Middle East Timeline

Source:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/timeline/index.html     for MS Word 2000 version, with Document Map e-mail mgmaness@earthlink.net

622:  The Hijra:  The Prophet Muhammad moves from Mecca to Medina.

In the Islamic faith, Muhammad is considered the last in a long line of prophets of Allah (God).  The Quran, Islam's holy book, is said to have been revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.  The Hijra marks the beginning of the growth of Islam into a world faith.  The Muslim calendar counts dates from the Hijra, which is why Muslim dates have the suffix A.H.  (After Hijra).    Related Links 

1095-1291:  As the influence of Islam grows, Christian Crusaders from Europe come to the Middle East to fight its spread.

Muslims have ruled Jerusalem since 638, but Christians are permitted to visit the city on pilgrimage.  By the 11th century, however, the Seljuk Turks, now in control of Jerusalem, begin to prevent such pilgrimages.  To reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims, Pope Urban II helps launch the first of what will ultimately be seven military assaults that run through the 13th century.  The Crusaders eventually capture Jerusalem in 1099, but overall fail in their quest:  The Crusades do not result in any permanent conquests in the Middle East, nor do they did not slow the spread of Islam.  Another part of their legacy:  The Crusades bear tremendous responsibility for the intolerance that develops between Christians and Muslims as well as Jews and followers of eastern Christian churches, who also fell victim to the Crusades.

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.

1840:  Aisha Taymur, the distinguished female poet and writer, is born in Egypt.

Aisha Taymur participates in the struggle for the emancipation of women in the early 20th century.  She is one of the leading figures of an Arab intellectual and cultural awakening.

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).

1860-1920:  Christian Arabs leave the Middle East in large numbers, many emigrating to the United States.

This first wave of immigration from the Middle East to the U.S.  is led by Christian Arabs, mostly from Syrian and Lebanese provinces of the Ottoman Empire.  Increasingly frequent skirmishes between Muslims and Christians living there, the worst of which is a massacre of several thousand Christians in Damascus, Syria, prompt this exodus.  Between 1860 and 1920, several hundred families a year -- then several thousand a year -- leave the region.

1867:  Lebanese poet Warda al-Yaziji publishes her collection of poems.

Warda al-Yaziji's collection of poetry, called The Rose Garden in English, speaks to a female presence within a broader, Arab identity.  Al-Yaziji also has also published several articles about the status of Arab women.

November 17, 1869:  The Suez Canal, a crucial communication and transportation link between the Mediterranean and Red Seas, opens in Egypt.

Designed to give European powers better access to Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South Asian markets, the Suez Canal is built by France (using Egyptian workers) over 10 years.  The French later sell the Canal to the British, who control it for 84 years before Egypt nationalizes it.  It is wide enough to accommodate most ships and, at 120 miles long, is the longest canal in the world without locks.

1881:  The French conquer and colonize Tunisia.

Tunisia will not regain independence until the 1950s.

1881:  Anti-Jewish riots (pogroms) in southern Russia lead Alexander III to expel Jews from the region.

With the czarist government under threat from rioting revolutionaries, Alexander III issues a new policy against the Jews, whom he insists are responsible for the riots.  The May Laws state that Jews are forbidden to settle outside the towns and shtetls (townlets);  deeds of sale and lease of real estate in the name of Jews outside the towns and shtetls are canceled;  and Jews are prohibited from trading on Sundays and Christian holidays.  Where Alexander II's policies towards Jews had been liberal, Alexander III's lead to their systematic expulsion from towns and villages where they had lived for almost a century.  Though the pogroms stop, the threat of riots is kept alive by an anti-Semitic press.  By 1914 almost two and a half million Jews will flee Russia. 

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.

1892:  The first Arabic-language newspaper in the United States is published.

The first Arabic-language newspaper published in the U.S., Kawkab Amrika (Star of America), gets its start in 1892.  By 1919, Arabic-speaking immigrants are served by nine such newspapers.  The most significant publication of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though, is the journal Syrian World, which publishes notable writers such as Khalil Gibran and showcases a range of works, including poems, plays, articles, and stories.  While Gibran's name may be the most familiar to American readers, Ameen Rihani is widely considered to be the "father of Arab American literature."

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.

1897:  The Zionist Organization is founded by Theodor Herzl.

The Zionist Organization is founded at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, with the goal of working towards the establishment of a secure home for the Jewish people in Palestine.  In 1960, the group changes its name to the World Zionist Organization. 

1899:  The Egyptian book The Liberation of Women stimulates enormous public debate on women's status in Egypt.

In his book The Liberation of Women, written and published at the end of the 19th century, Egyptian lawyer Qasim Amin argues that the emancipation of women is a necessary step in freeing Egypt from foreign domination.  He also uses portions of the Quran to support his argument.  The book, controversial upon its publication, continues to be so today, more than 100 years later.

1901:  The Jewish National Fund is established to purchase land in Palestine.

