The Middle East

Territories of the Middle East form the region, where the earliest civilizations have been developing. In 100 century BC the groups of ancient farmers and hunters lived around the areas from Persian Gulf to the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt.  Soon, these settlements formed the most advanced early human civilizations: the Shumarians, the Assirians, the Babylonians, and later on the Persian Empire of Achaemenids and the Seleucid State.By the first centuries of our era, the majority of the Middle East territories were taken under control of growing Roman Empire. This resulted in introducing Christianity and foundation of Constantinople (modern Istanbul) as one of the most principal and developing cities of the region. Constantinople became a capital of powerful Greco-Roman Byzantine Empire, which dominated at the areas from Egypt to Syria and became advanced trade and cultural center of the world. The other parts of the Middle East region included Mesopotamia and Persian Empires.

In the 7th century Christian religion of the region was edged out by Islam, which came from Arabian Peninsula and spread around the territories of the Middle East up to Anatolian lands of modern Turkey. Therefore, the period of Arab caliphate domination has started. The epoch of Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates can be characterized with occasional economic rises, increase of commercial activity, cultural explosion, and development of big cities, like Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, and Basra.In the 11th century migrating army of the Seljuk Turks invaded territories of Persia, Iraq, Palestine, and managed to win some lands of Anatolian region and Egypt from powerful Byzantine Empire. As a result, long lasting Arabian domination ended by establishing of the Seljuks supremacy. This historical period was accompanied by numerous wars and armed conflicts between Islam and Christian societies, and also by short-term invasion of Mongol Armies in the 13th century. A number of Turkish sultans controlled different parts of the region from Egypt to Palestine, and only Arabian lands remained under control of Arabian rulers.

By the 15th century Turkish sultans decided to unite their lands and form powerful and aggressive Ottoman Empire. Crowded army of this state started extensive military activities around Anatolian region, expanding both to the South-East and North. Very soon it captured the lands of Iraq and Egypt, and on the North it got advanced up to present territories of Hungary, enforcing Islam upon European nations. But in the 17th century rapid progress in technology and economy allowed Europe to drive out Ottoman powers back to the East.The 18th century brought numerous wars and battles, which resulted in loss of Ottoman control over major areas of the Middle East and establishment of European domination (mostly French and British) in some territories (by the 19th century). Ottoman Empire grew more and more dependent on European powers. Besides, obvious progress of European nations in political economical and social life caused serious reformations and revolutions in some states of the region.

Thus, after the World War I, Ottoman Empire was transformed by its new leader Kemal Ataturk into the Turkish Republic, according to European standards. Countries like Syria, Iraq or Egypt remained under protectorate of France and Britain, and in the 20s and the 30s they started fight for independence. Many political conflicts took place around Israel, which is not a Muslim state in the region. Discovery of oil caused a huge rise of economy and technology in Arabian countries. But, at the same time, the number of political and religious misunderstanding was growing bigger, so the Middle East became one of the most dangerous regions of the planet.

Very frequently solving of numerous disagreements in this region required intervention of the other powerful countries of the world, like USA, Britain, or Russia. Such problems, like ethnicity, religious and political viewpoints, presence of numerous military bases, fight for independence and human rights are among the main reasons of permanent tension and critical situations in the Middle East, both on domestic and international levels.Territories of this region are very rich with natural resources and arable lands. That’s why throughout the history they were a very desirable target of many rulers. The Middle East became epicenter of more than 20 key international conflicts, starting with Greco-Persian wars and ending with Iran-Iraq armed conflict.

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