The Contemporary Middle East: A Documentary History


Edited by: John Felton

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    About the Author

    John Felton is a freelance writer specializing in foreign affairs. He has reported on U.S. foreign policy for CQ Weekly and was a foreign affairs editor for National Public Radio. He is the co-editor of CQ Press's acclaimed Historic Documents series and the author of Global Connections: America's Role in the 21st Century.


    The Contemporary Middle East: A Documentary History centers around speeches and diplomatic agreements, UN and other resolutions, and additional texts that effected or reflect important events and remain of enduring significance. In some cases, the documents are of no immediate urgency to events today, but examining the role they played in the past is essential to a full understanding of the contemporary world. Such examples include the secret agreement in which Britain, France, and Israel decided to invade Egypt in 1956 to seize the Suez Canal. Other documents remain as compelling today as when they were originally produced. Examples of these include the treaties that brought peace (or at least the absence of war) between Israel and two of its immediate neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. These treaties—reflective of decisions by Arab leaders to come to terms with Israel's existence in exchange for the return of captured land and other concessions—continue to influence the course of events in the region on a daily basis.

    “Foundations of the Contemporary Middle East,” the introduction to chapter 1, sets the stage for all subsequent chapters by examining the events of the World War I era that played such an important role in the creation of today's Middle East. The other chapters deal with the conflicts involving Israel and its Arab neighbors, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, and Turkey. The table of contents for each chapter features part titles to identify periods of conflict and trends in foreign policy and diplomacy. A comprehensive chronology of major events since 1914 provides additional historical context for the documents and is followed by a bibliography.

    An introduction precedes each document or set of related documents, establishing context with a brief explanation of the relevant history. For comprehensive histories, readers should consult the bibliography and other available resources on the Middle East elsewhere. Most of the documents are presented in their entirety, but for reasons of space, some of the longer ones have been excerpted but retain their essence. Editorial notes and wording added for clarity appear in brackets.

    Original source documents have been used whenever possible. In other cases, however, the primary source documents are difficult or nearly impossible to obtain or exist only in their original (non-English) language. These latter documents have been retrieved from the most reliable secondary sources accessible. In contrast to some recent publications, The Contemporary Middle East cites the sources of the documents reproduced. For ease of access, many of these sources include a Web site address where a copy of the full document can be found. Although the Internet has made many documents accessible, reliable sources can sometimes be difficult to locate. Thus, before selecting a particular document for this volume, it was sometimes necessary to compare various versions before settling on the most reliable and accurate of them.

    Few contemporary or historical subjects are as fraught with controversy as the Middle East. Because the lands of the Middle East hold great historical, religious, and economic importance for so many people, almost everything that happens in the region arouses passions; these are amplified by the tendency to view events there through decidedly partisan lenses. Without a doubt, much of the conflict in the Middle East results from and persists because of the refusal of participants and their supporters even to consider the possible validity of views different from their own. History demonstrates the difficulty of debating with, much less settling differences with, someone who believes his or her views to be ordained by God. People willing to consider alternative viewpoints almost never rise to power, and in the Middle East those with open minds often pay for such a perspective with their lives. This book does not espouse any particular point of view. Even so, some readers undoubtedly will believe that they detect biases of one kind or another.

    Many people helped make this book possible. CQ Press acquisition editors Mary Carpenter and Marc Segers along with Andrea Pedolsky, chief of acquisitions, conceived it and had the persistence to push it through to its end. Also at CQ Press, assistant development editors Andrew Boney and Scott Kuzner contributed invaluable assistance as researchers, Robin Surratt copyedited the volume, and Nancy Matuszak oversaw production. Two editorial assistants, Sarah Abdelnaby and Zina Sadek Sawaf, helped track down documents, often at the risk of being inundated by dust in libraries.

    Archivists, librarians, scholars, and fellow journalists helped me find what I needed, always cheerfully and in the spirit of making knowledge more widely accessible. Among them are Gail Fithian at the Boston Public Library; Michal Saft at the Israeli State Archives in Jerusalem; Hana Pinshow at the David Ben-Gurion Archives in Sde Boker, Israel; Christopher M. Murphy at the Library of Congress; Omer Faruk Gençkaya, assistant professor of political science at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey; Kemal Gozler, associate professor of constitutional law at Kroc University Law School in Istanbul; and Ian S. Lustick, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Also, I wish to thank Anne Garrels, Mike Shuster, and Ivan Watson, three of my former colleagues at National Public Radio whose assistance and insights into contemporary events they cover each day proved invaluable.

    Finally, I want to thank my wife, Marty Gottron, who endured many days of my being focused on 1919 or 1937 rather than the daily tasks of contemporary life. Marty also happens to be the best editor I know, and her comments greatly improved the initial drafts.

    Any errors of fact, interpretation, or omissions are mine.


    For the better part of a century, the Middle East consistently has been a focal point of armed conflict and political tension. Although constituting only a small percentage of the world's landmass and population, the region has endured and has produced far more than its share of turmoil. The Contemporary Middle East: A Documentary History illustrates the reasons for the focus of the world's attention on this area by presenting documents central to the region's past and thus ultimately to its future.

    This volume takes as its starting point World War I, or the Great War, which ended the old ways of life in Europe but as a byproduct also opened a new chapter of increased international intervention in the Middle East. In the early twenty-first century, many aspects of major news events—from sectarian divisions in Iraq and Lebanon to the seemingly endless conflict between Israelis and Palestinians—stem directly from the decisions made by world leaders, most of them in London and Paris, during and shortly after that war.

    Since the first events documented here, conflict has been chronic in the areas of the Middle East where international intervention has been most intense. One obvious example stands out—the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state in the midst of a region otherwise dominated by Arab Muslims. The current round of conflict between Arabs and Jews is now nearly a century old, and despite progress on some fronts, it shows no sign of abating. Iraq and Lebanon represent examples of countries torn by internal sectarian conflict resulting from European decisions after World War I in creating new countries comprised of disparate societies with no unifying, common national interest. The consequences of intervention after the postwar period can also be seen in today's headlines. For example, Iran's reported determination to acquire nuclear weapons is partially driven by memories of U.S. intervention a half century ago, and the Western-sponsored attempt to implant democracy in Afghanistan follows nearly three decades of war resulting from an invasion by the Soviet Union.

    This litany of international intervention is not to say that the people of the Middle East always have been the hapless victims of outside powers. The view of the West imposing strife on otherwise innocent people does, however, stand as a central element in some of the self-serving explanations for the region's problems as developed, notably, by Islamists, ranging from Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to the current leaders of Iran and al-Qaida's Osama bin Laden. As with any one-size-fits-all accounting of complex historical forces, this finger-pointing at Western treachery absolves the people of the Middle East—if not their rulers, who are often portrayed as Western dupes—of all responsibility for their own plight, making it that more difficult for them to shoulder the burden of creating a better future.

    The documents reproduced in this book, along with the essays placing them in historical context, tell the stories of political leaders and nations grappling with the results of their own actions and those of others. Because of the focus on events and conflicts relating to politics, the documents primarily consist of speeches, treaties, official agreements, and reports generated by leaders and public institutions. Such texts tell only part of the story behind a series of events, but they often express the hopes and expectations—some fulfilled, some not—essential to the story.

    The issues of terrorism and the advocacy of extremist religious or ideological views provide a backdrop to much of the material in The Contemporary Middle East. Of course, the use of violence to advance a cause is not unique to the Middle East, or even to recent history, but in the contemporary, world violent acts of terrorism have become particularly associated with that region. Within living memory, the Middle East has been plagued by the violence of Jewish gangs fighting British mandatory authorities in Palestine before World War II, airplane hijackings in the 1970s, and suicide bombings in Lebanon in the 1980s and in Israel and the occupied territories starting in the 1990s, and more recently the daily carnage of sectarian killings in Iraq under U.S. occupation. In some cases, the violence helped the perpetrators achieve their goals; for example, the British tired of the attacks against them in Palestine, opening the way for the creation of Israel as a Jewish state. Other uses of terrorism and violence have been less successful, notably, the failure of the Palestinians to achieve either their previous goal of driving Israel into the sea or their later goal of an independent Palestinian state.

    In a similar vein, oil also features in the background of several chapters. Since the first major oil strike in Iran in 1908, international reliance on abundant oil and natural gas has been a contributing factor in the Middle East's frequent bouts of turmoil. Britain's conflict with Iran in the early 1950s (after Tehran nationalized a British oil company) and the Persian Gulf crisis and war of 1990–1991 are but two examples in which nations have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the supply of Middle Eastern oil.

    This book focuses on a range of countries and territories in the Middle East that have seen some of the greatest turmoil of the past century. As might be expected, Israel features prominently in several chapters simply because the conflict between Jews and Arabs has been a dominant factor in the region for almost the entire period since World War I. The Palestinians are the other half of the equation that for some four decades has been called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a cycle of violence interrupted occasionally by failed diplomacy, that neither side seems able to win or bring to a conclusion. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey are the other countries on which the volume concentrates. Each has experienced chronic political turmoil and outright war.

    Although on the periphery of the Middle East, Afghanistan has experienced the types of foreign intervention, sectarian conflict, and ideological extremism common to much of the rest of the region. Once the center of a mighty Persian Empire, Iran spent much of the twentieth century almost as a vassal state to outside powers, only to rise in importance after 1979 because of the powerful ideas generated by its Islamic revolution. Iraq and Lebanon share similar histories as neocolonial creations in which disparate ethnic and religious groups found themselves as part of nation-states with artificial boundaries. Iraq for nearly three decades has been at the center of much of the region's turbulence, while Lebanon would seem to have “Intervene Here” signs posted on the borders with its neighbors. Turkey is included here because its unique history as the center of the Ottoman Empire so intimately intertwines it with the rest of the region, and its attempts at modernization of an Islamic society have been echoed, with varying success, elsewhere. What happens in each of these countries continues to be of regional and potentially global importance.

    It is difficult to be optimistic about the near-term future of most of the countries covered here. Iran, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Turkey all face serious internal political challenges arising from historic disputes as well as differing visions for the future. The Palestinian territories are experiencing yet another period of intense upheaval, one resulting as much from internal stresses as from the long-term conflict with Israel. The Western-backed governments of Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting for their lives against insurgencies that use classic guerrilla techniques as well as the tools of terrorism (notably suicide bombs) that in recent years have become hallmarks of civil conflict in the region. Predicting the future in the Middle East is risky business, but if the past is any guide, one prediction is almost a certainty: the production of more documents offering the peace and prosperity that many of those in this book also promised but failed to deliver.

  • Appendix

    Chronology of the Middle East, 1914–2007



    August: World War I begins. The Ottoman Empire sides with the Central Powers (Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

    December 18: Britain declares a “protectorate” over Egypt, enhancing its effective control of the country.


    July 14: Sharif Hussein ibn Ali, the amir of Mecca, and Sir Henry McMahon, the British high commissioner in Cairo, begin corresponding. Their correspondence, which continues into 1916, leads to the “Arab revolt” against the Ottoman Empire in exchange for a British promise to support an independent Arab state.


    May 16: British and French diplomats exchange letters incorporating the Sykes-Picot Agreement for the division of the Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. Under this agreement, Britain was to control most of Iraq, France was to oversee Lebanon and coastal Syria, and most of Palestine was to be under international control.


    November 2: In a letter to Lionel Walter Lord Rothschild of the Zionist Federation, British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour offers his government's support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This British endorsement becomes known as the Balfour Declaration.

    December 9: A British force under Gen. Edmund Allenby captures Jerusalem, which had been under Ottoman control.


    October 2: A combined British and Arab force under General Allenby captures Damascus from the Ottomans.

    October 30: The Ottomans sign an armistice with the Entente allies, ending their participation in World War I.


    January: Chaim Weizmann of the World Zionist Organization and Amir Faisal ibn Hussein sign an agreement calling for cooperation between Arabs and Jews.

    May 14: Greek forces land at Smyrna, on the coast of Turkey, to claim the region for Greece. This leads to a series of battles in which Turkish nationalists under Mustafa Kemal defeat the Greeks and gain control of all of Anatolia.

    July 2: The Syrian General Congress, a meeting of Arab notables in Damascus, issues a declaration calling for the creation of an independent Syrian state, or failing that, temporary administration of Syrian territory by the United States.

    August 18: Afghanistan declares independence from Great Britain.

    September 9: Led by Mustafa Kemal, Turkish nationalists meeting in Sivas issue a declaration insisting on Turkish control of all of Anatolia and the region around Istanbul. Their declaration later becomes the Turkish National Pact.



    January 28: Ottoman parliament adopts the Turkish National Pact, setting out the proposed borders of the Turkish state.

    March 11: Meeting in Damascus, the Syrian National Congress declares Faisal ibn Hussein the ruler of Syria and Palestine.

    April 24: Meeting at San Remo, the League of Nations awards mandates for Iraq and Palestine to Britain and a mandate for Lebanon and Syria to France.

    June: In Iraq, a brief but widespread revolt begins against British rule.

    July 1: Britain installs Herbert Samuel as the first civilian high commissioner in Palestine.

    July 24: A French army force captures Damascus and forces Faisal ibn Hussein from the throne.

    August 10: The Treaty of Sèvres is signed, stripping the Ottoman Empire of its Arab provinces and portions of Anatolia and placing Istanbul and the strategic straits under international control.

    August: The French high commissioner in Damascus creates “Greater Lebanon” by separating the Mount Lebanon region from Syria and annexing to Lebanon the coastal regions of Beirut and Tripoli.


    February 22: Reza Khan, an army commander, seizes power in Iran.

    March 15: A British government conference in Cairo results in the appointment of Faisal ibn Hussein as king of Iraq and Abdallah ibn Hussein as amir of Transjordan.


    February 28: Britain ends its protectorate over Egypt but in a declaration known as the Four Reserved Points retains control of matters related to communications links, security, the protection of foreigners, and the future of Sudan.

    March 15: Britain recognizes Egypt as an independent country under King Fuad.

    July 24: The Council of the League of Nations approves the mandates under which Britain will control Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine; and France will control Lebanon and Syria.

    November 1: The Turkish Grand National Assembly declares the abolition of the sultanate.

    November 17: Mohammed VI, the last sultan, leaves Istanbul.


    May 26: Britain establishes Transjordan as an autonomous state under Amir Abdallah ibn Hussein.

    July 24: The Treaty of Lausanne is signed, modifying the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres and allowing sovereignty for Turkey over all of Anatolia and eastern Thrace (including Istanbul). In a related agreement, Greece and Turkey decide to “exchange” nationals on each other's territory, leading to the forced relocation of more than 1 million ethnic Greeks from Turkey and more than 400,000 ethnic Turks from Greece.

    September 29: Britain officially assumes control of Palestine under the League of Nations mandate.

    October 29: Mustafa Kemal declares the establishment of a republic in Turkey. He will become its first president.


    February 2: Turkish Grand National Assembly abolishes the caliphate, which had been held by a relative of the deposed sultan.


    December 12: The Iranian parliament approves the establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty under Reza Khan, who becomes Reza Shah Pahlavi.

    December 16: The League of Nations awards most of the region of Mosul to Iraq, rebuffing a claim by Turkey.


    January 8: Having defeated Sharif Hussein to gain control of the Hijaz in the western Arabian Peninsula, Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud (or Ibn Saud) declares himself king of the Hijaz in a major step toward the unification of the Hijaz and Najd regions in the creation of Saudi Arabia.

    May 23: France officially establishes Greater Lebanon as a republic.


    May 20: Britain recognizes Ibn Saud as king of the Hijaz and Najd on the Arabian Peninsula.