Under the guidance of Theodor Herzl, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is established to purchase land in Palestine.  The JNF makes its first purchase in 1903, and at the 1948 declaration of the State of Israel, Jews will own nearly 7 percent of the whole country.

1902:  Egypt's Aswan Dam, built by the British, opens.

The original Aswan Dam, or Aswan Low Dam, is built by the British.  In 1970, it will be determined that the Aswan Low Dam is neither large enough nor strong enough to control extreme flooding, and a second High dam will be built.

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.

1906:  Excavations in Turkey uncover the ruins of an ancient city.

The city unearthed by the excavations near Angora (now Ankara), Turkey, is the ancient Hittite city Hattusas, the capital of the Hittite Empire during the second millennium B.C.E.  Though the Hittites inhabit Anatolia (the Asian part of what is now called Turkey), they are not the first Turks.  The first Turks, nomadic tribes who bring Islam from Persia, will not settle in Anatolia until about 1030 C.E. 

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:  The first Egyptian girl graduates from high school.

Nabawiya Moussa is the first Egyptian girl to earn a baccalaureate degree and finish her high school education.  Twenty-one years will pass before another Egyptian girl earns this degree.  Throughout her life, Moussa is a pioneering figure in women's education, teaching, writing, and speaking about its importance. 

1907:  The first major underwater archaeological exploration takes place off the coast of Tunisia.

The Tunisian Antiquities Service finds bronze Greek statues from a ship believed to have sunk en route from Greece to Italy around 100 B.C.E.

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.

May 1908:  Oil is discovered in Persia (Iran).

British adventurer William Knox D'Arcy strikes oil in 1908, seven years after obtaining drilling rights to the land from the Persian government.  In 1909, D'Arcy joins with Burmah Oil to form the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909.  By 1917, the British government, which owns 51 percent of the company, is the most influential power in Persia.  Britain uses the company's reserves during World War I.

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.

December 21, 1908:  The Egyptian University (later renamed Cairo University) opens.

The establishment of a university in Cairo had been opposed by the British occupation authorities, who fear that the creation of an institution that produces well-educated citizens might lead to calls for independence.

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. 

1918-1919:  Famine devastates the Persian (Iranian) people.

As much as a quarter of the population living in the north of Iran dies in a famine.  The devastating effect of a world war and a period of severe drought and widespread crop failure are the primary contributing factors to the famine.

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:  The first mosque built in America, called the Mother Mosque, is built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Mother Mosque, the first built in America, will serve the Muslim population of Cedar Rapids for 40 years before a second is built.  The Iowa city is also home to the first burial ground exclusively for Muslims in the U.S.

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.

1921:  The Hollywood movie The Sheik includes the first significant portrayal of an Arab character.

Rudolph Valentino plays the title character in The Sheik, a film which promotes stereotypes and distorts Arab culture.

1921:  An ancient part of the city of Carthage is discovered in Tunisia.

A holy place from the ancient Punic period in Carthage is discovered in Tunisia in 1921.  Carthage, originally built in 814 B.C.E.  as a colony of the Phoenician Empire (1200-330 B.C.E.), was completely destroyed by fire by the Romans.

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.

November 26, 1922:  A British archaeologist opens King Tutankhamun's tomb.

British archaeologist Howard Carter discovers the undisturbed tomb of "King Tut" in Egypt's Valley of the Kings after a decade-long search.  Known as the "Boy King," Tutankhamun became Pharaoh at the age of 10.  He ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.

1923:  The Lebanese American Khalil Gibran publishes The Prophet, a book of 26 poetic essays.

Khalil Gibran, a writer and artist (he studied with the French sculptor Rodin), is one of the most familiar literary figures in the Arab American community.  The Prophet has been translated into more than 20 languages.

1923:  Three leaders of the Egyptian women's movement return to Cairo from a feminist conference in Rome and remove their veils in public.

In a daring act of defiance, Huda Shaarawi, Ceza Nabarawi, and Nabawiya Moussa take off their hijab (veils) at the Cairo train station to symbolize their liberation.  They demand equality, the right to education and the vote, and reform of the law that regulates marriage, divorce, child custody, and alimony.

1923:  Oil is discovered in Iraq.

The first oil strike floods the countryside with oil for 10 days before workers can bring it under control.  The well produces 80,000 barrels of oil a day.  In 1934, the first oil pipeline connects Iraq with Tripoli in Lebanon.  A second line to Haifa, Palestine, opens in January 1935.

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.

February 10, 1925:  The first of many institutions devoted to scientific research is established in Haifa.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is established in Haifa.  The Hebrew University of Jerusalem follows in April, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1946.  In addition to its advances in irrigation, agriculture, and the medical sciences, Israel also leads research into solar power.

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 jihadi training for the Society's male students.  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 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 the Brotherhood after signing a peace treaty with Israel.  Hamas in Palestine and mujahideen groups in Afghanistan are examples of violent factions that have split off from the Muslim Brotherhood.

November 1928:  Turkey adopts a new alphabet and simplifies the Turkish language.

