Middle East Politics 1880 - Present Day


Leaders - Iraq

Muhammed Najib ar-Ruba'i

1958 - 1963

Was deposed

Abdul Saram Arif

1964 - 13 April 1966

Military/ Arab Social Union

Abdul Rahman Arif

13 April 1966 - 17 July 1968

Military/ Arab Socialist Union

Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr

Jul 18, 1968 - 16 July 1979

Ba'ath Party

Saddam Hussein

Jul 17, 1979 - 9 April 2003

Ba'ath Party
Deposed by Coalition Forces

Coaltion Provisional Authority

Apr 10, 2003 - 28 June 2004

Jalal Talabani

7 April 2005 - 24 July 2014

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

Fuad Masum

Jul 25, 2014 - 04/05/2015

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

Leaders - Iran

Mohammed Reza Palahvi (Reza Shah)

1941 - 1979

Moassadegh PM during this time until overthrown in CIA coup in 1953
- Attempted modernization - double standards for women --> still controlled by men in the home but expected to wear make up and mini skirts in public

Yearly changes of leader

1980 - 1981

Ali Khamenei

13 October 1981 - 3 August 1989

Islamic Republican Party
Combatant Clergy Association
- Became Supreme Leader after Ayatollah Khomeini
Claims that the stockpiling, production and use of nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Aug 4, 1989 - 2 August 1997

Combatant Clergy Association
Executives of Construction Party
- De facto commander in chief of the military during the Iran-Iraq war
- Centrist and Pragmatic conservative - supports free market
- Supported privatization against the leftist tendencies in the Republic

Mohammad Khatami

Aug 3, 1997 - 3 August 2005

Association of Combatant Clerics
- Ran on a platform of liberalization and reform
- Advocated freedom of expression, tolerance and civil society
- Had constructive diplomatic relations with other states such as the EU and Asia - supporting an economic policy that supported free market values

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Aug 4, 2005 - 3 August 2013

Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran
- Religious hard-liner - when Mayor of Tehran, reversed some of the reforms made by more moderate Mayors
- Hostile towards states such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, UK, US and other Western and Arab states
- Supports Iran's nuclear programme

Hassan Rouhani

Aug 4, 2013 - 04/07/2015

Moderation and Development Party
- Domestic Policy: personal freedom, free access to information, improved Women's Rights by appointing femael foreign ministry spokesperson --> Centerist and reformist
- Foreign Policy: Supports Assad, pro-Palestine

Leaders - Egypt

Gamal Abdul Nasser

23 June 1956 - 28 September 1970

Died in Office
Socialist measures and modernization

Anwar Sadat

Sep 29, 1970 - 6 October 1981

Arab Socialist Union, then National Democratic Party
- Departed from the one party socialism of Nasser
- Engaged in negotiations with Israel - Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (led to his assassination as other Arab states didn't like it)

Hosni Mubarak

Oct 7, 1981 - 11 February 2011

National Democratic Party
- Heavily dependent on US aid
- Against Islamic Fundamentalism
- Anti-Iraq war 2003
- Corrupt government

Mohammed Hussein Tantawi

Feb 12, 2011 - 2012

(acting President)

Mohamed Morsi


First democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history
- Granted himself unlimited powers to legislate
- Issued an Islamist backed draft constitution - "Islamist Coup"
- Overthrown by el-Sisi

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

2014 - 04/07/2015
  • Seeks to support counter- Islamist militancy in North Africa
  • Donates half his salary to support Egypt's econoy
  • Enforced rules on maximum wages
  • Spoke out on sexual assault
  • Wants to unify religious divisions - e.g. went to a Christmas service

Leaders - Saudi Arabia

King Faisal

1906 - 1975

REscued country's finances, modernized.
- Foreign policy = pan-Islam, anti-Communist, pro-Palestinian nationalism

King Khalid

1976 - 1982

Build up infrastructure, established GCC, Islamic solidarity with Iran, close with Western powers

King Fahd

1983 - 2005

Supported Saddam Hussein against Iran, supported conservative religious establishment, ally of US, Assad and Mubarak

King Abdullah

2006 - 2015

Bought billions of dollars of arms from the US and UK
Gave women right to vote in municipal councils
Maintained status quo during Arab Spring

King Salman

January 2015 - 04/07/2015

Conservative and traditional - continuing policies of predecessor
- Criticized for human rights record
March 2015 - bombed Yemen in response to their civil war

Leaders - Syria

Hafez al Assad

1971 - 2000

Syrian Ba'ath Party
- Sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War
- Divided government along sectarian lines - Sunnis, formal heads of political institutions, Alawites, control over military, intelligence and security apparatus
- Nepotism