    October 15–20: President Mustafa Kemal of Turkey delivers a thirty-six-hour-long speech to political supporters recounting events since the beginning of the Turkish war of independence in 1919.

    December 14: Britain signs a treaty promising to recognize Iraq as an independent country by 1932 in exchange for the right to maintain three airbases there.


    February 28: Britain grants limited independence to Transjordan.


    August 6: Britain and Egypt reach agreement providing for the end of British military occupation, but with British forces still stationed at key points along the Suez Canal. Egypt would be admitted as an independent member of the League of Nations.

    August 8: Arabs in Jerusalem riot against Jews as the result of a dispute over Jewish access to the so-called “Wailing Wall.”



    June 30: Britain and Iraq sign a formal treaty promising eventual independence for Iraq (in 1932).

    October 20: Britain publishes the Passfield White Paper limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine and imposing restrictions on land sales to Jews.


    September 22: Ibn Saud changes the name of his domain to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (from the Kingdom of Hijaz and Najd).

    October 3: Iraq is admitted to the League of Nations, ending the British mandate.


    March 21: Reza Shah changes the name of Persia to Iran.


    January: Widespread rioting erupts in Syria following the French administration's disbanding of the Nationalist Party. The French impose martial law.

    April: An Arab revolt against British rule begins in Palestine; it will continue, intermittently, for nearly three years and result in hundreds of deaths, most of them of Arabs.

    September 6: France and Syria sign a treaty of friendship intended to lead to Syrian independence within three years.

    November 13: France and Lebanon sign an agreement asserting that Lebanon will remain independent of Syria.


    May 26–27: Egypt is admitted to the League of Nations.

    July 7: The Palestine Royal Commission (also known as the Peel Commission) recommends to the British government that Palestine be partitioned into Arab and Jewish sectors.


    November 9: The Woodhead Commission reports that the partitioning of Palestine would be impractical. As a result, the British government will abandon partition as a policy.


    May 17: The British government issues a white paper calling for an independent Palestinian state within ten years and imposing limits on Jewish immigration to Palestine. Parliament will approve this policy on May 23.



    May 2: Britain intervenes in Iraq to overthrow a new government that had aligned itself with Nazi Germany. British forces will gain control of Baghdad by the end of May and of Mosul province by early June.

    June 8: British and Free French forces invade Syria to quell a nationalist uprising.

    September 16: Reza Shah is forced to abdicate following an invasion of Iran by armed forces from Britain and the Soviet Union. He is succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.


    January: Britain and the Soviet Union pledge to respect the sovereignty of Iran and withdraw their forces after the end of World War II.

    May 11: American Zionists, meeting at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City, adopt a program calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and rejecting Britain's policy of limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine.


    November 22: Under British and U.S. pressure, France releases imprisoned Lebanese leaders. (This date is celebrated in Lebanon as independence day.) Later in the month, Lebanese leaders agree on an unwritten National Pact dividing political power among the communities of Christians and Shiite and Sunni Muslims.


    March 22: The founding charter of the League of Arab States is adopted in Cairo.


    March 22: Britain signs a treaty ending its mandate over Transjordan and acknowledging the independence of that country.

    April 15: Britain and France withdraw their remaining troops from Syria.

    May 6: Under U.S. pressure, the Soviet Union withdraws its forces from Iran. The Kremlin previously had refused to honor a 1941 agreement under which Britain and the Soviet Union were both to withdraw from Iran following the end of World War II.

    October 4: The White House publishes a letter from President Harry Truman to the British government supporting the creation of a “viable Jewish state” in Palestine.


    February 14: Following the failure of a conference in London on the future of Palestine, the British government says it will refer the question of Palestine to the United Nations.

    August 31: A special committee of the United Nations issues a report recommending the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states by September 1949. The recommendation is later endorsed by Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, but a group of Arab leaders known as the Arab Higher Committee rejects it.

    November 29: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine into Arab and Jewish sectors. Representatives of Arab nations denounce the action.


    May 13: Britain ends its mandate over Palestine, and the Arab League declares that a state of war exists between itself and the Jews of Palestine.

    May 14: David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel. The United States becomes the first country to recognize the new state.

    May 15: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Transjordan attack Israel, beginning a war that will last until the signing of cease-fire agreements in 1949. Israel survives the attack and gains control over more territory than UN Resolution 181 had awarded it.

    December 11: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 194, establishing a Palestine Conciliation Commission and calling for the “right of return” by Palestinians to their former homes in the new state of Israel.


    January 6: Egypt and Israel sign the first cease-fire ending the Arab-Israeli war; Other cease-fire agreements are signed subsequently: between Israel and Transjordan on March 11 and Israel and Syria on July 20. The other combatants, Iraq and Lebanon, do not sign cease-fire agreements with Israel.

    January 25: The Labor Party, led by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, wins the first elections held in Israel.

    March 21: The UN Palestine Conciliation Commission holds its first meeting, in Beirut. Subsequent sessions are held in 1950 and 1951 but end in failure in November 1951.

    April 26: King Abdallah changes the name of his country from Transjordan to Jordan.

    April 28: Israel says it will not allow Arab refugees to return to their former homes inside Israel.

    July 27: UN mediator Ralph Bunche says the “military phase” of the war between Arabs and Israel has ended.

    December 13: The Israeli Knesset approves a proposal by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to move government offices, including those of the Knesset, to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv.



    March 9: Turkey becomes the first majority Muslim state to recognize Israel.

    March 15: Iran recognizes Israel.

    April 1: The Arab League demands that Israel return captured lands that exceed the boundaries set by the 1947 UN partition resolution and votes to expel any member country that negotiates a separate peace with Israel.

    April 24: Jordan annexes the West Bank, including the Old City of Jerusalem.


    April 28: The Iranian parliament votes to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (owned by the British government).

    July 20: Jordan's King Abdallah is assassinated. His son Talal will be crowned king on September 6.

    September 13: The UN Palestine Conciliation Commission opens a final round of talks in Paris with delegates from Israel and several Arab countries. During the talks, Israel offers to sign “nonaggression” agreements with its four Arab neighbors and to compensate (but not accept the return of) Palestinian refugees. The talks end in a deadlock.

    October 8: Egypt says it will expel British troops from the Suez Canal area. Britain refuses to evacuate, setting off skirmishes between British troops and Egyptian rioters.

    November 21: The UN Palestine Conciliation Commission suspends its work.

    December 24: The independent country of Libya is established as kingdom. Britain and the United States plan to keep military bases there.


    July 23: A military coup in Egypt ousts King Farouk, who goes into exile in Italy. His infant son is named King Fuad II.

    August 11: The Jordanian parliament declares King Talal unfit to rule and proclaims Crown Prince Hussein as king.

    August 11: Iran's parliament gives Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq dictatorial powers to deal with an economic and political crisis resulting from a Western boycott of Iranian oil.

    October 22: Iran cuts diplomatic ties with Britain because of a dispute over the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.


    August 19: Iranian prime minister Mosaddeq is ousted by troops loyal to the shah, with assistance from the CIA. Maj. Gen. Gazollah Zahedi, the leader of the coup, is named prime minister. In December, a military court will convict Mossaddeq of attempted rebellion and sentences him to three years of solitary confinement.

    September 2: Israel begins work on a project to divert water from the Jordan River. The project becomes a regular source of tension between Israel and Jordan.


    April 18: Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser is named prime minister of Egypt, replacing Mohammed Naguib, who is given the ceremonial post of president.

    July 27: Britain and Egypt sign an agreement ending a dispute over control of the Suez Canal; Britain agrees to remove its military forces from the canal area within twenty months but retains the right to use the military base at the canal to repel aggression against another Arab state or Turkey.

    November 13: Nasser becomes president of Egypt, after deposing President Naguib.


    February 24: Iraq and Turkey sign the Baghdad Pact, a mutual defense treaty. Britain will sign it on April 4, Pakistan on September 23, and Iran on November 3, after which the five nations announce the creation of the Middle East Treaty Organization (later called the Central Treaty Organization, or CENTO).


    May 9: The United States rejects an Israeli request to buy weapons, declaring that arming Israel would increase the prospect for conflict in the Middle East. Israel will later turn to France for weapons.

    June 13: Britain ends its military occupation of the Suez Canal.

    June 24: Egyptian president Nasser wins an uncontested election to remain in office.

    July 20: The United States announces that it will not provide financing for Egypt's project to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River. Britain also withdraws its offer to help finance the dam.

    July 27: Reacting to U.S. and British refusals to fund the Aswan dam, Nasser announces the nationalization of the Suez Canal, setting off an international crisis over access to and control of the waterway.

    October 24: British, French, and Israeli officials sign a secret agreement in Sévres, France, providing for an invasion of Egypt to seize control of the Suez Canal.

    October 29: In keeping with its agreement with Britain and France, Israel attacks Egyptian forces in the Sinai.

    November 2: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 997, demanding a halt to the fighting in Egypt.

    November 5: British and French forces attack Egypt. The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 1000, again calling for a halt to fighting and proposing creation of a UN Emergency International Force to monitor the withdrawal of foreign forces.

    November 6: Israel completes its occupation of the Sinai Peninsula (except for the canal zone).

    November 7: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 1001 demanding that Britain, France, and Israel withdraw from Egypt. U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower sends a letter to Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion on November demanding that Israel comply with the UN resolution.

    November 15: The first contingents of the UN emergency force arrive in Egypt.

    November 21: British and French forces begin withdrawing from Egypt.

    December 24: Israel begins withdrawing its forces from Egypt. Britain and France had completed their withdrawals three days earlier.


    January 4: The Suez Canal reopens for medium-size ships.

    January 5: In an address to a joint session of Congress, President Eisenhower says the United States will use military force, if necessary, to prevent communist domination of the Middle East. His declaration becomes known as the Eisenhower Doctrine.

    March 13: Britain and Jordan cancel a 1958 mutual defense treaty, and Britain agrees to withdraw its troops from Jordan within six months.

    March 15: Egypt says Israeli ships will not be allowed to pass through the Suez Canal.

    April 24: In response to a leftist rebellion against Jordan's King Hussein, the United States says it considers the “independence and integrity of Jordan as vital.”

    September 5: In keeping with the Eisenhower Doctrine, the United States announces plans to send weapons to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.


    February 1: Egypt and Syria agree to form a single country called the United Arab Republic.

    February 14: Iraq and Jordan announce the formation of the Arab Federation, with Iraq's King Faisal II as head of state. King Hussein remains head of state in Jordan.

    February 21: Voters in Egypt and Syria approve their countries’ merger in plebiscites. Yemen will later join the union.

    July 14: King Faisal of Iraq and leaders of his government are overthrown and killed in a military coup. Brig. Gen. Abd al-Karim al-Qasim becomes prime minister. Relations between Iraq and Jordan are severed, thus ending the five-month-old Arab Federation.

    July 15: The United States sends 5,000 marines to Lebanon to bolster the government of President Camile Chamoun, who has come under attack from Muslim forces aligned with Nasser of Egypt. The marines will begin withdrawing one month later and complete the operation on October 25.

    August 13: President Eisenhower gives the UN General Assembly a “framework” for a Middle East peace plan, calling for a UN peacekeeping force and the economic development of Arab nations.


    January 17: Britain and Egypt sign an agreement ending their dispute over the Suez Canal.

    March 24: Iraq withdraws from the Baghdad Pact.

    August: The Middle East Treaty Organization is renamed the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), with Britain, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey as full members and the United States participating as a nonmember.



    September 15: Meeting in Baghdad, delegates from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela agree to form the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to help stabilize world oil prices.


    June 19: Britain grants independence to Kuwait. Iraq will later claim Kuwait as an “integral part” of its territory, and at Egypt's instigation, the Arab League will send troops to Kuwait to protect its independence.

    September 29: One day after a military coup in Damascus, the new government of Syria announces its withdrawal from the United Arab Republic, which had been composed of Egypt, Syria, and Yemen.

    December 26: Egyptian president Nasser dissolves the union with Yemen but retains the name United Arab Republic for Egypt.


    January 26: The shah of Iran begins the White Revolution, a program of modernization and land reform. It will lead to protests and the eventual arrest and deportation to Iraq (in 1964) of protest leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    February 8: Members of the Iraqi branch of the Baath Party and other nationalist leaders overthrow Prime Minister Qasim, who is killed the following day.

    November 18: The Syrian government that seized power in February is ousted.


    May 28: The Palestine National Council (PNC) holds its first meeting, in East Jerusalem, under Arab League sponsorship.

    June 1: The PNC establishes the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

    November 2: King Saud of Saudi Arabia is deposed and replaced by his half-brother Crown Prince Faisal.


    May 19: At the request of Egypt, the United Nations withdraws its Emergency Force, which has been monitoring the post–Suez crisis cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and Gulf of Aqaba.

    May 22: Egypt closes the Strait of Tiran (at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba) to Israeli shipping.

    May 29: Egyptian president Nasser tells the National Assembly that Egypt is prepared for war against Israel. Minor skirmishes are reported between Egyptian and Israeli forces along the Gaza Strip.

    June 5: Jordan launches an artillery attack against western Jerusalem and central Israel. In anticipation of a broader Arab attack, Israel bombs airfields in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, virtually eliminating those countries’ air forces. The UN Security Council calls for a cease-fire.

    June 6: Israeli ground forces capture the Gaza Strip and much of the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian and Jordanian armies order retreats. In a lengthy speech to the UN Security Council, Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban defends Israel's preemptive strike.

    June 7: Israel captures the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Jericho on the West Bank. Jordan accepts the UN cease-fire.

    June 8: Egypt accepts the cease-fire. Israeli warplanes attack the U.S. Navy's Liberty in the Mediterranean, killing at least thirty-four sailors. Israel later apologizes for what it says was a mistake, but many continue to suspect that the attack was deliberate.

    June 9: Israeli forces reach the Suez Canal and begin to push onto the Golan Heights. Egyptian president Nasser offers his resignation, but the National Assembly refuses to accept it.

    June 10: Israel captures the Golan Heights from Syria, completing its conquests of Arab territory. Late in the day Israel and Syria accept a cease-fire, ending the war after six days.

    June 19: In a decision not made public at the time, the Israeli cabinet agrees to return most of the territory Israel had just captured in return for peace and normal relations with its Arab neighbors. The offer will later be spurned by the Arabs and withdrawn by Israel. In a speech in Washington, President Lyndon B. Johnson outlines a “peace plan” for the Middle East.

    June 28: Israel says it has merged the eastern and western sectors of Jerusalem under its control.

    July 26: Israeli cabinet minister Yigal Allon submits a draft plan calling for Israel to hold onto East Jerusalem and the strategic portions of the West Bank permanently while accepting autonomy for the Palestinians in other portions of the West Bank. Although never officially adopted by the government, subsequent versions of the so-called Allon Plan will become the basis for Israel's policy of building settlements and military posts in the territories captured from the Arabs.

    September 1: Meeting in Khartoum, Arab leaders declare “three noes”: no peace with, no recognition of, and no negotiation with Israel.

    September 24: Israel says it will move civilian settlers into East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

    November 22: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 242 calling for peace in the Middle East based on the exchange of land captured by Israel in the June war for peace with its Arab neighbors.


    January: The British government announces its intention to withdraw its remaining military posts from the Persian Gulf region by 1971.

    April 10: Jewish activists attempt to establish a settlement in the Palestinian city of Hebron. This leads to a prolonged political battle in which the activists will ultimately prevail.