In adopting a new alphabet, Arabic script is replaced with Latin letters.  The changes are consistent with other Westernizing social reforms implemented under Atat¸rk.  Many Arabic and Persian words and phrases are removed from the language, replaced instead with Turkish ones.  These changes are also designed to help combat illiteracy.

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. 

1930s:  Iran's ruler outlaws the veil and requires men to dress in European fashions.

Reza Shah Pahlevi bans traditional clothing (e.g., pantaloons and turbans for men, veils for women) in favor of Western garb.  Many people choose to ignore the new law.  Among other reforms advocated by the Shah at this time include reinstating Persian names for months, the solar calendar, and the history of pre-Islamic Iran to emphasize Iranian identity.

1930s-1950s:  Oil exploration begins in the desert, and later offshore, of what is now the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Only 150,000 people, many of them nomadic Bedouins, inhabit the land that will comprise the UAE.  With no roads, schools, hospitals, or factories, these people experience one of the lowest standards of living in the developing world until oil is discovered in the region. 

1930:  The pearl market collapses, leaving Qatar's economy in ruins.

The world pearl market collapses with the Japanese invention of cultured pearls, devastating the already weak pre-oil economy of Qatar.  Although present-day Qatar enjoys a high standard of living, the sparsely populated region was one of the poorest in the Arab world before the discovery of oil, with an economy almost entirely reliant on the pearl industry.

1932:  The first Maccabiah Games are held in Israel.

Jewish athletes from all over the world go to Tel Aviv, Israel, to compete in an Olympic-style event also known as the "Jewish Olympics." First held in 1932 and 1935, the Maccabiah Games are suspended from 1938-50.  The Games resume in 1950, and have been held in Israel every four years since.

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. 

August 1936:  Yasar Erkan wins Turkey's first Olympic medal in wrestling, its national sport.

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.

1938:  Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.

When oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938, the U.S.  founds the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco).  By 1980, Saudi Arabia has gained full control over the company.

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.

1947:  The Middle East Science Cooperation Office (MESCO) is established to foster scientific work in the region.

MESCO is established in Cairo as part of UNESCO.  Like UNESCO, its goal is to resuscitate international and regional scientific research and policy after World War II.  Its specific goals are tailored to regional needs such as water conservation and the development of arable land.

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.

Related Links

1949:  Qatar begins to produce and export oil.

Oil is produced and exported for the first time, 10 years after its initial discovery.  Offshore oil production begins in 1964.

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.

    Related Links

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

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

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

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

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.      Related Links

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

1956:  Egypt grants women equal voting rights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1959:  Oil is discovered in Libya.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1962:  Abu Dhabi begins to export petroleum.

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

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

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

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

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

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.      Related Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book, Oz's best known novel, is thought to symbolize the struggles of the diverse cultures in Jerusalem to coexist.    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:  Iran's "New Wave" in filmmaking begins with the production of Dariush Mehrjui's The Cow.

The film The Cow, which concerns a poor village that loses its only cow and the devastation of that loss, is banned in Iran upon its release for its depiction of poverty and poor social conditions.  Mehrjui's controversial, critically acclaimed film ushers in the Iranian New Wave in filmmaking, noted for its rejection of commercialism and melodrama in favor of social consciousness.  Iran's film tradition is currently among the most celebrated in the world.    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:  The Aswan High Dam is built in Egypt, controlling the Nile's annual flood but changing the river's ecosystem.

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

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

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

September 28, 1970:  Egyptian president Nasser dies.

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

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

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

1971:  Natural gas is discovered in northeast Qatar.

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

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

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

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

Qatar and Bahrain refuse to join the United Arab Emirates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 1973:  Jordanian women gain the right to vote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.      Related Links

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

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

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

1979:  The Jordanian government opens a national crafts center.

1980s:  Most Libyans enjoy educational opportunities, health care, and housing that are among the best in Africa and the Middle East.

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

1982:  Oman launches programs designed to combat pollution and prevent other environmental catastrophes.

During the 1980s in Oman, oil and tar from passing ships cover the country's beaches, pollution endangers many of its migratory birds, and corals are being damaged by anchors, fishing nets, and other equipment.  One plan to eliminate oil spills focuses on building an area where tankers can safely discharge their ballast.

February 1982:  Syrian forces suppress a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama, killing 10,000 to 30,000 people. 

In 1976, the arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood leads an armed insurgency against the al-Asad regime, which is criticized for being secular and representing only minority interests.  This particular public demonstration is met with heavy artillery fire and ends in massive casualties.

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.      Related Links

1983:  A Banquet of Seaweed by the Syrian novelist Haidar Haidar is banned in Egypt.

Islamists in Egypt accuse the book A Banquet of Seaweed (which isn't published in Egypt until 2000) of blasphemy.  The plot focuses on two leftist Iraqi intellectuals who flee the injustice of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in the late 1970s.  The Egyptian authorities have banned many books and films in recent years because of Islamist complaints that they contain anti-Islamic material.

