<Standard WHII.46........................................................................................Standard WHII.48>

Explain the rise and funding of Islamic fundamentalism in the last half of the 20th century and identify the major events and forces in the Middle East over the last several decades.

Topics on the Page

A. the weakness and fragility of the oil-rich Persian Gulf states; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and others
B. the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979
  • Iranian Hostage Crisis
C. defeat of the Soviet Union by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan
D. the origins of the Persian Gulf War and the post-war actions of Saddam Hussein
E. the financial support of radical and terrorist organizations by the Saudis
F. the increase in terrorist attacks against Israel and the United States

rotating gif.gifFor 21st century events, link to The Arab Spring Uprisings

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Focus Question: How did Islamic fundamentalism rise in the last half of the 20th century and what were the major events in the Middle East over the last several decades?

Cover of an al Qaeda document
Cover of an al Qaeda document

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngThe Path to Protest provides an interactive timeline for the Arab Spring protests of 2011.
map_icon.jpegAl Qaeda' Hot Spots shows countries in the Middle East and North Africa where Al Qaeda or related militant groups have been active (The New York Times, January 26, 2014).
Multimedia.pngPopular Uprisings in the Middle East are videos of 2011 discussions by faculty from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Science Department.
map-ancient-rome-2.jpgInteractive Map showing movement of al Qaeda fighters in and out of Afghanistan in 2001 from Frontline, PBS.
Multimedia.png is an MSNBC video providing background information to the conflict in Iraq in relation to regional politics.

Countries with more than 5% Muslim population
Countries with more than 5% Muslim population

World's Largest Muslim Populations (2009 estimates from National Geographic Magazine, October 2009, p. 87)
  • Indonesia (207 million)
  • Pakistan (171 million)
  • India (145 million)
  • Bangladesh (138 million)
  • Turkey (76 million)
  • Egypt (75 million)
  • Nigeria (75 million)
  • Iran (65 million)

map-ancient-rome-2.jpgMap of Modern Distribution of World Religions from Cengage Learning.

Religious Affiliation (by percentage of population, 2005) from National Geographic, December 2007.
  • Christians 33%
  • Muslims 21%
  • Nonbelievers 14%
  • Hindus 13%
  • Other 12%
  • Buddhists 6%
Benazir Bhutto, 1989
Benazir Bhutto, 1989

Female_Rose.pngBenazir Bhutto is the first woman to be the head of state of a Muslim nation; served two terms as Pakistan's Prime Minister (1988-1990 & 1993-1996). She was assassinated in 2007 after years in exile.
      • Click here to read about Bhutto's legacy from the New York Times.

300px-Persian_Gulf_Arab_States.PNGA. The weakness and fragility of the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and others

      1. Saudi Arabia: oil makes up more than 90% of its exports, making it the world’s leading petroleum producer and exporter. It is about 75% of the government’s revenue.
      2. Kuwait: holds about 96 billion barrels of crude oil, but still only makes up about 10% of the world’s oil reserves. The Iraqi invasion during the First Gulf War aimed to set the hundreds of oil barrels on fire to damage Kuwait’s economy.
      3. Iraq: part of the oil sector which provides 95% of the oil exchange. The eight-year war with Iran damaged the oil export facilities. The construction of pipelines to fix the damage helped bring oil exports back up. The constant borrowing of money (especially from the U.S., whose tolls reach 100 billion) to repair all the damage led to a high debt. This was the main reason for invading Kuwait.

There is a lot of competition between the Persian Gulf States. One year Kuwait produced 90 billion barrels, and Iran responded to the challenge with even more, but Saddam Hussein produced the most with 100 billion barrels. The competition can cause inflation in lower producing oil states.

Click here to see a chart show top proven world oil reserves, 2013

B. The Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979

Overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi statue, Tehran University
Overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi statue, Tehran University

Transformed Iran from monarchy (ruler: Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) to Islamic republic (ruler: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini)

Multimedia.pngClick here to watch a short video about events of the Iranian revolution.
  1. Began January 1978 ended April 1979 with a theocratic Constitution
  2. Pahlavi left in exile and led strikes and demonstrations against Iran
  3. Guerrillas and rebel troops attacked loyal Shah troops. Angry students and other religious leaders attacked over a libelous story of Khomeini. Several students were killed. In response, Iran’s military declared itself as neutral.
  4. On March 29th security forces took action when more protests occurred. Cinemas, banks, hotels, government offices, and other Shah Regime buildings were destroyed.
  5. On April 1st 1979 Iran voted to become an Islamic Republic, and Ayatollah Khomeini was elected 'Supreme Leader".
  6. Known as the "Revolution without a Cause" and cause great change at a great pace.