    July 1–18: The Palestine National Council adopts the Palestine National Charter, expressing a Palestinian national identity and calling for “armed struggle” to “liberate” Palestine from Israeli control.

    July 17: The Baath Party returns to power in Iraq in a bloodless coup. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr is named president and prime minister on July 31; Saddam Hussein is a senior member of the Revolutionary Command Council, the ruling body.


    February 1–4: At a meeting in Cairo, the Fatah faction gains control of the Palestine National Council, and its leader Yasir Arafat becomes chairman of the PLO Executive Committee. He will remain the Palestinian leader until his death in 2004.

    March: Egyptian attacks on Israeli positions signal the start of a “war of attrition” that will last until July 1970.

    July 3: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 267, with the strongest wording yet censuring Israel for unilateral actions changing the legal status of Jerusalem.

    August 3: Israel announces that it will keep the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. Left unclear are Israeli intentions toward the occupied West Bank.

    September 1: Libya's King Idris is ousted in a coup. Army officer Muammar al-Qadhafi, head of the Revolutionary Command Council, emerges as the leading figure in the new government.

    October 22: Nine emirates on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula announce the formation of the Federation of Persian Gulf Emirates.

    October 28: The new government in Libya orders the United States to withdraw from Wheelus Air Force Base by the end of 1970. The United States will complete the withdrawal by June 1970.

    December 9: U.S. secretary of state William Rogers unveils a peace plan calling for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab lands in exchange for peace treaties with its neighbors.

    December 12: Israel rejects the Rogers plan.



    January 21: Renewed fighting breaks out between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors.

    August 7: A U.S.-sponsored cease-fire in the “war of attrition” between Israel and its Arab neighbors goes into effect.

    September 1: In the midst of a conflict between Palestinian guerrillas and the Jordanian army, Jordan's King Hussein narrowly escapes assassination in Amman. In subsequent weeks, guerrillas from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine will hijack five commercial jets and fly three of them (including some 300 hostages) into the desert of Jordan.

    September 16: Amid fighting between Jordanian forces and Palestinian guerrillas, King Hussein declares martial law. A week later, Jordan defeats a Syrian army unit that had crossed the border in support of the Palestinians.

    September 27: Arab leaders sign an agreement in Cairo ending the crisis in Jordan that becomes known as Black September. All the remaining hostages from the hijacked airplanes will be released within the next three days.

    September 28: Egyptian president Nasser dies of a heart attack after mediating the crisis in Jordan. He is succeeded by Vice President Anwar al-Sadat.

    November 13: Syrian air force Lt. Gen. Hafiz al-Asad seizes power in a bloodless coup, ousting a rival faction of the Baath Party.


    February 4: Egyptian president Sadat offers a peace agreement with Israel, if Israel returns all Arab lands captured in the June 1967 War.

    March 12: The Turkish military issues a memorandum demanding immediate action by the civilian government to deal with the country's political crises. In response, the government resigns, and the military takes over.

    March 13: Prime Minister Hafiz al-Assad is named president of Syria.

    April 17: Egypt, Libya, and Syria agree to form the Federation of Arab Republics, a successor to the failed United Arab Republic. The merger will be approved in plebiscites in September and Egypt's Sadat chosen in October as the first president.

    December 1: Britain completes its military withdrawal from the Persian Gulf.

    December 2: Six of the Persian Gulf emirates form the United Arab Emirates. A seventh will join later.


    March 15: King Hussein announces a plan to convert Jordan and the West Bank into a federation of two autonomous regions. Israel and most of Jordan's Arab neighbors denounce the plan, effectively killing it.

    July 18: Egyptian president Sadat orders all 15,000 Soviet military “advisors” to leave the country, ending Egypt's heavy reliance on the Soviet Union for military support.

    September 5: Arab guerrillas from an organization called Black September seize Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Munich, West Germany. Eleven Israelis and five Arabs will die in the crisis. Israel will retaliate by bombing Palestinian guerrilla bases in Lebanon and Syria.

    September 13: The Soviet Union and Syria agree to extensive military cooperation, making Syria Moscow's chief Arab ally in the region.


    April 12: In a speech to the Labor Party, Israeli prime minister Golda Meir says that Palestinians looking for a state of their own could find it in Jordan.

    July 17: In Afghanistan, King Zahir Shah is overthrown by his cousin, Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud.

    October 6: Egypt and Syria attack Israel.

    October 15: In the midst of the Middle East war, the United States announces that it is providing large quantities of military supplies and weapons to Israel in response to resumed Soviet aid to Egypt.

    October 17: The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries announces that it will cease deliveries to the United States, the Netherlands, and South Africa because of their support for Israel and cut back shipments to other countries. The embargo will continue until March 1974 and contribute to a major international economic downturn.

    October 22: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 338, demanding a cease-fire in the Arab-Israeli war and reaffirming the “land for peace” concept of its Resolution 242 from November 1967.

    October 25: A cease-fire takes effect in the Arab-Israeli war. The Arabs fail to achieve their goal of winning back territory captured by Israel in 1967, but they do achieve a psychological victory. President Nixon orders a worldwide alert of the U.S. military because of concerns that the Soviet Union might intervene in the Middle East war.

    November 11: Egypt and Israel sign a cease-fire providing for prisoner exchanges and negotiations on returning to the battle lines in effect when the Security Council adopted Resolution 338 on October 22.

    December 21: Representatives from Egypt, Israel, and Jordan meet in Geneva with officials from the Soviet Union, the United Nations, and the United States. Syria boycotts the sessions, which make no progress. For the next several years, resuming the “Geneva talks” is a main goal of international diplomacy.


    January 18: After rounds of “shuttle diplomacy” mediated by U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Egypt and Israel sign Sinai I, a disengagement agreement calling for Israel to pull back from the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and for a UN force to patrol a buffer zone between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai.

    March 18: Most Arab oil-producing countries—Libya is the major exception—agree to lift the oil embargo imposed against the United States during the October 1973 war.

    April 10: After a political dispute over assigning blame for Israel's failure to anticipate the Arab attack the previous October, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigns. Yitzhak Rabin, a former general, succeeds her.

    May 29: Israel and Syria agree on a Kissinger-negotiated plan to disengage their armies.

    June 9: The Palestine National Council resolves to “employ all means, and first and foremost armed struggle, to liberate Palestinian territory and to establish the independent combatant national authority for the people over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated.”

    July 31: Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, following a decision by the Israeli cabinet on July 26, announces that only the government can determine whether and when Jewish settlements will be established in the West Bank. This is in response to an attempt by members of the Gush Emunim movement to move into Sebastia, an abandoned railway station near the city of Nablus on the West Bank.

    October 28: Arab leaders, meeting in Rabat, Morocco, recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people. Jordan's King Hussein, who previously had been a voice for the Palestinians, agrees to honor the PLO's claim.

    November 13: PLO chairman Yasir Arafat addresses the UN General Assembly and calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.

    November 22: The UN General Assembly grants the PLO observer status.

    December 1: Israeli president Ephraim Katzir offers the first official acknowledgment that Israel is capable of producing nuclear weapons. Subsequent reports will assert that Israel had possessed this capability for several years.


    March 5: Iran and Iraq sign the Algiers Accord, an agreement mediated by Algeria, resolving conflicting boundary claims to the Shatt al-Arab waterway and pledging not to interfere in each other's domestic affairs. A year-long Kurdish rebellion will quickly collapse after Iran, under the agreement, suspends its support for Kurdish separatists in Iraq.

    March 25: King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is assassinated by a nephew and is succeeded by Crown Prince Khalid. This is the first violent transfer of power in Saudi Arabia since the kingdom's founding four decades earlier.

    April 13: An attack by unknown gunmen on Christian worshipers in a Beirut suburb results in riots and retaliatory attacks. The ongoing conflict will develop into a civil war lasting until 1990.

    July 1: After the deaths of nearly 300 people, factions in Lebanon sign a truce, but it fails to halt fighting.

    September 4: Egyptian and Israeli officials sign Sinai II, an “interim agreement” negotiated by Kissinger providing for additional Israeli withdrawals from the Sinai Peninsula.

    November 10: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 3379, declaring that Zionism is a form of racism.


    March 23: William Scranton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calls Israeli settlements in the occupied territories “an obstacle to the success of the negotiations for a just and final peace.” This is the first of many similar official U.S. statements on the settlements, which Israel continues to build.

    October 25: The Arab League, except for Iraq and Libya, approves a plan calling for an end to the Lebanese civil war and the deployment of a 30,000-man Arab peacekeeping force. This plan will become the legal basis for Syria's long-term military occupation of Lebanon.

    November 11: The UN Security Council issues a statement deploring Israel's settlements in the occupied territories and declaring Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem to be “invalid.” The United States in March had vetoed a somewhat stronger Security Council resolution on these matters.


    March 16: President Carter endorses a Palestinian “homeland,” becoming the first president to do so.

    May 17: The right-wing Likud Party wins in Israeli elections, ending the domination of the Labor Party since 1948. Likud leader Menachem Begin will become prime minister.

    November 9: Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat tells the National Assembly that “I am ready to go to the Israeli parliament” to discuss peace.

    November 17: Sadat accepts an invitation from Israeli prime minister Begin to address the Knesset in Jerusalem.

    November 19: Sadat arrives in Israel, becoming the first Arab leader to visit the country officially since its creation in 1948.

    November 21: A day after addressing the Knesset, Sadat holds a joint news conference with Israeli prime minister Begin, during which both men express a desire for peace.

    November 26: Sadat invites leaders of other Arab countries, Israel, the United States, and the Soviet Union to attend a peace conference in Cairo. Israel and the United States accept, but the others refuse.

    December 2: Arab leaders, meeting in Libya, denounce Egypt's peace efforts.

    December 5: Egypt severs diplomatic relations with Algeria, Iraq, Libya, South Yemen, and Syria.

    December 14: Representatives from Egypt, Israel, the United States, and the United Nations meet in Cairo to prepare for resumption of long-stalled peace talks in Geneva.

    December 25: Begin and Sadat meet in Ismailia, Egypt, but reach no substantive agreements.


    January: Iranian security forces kill several dozen student protesters in the religious center of Qom, sparking a series of protests that escalate throughout the year.

    March 14: Israel conducts its largest invasion to date of southern Lebanon in retaliation for a Palestinian cross-border raid that killed thirty Israelis. Israel will withdraw by June 13 but leave the territory it had occupied under the control of a pro-Israeli Lebanese military commander.

    April 27: Afghan president Daoud is ousted in a communist coup. A communist government headed by Muhammad Taraki will order numerous modernization programs that alienate conservative forces, who launch a widespread rebellion.

    August 13: An estimated 200 people are killed when a bomb destroys a nine-story building in Beirut housing the Fatah faction of the PLO and the Iraqi Palestine Liberation Front (a rival group).

    September 8: The Iranian military fires on antigovernment demonstrators in Tehran, killing several hundred people.

    September 17: After a series of meetings with President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat sign two documents: a Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty Between Egypt and Israel and a Framework for Peace in the Middle East. Negotiations on the text of an Egypt-Israel treaty continue all through the rest of 1978 and into early 1979.

    October 31: Thousands of Iranian oil workers go on strike to protest the government crackdown on protests by students and others.

    November 6: The shah imposes martial law in Iran in a failed attempt to halt the protests.

    December 29: The shah of Iran appoints opposition politician Shapour Bakhtiar as head of a new government.


    January 16: The shah of Iran flees the country—he says for a “vacation”—after his concessions fail to calm widespread disturbances.

    February 1: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Iran from exile in France.

    February 14: Leftist forces briefly occupy the U.S. embassy in Tehran. U.S. personnel are freed by armed supporters of Khomeini.

    March 26: In a ceremony at the White House, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat sign the first formal peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation.

    March 31: Arab League foreign ministers vote for an economic boycott of Egypt and oust it from the league because of its peace treaty with Israel. In subsequent months, most Arab countries will break diplomatic relations with Egypt, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference will suspend its membership.

    April 1: Ayatollah Khomeini proclaims an Islamic Republic in Iran after its endorsement by plebiscite.

    May 25: Israel begins withdrawing from the Sinai Peninsula, a process that it will complete in 1982.

    July 16: Iraqi president Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr suddenly resigns (citing ill health) and is replaced by Vice President Saddam Hussein.

    August: The new Islamic government of Iran faces its most intense opposition yet as the result in major riots in Tehran.

    September 16: Israel revokes a law barring Israeli citizens and businesses from buying Arab-owned land in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, an action that will accelerate the process of Jewish settlement in the territories.

    September 24: Israeli planes down four Syrian planes in a confrontation over Lebanon.

    October 22: The United States admits the former shah of Iran for medical treatment in New York, sparking anti-U.S. protests in Iran.

    November 4: A group of Iranian students seize the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take hostage sixty-five Americans there, marking the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that will last until the last hostages are released in January 1981.

    December 24: The Soviet Union launches an invasion of Afghanistan.

    December 27: Babrak Karmal is installed as prime minister of Afghanistan.



    January 23: President Carter announces in his State of the Union Address that an attempt by “any outside force” to gain control of the Persian Gulf would be considered an assault on the vital interests of the United States and would be repelled “by any means necessary, including military force.” This declaration, known as the Carter Doctrine, is aimed at the Soviet Union because of its invasion of Afghanistan in December.

    January 26: The border between Egypt and Israel is opened.

    April 7: The United States severs diplomatic relations with Iran because of the embassy hostage crisis.

    April 8: Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini calls for the ouster of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    April 25: A U.S. military attempt to rescue the embassy hostages in Iran fails and results in the deaths of eight service personnel in a crash between an airplane and helicopter.

    June 22: Israel announces that the offices of the prime minister and other cabinet members will be moved from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem, another step toward unifying Jerusalem under its control.

    July 30: The Knesset passes a law affirming Israel's claim to Jerusalem. The measure will prompt protests from Egypt and the UN Security Council (on August 20).

    July 27: The former shah of Iran dies of cancer in Cairo.

    September 12: The Turkish military ousts the civilian government.

    September 17: Iraqi president Saddam Hussein announces the abrogation of the 1975 border agreement with Iran.

    September 22: Iraq invades Iran, starting a war that is to last for eight years. Iraq will make initial military gains into western Iran, but an Iranian counterattack in March 1982 will then drive the Iraqi army back across the border.


    January 20: Minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as U.S. president, Iran releases the remaining fifty-two Americans who had been held hostage in Tehran since November 1979. Their release results from an agreement, mediated by Algeria, under which the United States frees $8 billion in Iranian assets that had been frozen.

    April 29: Syria installs surface-to-air missiles in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in response to an Israeli attack on Syrian helicopters in Lebanon.

    May 25: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates form the Gulf Cooperation Council to deter threats to the Persian Gulf region.

    June 7: Israeli warplanes bomb and destroy a nuclear reactor under construction at Osirak, near Baghdad. Israel accuses Iraq of intending to use the reactor to build nuclear weapons. The raid is condemned by most countries, including the United States, which temporarily suspends the delivery of several warplanes to Israel.

    June 30: The Likud Party headed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin wins a narrow victory in Israeli elections. It will establish a coalition government on August 5.

    July 17: Israeli warplanes bomb PLO headquarters in downtown Beirut, killing an estimated 300 people.

    July 24: After mediation by the United States and Saudi Arabia, a cease-fire between Israel and the PLO takes effect along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

    August 3: Egypt and Israel agree to the establishment of an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai following the completion of Israel's withdrawal, scheduled for April 1982.

    August 7: Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia presents an eight-point plan calling for peace with Israel, provided that it withdraw to borders as they existed before the June 1967 War. Israel rejects the plan, but President Reagan will express support for it in October.