1983:  The UAE government outlaws the shooting and hunting of birds, gazelles, and hares.

Hunting and rapid land development, which threaten critical habitat, have driven many animals in the UAE to the point of extinction over a very short time.

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.      Related Links

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.

June 17, 1985:  Sultan Salman al-Saud of Saudi Arabia is the first Arab in space.

Sultan Salman al-Saud flies aboard the space shuttle Discovery as a payload specialist.

1986:  Commercial extraction of Yemen's natural oil reserves begin.

Earnings from oil production and refinement will result in significant contributions to the Yemeni economy over the next decade.  Talks of the reunification of Northern and Southern Yemen accelerate.

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

1988:  Women comprise about 25 percent of Iraq's work force.

Iraqi women hold professional positions (e.g., doctors, lawyers), as well as positions in education and social welfare offices.  They are allowed to vote and serve as elected officials in the National Assembly.

March 16, 1988:  Iraq uses chemical weapons against the Kurds. 

The Kurdish areas of northern Iraq have long been in conflict with the Baghdad regime.  In the Kurdish town of Halabjah, Iraq unleashes chemical weapons, killing between 50,000 and 100,000 people.    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.

August 29, 1988:  The first Afghan travels in space.

A talented pilot in the Afghan air force, Abdul Ahad Mohmand, is chosen to train as a Russian cosmonaut and travel to the Mir space station as part of International Group 6.  Mohmand remains in space for nine days.

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 10, 1988:  Egypt's Naguib Mahfouz is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Best known for his Cairo trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street, written between 1956-57), author Naguib Mahfouz has written more than 30 novels that combine the Western narrative style with traditional Arabic storytelling.  Over his long career, he has written in both realistic and fantastic styles.

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.

February 14, 1989:  Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran calls on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.

Many Muslims believe that The Satanic Verses, a novel about a young Indian's life in Britain and the roots of his Muslim faith, irreverently fictionalizes the early Islamic community and Muslim life.  Khomeini issues a fatwa, or religious opinion, on the matter.  A $2.5 million price is also put on Rushdie's head.  Rushdie spends nine years in hiding until Iran's government announces it no longer supports attempts to kill him.      Related Links

May 1989:  Oman's Muscat Stock Exchange opens.

This popular stock exchange attracts investors from the Gulf and from the West.

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.

1990s:  Female literacy in Yemen reaches 26 percent.

Whereas only 3 percent of Yemeni women are literate in 1975, by the early '90s the country's female literacy rate hits 26 percent.  Yemeni women share the same right to education as men.    Related Links

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.      Related Links

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 1991:  Facing foreign pressures, Egypt launches an economic reform program.

In return for foreign lenders agreeing to wipe out $10 billion in debt, Egypt promises to adopt a sales tax, cut fuel subsidies, and slash tariffs on foreign goods.  For the first time since Egypt nationalized major industries in the 1960s, the government also lets foreigners buy Egyptian property, control Egyptian banks, and even own and operate Egyptian power stations and highways.    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:  Smoke from burning oil wells in Iraq causes severe health and environmental problems throughout the Middle East.

The entire Middle East region, even those countries not directly involved in the fighting, suffers a toll from the Gulf War.  Weather patterns are disrupted, black rain (from oil residues and acids) destroys crops, and the number of respiratory ailments soars.      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

May 24-25, 1991:  Operation Solomon, a dramatic airlift, brings 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to live in Israel.

Airlifts to Israel of Ethiopian Jews suffering from famine and oppression had begun in the 1980s, prior to Operation Solomon.  The integration of Ethiopians into Israeli society has not been smooth for reasons both of culture and race.      Related Links

Summer 1991:  Scandal rocks Abu Dhabi's Bank of Credit and Commerce International in the UAE.

Riddled by fraud, Abu Dhabi's Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) fails, creating huge liability claims from international investors with accounts there.  Twelve bank officials are sent to jail and fined $9 billion in damages.    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

1992:  Heavy soil erosion prompts two Turkish businessmen to raise public awareness of environmental issues.

Businessmen Hayrettin Karaca and Nihat Gokyigit establish the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) in 1992.  Because 45 percent of Turkey's work force is involved in agriculture and nearly 80 percent of total land area is threatened by soil erosion in particular, this is considered a major concern in Turkey.    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

1993:  The Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf wins the French prize for literature, the Prix de Goncourt.

Like many other Lebanese novelists and writers, Maalouf is profoundly concerned with the meeting of and conflict between East and West.    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

March 1993:  President Clinton establishes the cooperative U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission.

The U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission aims to encourage and oversee cooperative scientific, agricultural, and environmental research and projects.  The 1990s sees a number of cooperative efforts between the U.S.  and Israel, in areas including food industry regulation, cosmetics production standards, intellectual property rights, and information technology.    Related Links

May 12, 1993-present:  The National Museum in Afghanistan falls to ruins.