Overview of the Revolution from NOVA Online.

In post-Revolution Iran, women have struggled to improve their role in the country. The United States Institute of Peace published a history of the women's movement.

Click here for a Crash Course segment on the Iranian Revolution.

Iranian Hostage Crisis

Overview of the Crisis from the U. S. Department of State

Overview of the Crisis from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

primary_sources.PNG20 Years After the Hostages: Declassified Documents on Iran and the United States from the National Security Archive.
external image Red_Apple.jpg

citizens after Iranian Revolution
citizens after Iranian Revolution

C. Defeat of the Soviet Union by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan

"A mujahid is one who strives or struggles on behalf of Islam; mujahideen is the plural of the same word. The word mujahid is an Arabic participle drawn from the same root as the Arabic word jihad, to strive or struggle."

Multimedia.pngClick here to know more about the role of Mujahideen in Soviet- Afghanistan War and what Mujahideen look like.
  1. Mujahideen insurgents were fighting to overthrow Communist rule of the Soviet Union. It became a 9 year conflict.
  2. The Mujahideen were entirely independent of the government and fought under the lead of Tribal Leaders.
  3. Supported by the US Government because they were the enemy of our enemy "The Soviet Union"
  4. During the war were almost 90,000 strong and after the war went back to their own regions and fought each other until the Taliban took control of country.
  5. Occurred at the same time as the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War.
  6. Soviet troops in Afghanistan began December 25, 1979, and ended February 15, 1989.
  7. Has been compared to the American War in Vietnam.
  8. This war influenced the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 because of its high costs and military failures.

For a book on the Soviet-Afghan conflict, see this page on The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost, edited by Lester W. Grau.

D. The origins of the Persian Gulf War and the post-war actions of Saddam Hussein

1990-1991 Gulf War was directed by the United Nations and by the United States to liberate Kuwait. It was a conflict between Iraq and 30 other nations.

Multimedia.pngClick here to watch a video about the Persian Gulf War.

primary_sources.PNG Click here for newly declassified documents about Saddam Hussein and his relationship with the United States and other western nations.

Post-war actions of Saddam Hussein : stayed in control of Iraq, and used his survival as evidence that Iraq had won the war against America. This propaganda gave Saddam a good deal of popularity.
  • Portrayed himself as a devout Muslim
  • The ritual phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) was added to the nations flag in Saddam’s writing
  • Relations between the U.S. and Iraq worsened

Click here for a timeline of the Persian Gulf War, and how it is connected to modern U.S. conflicts in the Middle East.

E. The financial support of radical and terrorist organizations by the Saudis

Osama Bin Laden’s family places #7 among the fifty wealthiest businessmen and families of the Arab world for 2012 according to Arabian Business.
  1. Click here to know the story of Bin Laden's and also how wealthy was he.
  2. Multimedia.pngOsama bin Laden was able to lead terrorist attacks by the continuous funding of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia through charities, banks, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations.
  3. Steve Coll, journalist and bin Laden family biographer, discusses So Where is bin Laden, Anyways (2008).
  4. Saudis have a religious tax, where Muslims have to give 2.5% of their income. The money goes to charity, some of which are true to their cause while others help support terrorist groups.
  5. The transaction of money is verbal, leaving no paper trail, called Hawala transactions.

F. The increase in terrorist attacks against Israel and the United States.

rotating gif.gifFor more on 9/11 Attacks, see World History II.48.

  1. Al-Qaeda : militant guerrilla organizations. This organization was created by Osama bin Laden in 1989. The goals for this group are to eradicate those called “infidels,” elimination of Israel, and the establishment of a new Islamic caliphate.
  2. Al Qaeda terror campaign started with the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996.

Please click here to know about Al-Qaeda timeline attacks from the beginning till 2005.

Works Cited:
[1] (2007). Persian Gulf. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf.
[2] (2007). Persian Gulf States. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf_States.
[3] (2007). Saudi Arabia. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Arabia.
[4] (2007). Kuwait. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from hhttp:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuwait.
[5] (2007). Iranian Revolution. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_revolution.
[6] (2007). Soviet War In Afghanistan. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Afghanistan.
[7] (2007). Gulf War. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf_War.
[8] (2007). Al-Qaeda. In Wikipedia// [Web]. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-qaeda. [9] IAGS (2003). Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. Retrieved May 17, 2007, from Fueling Terror Web site: http://www.iags.org/fuelingterror.html
[9] Picture:
[10] Mujahideen: