposal demanded that the Palestinians must become a more democratic country and that Palestine's leaders must traffic and keep better control over terrorism. It was also imposed that Israel must remove their scattered communities that were spread inside Palestine's territory.

The road map peace plan was designed in hopes of eventually reaching a stable relationship between the two long enemies ("MIDDLE EAST: The Road Map to Peace").


Current State

The two bitter enemies continue to several disagreeing issues but have reached an agreement with hopes for freedom from any strife in the future (Beck 589).


At the moment, there are two fundamental topics that they have not yet completely resolved:

-The two powers are still trying to maintain an area that favors their home ethnicity, but now, the population that dominates the area is mostly external and from different countries. Their attempt to keep their area dominantly their own culture and ethnicity was difficult because 96% of their overall population consisted of Christians and Muslims.

-Israel has now gained almost complete control over the Gaza strip and West Bank, and their military authority is extremely harsh, limiting and even tyrannical. Many of the rights that belong to the Palestinians have been stripped and there are frequent beatings, abuse and torture. All of the Palestinians that underwent this abuse felt violated. The Israeli have cruelly brought the Gaza area into a state of catastrophe and disaster, and it has been seen that the Palestinians have been deprived of essential basics such as food and medicine ("A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict").


"Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security"
- Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Beck 589).
Below is a video about George W. Bush attempting to make a peace negotiation between Palestine and Israel that other United States presidents have failed to do:

























Multiple Choice Question:

How did the Cold War affect the Middle East?


a) There was minimal or no effect

b) The end of the war stopped tensions between countries

c) It caused a series of wars, crises and tension increased

d) It caused an industrial revolution, new world-recognized philosophies and innovations were made





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