Afghanistan's first national museum housed an impressive record of Central Asian history dating back as far as the sixth century B.C.E.  Twice slammed by rockets and recklessly looted, many of the finer artifacts are being sold on the international art market.  Attempts have been made to secure the remaining collection, but many pieces were too large to move, and deteriorated in the ruins.  More than 70 percent of its collection has been destroyed or stolen.  With the fall of the Taliban, efforts are under way to protect and conserve what remains.    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.      Related Links

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.      Related Links

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

1994:  Omani women are encouraged to have fewer children.

Omani women, who traditionally gained status by having a large number of children, have one of the highest birthrates in the world -- on average, Omani women will bear 7.7 children.  To help women and the children to whom they give birth become healthier, Oman provides Birth Spacing Services.      Related Links

1994:  Saudi production of desalinated water reaches cities in the center of the kingdom.

Because of its lack of fresh water resources, Saudi Arabia develops a process to remove salt from sea water (desalination) to serve the water needs of its people.  Saudi Arabia currently produces more desalinated water than any other country in the world.  This water is used both for drinking water and agricultural irrigation.  In 1994, the production capacity for desalinated water had reached 714,218,000 gallons per day -- enough water to cover the needs of the cities on the eastern and western coasts as well as some cities inland.  By 2000, the capital city of Riyadh would receive desalinated water from the Gulf, 500 kilometers away.    Related Links

1994:  The Lebanese economy rebounds four years after the end of the civil war.

Inflation drops from 75 percent to 18 percent as the economy rebounds after the end of the civil war.  Beirut's absence from the international banking scene has led to the ascendance of Amman and Tel Aviv as Middle East banking centers, but the Lebanese government instates financial and commercial measures that will return Beirut to prominence in banking and tourism in the 1990s.      Related Links

1994:  A Marriage Fund is established to increase the percentage of UAE nationals in the country.

Concerned with the percentage of male emirati, or UAE nationals, marrying foreign women, UAE president Sheikh Zayed announces this program in which UAE men and UAE women can receive long-term loans of up to $19,000 to assist with wedding expenses and the purchase of a house.  The loan is interest-free and reduces by 20 percent with the birth of each child.    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.      Related Links

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.      Related Links

September 17, 1994:  Lebanese national icon Fairuz holds a concert in Beirut to celebrate the end of the civil war.

Since the 1950s, Fairuz has drawn her songs from traditional Arabic music, operettas, and jazz.  She achieved iconic status when she refused to leave Beirut during the civil war.  Her Beirut concert in 1994, and her return to the Baalbeck Festival in 1998, symbolize a new beginning for postwar Lebanese culture.    Related Links

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

November 1994:  The Atat¸rk Dam opens in Turkey.

The Atat¸rk Dam is one of 22 planned dams and 19 planned hydroelectric plants on the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.  The overall project costs exceed $34 billion and result in the displacement of largely Kurdish populations.    Related Links

1995:  Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos emphasizes economic reform in his country.

Oman has less oil than other Gulf states, and its reserves are running low.  Additionally, its deficit is climbing.  Sultan Qaboos is trying to diversify Oman's economy in part by reducing its dependence on oil and encouraging its private sector to be more competitive and efficient.    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.      Related Links

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

June 22, 1995:  Oman and the U.S.  each pledge $3 million to build a Middle East Desalination Research Center in Oman.

The shortage of fresh water is a growing problem for Oman and other Gulf states.  Many states get fresh water by desalination, the process of purifying salt water.  Oman, which has built dams to collect rainwater that runs down mountains, continues to look for other ways to collect more fresh water.    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.

1996:  Israel's Supreme Court rules that qualified women cannot be excluded from air force pilot training.

Israel's Supreme Court makes this ruling after hearing a case brought by Alice Miller against the Israeli air force.  Although the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had allowed women officers to train male soldiers, women themselves had been excluded from combat prior to the ruling.  By some estimations, 60 percent of the women serving in the armed forces never get beyond desk work.

March 7, 1996:  Syrian playwright Sadallah Wannous delivers the keynote speech celebrating the International Day of Theater.

Wannous's career as a playwright began in the early 1960s with several one-act plays which were characterized by his fundamental theme:  the relationship between the individual and society and its authorities.

March 27, 1996:  The world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, is first run in the United Arab Emirates.

Horse racing is an ancient Arabian sport.  The Dubai World Cup is considered to be in the same class as other world-renowned horse races, such as the English Derby and Oaks Classics.  Dubai also hosts professional golf events -- golf is the fastest growing sport in the UAE -- as well as prestigious motorcar rallies.    Related Links

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.      Related Links

1996-2002:  The Taliban severely restricts women's role in society.

Under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women are banished from the workforce, forbidden an education, and prohibited to leave their homes unless a close male relative escorts them.  In public, they must wear special dress (burqa) that completely covers the body and leaves only a small mesh-covered opening through which they can see.  Windows of women's houses visible to the public must be painted black.  Religious minorities and secular individuals also suffer intolerance under the Taliban regime.    Related Links

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.

November 1996:  Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television network, launches.

The Al-Jazeera network broadcasts Arab-related news and current-affairs programming.  It is the first Arab TV news outlet that is not state-censored.  Known as "Arab CNN" to some, Al-Jazeera becomes well known in the West when it airs a videotape of Osama bin Laden responding to U.S.  air strikes against Afghanistan and celebrating the September 11 attacks.    Related Links

November 1996:  The Pharos lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is rediscovered in Egypt.

Archaeologists find the ruins of the Pharos lighthouse, which was toppled in the 1300s after a series of earthquakes, submerged off Alexandria, Egypt.  Dating to about 285 B.C.E., the lighthouse stood on the island of Pharos.  It was the tallest building on Earth at the time, and its light, reflected off a mirror, was visible from more than 35 miles away. 

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 1997:  Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry wins the Palme d'Or in Cannes.

The Palme d'Or is the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival.  When Taste of Cherry is named best film, Kiarostami becomes the first Iranian director ever to receive the prestigious award.    Related Links

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

June 29, 1997:  Uday Hussein jails and tortures the Iraqi national soccer team after losses in World Cup qualifying matches.

After the Iraqi national soccer team suffers its second loss in World Cup qualifying matches, Uday Hussein, eldest son of President Saddam Hussein and head of the Iraqi soccer federation, reportedly has the team jailed and tortured.

July 27, 1997:  Iraqi poet Mohammed Mahdi al-Jawahri dies in Syria.

Al-Jawahri, along with Maruf al-Rusafi and Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi, were among the Arab world's most prominent poets during the 1920s and 1930s.  Al-Jawahri became closely affiliated with the Communists in the 1940s, expressing strong anti-colonialist sentiment in his poetry.

Septmebr 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

November 1997:  Turkey's culture ministry bans a film about homosexuals from consideration in the Academy Awards.

Hamam, or Turkish Bath, a fictional film about two men who fall in love in a Turkish bath, is selected by an independent film board as Turkey's nomination for the Academy Awards.  The selection is overruled by the culture ministry, however, and another film, Eskiya, or Bandit, is put forward.

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

1998:  Al-Halaqa is established to promote the visual arts in Yemen.

A non-governmental organization, al-Halaqa seeks to bring the republic's contemporary art movement to international attention.

1998-1999:  A drought reduces water levels in Israel's Lake Kinneret to dangerously low levels.

Lake Kinneret contains most of Israel's water supply.  As a desert region, Israel and the rest of the Middle East engage in ongoing negotiations about water supplies, water partnerships, and water technologies.

1998-2002:  Years of severe drought create a food crisis in Afghanistan.

Crop and livestock losses threaten more than three million Afghans with starvation.  A way of life is also in jeopardy:  Eighty-five percent of the population of Afghanistan depends directly on agriculture for employment, but most households will soon be left without breeding stock or work animals.  The current food shortage is compounded by two decades of civil instability.    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.

February 4-May 30, 1998:  Two of the poorest and most isolated provinces in Afghanistan are rocked by two earthquakes just three months apart.

Two major quakes measuring 6.1 and 6.9 on the Richter scale originate from nearly the same site in the northeast provinces of Takhar and Badakshan.  Landslides level homes and villages, trapping many under rubble and leaving thousands of terrified survivors clinging to exposed mountainsides.  An estimated 10,000 people are killed and 45,000 left homeless.    Related Links

April 1, 1998:  An Israeli-Palestinian co-production of Sesame Street airs in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli-Palestinian version of Sesame Street features an Israeli and a Palestinian muppet who together teach tolerance (in addition to letters and counting).  Segments produced since the September 2000 outbreak of violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel are called Sesame Stories, which tell stories from each culture separately in an attempt to humanize each side in the conflict.

April 30, 1998:  Syrian writer Nizar Qabbani dies.

One of the most prominent figures in the Arab literary world, the Syrian writer Nizar Qabbani, dies at his home in London;  he is 75.  He became popular in the 1950s and later became known throughout the Arab world for his love poetry.  Qabbani adopted a more political role when he wrote a volume of poetry lamenting what he saw as the bitter defeat of the Arab states in 1967, in the Six-Day War with Israel.

May 7, 1998:  Qatar becomes the first Gulf nation to allow women to compete in an athletic tournament.

The Qatar Amateur Athletic Federation (QAAF) hosts the Qatar International Athletic Grand Prix II at Khalifa Stadium.  At the games, Qatar becomes the first Gulf country to allow women to compete in an athletic tournament.  In the 1990s, Qatar had become a more frequent stopping point for international athletics, twice as the host of some qualifying rounds for the 1994 and 1998 soccer World Cup.    Related Links

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

September 1998:  Iranians stand to honor the U.S.  national anthem when it is played at the wrestling world championships in Iran.

A U.S.  wrestler wins first place in the World Championships held in Iran.  When the U.S.  national anthem is played, Iranians present at the event stand in respect for the first time in nearly 20 years.    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

1999:  The Iranian film Children of Heaven is nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film.

