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Middle East

The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East edited by Avraham Sela (Continuum) This volume is an updated and expanded new edition of The Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East (New York: Continuum, 1999). Indeed, the pace and abundance of new events produced by states and societies in this region underscore the need for an updated edition of this Encyclopedia. It is intended to serve as a useful source of knowledge and scholarly insight for those interested in the contemporary political history of this region, a most turbulent, yet crucial area in the context of world affairs.

The Encyclopedia brings to the reader a wealth of information on this region, in a historical perspective, with emphasis on the two recent decades, which were marked by cataclysmic events, both in and out of the region. Among the more conspicuous events during these two decades were the Israel-Egypt peace treaty (1979); the Islamic revolution in Iran (1979); the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War (1980-88); the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War (1990-91); the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War (1991); the breakthrough in Arab-Israel peacemaking (1993-94). Since the first edition of the Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East , the region has witnessed the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo process and a plunge into unprecedented bloody violence threatening to spill over into the neighboring states.

Above all, it was the horrific 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington by Islamist terrorists, with its consequent war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan , that shook the world and triggered a dramatic change of America 's self-perception and world-view. Related to these events were the volatile prices of oil, the major natural resource in the Middle East; the intensified demographic and economic predicaments of many states in the region; the gap between the quest for political participation and liberalization, and the political reality of authoritarian, security-obsessed, and politically restrictive regimes; and the rising tide of Islamic radicalism, which has become the primary social and political force in the region. On the international level, the 11 September events have been widely perceived as fulfilling the prophecy of the "Clash of Civilizations" between Islam and the West. More realistically, these events have been taken seriously as a major threat to the world order, underscoring the danger of individual and group violence to universal human values.

The Encyclopedia emphasizes the formative events that led to the shaping of the contemporary Middle East following World War I and the consolidation of states, ideological trends and movements, and regional and international relations. At the same time, it takes a special interest in the post-Gulf War and post-Cold War years, in which two parallel processes have been essential: the dramatic breakthrough and disrupted progress of the Arab-Israeli peace process; and the growing sense of popular discontent and tensions between state and society, tradition and modernity, austerity and globalization, epitomized by the continuing trend of radical Islamic movements. The breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli peace process was, above all, a reflection of the changing political structures, in both domestic and inter-state politics, of the Middle East, i.e.., the erosion of regional ethno-religious identities rooted in supra-national Pan-Arabism and Islam and the transition to increasingly state-based identities and hence to more pragmatic politics. These changes also brought about a modest reconsideration of the term " Middle East " with regard to its geographical boundaries and cultural essence.

Indeed, despite the prevalent use of the term "Middle East" (or Near East in the United States), for decades students and institutions of the international academic community have been divided over the very validity of the term and even more so over its geographical boundaries. Area specialists tended to point to the historical, linguistic and religious commonalities of the Middle East peoples, defining the region as one marked by dominant Arab-Islamic identity, which excluded Israel as an alien and non-regional actor. They

rejected the term " Middle East " as a reflection of the imperialists' viewpoint and interests. Some Arab scholars defined the region as an all-Arab national system of states, arguing that the term " Middle East " was deliberately introduced by Western imperialists to legitimize the existence of Israel in the heart of the Arab homeland.

Indeed, the Arab world, "from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the [Persian] Gulf," constitutes the major part of the Middle East land and population. Israel is indeed an alien entity in this region in terms of its cultural, religious, social and economic characteristics, even though about half of its Jewish population is Middle Eastern by origin. However, from the end of World War I, the nascent political Jewish community in Palestine , and later the State of Israel, has played an indispensable role in Middle East regional politics. The Arab-Israeli conflict has left its imprint on the region's political thought and practice, reflecting mainly the Arab-Muslim response to the religious, cultural, territorial and political challenge that the Jewish State has constituted for its neighbors. Obviously, Israel played a key role in the region's strategic and international affairs, even though for most of its fifty-four years of existence Israel's relations with most of the Middle East states were marked by ideological hostility and a practical state of war.

The 1990s also witnessed the growing incorporation of Turkey in the Middle East setting, underscored by intensified ethnic (primarily concerning the Kurds) and water conflicts with its Arab south and southeastern neighbors, shared economic interests with Iraq and Iran , and newly established strategic relations with Israel . At the same time, Iran has maintained its interest and penetration in the Arab-Muslim Middle East, boosted by its Islamic revolution in 1979 and its quest for hegemony in the Persian Gulf and beyond. Finally, the 11 September 2001 events brought to the surface the new phenomenon of al-Qa'ida as an international network of militant Islamic groups, primarily Arab, whose agenda and practices are yet to be found out. The links between this network and the two-decade-long state of lawlessness and state failure in Afghanistan , including the rule of the Taliban, made it necessary to include this country in this updated edition.

This volume thus defines the Middle East as a region encompassing the whole Arab world, from the Maghreb in North Africa to the Persian Gulf (including nominally Arab states, hence briefly reviewed­Mauritania, Somalia , Eritrea and Djibouti ) as well as non-Arab states: Israel , Turkey and Iran . This definition derives mainly from the common Muslim identity of the vast majority of the peoples in the region and their sense of shared regional identity. Yet, for the purposes of this Encyclopedia it is also necessary to view the region in the context of long-term structural interactions among states, as well as the existence of cross-national institutions, trends, and shared economic, security, and political links. Thus, in addition to entries on each state in the region (reviewing land, people, culture, and political history, both domestic and international), major processes of regional significance are amply discussed in this Encyclopedia through substantive entries that constitute short essays on issues such as: Arab Nationalism; Arab-Israel Conflict; Arab-Israel Peacemaking; Islamic Radicalism and Movements; Water Politics; Military Forces; Oil; Non-Conventional Weapons; Refugees and Migrants; Terrorism; Women; al-Qa'ida; and al Jazira. Other entries of regional importance relate to ethnic and religious groups, such as Arabs, Kurds, Druze, Jews, Alawis, Copts, Circassians, Maronites, as well as Muslims (Sunnis, Shi'is, Isma'ilis, etc.), Christians (Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Latin, etc.). In addition, the Encyclopedia also includes short entries on leading political figures, parties and movements.

The Encyclopedia is arranged in alphabetical order, with cross-references designed to help the reader find entries close to or related to the issue searched. We have also added an index referring to entries where the

searched item can be found. To ease the search, cross-references appear in small capital letters. Non-English words and terms, as well as original names of movements, parties, and ideas, appear in italics. Initials of the authors of the updated/new entries appear at the bottom of each (entries slightly changed/updated remain credited to their authors in the previous volume). We also added updated bibliographies for further reading. An annexed table provides basic updated data on the Middle East states, such as area, economic growth and main resources, population and population growth, gross domestic product and per capita income, and more. A short note on transliteration: the approach adopted in this volume is "user friendly," that is, regarding Arabic names, we used the customary way of spelling names and places in the English-speaking world, with a tendency toward a phonetic rather than precise transliteration from Arabic. Al (with capital A) is used as part of a dynasty's name, denoting "The house (family) of , as opposed to the usual al­denoting the definite article. In the case of Turkish and Iranian names, we took the closest spelling to the phonetic pronunciation.

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