    October 6: Islamist extremists assassinate Egyptian president Sadat. Vice President Hosni Mubarak is elected to succeed him on October 13.

    November 30: Israel and the United States sign a “strategic memorandum of understanding” to counter Soviet threats to the Middle East.

    December 14: Israel extends its laws to the Golan Heights, effectively annexing the strategic plateau, which it had captured in 1967 from Syria.

    December 18: To protest Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, the Reagan administration suspends the strategic memorandum with Israel signed weeks earlier.


    February: After guerrillas from the Muslim Brotherhood take control of Hama in northern Syria, the army counterattacks and destroys much of the city, killing a reported 10,000 people.

    March 22: Iran launches a counteroffensive against Iraq, driving Iraqi forces out of the positions they had held inside Iran since the Iran-Iraq War began in late 1980.

    April 25: Israel completes its withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula after demolishing Jewish settlements there.

    June 6: Israel invades Lebanon to attack Palestinian guerrillas who have been launching cross-border raids into northern Israel.

    June 8: In a speech to the Knesset, Prime Minister Menachem Begin says Israel seeks a twenty-five-mile-deep security zone inside Lebanon to protect itself against Palestinian attacks launched from Lebanese territory.

    June 13: King Khalid of Saudi Arabia dies and is succeeded by his half-brother Crown Price Fahd. Prince Abdallah ibn Abd al-Aziz becomes crown prince.

    August 4: Israeli forces reach Beirut.

    August 18: The Lebanese government and the PLO approve a U.S.-mediated plan for PLO leaders and thousands of fighters to be evacuated from Lebanon.

    August 21: The evacuation of the PLO begins in Lebanon as the first French troops arrive as part of an international peacekeeping force. The Palestinian withdrawal will be completed on September 2, and international peacekeepers will later also leave.

    September 1: President Ronald Reagan announces a Middle East peace plan, calling for Jordan to exercise responsibility over the West Bank.

    September 9: Meeting in Fez, Morocco, Arab leaders adopt a statement that for the first time implies recognition of Israel. Echoing a Saudi peace plan from August 1981, the Fez statement calls on Israel to withdraw to the pre-June 1967 borders and for peace among “all states” of the region. The United States praises the statement but Israel rejects it.

    September 14: Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel is assassinated when a bomb destroys the headquarters of the Christian Phalange Party in East Beirut.

    September 16: On the outskirts of Beirut, Israeli forces allow Phalange fighters to enter the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, where the Phalangists kill several hundred Palestinians, causing an international uproar.

    September 20: In response to the Sabra and Shatila killings, the Lebanese government requests the return of international peacekeepers. France, Italy, and the United States agree to provide the peacekeepers, who will begin arriving later in the month. President Reagan explains that the peacekeepers will be in Lebanon for “a limited period” with a limited mission of bolstering the government.

    December 1: At Lebanon's request, the United States agrees to expand the international peacekeeping force there.


    February 8: An Israeli commission finds that several officials, including Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, neglected their duty when they allowed Lebanese Phalange militiamen into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps the previous September. Sharon resigns as defense minister but remains in the cabinet as a minister without portfolio.

    April 18: The U.S. embassy in Beirut is destroyed by a large car bomb; 63 people (including 17 Americans) are killed and more than 100 wounded. Islamic Jihad, a pro-Iranian group, claims responsibility.

    May: Factional conflicts erupt between Palestinian fighters who have re-infiltrated into Lebanon.

    May 17: Israel and Lebanon sign the second treaty between Israel and an Arab nation.

    June 24: PLO chairman Yasir Arafat is expelled from Damascus, where he had gone after leaving Lebanon in the previous December, and heads to Tripoli, Lebanon, where his Fatah faction is based.

    August 28: Israeli prime minister Begin says he will resign for personal reasons.

    September 12: In Israel, coalition partners agree on a new cabinet under Yitzhak Shamir.

    October 23: Near-simultaneous bomb attacks in Beirut kill 241 U.S. service personnel and 58 French servicemen serving in the international peacekeeping force in Lebanon. U.S. officials blame Islamist guerrillas backed by Iran.

    November 4: A truck bomb hits Israeli military headquarters in Tyre, Lebanon, killing 60 people, including Israeli soldiers and Arab prisoners.

    November 23: PLO factions battling since May agree to a Saudi-brokered cease-fire that allows Arafat and his supporters to evacuate Tripoli, Lebanon.

    November 24: Israel swaps 4,500 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners for 6 Israeli soldiers held by the PLO.

    December 4: One day after a Syrian attack on U.S reconnaissance planes, the United States attacks Syrian positions in eastern Lebanon. Two U.S. planes are shot down; one pilot is killed and another captured.

    December 14: U.S. warships extensively shell Syrian positions in Lebanon.

    December 20: Aboard Greek ships flying UN flags, Arafat and about 4,000 Palestinian fighters leave Tripoli, Lebanon, for Tunis, where the PLO will be based for more than ten years.


    February 7: Less than four months after saying U.S. peacekeepers would remain in Lebanon, President Reagan announces that U.S. troops have been “redeployed” to ships off the Lebanese coast. The last U.S. troops will leave Beirut on February 21. Britain and Italy also withdraw their forces from the international peacekeeping force.

    March 5: Lebanon abrogates the treaty signed with Israel in May 1983.

    June 23: The Lebanese government restructures the national army to make it more representative of Christian and Muslim communities.

    July 4: A revamped Lebanese army begins taking control of Beirut from the various militias and destroys a wall, known as the Green Line, that had separated Christian and Muslim neighborhoods.

    July 23: Israeli elections end in a virtual deadlock, with neither Labor nor Likud winning enough seats to form a stable coalition.

    September 13: After July's inconclusive elections in Israel, the Labor and Likud parties agree to share power. Labor leader Shimon Peres will be prime minister for two years, and then Likud leader (and former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir) will take over for two years.

    September 25: Jordan becomes the first Arab country to renew diplomatic relations with Egypt.


    February 22: Jordan's King Hussein and PLO leader Arafat announce their agreement on the Amman Accord, a peace plan calling for a Jordanian-Palestinian “confederation.” Israel rejects the plan.

    March: Iran and Iraq escalate bomb and missile attacks against each other's cities. This “war of the cities,” which began in February 1984, will continue intermittently until the Iran-Iraq War ends in 1988.

    March: Under a plan announced in January, Israel begins withdrawing from most of Lebanon except for a self-declared “security zone” in southern Lebanon.

    June 14: TWA Flight 847, from Athens to Rome, is hijacked and forced to land in Beirut. After prolonged negotiations, the last of the passengers will be released on June 30.

    October 1: After the killing of three Israelis by Palestinians in Cyprus in late September, Israel bombs PLO headquarters in Tunis. More than seventy people die from the bombing, which brings widespread criticism.

    October 7: Four Palestinian gunmen hijack the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, in the Mediterranean. They will kill an American, Leon Klinghoffer, before surrendering and releasing other hostages. The hijackers are said to be associated with the Palestine Liberation Front, headed by Abul Abbas.

    November 7: PLO chairman Arafat renounces the use of terrorism.

    December 27: At the Rome and Vienna airports, Palestinians from Fatah–Revolutionary Council, headed by Abu Nidal, attack travelers at check-in counters for El Al, the Israeli airline. Eighteen people are killed, plus four of the gunmen.


    January 7: The United States imposes economic and trade sanctions against Libya, accusing it of supporting Abu Nidal's Palestinian faction.

    February 11: Iran captures the Faw Peninsula in Iraq, including the oil-export terminal there, marking the beginning of an unsuccessful Iranian drive to capture Basra and other cities in southern Iraq.

    February 17: Lebanese guerrillas capture two Israeli soldiers along the Israel-Lebanon border.

    February 19: Jordan's King Hussein renounces the Amman Accord he reached one year earlier with PLO chairman Arafat, charging the Palestinian leader with failing to cooperate in carrying out the agreement, specifically his ongoing refusal to accept UN Resolution 242. Jordan closes PLO offices in the country.

    April 14: The United States carries out an air attack against Libya, killing some fifteen people, including an infant daughter of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. President Reagan had accused Libya of sponsoring the April 5 bombing of a Berlin discotheque in which a U.S. soldier and a woman from Turkey died.

    May 4: Muhammad Najibullah, a former chief of the secret police, replaces Babrak Karmal as president of Afghanistan.

    May 25: A delegation of White House officials arrive in Tehran on a secret mission intended to gain the freedom of U.S. hostages in Lebanon. This mission is an opening element of what became known as the Iran-contra affair: the United States provided weapons to Iran (for use in its war with Iraq) in exchange for Iranian promises to help free U.S. citizens held hostage in Lebanon by groups supported by Iran. The first public report of the U.S.-Iran arms-for-hostages deal will appear on November 3.

    July 22: Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres and Morocco's King Hassan II hold meetings in Ilfrane, Morocco, in the only public meeting to date of Arab and Israeli leaders except for those between Egyptians and Israelis.

    October 5: The Sunday Times (London) quotes former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu as saying that Israel has been building nuclear weapons for two decades and possesses as many as 200 such weapons. Vanunu will later be captured in Rome and charged by Israeli authorities with espionage.

    October 20: Under the power-sharing arrangement following 1984 elections, Yitzhak Shamir becomes prime minister of Israel, swapping jobs with Shimon Peres, who becomes foreign minister.


    January 20: Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite, who had been negotiating the release of Western hostages in Lebanon, disappears. He is later confirmed to have been taken hostage himself.

    January 24: Three American and one Indian professor at the American University of Beirut are taken hostage.

    April 20–26: The Palestine National Council, meeting in Algiers, reelects Arafat as chairman of the PLO; the meeting is called to end feuding among the group's various factions. Arafat accepts a demand by extremist factions to take a harder line against Israel.

    May 19: After months of hesitation, the United States signs an agreement to re-flag Kuwaiti oil tankers and protect them from Iranian attack in the Persian Gulf. The first U.S. escort of tankers will take place on July 22.

    June 1: Lebanese prime minister Rashid Karami, who had announced his resignation in May because of the country's political gridlock, is killed when a bomb explodes in his helicopter. Selim al-Hoss is appointed acting prime minister.

    July 20: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 598 demanding a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq. Iraq will accept the resolution the following day, but Iran rejects it.

    July 31: A riot by Iranian pilgrims near the Grand Mosque in Mecca leads to the death of more than 400 people. Iranians attack the Saudi and Kuwaiti embassies in Tehran the following day.

    November 11: Meeting in Amman, Arab leaders take their strongest stand yet on the Iran-Iraq War, condemning Iran for its “procrastination” in responding to calls for a cease-fire.

    December 8: Four Palestinians are killed when a vehicle driven by an Israeli accidentally runs into theirs at a checkpoint.

    December 9: Funerals for the Palestinians killed the preceding day in Gaza turn into demonstrations against the Israeli occupation, marking the start of the first intifada. The uprising will last, intermittently, until the Israeli-PLO peace process begins in 1993.

    December 22: The UN Security Council adopts a resolution that “strongly deplores” the harsh response by Israel to the Palestinian intifada, including the “excessive use of live ammunition” against protesters. The United States abstains, allowing the resolution to be adopted.


    February: Iraq launches the Anfal campaign to move tens of thousands of Kurds out of areas the government has declared off-limits to them. It will continue until September. A subsequent investigation by Human Rights Watch claims that more than 100,000 Kurds, most of them men and boys, were trucked to remote sites and executed.

    February 27: Iraq bombs an Iranian oil refinery near Tehran, setting off another round of reciprocal attacks in the “war of the cities” between the two countries.

    February 29: Iran hits Baghdad with long-range missiles.

    March 16: The Iraqi army uses chemical weapons to bomb the Kurdish town of Halabja, in northern Iraq, after Iran captures it. Later investigations by human rights groups will put the death toll at 3,000.

    April 14: Afghanistan and Pakistan sign the Geneva Accords settling differences between them and providing for the withdrawal of Soviet military forces from Afghanistan. The United States and the Soviet Union are witnesses to the agreement.

    April 16: In Tunis, an Israeli commando team assassinates Khalil Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, the second-ranking official in the Fatah faction of the PLO.

    May 15: Soviet forces begin withdrawing from Afghanistan.

    July 3: The U.S. warship Vincennes shoots down a civilian Iranian airliner, killing all 290 people on board. The ship's captain says the plane was mistaken for an Iranian warplane, but Iran maintains that the downing was deliberate murder.

    July 18: Iran accepts UN Security Council Resolution 598 demanding a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War. Iraq had accepted the resolution in 1987.

    July 20: In a national speech, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini calls the decision to accept UN Resolution 598 “more lethal for me than poison.”

    July 31: As the intifada continues, King Hussein of Jordan renounces his claim to the West Bank, cutting all legal and administrative ties to the territory it had administered until Israel captured it in June 1967.

    August 4: Jordan announces that it will stop paying the salaries of thousands of Palestinian teachers and other civil servants on the West Bank.

    August 18: Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, issues its “covenant,” or program, calling for resistance to Israel by all necessary means.

    August 20: Iran and Iraq formally agree to a cease-fire, ending their eight-year war.

    September 22: With the Lebanese parliament having failed to appoint a new president, outgoing president Amin Gemayel appoints Gen. Michel Aoun to head a provisional government hours before stepping down at the end of his term.

    September 23: Muslims refuse to recognize the Aoun government and form a rival government headed by previous prime minister Selim al-Hoss.

    September 29: Ending a long dispute, an international arbitration panel awards Egypt control of Taba in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel had occupied Taba during the June 1967 War and had built a seaside resort there. Egypt demanded that Israel return it as part of the 1979 peace treaty.

    November 1: The Likud Party scores a narrow victory in Israeli elections, enabling Prime Minister Shamir to hold on to power.

    November 15: Meeting in Algiers, the Palestine National Council issues a statement declaring a Palestinian state, with its capital in Jerusalem and Arafat as president. Earlier, the council also had voted limited acceptance of UN Resolutions 242 and 338.

    December 14: Under pressure from the United States, PLO chairman Yasir Arafat again renounces terrorism and directly accepts UN Resolutions 242 and 338. This enables the United States to say that Arafat has met its conditions for direct contacts.

    December 21: Pan Am Flight 203 from London to New York explodes and crashes in Lockerbie, Scotland, after a bomb explodes onboard. All 259 passengers and crew on the plane are killed, along with 11 people on the ground. British authorities will later charge that Libyan government agents planted the bomb.


    February 14: Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issues a fatwa, or decree, calling on all Muslims to kill author Salman Rushdie because his novel The Satanic Verses allegedly blasphemes Islam. Rushdie goes into hiding.

    February 15: The last Soviet soldiers leave Afghanistan, ending an occupation of more than nine years. The Soviet departure will intensify battles for power among factions in Afghanistan, including the communist government supported by Moscow and various groups of Islamist guerrillas, or mujahidin.

    March 14: A new round of conflict between Christian and Muslim militias in Lebanon erupts into a major artillery battle killing several dozen people and marking the start of several months of fighting.

    March 15: Israel evacuates Taba, which returns to Egyptian sovereignty.

    April 2: Hamas kidnaps and murders two Israeli soldiers, its first such attack. Israel will arrest dozens of Hamas members and leaders, including spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, and later declare Hamas an illegal organization.

    April 6: Israeli prime minister Shamir proposes a plan for Palestinians to elect representatives who would negotiate with Israel toward a limited autonomy. Palestinian officials will denounce the plan, which goes nowhere.