Directed by Majid Majidi, this genial crowd-pleaser, about a poor brother and sister temporarily obliged to share the same pair of shoes, walked away with almost every award offered at the 1997 Montreal World Film Festival, including the grand prize, the critics' prize, the people's prize, and the ecumenical jury prize.  It did not, however, take home the Oscar.    Related Links

January 1999:  The Israeli Defense Forces sends a woman to serve in a combat unit for the first time.

Lt.  Dr.  Elina Weismann becomes the first woman officer in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to serve in a combat unit, as a battalion physician in southern Lebanon.  At the same time, the IDF announces other changes in women's service, from requirements for apparel to participation in elite jumpmasters training.  The IDF also announces plans to conduct coeducational basic training for soldiers in identical positions.    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:  Egypt has more than 200,000 Internet users and 52,000 online subscribers.

These figures represent an increase of nearly 50 percent since December 1998.  There are four Internet service providers in Egypt. 

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.

April 1999:  Qatar's personal-computer market grows steadily.

Qatar's growth in the personal-computer market is ranked third behind that of China and Egypt.  Among a population of 650,000, there are 27,500 Internet users and 11,000 online subscribers.

April 1999:  Technosphere '99 is organized to discuss the impact of science and technology on Arab women.

Participants in the three-day conference Technosphere '99 come from 20 Arab countries.  They resolve to expand technological and vocational education for women in the Arab world.

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

1999:  Ten men who removed a stone head from an ancient statue in Khorsabad, Iraq, are executed.

Thievery is identified as a major threat to Iraq's rich archaeological history.  Since the Gulf War, numerous sites that hold clues to some of the earliest and greatest civilizations in the world (Assyria, Babylonia, Sumer) and to the origins of writing and many religious traditions have been looted.  The men who were executed attempted to sell pieces of the statue's head to wealthy Western collectors.

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

August 17, 1999:  Nearly 18,000 die when two major earthquakes hit western Turkey.

The August earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, is centered near the city of Izmit, in densely populated western Turkey.  In addition to the 18,000 deaths, another 27,000 people are injured.  Damage extends to 340,000 houses and businesses.  The quake is believed to have pushed Anatolia four feet closer to Europe.  On November 12, another 760 are killed and 5,000 injured when a second large earthquake, measuring 7.2, hits Duzce.  The total damage for the two quakes is estimated at between $10 billion and $25 billion.    Related Links

August 30, 1999:  Abdullah al-Baradouni, Yemen's most famous poet, dies.

Blind since childhood, al-Baradouni advocated democracy and women's rights through his poetry, which was translated into several foreign languages.  He also wrote books on politics, literature, and folklore.  Al-Baradouni was jailed several times for his criticism of both religious extremists and military insurgents.

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

December 1999:  A Lebanese court acquits Marcel Khalife, one of the Arab world's most popular musicians, of insulting Islam.

Marcel Khalife is a Christian Lebanese composer, most famous in the Arab world for the nationalist songs he composed during the 15-year Lebanese civil war.  Religious authorities accused Khalife of including Koranic verses in a song -- based on a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish -- about the plight of the Palestinians.  His trial is seen as a test case for freedom of expression in a country perceived as one of the most liberal in the Arab world.  Similar trials in Egypt convict numerous authors and publishers.    Related Links

December 10, 1999:  The Egyptian American scientist Ahmed Zewail wins the Nobel Prize for chemistry.      Related Links

December 31, 1999:  Shayef al-Khaledi, Yemeni folk poet and master of riposte, dies.

Expressing the views of the working majority in everyday language, al-Khaledi reached a wide audience in Yemen and abroad, though he gained little attention from intellectuals and the official media.  He is best remembered for his mastery of "riposte," quick wit demonstrated in written exchanges with other poets.

2000:  One-sixth of the Israeli population is online.

Internet and telecommunications companies thrive in a nation known for its vigorous cell-phone use.

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

January 2000:  President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt signs a legal-reform package that provides women equal divorce rights.

The new law signed into law by Egyptian president Mubarak essentially gives women the same divorce rights as men.  Women no longer need to show proof of physical abuse or adultery, for example, to end a marriage.  Egypt becomes only the second country in the Arab world, after Tunisia, to grant women these rights.    Related Links

January 25, 2000:  In Kuwait, two women writers are given prison sentences after one is convicted of blasphemy and the other of using indecent language.

Laila al-Othman's use of the word "lustful" to describe sea waves in her book The Departure is interpreted by authorities as having a sexual connotation.  She claims this was unintended.  Alia Shuaib, a professor at Kuwait University, is found guilty of "publishing opinions that ridicule religion" in a book she published in 1993, Spiders Bemoan a Wound.  Each receives a suspended two-month sentence.    Related Links

February 16, 2000:  Haifa al-Baker becomes the first woman lawyer in Qatar.

February 23, 2000:  Ofra Haza, Yemeni-Israeli singer, dies.

Ofra Haza's sound, a mix of traditional songs and dance beats, made her an international star.  She was nominated for a Grammy Award in the World Beat category in 1992 and even performed at the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo at the request of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak deliver eulogies at Haza's funeral.    Related Links

2000:  The United Arab Emirates establishes Internet City, a free-trade zone located in Dubai for Internet businesses.

Similarly, Media City, a hub for global media companies, opens in 2001, also in Dubai.

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

July 2000:  Iranian singer Googoosh performs in New York City.

Faegheh Atashin, popularly known as Googoosh, is an Iranian pop star and icon of female freedom and sexuality.  She and other female solo artists were banned from singing in Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini. 

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

August 2000:  Natural gas is discovered off the coast of Israel.

Should the recently discovered reserves of natural gas off of Israel's coast prove large, tapping them could reduce the country's immense dependence on foreign suppliers of energy, as could Israeli research into solar and wind power.  Currently, for political reasons, Israel's energy demand is met by suppliers outside of the Arab world.

September 2000:  Turkish weightlifter Halil Mutlu wins an Olympic gold medal in Sydney.

Turkish weightlifters compete exceptionally well in international competitions.  Halil Mutlu, nicknamed "Little Dynamo" because of his small stature (123 pounds), wins the gold medal in the Sydney Olympics, lifting more than 300 pounds.  His mentor, Naim Suleymanoglu, a.k.a.  "Pocket Hercules," has also won a gold medal in Olympic competition.

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:  Adult literacy rates in Iran reach 95 percent.

Iran's high adult literacy rate represents a vast improvement since the start of the 1979 revolution, when the figure was only 48 percent.  Iran now has more than 30 free public universities, 15 of them located in Tehran.

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 28, 2001:  Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan sign an agreement on a $1 billion gas pipeline project.

The project promises to build two pipelines to transport Egyptian natural gas to Middle East partners and to European markets.

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

February 26, 2001:  Taliban leader Mullah Omar issues an edict to destroy all pre-Islamic statues and shrines in Afghanistan.

Led by Mullah Omar, the Taliban evokes international outrage when it smashes ancient cultural icons, including two giant fifth-century Buddha statues in Bamiyan;  one was the tallest standing Buddha in the world.    Related Links

March 1, 2001:  The Hawar Islands are awarded to Bahrain over Qatar's objections.

The International Court of Justice settles a five-year-old dispute between neighboring countries Bahrain and Qatar over territorial rights to the Hawar Islands and adjoining natural-gas fields in the Gulf of Bahrain.

April 9-11, 2001:  An international commission gathers in Lebanon to discuss sustainable development.

The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) convenes a Thematic Round Table in Beirut to discuss regional concerns about sustainable development, fresh water supplies, land use, poverty, standards of living, and technology.  The commission representatives prepare for the "Rio + 10" World Summit on Sustainable Development.

June 2001:  Israel divests Merhav, the largest joint Arab-Israeli commercial venture to date.

The Israeli company Merhav announces that it has sold its 20 percent share in the Middle East Oil Refinery Ltd.  (MIDOR) to the National Bank of Egypt, ending what had been the largest Arab-Israeli joint commercial venture to date.

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.

November 2001:  Egypt launches its first privately owned satellite network.

Dream TV is launched with two channels:  Dream 1 targets youth viewers, while Dream 2 shows movies and variety programming.  A third channel, Dream 3, is set to launch at a later date.

November 9-13, 2001:  The World Trade Organization meets in Doha, Qatar, to discuss the developing world's economy.

The meetings produce the Doha Development Agenda, which ensures that industrialized nations aid developing nations by providing markets for their agricultural and manufactured goods.  Violent anti-globalization demonstrations that occurred at the 1999 Seattle meeting are not repeated in Doha, but threats are made against Qatar for inviting Israel to participate.    Related Links

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

2002:  Female attendance in schools reaches a record high in the United Arab Emirates.

About 98 percent of all females eligible for school attend.  In fact, 60 percent of the student body of the UAE University in al-Ain are women.  Graduates make up a large percentage of teachers, health service professionals, and government employees.  The UAE's first woman pilot recently graduated from its aviation college.

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

February 2002:  Saudi Arabia's authorities shut down more than 400 Internet sites.

The Saudi government fails to provide a clear explanation for the censorship.  Internet users, a fast-growing group that numbered 112,500 in April 1999, are largely undeterred, and can still obtain unauthorized Internet access through neighbors Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.    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 2002:  Locusts invade Afghanistan's northern plains, threatening crop production.

The lack of an effective control program has allowed hundreds of millions of locusts to threaten nearly 70 percent of the crops in parts of northern Afghanistan, the country's most productive agricultural area.  Several million rural households are potentially affected by the swarm.  Insecticides and traditional trench traps are being used to combat the insects.    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

June 23, 2002:  Turkey reaches the soccer World Cup semifinals for the first time.

Soccer is Turkey's most popular sport, perhaps reflected in the government's decision to mint commemorative coins celebrating the national team's third-place overall finish in the 2002 World Cup.    Related Links