    May 22: Secretary of State James A. Baker III tells the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that Israel should give up “the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel” and negotiate an agreement with the Palestinians. The speech is one of the toughest ever given by a senior U.S. official criticizing Israeli policies.

    May 22: Meeting in Casablanca, the Arab League formally readmits Egypt a decade after its suspension following the signing of its peace treaty with Israel.

    June 3: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini dies.

    June 4: The Iranian Assembly of Experts names President Ali Khamenei as the country's new supreme leader.

    July 28: Israeli commandos abduct Shaykh Abd al-Karim Obeid, leader of the Shiite group Hizballah in Lebanon. Officials will later reveal that they had planned to trade Obeid for Israeli hostages in Lebanon. A Lebanese group called the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth will announce that in retaliation for the kidnapping it has killed U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. William Higgins, who had been held hostage in Lebanon since February 1988.

    October 24: After three weeks of meetings in Taif, Saudi Arabia, members of the Lebanese parliament sign an agreement for political reconciliation. The agreement provides for equal representation of Christians and Muslims in parliament (even though Muslims are a majority) and allows Syria to continue its military presence in Lebanon.

    November 5: The Lebanese parliament elects Rene Muawwad as president under the terms of the new Taif accord.

    November 22: Lebanese prime minister Muawwad is assassinated by a large bomb blast in Beirut. Elias Hrawi will be selected to replace him.



    March 15: After the Labor Party withdraws from the coalition government in Israel, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir loses a no-confidence motion in parliament, a first for an Israeli leader.

    May 22: Ending years of conflict followed by negotiations, North and South Yemen agree to merge into a unified country.

    May 25: PLO chairman Yasir Arafat addresses a special meeting of the UN Security Council in Geneva.

    June 20: The United States suspends diplomatic contacts with the PLO, conducted since December 1988, because of the PLO's failure to condemn a May 30 attack against Israelis by the Palestine Liberation Front, led by Abul Abbas.

    August 2: Iraq invades and occupies Kuwait. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 660, condemning the invasion.

    August 6: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 661, imposing economic sanctions against Iraq.

    King Fahd of Saudi Arabia agrees to the stationing of U.S. forces in the kingdom after a meeting in Riyadh during which U.S. secretary of defense Dick Cheney presents satellite photographs of Iraqi forces massed along the border with Saudi Arabia.

    August 8: Iraq announces that it has annexed Kuwait as its nineteenth province.

    August 10: Most countries of the Arab League vote to support Saudi Arabia and other countries resisting the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

    August 12: Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein states in a televised speech that Iraq invaded Kuwait to reverse the ill of “colonialism” when Britain separated Kuwait from Iraq. He also says that Iraq will withdraw from Kuwait if Israel withdraws from the Palestinian territories and Syria withdraws from Lebanon.

    August 25: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 665, authorizing member nations to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq.

    September 9: In response to Iran's invasion of Kuwait, President George H. W. Bush and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev pledge to take whatever actions are necessary to show “beyond any doubt that aggression cannot and will not pay.”

    September 10: Iran and Iraq agree to restore diplomatic relations, which were severed after the outbreak of their war in 1980.

    October 8: In one of the most violent incidents of the Palestinian intifada, Israeli police use live ammunition to suppress a demonstration in Jerusalem, killing an estimated twenty Palestinians.

    October 12: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 672, condemning Israel's use of violence on October 8 against Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem and condemning the use of violence by the demonstrators. The resolution also calls for a UN fact-finding mission to investigate the violence, but Israel refuses to accept such a mission. The Israelis’ reaction will lead the Security Council to adopt another resolution, on October 24, critical of Israel. These resolutions are noteworthy because they are supported by the United States, which customarily blocks criticism of Israel in the Security Council.

    October 13: In Beirut, after Syria bombs the presidential palace, the base of Gen. Michel Aoun's “provisional” Lebanese government, Aoun admits defeat and takes refuge in the French embassy. Aoun will later go into exile in France and remain there until 2005.

    November 29: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 678, authorizing the use of military force to expel Iraq from Kuwait. It is the first such authorization since the Korean War in 1950.


    January 4: The United States votes at the UN Security Council to denounce Israel's use of violence against Palestinians in the fourth resolution condemning Israel since October 1990.

    January 13: UN secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cúellar meets in Baghdad with Saddam Hussein but fails to persuade the Iraqi leader to withdraw his forces from Kuwait.

    January 17: A U.S.-led multinational coalition launches a massive aerial assault to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

    January 18: Attempting to draw Israel into the war, Iraq fires medium-range Scud missiles at Haifa and Tel Aviv, injuring fifteen people. Israel, under intense pressure from the United States to stay out of the war, does not retaliate.

    February 24: The U.S.-led coalition launches a ground offensive to force Iraqi troops from Kuwait. In a classic pincer attack, one wing moves against Iraqi positions in Kuwait while another wing moves into Iraq.

    February 27: President Bush announces that Iraqi forces have been pushed out of Kuwait and a cease-fire has taken effect.

    March 1: Following Iraq's defeat, Shiites in southern Iraq and Kurds in northern Iraq launch uncoordinated uprisings against the government of Saddam Hussein. The uprisings will continue through March, but are brutally suppressed by the Iraqi army. Thousands of Kurds flee across the border into Iran and Turkey.

    March 3: Iraq accepts the U.S.-led coalition's terms for ending the conflict.

    April 3: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 687, imposing tough conditions on Iraq, including prohibitions against the possession of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and a requirement that Iraq submit to UN inspections of its weapons programs.

    April 17: The U.S., British, and French militaries create what they call a “safe haven” for Kurds in northern Iraq.

    May 15: The first UN weapons inspectors arrive in Iraq.

    October 11: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 715, demanding that Iraq comply “unconditionally” with UN weapons inspections.

    October 30: A peace conference opens in Madrid between representatives of Israeli and Arab nations. The United States and the Soviet Union are co-sponsors.

    December 2–4: The last three American hostages in Lebanon are freed. The longest-held is Terry Anderson, a reporter for the Associated Press kidnapped in March 1985.

    December 10: Peace talks between Israeli and Arab delegations begin in Washington, D.C., as a follow-up to the Madrid conference. The talks, opened late because of delays, will adjourn on December 18 with little or no progress to report.

    December 16: The UN General Assembly repeals its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism.


    February 16: Israeli helicopters fire missiles at a convoy in southern Lebanon, killing Hizballah leader Abbas al-Musawi along with his wife and son. Musawi's deputy, Hassan Nasrallah, assumes leadership of the organization.

    March 31: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 748, imposing sanctions against Libya unless it extradites officials indicted for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    April 15: Mujahidin rebel factions occupy Kabul. President Najibullah takes refuge in a UN compound.

    April 25: Afghan mujahidin agree on a power-sharing arrangement, and rebel commander Burhannuddin Rabbani takes office in June as interim president.

    June 23: The Labor Party wins elections in Israel in its first outright victory since 1974.

    July 13: Yitzhak Rabin takes office as Israeli prime minister and says he is committed to advancing peace talks with Arabs.

    August 23–October 11: Lebanon holds its first elections since 1972.

    August 26: The United States, Britain, and France establish a “no-fly” zone in southern Iraq to protect Shiites against aerial attacks by the Iraqi air force.

    September 9: Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad publicly states that he is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. A round of talks between Israeli and Syrian diplomats later in September will make little headway.

    October 22: Rafiq Hariri, a construction magnate, takes office as the new prime minister of Lebanon.


    January 13: U.S., British, and French warplanes bomb military targets in Baghdad in response to Iraq's stationing of antiaircraft missiles in the “no-fly” zone of southern Iraq.

    January 20: Israeli and PLO representatives hold secret talks in Norway under Norwegian government sponsorship. The preceding day, the Israeli Knesset had revoked a law banning official and unofficial contact with members of the PLO.

    June 26: The United States launches cruise missiles against Iraqi intelligence agency headquarters in Baghdad, charging that Iraq had supported an unsuccessful assassination attempt against former president George H. W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait in mid-April.

    September 9: Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasir Arafat sign letters of mutual recognition.

    September 13: At a White House ceremony, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres and PLO negotiator Mahmoud Abbas sign the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, worked out in the secret negotiations mediated by Norway. During the same ceremony, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasir Arafat shake hands for the first time. Popularly known as the Oslo Accords, the declaration is intended to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians and to provide for self-governance by the Palestinians of parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The Israeli parliament will approve the accord on September 23, and the PLO Central Committee will follow suit on October 11. The Israelis and Palestinians will sign subsequent major agreements in May 1994, September 1995, January 1997, and October 1998.

    September 14: Israeli and Jordanian officials conclude a “common agenda” intended to lead to a permanent peace agreement.

    October 1: International donors meeting in Washington pledge $2 billion in aid for the new quasi-governmental Palestinian agency to be formed as a result of the Oslo Accords.

    October 22: Hizballah launches a major attack on Israeli positions in southern Lebanon.

    October 25: Israel launches a large air and ground attack in southern Lebanon that forces more than 200,000 people from their homes.

    November 16: Israel offers to withdraw from southern Lebanon if Hizballah is disarmed and brought under the control of the Lebanese government.

    November 26: Iraq agrees to accept UN Security Council Resolution 715 (of October 1991), requiring it to comply with UN weapons inspections.


    January: Renewed fighting among factions in Afghanistan results in the large-scale destruction of Kabul.

    January 16: After meeting in Geneva with President Bill Clinton, Syrian president Hafez al-Assad says Syria would be willing to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel if Israel withdraws from the Golan Heights.

    February 25: Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli settler on the West Bank, kills twenty-nine Palestinians worshiping at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Goldstein is then killed by Palestinians at the mosque, and ensuing clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces result in more deaths.

    April 6: The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, carries out its first car bombing, killing eight people in Afula, Israel.

    April 21: Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin says Israel would be willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace treaty with Syria.

    May 4: PLO chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli prime minister Rabin sign an agreement establishing a Palestinian civil authority to govern parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho, the first step to implementing the Oslo Accords of September 1993.

    May 7: A simmering dispute between the two main Kurdish political factions in Iraq breaks into an open conflict that will drag on for more than two years, killing an estimated 3,000 people.

    May 13: Israeli security forces withdraw from Jericho and are replaced by Palestinian forces.

    May 18: Israel withdraws from much of the Gaza Strip, except for areas containing settlements and military installations.

    July 1: Arafat arrives in the Gaza Strip after twenty-seven years in exile.

    July 5: Arafat assumes office as the first president of the new Palestinian Authority.

    July 11: Rolf Ekeus, head of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, reports to the Security Council that all illegal weapons acknowledged by Iraq have been destroyed. Ekeus says Iraq could, however, still be hiding other weapons.

    July 25: In Washington, Israeli prime minister Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein sign the Washington Declaration, calling for an end to the state of war between their countries.

    October 14: Arafat, Rabin, and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres are named recipients of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for of their participation in the Oslo peace process.

    October 26: At the Arava/Araba border crossing between Israel and Jordan, Israeli prime minister Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein sign a formal peace treaty.

    November 5: The Taliban, an Islamist guerrilla group, captures Kandahar, the largest city in southern Afghanistan, in an ongoing struggle among anticommunist factions following the overthrow of the Soviet-backed government in 1992.


    January 22: Two car bombs explode in Bet Lid, a coastal town in northern Israel, killing 19 Israelis and wounding more than 60 others. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the attack. The Israeli government temporarily suspends negotiations with the Palestinians.

    March 20: Turkish military forces invade the Kurdish areas of northern of Iraq in pursuit of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which has been fighting for a separate Kurdish area in Turkey.

    April 14: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 986, creating an oil-for-food program through which Iraq can sell limited quantities of oil on world markets with the proceeds used to buy food and other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people, to pay reparations to Kuwait, and to reimburse UN agencies for their expenses. The oil sales are limited to $2 billion every 180 days.

    April 17: Iraq rejects Resolution 986, creating an oil-for-food program.

    August 8: Two sons-in-law of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, along with their wives and some family members, defect to Jordan, taking with them crates of documents alleged to show that Iraq is continuing to hide weapons from UN inspectors. The defectors will be killed after being convinced to return to Iraq in February 1996.

    September 28: At the White House, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasir Arafat sign the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also known as Oslo II, expanding on the previous Oslo Accords by broadening Palestinian rule in the West Bank. President Bill Clinton, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Hussein act as witnesses.

    October 10–11: Israel hands control of several West Bank towns to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo II agreement. Israel also releases about 900 Palestinians who had been held in Israeli jails.

    November 4: A Jewish extremist assassinates Rabin during a peace rally in Tel Aviv.

    November 22: Shimon Peres takes over as Israeli prime minister.

    December: Israel withdraws from the main West Bank towns of Tulkarm (on December 9), Nablus (December 12), Bethlehem (December 21), and Ramallah (December 27).

    December 24: The Welfare Party wins a plurality in Turkey's parliamentary elections, marking the best showing yet for an Islamist party in Turkey.


    January 20: Palestinians go to the polls to elect a president for the first time and give Arafat an overwhelming victory with 88 percent of the vote. Arafat's Fatah Party wins all but 20 seats in parallel elections for the 88-member Palestinian Legislative Council.

    February 25: A Hamas suicide bomber attacks a bus in downtown Jerusalem, killing 22 people in the first of a series of such attacks that kill several dozen people and appear to be aimed at influencing Israeli elections scheduled for May 29. The Israeli government declares war on Hamas and pressures the Palestinian Authority to arrest more than 100 Hamas activists.

    April 11: Israel launches Operation Grapes of Wrath into Lebanon. The fighting will continue for more than two weeks, forcing several hundred thousand Lebanese from their homes.

    April 18: Israeli artillery hit a UN refugee camp in Qana, killing 107 people and wounding more than 100 others. Israel says the attack was a mistake, but a later investigation by the UN will assert that the attack was deliberate.

    April 21–24: Meeting for the first time in Gaza, the Palestine National Council votes to endorse the Oslo peace accords and to remove language from the Palestinian national charter that runs counter to the accords.

    May: Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and an entourage of supporters arrive in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, after Sudan expels them as a result of U.S. pressure.

    May 22: Iraq accepts the UN oil-for-food program established under Security Council Resolution 986 in April 1995.

    May 29: The Likud Party, under Binyamin Netanyahu, wins a narrow victory in Israeli elections. Netanyahu collects 50.4 percent of the vote against acting prime minister Shimon Peres in Israel's first-ever direct election of a prime minister. The Labor Party wins a tiny plurality of 33 seats in parliamentary elections, but Netanyahu assembles a coalition of religious and right-wing parties for a majority.

    June 6: Welfare Party leader Necmettin Erbakan becomes prime minister of Turkey after the collapse of a minority coalition government. He is the first Islamist to hold that post since the creation of the Turkish republic in 1923.

    June 25: A truck bomb explodes outside the Khobar Towers military housing complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen and wounding about 400 others. U.S. officials will later blame the attack on Shiite Muslims from Saudi Arabia who had been trained in Lebanon and financed by Iran.

    June 26: An attempted coup against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein fails. Dozens of alleged coup plotters will be executed in subsequent days. The coup was sponsored by the Iraqi National Accord, an exile group, allegedly with help from the CIA.

    August 31: Iraq intervenes militarily in the ongoing conflict between the two main Kurdish factions in northern Iraq. The government supports the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, headed by Jalal Talabani, which had received support from Iran. The Iraqi army briefly takes over Irbil and attacks Talbani's forces.

    September 24: Israel reopens an ancient tunnel in the Old City of Jerusalem near the al-Aqsa Mosque, setting off violent protests by Palestinians. More than sixty Palestinians and fifteen Israelis will die in subsequent rioting, the worst of which takes place in Ramallah.

    September 26: The Taliban occupy Kabul, thus securing effective control of most of Afghanistan.

    October 23: French president Jacques Chirac becomes the first foreign head of state to address the Palestinian legislature. He says that France supports a Palestinian state.

    The two rival Iraqi Kurdish parties agree to end their fighting, which has killed an estimated 3,000 people and forced tens of thousands of Kurds to flee their homes.

    December 10: Iraq pumps the first oil for legal export under the UN's oil-for-food program after announcing an agreement with the Security Council on November 25.


    January 17: Israeli and Palestinian officials sign a long-delayed agreement providing for the Israeli military to withdraw from most of the West Bank town of Hebron, a flashpoint for violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents. Israeli forces begin leaving Hebron immediately.

    February 28: Turkey's top generals issue a statement demanding that Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan sign a statement that includes a commitment to secularism.

    May 23: Mohammad Khatami, a mid-level cleric generally considered a reformer, scores a landslide victory in Iranian presidential elections, with about 69 percent of the vote.

    June 18: Turkey's Islamist prime minister Erbakan resigns under pressure from the military. He is succeeded by Mesut Yilmaz, president of the secular Motherland Party.

    June 26: Turkey withdraws most of the soldiers sent into northern Iraq in April as part of Operation Hammer to destroy the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which had taken refuge there.

    July 31: Palestinian legislature demands that members of the Palestinian Authority cabinet resign because of corruption allegations. Arafat appoints a commission to investigate the charges, but its findings are suppressed.

    September: The Turkish army returns to Iraq for an operation that will continue into May 1998.

    September 5: Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Israel is suspending its obligations under the various Oslo agreements to protest two suicide bombings in a Jerusalem market on July 30 that killed thirteen people.

    September 25: In Amman, Israeli agents carrying Canadian passports inject a lethal poison into the left ear of Khaled Meshel, the political leader of Hamas. Israel provides an antidote for the poison after King Hussein demands it. Meshel recovers.

    October 1: At King Hussein's insistence, Israel releases from prison Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, who is flown to Jordan. He eventually will return to the Gaza Strip.

    October 29: Iraq's government demands the departure from Iraq of all Americans working for the UN weapons agency. The inspectors will leave in November but return later in the month after the Russian government pressures Baghdad on the issue.

    November 17: Gunmen from the Islamic Group attack a group of tourists near an ancient temple in Egypt's Luxor Valley and kill about seventy people, most of them foreign tourists. It is the second major attack on foreign tourists in two months. The Islamic Group says the attack is in retaliation for the U.S. imprisonment of the group's founder, Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, who was convicted on charges related to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

    December 14: Iranian president Khatami says in his first news conference that he hopes for a “thoughtful dialogue with the American people.”


    January 7: In an interview with CNN, Iranian president Mohammad Khatami proposes a “dialogue between civilizations and cultures” involving Iran and the United States, citing for example exchanges of scholars, journalists, and others.

    January 16: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, says Iran will not engage in any dialogue with the U.S. government, but praises Khatami's offer of a dialogue with the American people. Turkey's Constitutional Court bans the Welfare Party of former prime minister Erbakan. Many party members will later form the Virtue Party.

    February 20: The previous limit of $2 billion worth of oil that Iraq can sell every six months is increased by the UN Security Council to $5.2 billion.

    February 23: UN secretary-general Kofi Annan brokers a compromise to allow UN weapons inspectors to visit so-called presidential sites in Iraq, including some palaces of President Saddam Hussein. The government previously had barred the inspectors from them.

    June 17: U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright calls for the United States and Iran to develop a “road map leading to normal relations.” Weeks later, on July 1, Iranian president Khatami will praise the “tone” of Albright's remarks but add that Iran wants to see more positive action by the United States.

    August 7: The U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, are destroyed by powerful car bombs, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 people, most of them Africans. The United States blames al-Qaida.

    August 20: The United States fires missiles at an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Khost, Afghanistan, and at a plant in Khartoum, Sudan, alleged to produce chemical weapons. Subsequent evidence suggests that the plant in Khartoum made pharmaceuticals, not chemical weapons.

    September 17: The United States says it has brokered a peace agreement between the two main Kurdish political factions in Iraq, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Under the deal, the two parties will share power in the northern provinces of Iraq that they call Kurdistan. A cease-fire in October 1996 had failed to end the conflict.

    October 23: At the White House, PLO chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu sign the Wye River Memorandum, pledging to carry out several delayed steps in the peace process. Provisions include Israel's phased withdrawal from 13 percent of the West Bank and a pledge by the Palestinians to arrest suspects wanted by Israel and to remove anti-Israeli statements from the PLO charter.

    October 31: President Bill Clinton signs the Iraq Liberation Act (PL 105-338), calling for the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power and pledging support for Iraqi opposition groups. Iraq announces that it is ending all cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.

    November 20: In limited compliance with the Wye River agreement, Israel withdraws from about 220 square miles in the vicinity of the West Bank town of Jenin and releases 250 Palestinians from Israeli jails.

    December 14: The Palestine National Council votes to eliminate clauses in the PLO charter demanding the destruction of Israel. President Clinton attends the council meeting in Gaza and praises the Palestinian leaders for the action.

    December 15: After failing to reach agreement with Iraq on procedures for continued weapons inspections, the United Nations withdraws all of its inspectors from the country.

    December 16: The U.S. and British militaries begin four days of air strikes in Operation Desert Fox, targeting suspected weapons facilities, intelligence agencies, and other military targets in Iraq. This is the most extensive attack against Iraq since the Persian Gulf War of January–February 1991.

    December 20: Prime Minister Netanyahu suspends Israeli compliance with the October 23 Wye River agreement, citing what he calls the failure of Palestinians to carry out their promises, including collecting unlicensed weapons and restraining incitement against Israel.

    December 21: Netanyahu's government loses a “no-confidence” vote in the Knesset. New elections will take placed in May 1999.


    January 11: Former prime minister Shimon Peres becomes the first Israeli to address the Palestinian Legislative Council. He expresses support for a Palestinian state.

    January 25: Richard Butler, head of the UN weapons inspection commission in Iraq, sends a final report to the Security Council stating that many of Iraq's illegal weapons have been destroyed but that the Iraqi government's repeated lack of cooperation means that the United Nations cannot be sure how many and what types of weapons the country might still have.

    February 7: Jordan's King Hussein dies after a long battle with cancer. He was the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East, having taken power in August 1952. He is succeeded by a son, Abdallah II.

    February 16: Turkish agents in Nairobi, Kenya, capture Abdallah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party who had been charged with numerous counts of terrorism by the Turkish government.

    April 5: The UN Security Council suspends international sanctions against Libya after the government hands over to Scottish authorities two suspects in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    April 12: President Bill Clinton says the United States should abandon its “total denial” of Iranian grievances about past U.S. behavior toward Iran, just as Iran should accept that the United States has grievances about its behavior. This statement is seen as part of the Clinton administration's ultimately fruitless attempt to reach out to Iran's government.

    April 29: The Palestine Liberation Organization decides to delay plans (which had been announced the previous fall) to formally declare establishment of Palestinian state.

    May 17: Ehud Barak, the new leader of Israel's Labor Party, wins election as prime minister, defeating incumbent Netanyahu. One of his key campaign promises was to withdraw Israeli military forces from southern Lebanon.

    June 29: Abdallah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party, is convicted of treason and sentenced to death. After legal appeals and international intervention, his sentence will be reduced in 2002 to life in prison.

    July 8: Iranian police attack student protesters at Tehran University, sparking a series of riots that spread to other cities and continue into September. The police attack and subsequent suppression of student demonstrations indicate that President Khatami does not have effective control of the security services.

    July 23: Morocco's King Hassan II dies and is succeeded by his son, Muhammad VII.

    September 4: Israeli prime minister Barak and PLO chairman Yasir Arafat sign an agreement in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, calling for further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank, the release of 350 prisoners held by Israel, and the construction of a “safe passage” route between Gaza and the West Bank. The agreement also calls for conclusion of a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by September 2000. The so-called final status talks will begin on September 13.

    December 15: Israel and Syria resume formal peace negotiations that had been suspended in 1996. The talks will end on January 11, 2000, without an agreement.

    December 17: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1284, establishing a new agency, the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), to investigate Iraq's illegal weapons. The resolution offers a suspension of sanctions after Iraq has cooperated with the inspections for four months. Iraq already had announced that it would not allow weapons inspections to resume until after economic sanctions are eliminated or substantially reduced.



    February 18: Reform parties backing Iranian president Mohammad Khatami win a strong majority of seats in parliamentary elections.

    March 5: the Israeli cabinet approves a plan by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to withdraw Israeli military forces from southern Lebanon by July.

    March 17: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright acknowledges that the United States played a “significant role” in the August 1953 coup that ousted Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. Albright also announces the lifting of a U.S. ban on importation of some consumer goods from Iran, including carpets, nuts, dried fruit, and caviar. Eight days later, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei will reject the U.S. initiative toward improved relations.

    March 26: During a meeting in Geneva, Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad tells President Bill Clinton that he will not accept a peace agreement with Israel in exchange for Israel's surrendering of the Golan Heights after Israel refuses to cede a strip of land bordering the Sea of Galilee.

    May 23: Israel completes its withdrawal from southern Lebanon six weeks earlier than planned. The Shiite militia Hizballah had launched an attack on the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army, which collapsed.

    May 24: Hizballah gains full control of southern Lebanon.

    June 10: Syrian president Assad dies of a heart attack. He had been the country's leader since November 1970. He will be succeeded on July 11 by his son, Bashar, a Western-educated eye doctor.

    June 18 : The UN Security Council endorses a report by the secretary-general verifying Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon. Hizballah and Syria insist that Israel continues an illegal occupation of the Shabaa Farms area.

    July 25: A twelve-day summit at Camp David between the Israelis and Palestinians ends in failure. President Clinton, who mediated, places most of the blame on PLO chairman Yasir Arafat for refusing to accept an offer by Israeli prime minister Barak for Israel to withdraw from most of the West Bank. Arafat's aides play down the significance of Barak's offer.

    September 28: Ariel Sharon, leader of Israel's Likud Party, leads a large delegation of lawmakers, and a huge security contingent, on a tour of the Haram al-Sharif in the Old City of Jerusalem.

    September 29: Palestinian protests against Sharon's visit to the Haram al-Sharif flare into violence in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The violence grows in succeeding days, and many Palestinians proclaim a second intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation.

    October 12: A suicide attack on the USS Cole, docked in the port of Aden, Yemen, kills seventeen U.S. sailors. The Clinton administration blames the attack on al-Qaida.

    October 17: After a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Arafat and Barak agree on a cease-fire and limited steps to end ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence. Neither side follows through on its promises, however, and the violence continues. One outcome of the meeting is an agreement by President Clinton to appoint an international panel, headed by former U.S. senator George J. Mitchell, to examine the causes of the violence.

    December 10: Israeli prime minister Barak, politically weakened by the failure of the Camp David talks and the second intifada, calls for early elections to be held in February.

    December 19: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1333, imposing sanctions against the Taliban government of Afghanistan because of its refusal to hand over al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to the United States. The sanctions include a ban on military aid.

    December 23: In Washington, U.S. diplomats present proposals known as the Clinton parameters to the Israelis and Palestinians in a last attempt at a peace agreement. The Israeli cabinet will accept the proposals, but with “reservations,” on December 27. Palestinian leader Arafat will decline to accept the proposals after a personal meeting with Clinton at the White House on January 2, 2001.


    January 7: President Bill Clinton publicly outlines his plan for a final peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Clinton says the plan entails “real pain and sacrifices” by both sides but is the best way to establish a Palestinian state that can live in peace with Israel.

    January 21: In a last-ditch effort to secure a peace agreement before scheduled Israeli elections, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet in Taba, Egypt. They make progress based on Clinton's proposals but fail to reach agreement before negotiations are suspended on January 28 because of the elections.

    January 31: A special Scottish court convicts Libyan agent Abd al-Baset Ali al-Megrahi on charges related to the bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 in December 1988. He receives a sentence of life in prison. The court acquits a second defendant on all charges.

    February 6: Ariel Sharon, of the Likud Party, wins early elections to become Israel's next prime minister, soundly defeating the incumbent, Ehud Barak. Sharon promises tough action against the ongoing Palestinian violence.

    May 21: The U.S.-appointed panel headed by former senator George J. Mitchell reports that Israel and the Palestinians are both to blame for the current round of violence, which began in September. The panel calls for “confidence-building” steps by both sides, including a freeze in Jewish settlement in the occupied territories and efforts to end Palestinian violence against Israelis. Prime Minister Sharon will reject the call for a freeze on settlements.

    June 8: Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is reelected with 77 percent of the vote, but support among his core constituencies (reformers and the youth) appears to have cooled since his first election in 1997.

    June 13: Israelis and Palestinians agree to a cease-fire, mediated by CIA director George Tenet, but both sides will soon violate it.

    August 9: A Palestinian suicide bomber kills fourteen Israelis at a Jerusalem restaurant. In response, the Israeli army occupies Orient House in East Jerusalem, an historic building used by the Palestinian leadership.

    August 13: The Israeli army reoccupies much of the West Bank Palestinian town of Jenin, destroying a police station, in part of a broader Israeli offensive that will eventually involve the takeover of all or parts of several Palestinian towns, including Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, along with parts of the Gaza Strip.

    September 9: Suicide bombers, posing as journalists, kill Afghan resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud.

    September 11: Nineteen members of al-Qaida commandeer four civilian airliners in the United States and fly two of them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and a third into the Pentagon, outside Washington. The fourth plane crashes in rural Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people die in attacks, most of them as the result of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

    September 19: Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, in a speech to the nation, suggests that he will agree to support an impending U.S. military campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan had been the Taliban's strongest supporter.

    September 20: President George W. Bush tells Congress that the United States will conduct a “war on terror” that will target all terrorist groups with a “global reach.” He cites al-Qaida in particular.

    October 7: U.S. and British armed forces launch an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban government because of its support for al-Qaida. The invasion has crucial backing from neighboring Pakistan and from the Northern Alliance, an Afghan militia.

    November 13: The Northern Alliance captures Kabul. Although driven from power and dispersed into the mountain ranges between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban are not destroyed as a fighting force. U.S. forces fail to capture either Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar or al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

    November 21: President Bush warns that Iraq might give biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons to terrorist groups. He does not provide evidence for this claim.

    November 27: Anthony Zinni, appointed by President Bush as the U.S. envoy to the Middle East, arrives in the region. He will soon depart after another upsurge of violence, including a December 2 suicide bombing in Haifa that kills fifteen bus passengers.

    December 5: After a meeting in Bonn, Germany, leaders of Afghanistan's various political and ethnic factions agree on a plan for a transitional government leading to a permanent government. They select Hamid Karzai, a leader of the Pashtun ethnic group, as the first interim leader.

    December 17: Responding to pressure from European countries and the United States, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat calls for an end to armed attacks, including suicide bombings, against Israelis.

    December 21: Hamas announces that it will suspend its attacks in response to Arafat's request to do so.


    January 18: As part of its continuing crackdown against the Palestinians, the Israeli military establishes a blockade around the Palestinian Authority's Ramallah compound, confining Yasir Arafat to it. He will remain there almost continuously until he becomes ill in late 2004 and is allowed to travel to France for medical treatment.

    January 29: In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush says that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, along with “their terrorist allies,” constitute an “axis of evil” that is “arming to threaten the peace of the world.”

    March 27: A Palestinian suicide bomber kills twenty-nine people and wounds more than 100 during a Passover observance at a hotel in Netanya, in northern Israel.

    March 28: Meeting in Beirut, Arab leaders endorse a peace plan, authored by Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, calling for the exchange of land for peace between Israel and the Arab states.

    March 29: Israel launches Operation Defensive Shield, a major military occupation of Palestinian cities and refugee camps.

    April 9: Israeli troops engage in a fierce battle with Palestinian militants in Jenin. Thirteen Israeli soldiers are killed when they enter a building booby-trapped with bombs. The Israelis then bulldoze parts of the town. Palestinian officials allege an Israeli “massacre,” but this claim will be refuted by subsequent investigations that reveal slightly more than 50 Palestinian deaths.

    June 24: President Bush endorses the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, but he demands that the Palestinians replace Arafat as their leader.

    June 30: A loya jirga, a council of Afghan notables, selects Hamid Karzai to continue as head of state.

    August 26: Vice President Dick Cheney says “there is no doubt” that Iraq has rebuilt its illegal weapons program, is working to build nuclear weapons, and has ties to terrorist groups.

    September 8: Long-feuding Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani meet for the first time in two years and agree to reestablish the Kurdish National Assembly, which had been disbanded in 1994.

    September 12: In a speech to the UN General Assembly, President Bush demands that the UN enforce its many resolutions requiring Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and says that if the United Nations fails to act against the “gathering danger” of Iraq, the United States will.

    September 19: After a Palestinian suicide bomber kills five people in Tel Aviv, Israel launches a new military operation in Ramallah that destroys nearly all of the Palestinian Authority compound. Palestinian leader Arafat and others remain holed up in the only building not totally destroyed.

    September 29: Under strong international pressure, the Israeli army withdraws from the area of the Palestinian Authority compound, but Israel continues to bar Arafat from leaving Ramallah.

    October 7: In a nationally televised speech to build public support for a war against Iraq, President Bush warns that Iraq poses a direct threat to the United States because of its weapons programs and collaboration with terrorist groups.

    October 11: The U.S. Congress adopts a resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraq.

    November 3: Voters in Turkey hand an overwhelming victory to the Justice and De-velopment Party (AKP), making it the first avowedly Islamist party to control the parliament.

    November 8: In a unanimous vote, the UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1441, demanding that Iraq cooperate with UN weapons inspections. The resolution warns Iraq of unspecified “serious consequences” should it refuse to do so.

    November 26: UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq for the first time since they were withdrawn in December 1998.

    December 8: Iraq gives UN inspectors thousands of pages of documents allegedly showing that it does not have illegal weapons of mass destruction.

    December 14: Iraqi opposition groups begin a four-day meeting in London to plan for a new government in Baghdad based on the expectation that the United States will force Saddam Hussein from power.

    December 20:The United States accuses Iraq of a “material breach” of UN Resolution 1441 by failing to provide a complete and accurate inventory of its weapons.


    January 5: Simultaneous suicide bombs in Tel Aviv kill twenty-three Israelis and foreign workers and wound more than 100 people. Israel bars Palestinian officials from attending a conference in London on Palestinian government reform and possible peace overtures.

    January 27: UN weapons inspection chief Hans Blix faults Iraq for failing to cooperate, telling the Security Council that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.” Blix will issue subsequent reports on February 14 and March 7, his last before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

    February 24: Britain, Spain, and the United States submit a draft resolution to the Security Council asserting that Iraq “has failed” to meet the demands of Resolution 1441. France and Russia block action, and the resolution never comes to a formal vote.

    March 17: President Bush sets a forty-eight-hour deadline for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his two sons to leave the country or face an invasion. Addressing the people of Iraq, Bush says: “The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.”

    March 19 (U.S. time; March 20 local time): The United States, Britain, and their allies begin air strikes against Iraq; this will be followed shortly by a ground invasion launched primarily from Kuwait.

    March 20: Under strong U.S. pressure, Palestinian leader Arafat appoints Mahmoud Abbas, a long-time aide, as the first prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas accepts the post only after receiving assurances from Arafat that he will have independent power.

    April 9: U.S. marines help Iraqis pull down a giant statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad, an event widely viewed as symbolizing the fall of the Hussein's Baathist government.

    April 30: The United States releases A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, detailing steps to be taken by the Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their conflict. The plan had been drafted by diplomats in mid-2002 but was withheld from formal public release until after the Iraq invasion and the creation of a new Palestinian government.

    May 1: President Bush declares an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

    May 12: Four simultaneous suicide bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, target residential compounds for foreigners, killing twenty-five people (in addition to the attackers), including seven Americans. The Saudi government blames al-Qaida for the attacks.

    May 16: More than forty people are killed in five bombings in Casablanca, Morocco. The government blames al-Qaida for the attacks.

    May 22: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1483, recognizing the United States and Britain as occupying powers in Iraq. The resolution also ends international sanctions against Iraq, phases out the oil-for-food program, and allows occupation forces to spend an estimated $20 billion in Iraqi oil revenues under the United Nations’ control.

    June 3: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, and U.S. president George W. Bush meet in Aqaba, Jordan, and pledge to work to implement the “road map” to peace, which was released on April 30.

    July 2: Responding to an upsurge of violent attacks against the U.S. occupation in Iraq, President Bush says, “My answer is: bring ‘em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.”

    July 13: The U.S. occupation authority in Iraq names a twenty-five-member Iraqi Governing Council to serve as its local liaison.

    July 22: Saddam Hussein's two sons, Qusay and Uday, are killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Mosul, Iraq.

    August 13: Libya accepts an agreement, brokered by Britain and the United States, under which it accepts responsibility for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Libya will pay $2.7 billion into a fund to compensate the victims’ families.

    August 19: A truck bomb destroys the UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing twenty-three people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head of the UN delegation in Iraq. The bombing will come to be viewed as the beginning of an escalation of opposition to the U.S. occupation by Iraqi Sunnis.

    August 29: A bomb destroys the historic Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, Iraq, killing dozens of people, notably Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, a leading Shiite cleric and political leader who had advocated cooperation with the U.S. occupation.

    September 10: After less than six months in office, Palestinian prime minister Abbas resigns, stating that Arafat had not given him enough independence. Arafat names Ahmad Qurei, speaker of the Palestinian legislature, to succeed Abbas.

    October 16: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1511, endorsing the interim Iraqi Governing Council and calling on other countries to contribute troops to help stabilize Iraq.

    November 15: U.S. authorities in Iraq issue a plan for handing political power to an appointed Iraqi government by June 30, 2004, with national elections to be held by the end of 2005. The plan comes under sharp attack from Shiite leaders, notably Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who demands elections no later than the end of 2004.

    December 14: U.S. Army troops capture former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole in his home region of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

    December 18: Israeli prime minister Sharon announces tentative plans for “unilateral disengagement” from the Palestinians, starting with the probable withdrawal of at least some Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.

    December 19: British, Libyan, and U.S. officials announce that Libya has agreed to abandon all programs to develop biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. The United States subsequently will remove substantial material from Libya's weapons programs and in the process uncover evidence of the illicit trade in nuclear weapons material by “A.Q.” Kahn, a scientist often called the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.


    February 1: Simultaneous suicide bombings in Irbil target the headquarters of the two main Iraqi Kurdish political parties, killing more than 100 people and wounding more than 200 others.

    February 24: Conservative candidates win a majority of seats in Iran's parliamentary elections. Most reformists had withdrawn their candidacies in protest after the Council of Guardians disqualified several thousand candidates, including some incumbent legislators. The election is widely seen as ending, for the time being, any prospect of serious political reform in Iran.

    March 2: Suicide bombs and other attacks at Shiite shrines in Baghdad and Karbala kill more than 180 people, the highest single-day toll since the U.S.-led invasion.

    March 8: The Iraqi Governing Council formally approves an interim constitution called the Transitional Administrative Law. Shiite members had resisted the law, arguing that it failed to provide enough representation for Shiites.

    March 21: An Israeli air strike kills Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Palestinian movement Hamas.

    March 31: Mobs in Fallujah, Iraq, mutilate the bodies of four civilian U.S. contractors and hang them from a bridge. This action will prompt a major U.S. operation against Fallujah that will be called off by the White House just as gets under way on April 9.

    April 4: U.S. forces in Iraq and the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr engage in combat, which lasts for two months; the militia withdraws from Kufa and Najaf.

    April 17: Israel kills Hamas leader Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, who had succeeded Shaykh Ahmad Yasin.

    April 23: The United States lifts most remaining economic sanctions against Libya.

    April 28: CBS News airs photographs of U.S. Army Reserve soldiers humiliating Iraqi detainees at Abu Graib prison outside Baghdad. The photographs prompt a series of investigations and news reports that result in worldwide outrage about the treatment of Iraqi detainees by some U.S. prison guards, severely damaging the United States’ image.

    June 6: The Israeli cabinet approves the disengagement plan by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw Jewish settlements and Israeli military posts from the Gaza Strip.

    June 28: The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority disbands and hands national sovereignty in Iraq to an interim administration headed by President Ghazi al-Yawar and prime minister Iyad Allawi.

    June 30: Israel's High Court rules that portions of the separation barrier under construction in and around the West Bank violate the rights of Palestinians and therefore orders changes in the route.

    July 6: Iraqi prime minister Allawi signs a law giving himself broad powers to impose martial law and to take other steps in the name of restoring security.

    July 9: The World Court rules that the separation barrier being built by Israel violates international law and must be dismantled. Israel rejects this ruling and continues construction of the barrier.

    July 28: In one of the most violent days to date in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion, a suicide bomber explodes a car bomb in Baquba, killing 70 people and wounding more than 50, and more than 40 people are killed in clashes south of Iraq.

    September 2: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1559, demanding the withdrawal from Lebanon of all foreign forces, a measure aimed at Syria, the only country with a substantial military presence in Lebanon. The United States and other sponsors express hope that adoption of the resolution will block a Syrian attempt to force an extension of the term of Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud.

    September 3: Acquiescing to Syrian pressure, the Lebanese parliament agrees to extend the term of President Lahoud for three additional years.

    October 6: Charles A. Duelfer, head of the U.S. agency searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, reports publicly that all such weapons appear to have been destroyed shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Duelfer says that Iraq had “strategic intent” to rebuild its weapons but had not done so, contrary to U.S. claims.

    October 9: Afghanistan holds its first genuine presidential election, of which leader Hamid Karzai is declared the winner on November 3. The election had been delayed for several months because of security concerns; parliamentary elections were delayed until 2005 because of similar concerns and for technical reasons.

    October 25: The Knesset approves the Sharon disengagement plan.

    November 9: The U.S. military launches a major assault on Fallujah, in central Iraq, which had been taken over by insurgent forces resisting the U.S. occupation.

    November 13: U.S. commanders announce that they have gained effective control of Fallujah, much of which had been destroyed in the fighting, the heaviest since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

    November 11: Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat dies in a French hospital, where he had been taken the previous month after falling ill from unexplained causes.


    January 9: Mahmoud Abbas wins the election to succeed Yasir Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority.

    January 30: Iraq holds its first parliamentary elections since the ouster of Saddam Hussein nearly two years earlier. The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite parties, wins about 48 percent of the vote and will dominate the transitional parliament, the chief responsibility of which is to draft a constitution. An alliance of Kurdish parties finishes second with 26 percent of the vote. Most Sunni politicians boycott the election.

    February 8: Israeli prime minister Sharon and Palestinian president Abbas declare a mutual cease-fire, which Abbas has persuaded Hamas and other groups to observe.

    February 9: Saudi Arabia holds its first elections—for city council seats in Riyadh—the first round of municipal elections promised by Saudi leaders in 2004.

    February 14: Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri is assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut that kills another 16 people and sparks a series of massive demonstrations against Syria, which is widely assumed to be behind the killing.

    April 26: Syria announces that it has completed its withdrawal of military forces and intelligence operatives from Lebanon. Syria had begun the withdrawal in March, after a presence of almost thirty-years, as a result of the intense international pressure generated in large part by the February 14 assassination of former prime minister Hariri.

    April 28: The transitional Iraqi parliament approves a still-incomplete list of government officials, headed by President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd) and prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (a Shiite and head of the al-Dawa Party).

    May 3: An Iraqi cabinet led by Prime Minister Jaafari is sworn in.

    May 4: The UN Security Council praises Syria's “significant and noticeable progress” toward compliance with its Resolution 1559, demanding the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon.

    May 29: Lebanon begins parliamentary elections, the first held since 1972 without the threat of civil war or the military presence of outside powers, notably, Syria and Israel. A coalition of anti-Syrian parties wins a majority of seats, but the Shiite militia Hizballah (aligned with Syria) wins a sizable minority.

    June 23: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran, is the surprise winner of presidential elections in Iran, defeating former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

    July 20: Speaking in Cairo, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls for political reforms in Egypt and other Arab countries and says democracy is a chief goal of U.S. policy in the Middle East: “For sixty years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither,” she says.

    August 15: Israel begins closing Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, part of a plan for total Israeli withdrawal from that territory. The last civilian settlers will leave Gaza on August 23, and the Israeli military will closes all its posts there by September 12. Palestinians engage in widespread looting of property the Israelis left behind, hampering international plans to revive the Gazan economy.

    August 31: In Baghdad, hundreds of people die in a stampede at a bridge over the Tigris River when rumors spread of a suicide bomber in the crowd. Some reports put the death toll at close to 1,000.

    September 7: Egypt holds its first multi-candidate presidential elections, although restrictions on opposition candidates minimize the degree of competition. Incumbent president Hosni Mubarak receives 88.6 percent of the vote, but turnout is less than 25 percent.

    September 18: Afghanistan holds its first parliamentary elections under the new political system in place since early 2004. Allies of President Hamid Karzai do well, but so do warlords and former Islamist guerrillas who have turned to politics.

    October 15: In a national referendum, nearly 79 percent of Iraqi voters approve a new constitution drafted by the transitional parliament. Most Sunni politicians opposed the constitution until the last minute, when Shiite and Kurdish leaders agreed to future negotiations on amending the constitution to assuage Sunni concerns that the document discriminated against their interests.

    October 19: Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and seven codefendants go on trial, charged with responsibility for the 1982 killings of 148 Shiite boys and men in Dujail, north of Baghdad.

    October 20: A preliminary report by a UN-sponsored investigation appears to blame Syria for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Hariri on February 14.

    October 26: Iranian president Ahmadinejad says that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” The remark sparks international outrage.

    November 10: Bombs explode at three hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing 57 people. Jordanian authorities blame al-Qaida in Mesopotamia (or Iraq), an Iraqi insurgent group headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian.

    November 17: Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., calls for the start of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. A respected voice on military matters, Murtha sets off a debate in the United States about Bush administration policies in Iraq. President Bush will respond on November 30 with a speech defending his policies and warning against a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

    December 7: Egypt concludes parliamentary elections. Candidates representing the banned Muslim Brotherhood win 88 seats, which is 19 percent of the total but represents a psychological boost for the banned group.

    December 15: Iraq's voters select a new parliament, called the Council of Representatives. Sunni politicians and voters participate in this election after opposing the year's two previous elections (in January for a transitional parliament and in October on a new constitution). Preliminary results, announced on December 19–20, will indicate a strong majority to the Shiite coalition called the United Iraqi Alliance.


    January 4: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffers a debilitating stroke. He is succeeded by his deputy, Ehud Olmert, who will later win previously scheduled parliamentary elections on March 28.

    January 25: Hamas scores a surprisingly strong win in the first Palestinian legislative elections since 1996, gaining majority control of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The vote is a stunning defeat for Fatah, which had dominated Palestinian politics for four decades.

    January 30: The Middle East Quartet—the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia—announces that future international aid to the Palestinian Authority will be determined by that government's “commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the roadmap.” As a result, most direct aid to the Hamas-led government is suspended, except for food and humanitarian supplies provided through the United Nations.

    February 1: Meeting in London, international donors agree to provide more than $10 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next five years. As part of a “compact” with donors, the government of President Hamid Karzai pledges specific steps, including cracking down on corruption and mismanagement.

    February 22: Gunmen dressed as policemen detonate bombs that destroy most of the famed Golden Dome shrine in Samarra, one of the most important Shiite shrines. The bombing escalates sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis that continues throughout 2006 and into 2007.

    April 21: Members of the Shiite majority bloc in the new Iraqi parliament select Nuri al-Maliki of the al-Dawa Party as prime minister.

    May 4: A new coalition government headed by Ehud Olmert takes office in Israel as the result of March 28 elections.

    May 15: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces that the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Libya, completing a process of reconciliation that began in December 2003 with Libya's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction. Washington had suspected diplomatic ties with Tripoli in 1979.

    June 7: The U.S. military bombs a house in Baquba, north of Baghdad, killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of a Sunni insurgent group calling itself al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. President Bush claims the killing of Zarqawi is an important victory.

    June 25: Iraqi prime minister Maliki presents a National Reconciliation and Dialogue Project to the parliament. It calls for a limited amnesty and other provisions to reduce sectarian tensions.

    June 25: Palestinian guerrillas cross into Israel from Gaza and capture an Israeli soldier. Two soldiers and three Palestinians are killed in an ensuing gun battle. Israel then launches air attacks, lasting into late July, against the Gaza Strip but fails to secure the release of the captured soldier.

    July 12: Hizballah guerrillas cross from Lebanon into Israel, where they kill three Israeli soldiers and capture two others. In a subsequent skirmish, five more Israeli soldiers and an unknown number of Hizballah fighters are killed. Israel launches a broad air attack on Hizballah targets in Lebanon, leading to a month-long war that will kill more than 1,000 Lebanese and nearly 150 Israelis.

    July 31: The United States hands the NATO alliance command of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan.

    August 14: All sides in the Hizballah-Israeli war accept UN Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted on August 11, calling for a cease-fire.

    November 6: Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is found guilty of murder and other charges in connection with the killing of 148 Shiite boys and men in Dujail in 1982. He is sentenced to death.

    November 23: More than 280 people are killed in numerous attacks in Iraq, including five car bombs that kill 215 people in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad. This is one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.

    November 28: The New York Times publishes a leaked memo, written by national security advisor Stephen Hadley, that questions the abilities and political will of Iraqi prime minister Maliki. President Bush will meet with Maliki, in Jordan on November 30, and affirm his support for him.

    December 1: Hizballah mounts large demonstrations in Beirut calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The demonstrations will continue for several weeks and increase political tensions between anti- and pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon.

    December 6: The Iraq Study Group issues a detailed report on the failures of U.S. policy in Iraq, characterizing the situation there as “grave and deteriorating.” The panel offers dozens of recommendations for policy changes, notably, the opening of diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria. President Bush thanks the group for its work but makes clear that he will not embrace most of its recommendations.

    December 16: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas threatens to call early elections to break a political deadlock between Fatah, which he leads, and Hamas, which controls the government.

    December 23: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1737, demanding that Iran halt its work to enrich uranium and imposing an international freeze on the assets of individuals and agencies linked to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

    December 30: Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is executed by hanging in Baghdad. Videos showing Saddam being taunted by guards cause widespread outrage.

    December 31: The toll of U.S. service personnel killed since the beginning of the Iraq war reaches 3,000.


    January 10: President George W. Bush announces that he plans to sends an additional 21,000-plus soldiers to Iraq as part of a “surge” intended to suppress violence, particularly in Baghdad. He also says that he will hold the Iraqi government accountable for meeting several “benchmarks,” such as adoption of a law governing oil production.

    February 8: After negotiations mediated by Saudi Arabia, Fatah and Hamas agree to form a unity Palestinian government. The Palestinian legislature will approve the deal on March 17.

    February 21: British prime minister Tony Blair announces that about 1,600 of the 7,000 British troops remaining in Iraq will be withdrawn in the coming months. Britain has had principle responsibility for securing the area around Basra, Iraq's second-largest city.

    March 24: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1696, tightening sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The sanctions include a ban on Iranian arms exports and financial sanctions against officials associated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

    March 27: About 200 people are killed in several attacks or found dead in Iraq. Tal Afar, in northwestern Iraq, suffers the greatest toll when truck bombs explode in markets, killing more than 150 people.

    March 29: At an Arab League summit, leaders reaffirm the 2002 Saudi-sponsored plan offering to recognize Israel provided that it relinquish the territories it captured in the June 1967 War.

    April 9: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country can now produce enriched uranium on an industrial scale. Most experts say his claim is exaggerated.

    April 12: A suicide bomber attacks the Iraqi parliament, killing eight people, including two legislators. It is the deadliest attack to date inside the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad.

    April 18: More than 230 people are killed, or found dead, from violence in Iraq. More than 180 of the deaths occur in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad as the result of four bombings.

    April 27: The Turkish military declares its objections to plans by the openly Islamist Justice and Development Party to appoint Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as the next president. Gul will eventually withdraw his candidacy, but the military's intervention, as the self-declared defenders of secularism, sparks a political crisis resulting in early elections in July.

    April 30: A fact-finding panel in Israel issues a preliminary report blaming top government officials—including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and former army chief of staff Dan Halutz—for failures during the war with Hizballah in July–August 2006.

    May 1: President Bush vetoes a bill sent to him by Congress establishing a deadline for the start of U.S. withdrawals from Iraq. Congress on May 24 will send Bush another bill funding U.S. military operations in Iraq but without the deadline he had opposed.

    May 3: U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice meets with Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem during a regional conference in Egypt and asks him to prevent foreign fighters from crossing the border into Iraq. It is the highest-level meeting between U.S. and Syrian officials in nearly four years.

    May 20: Fighting breaks out in Lebanon between the army and Fatah al-Islam, an Islamist guerrilla group that has taken up positions in a Palestinian refugee camp outside Tripoli.

    May 28: The U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq—Ryan Crocker and Hassan Kazemi Qumi, respectively—meet at the office of Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to discuss ways of improving security in Iraq. It is a rare diplomatic exchange between the two countries, which have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1980.

    May 30: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1757, creating a special tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005.

    June 13: After five days of violence between supporters of Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hamas prevails and gains effective control over the territory. Fatah continues to control the West Bank.

    June 13: Iraqi insurgents attack the Golden Dome shrine in Samarra, which had been largely destroyed by a bombing in February 2006. The mosque's two remaining minarets fall in this latest attack.

    The Israeli Labor Party elects former prime minister Ehud Barak as its leader, replacing Amir Peretz, whose service as defense minister in the coalition government had been widely criticized. Barak will take over from Peretz as defense minister on June 19. The Knesset elects Shimon Peres as Israel's president. He succeeds Moshe Katsav, who had been on a leave of absence because of charges of sexual improprieties.

    June 15: Palestinian president Abbas swears in an “emergency” government of technocrats, all of whom are independents or belong to Fatah. The preceding day he had dissolved the Palestinian Authority government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

    June 17: A suicide bomber attacks a police academy in Kabul, killing thirty-five people, most of them police instructors, in one of the deadliest days in Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.

    June 25: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Israeli prime minister Olmert, King Abdallah II of Jordan, and Palestinian president Abbas meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to develop a unified response to the Hamas takeover of Gaza. They pledge support for Abbas and Fatah; Israel says it will release to Abbas several hundred million dollars in Palestinian tax revenues that Israel had collected but had withheld after Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006.

    June 27: On British prime minister Tony Blair's last day in office, the Middle East Quartet—the European Union, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States—announces that he will serve as its UN envoy for Middle East peace negotiations.

    July 22: Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party achieves a major victory in early parliamentary elections, capturing 47 percent of the popular vote (a landslide by recent Turkish standards) and winnings 340 of the 550 seats in parliament. The vote is a setback for the military, which sought to block the party from appointing Foreign Minister Gul as president.



    One could spend several lifetimes studying the literature about the Middle East and still only have skimmed the surface. This bibliography lists many of the works consulted in preparing this book. It is not comprehensive, but many such bibliographies are available elsewhere. For example, the library of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., has posted several excellent bibliographies, arranged by country and topic, at

    In addition to the books listed below, the well-written and reasonably detailed Country Notes prepared by the U.S. Library of Congress were consulted for this volume. The historical studies for Middle Eastern countries are available online at Note that some studies are reasonably current while several have not been updated since the late 1980s or early 1990s. The U.S. Department of State provides regularly updated reports, including historical background and current developments, on individual countries in its Background Notes series available at

    Dozens of think tanks, universities, and special interest groups around the world have programs devoted to studying the Middle East. Many of these produce useful information for novices and experts alike. Many of these programs, however, promote specific points of view, often under the guise of independent analysis. Finding nonpartisan, unbiased information about the Middle East—particularly on the Internet—can be almost as difficult as finding peace and harmony in the region.


    Ajami, Fouad. The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice since 1967. Updated ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

    Brumberg, Daniel. Reinventing Khomeini: The Struggle for Reform in Iran. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

    Cleveland, William L. A History of the Modern Middle East. 3rd ed. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2004.

    Congressional Quarterly. The Iran-Contra Puzzle. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1987.

    Congressional Quarterly. The Middle East. 11th ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007.

    Dawisha, Adeed. Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.

    Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.

    Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2001.

    Gelvin, James L. The Modern Middle East: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

    Gettleman, Marvin E., and Stuart Schaar, eds. The Middle East and Islamic World Reader. New York: Grove Press, 2005.

    Goodwin, Jason. Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998.

    Gorenberg, Gerson. The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967–1977. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006.

    Hirst, David. The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2003.

    Hourani, Albert. A History of the Arab Peoples. New York: Warner Books, 1992.

    Hourani, Albert, Philip Khoury, and Mary C. Wilson, eds. The Modern Middle East: A Reader. 2nd ed. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.

    Jankowski, James. Egypt: A Short History. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2000.

    Hurewitz, J. C. Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: A Documentary Record. Vol. 2, 1914–1956. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand, 1956.

    Hurewitz, J. C. The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record. 2 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975–1979.

    Kamrava, Mehran. The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

    Khalidi, Rashid. Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

    Laqueur, Walter, and Barry Rubin, eds. The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict. 6th ed. New York: Penguin Books. 2001.

    Leverett, Flynt. Inheriting Syria: Bashar's Trial by Fire. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2005.

    Lewis, Bernard. The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. New York: Touchstone, 1997.

    Lukacs, Yehuda. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Documentary Record, 1967–1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

    Lustick, Ian. For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1988.

    MacMillan, Margaret. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. New York: Random House, 2002.

    Makiya, Kanan. Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. Updated ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

    Marr, Pebe. The Modern History of Iraq. 2nd ed. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2004.

    Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–2001. New York: Vintage Books, 2001.

    Oren, Michael B. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003.

    Pollack, Kenneth M. The Persian Puzzle Palace: The Conflict between Iran and America. New York: Random House, 2004.

    Quandt, William B. Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

    Al-Rasheed, Madawi. A History of Saudi Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

    Ricks, Thomas. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

    Ross, Dennis. The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005.

    Sachar, Howard M. A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. New York: Knopf, 1996.

    Schiff, Zeev, and Ehud Ya'ari. Israel's Lebanon War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984.

    Segev, Tom. One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2001.

    Shipler, David. Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land. Rev. ed. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

    Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2001.

    Sick, Gary. All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.

    Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

    United Nations, Division for Palestinian Rights. The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917–1988. New York: United Nations, 1990.

    Yambert, Karl, ed. The Contemporary Middle East. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2006.

    Zurcher, Erik J. Turkey: A Modern History. London: I. B. Taurus, 2004.

    Journal Articles and Reports

    Allon, Yigal. “Israel: The Case for Defensible Borders.” Foreign Affairs 55, no. 1 (1976).

    Earle, Edward Mead. “The New Constitution of Turkey.” Political Science Quarterly 40, no. 1 (March 1925).

    Gold, Dore. “Defensible Borders for Israel.” Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, no. 500, June 15–July 1, 2003.

    Karsh, Efraim. “The Unbearable Lightness of My Critics.” Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2002).

    Lewis, Bernard. “Why Turkey Is the Only Muslim Democracy.” Middle East Quarterly (March 1994).

    MacEachin, Douglas. “Predicting the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: The Intelligence Community's Record.” Central Intelligence Agency, Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2002.

    Migdalovitz, Carol. “Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy.” Congressional Research Service, November 14, 2006.

    Rubin, Barnett R. “Afghanistan's Uncertain Transition from Turmoil to Normalcy.” Council on Foreign Relations, Center for Preventive Action, New York, March 2006.

    Shlaim, Avi. “The Protocol of Sevres, 1956: Anatomy of a War Plot.” International Affairs 73, no. 3 (1997).

    United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine. The Origin and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917–1988.!OpenDocument.



    “Blair Statement on Military Action in Afghanistan” Crown copyright © 2001. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use License.

    “The Charter of the Arab League” is reproduced with permission of the Office of the Arab League Mission.

    “Communiqué No. 3” copyright © 1994 Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission.

    “King Hussein on Relinquishing the West Bank” copyright © The Royal Hashemite Court. Reproduced with permission of the Royal Hashemite Court.

    “Protocol of Sèvres” (English translation) published in International Affairs vol. 73, no. 3 (1997), pp. 509–530. Reproduced with permission.

    “Soviet Memorandum on the Invasion of Afghanistan” reproduced with permission of the Cold War International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

    “Taliban Decrees” copyright © 2001 Ahmed Rashid. Reproduced with permission of Yale University Press and I. B. Tauris Publishers.

    “Turkish National Pact” reproduced with permission of the estate of Arnold J. Toynbee.

    “UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947),” “UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948),” “UN General Assembly Resolution 997 (1956),” “Abba Eban's Statement to the UN Security Council,” “Khartoum Declaration,” “UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967),” “UN Security Council Resolution 338 (1973),” “UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 (1975),” “Treaty of Peace between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel,” “Fez Declaration,” “Washington Declaration,” “Treaty of Peace between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” “Arab Peace Initiative,” “The Beirut Declaration,” “Arafat Speech to the General Assembly,” “Zahar Letter to Annan,” “UN Secretary-General's Report on Resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978),” “UN Secretary-General's Press Statement on the Israeli Withdrawal from Lebanon,” “UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004),” “Statement by the UN Security Council on Syrian Withdrawal from Lebanon,” “UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006),” “UN Security Council Resolution 1737 (2006),” “UN Security Council Resolution 598 (1987),” “UN Security Council Resolution 660 (1990),” “UN Security Council Resolution 661 (1990),” “UN Security Council Resolution 665 (1990),” “UN Security Council Resolution 678 (1990),” “UN Security Council Resolution 687 (1991),” “Ekeus Letter on UNSCOM's Progress in Destroying Iraqi WMD and Related Programs,” “UN Security Council Resolution 986 (1995),” “Butler Letter on UNSCOM's Work in Iraq,” “UN Sec. Council Res. 1441 (2002),” “UN Sec. Council Res. 1511 (2003),” “Bonn Agreement” copyright © United Nations. Reproduced with permission of the United Nations.

    “The West Bank, July 2006” (Map) copyright © Jan de Jong. Reproduced with permission of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

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