Bashar al-Assad

2001 - 04/07/2015

Authoritarian regime -Ba'ath Party
- Initially seen as a potential reformer - not once he'd cruelly cracked down on Arab Spring protests preceding the Syrian Civil War
- Implicated of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN during the civil war

Revolts and Uprisings

Arab Revolt

1936 - 1939

Successful peasant rebellion , required 20,000 extra British troops

Arab Nationalist Revolts and Revolutions

1950 - 1970

Free Officers Movement Coup


Coup led by the Free Officers Movement in Egypt deposes British-backed monarch. Gamal Abdel Nasser becomes President of the new Arab republic of Egypt

CIA Coup overthrows Mossadeq


CIA and MI6-backed coup against democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq. Shah Reza Pahlavi installed as monarch. Deposed in 1979 during the Iranian revolution

Coup overthrows Hashemite Monarchy in Iraq


Coup led by the Free Officers Movement in Iraq leads to the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy. The coup overthrew King Faisal II, the regent and Crown Prince 'Abd allah and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said. The coup established an Iraqi Republic.

Turkish Military Coup

1960 - October 1961

Coup in Turkey organized by Turkish army officers against the democratically elected government of the Democratic party. The military junta returned power to civilian rules 17 months later in October 1961

Coup in Yemen


Coup in Yemen leads to North Yemen Civil War fought between royalists of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen and factions of the Yemen Arab Republic. The war began with a coup carried out by the republican leader, Abdullah as-Sallal, which ousted Imam Al-Badr

Algeria wins war of Independence


Against the French

Failed coup in Turkey


Coup in Syria


Ba'ath Party takes over in Syria

Iraqi Coup

February 1963

Iraqi coup overthrows the regime of Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Qassem. The Ba'ath Party took power under the leadership of General Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr (PM) and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif (President)

Algerian Coup


Coup in Algeria led by Colonel Houari Boumedienne, President Ben Bella ousted in the process

Second Ba'athist Coup in Iraq


Coup in Iraq. The second Ba'athist regime takes over. A blood-less coup by senior Arab Nationalist officers and retired Ba'thist officers overthrows the regime of President Arif. Saddam Hussein, though Deputy Secretary-General of the Ba'th Party at the time, plays a minor role in the coup

Coup in Libya


Coup in Libya led by a young army officer Muammar Qaddafi - Establishes Libyan Revolution

Coup in Syria overthrows civilian party leadership


Minister of Defence, Hafez al-Assad leads the coup ousting the civilian party leadership and assuming the role of President


War for Palestine

1947 - 1949
  • Israel declared Independence 15 May 1947
  • Arab armies invade to "protect" Palestine
  • Ceasefire drawn up 1949

Yemen Civil War

1962 - 1970
  • Between the Royalists of the Mutwakkilite area and the supporters of the Yemen Arab Republic
  • Jordan, Saudi Arabia and UK gave support in aid and arms to the royalist side
  • Egypt (70,000 troops and chemical weapons) and the Soviet Union (allegedly planes) supported the Republicans
  • Dubbed by historians "Egypt's Vietnam"
  • Republican Victory - Republican government formed with members of the royalist faction but none of the royal family

Arab - Israeli War - 6 Day War/June War

5 June 1967 - 10 June 1967

Between Israel and the United Arab Republic (Egypt, Syria and Jordan)
- Heightened tensions after Egyptian troops mobilized along the Israeli borderline --> Israel - preemptive airstrikes
- Egyptians completely unprepared for any kind of military attack - the airstrikes took out their planes, foot soldiers along the Gaza strip and the Sinai Peninsula also caught them by surprise and they evacuated with little organization
- Over 20,000 Arabs killed, less than 1000 Israelis
- Well organized Israeli Offensives, poorly organized Arab leaders

War of Attrition

December 1967 - 1970

No serious diplomatic efforts followed the Six Day War - tensions still high
- Arab states formulated the "3 Nos" policy - peace, recognition or negotiation with Israel
- Hostilities resumed along the Suez Canal
- By 1969, Egyptian army prepared for large scale offensives - large-scale shelling of the Suez Canal, extensive aerial warfare and commando strikes.
- By then end of the war in 1970 - no changes to the frontiers, no efforts at peace negotiations

Yom Kippur War

6 October 1973 - 25 October 1973
  • Military combat actions took place mostly in the Sinai and the Golan Heights with the exception of a few isolated attacks on Israeli territory
  • Arab coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli positions on Yom Kippur - the holiest day in the Jewish calendar
  • Near confrontation between the two superpowers as they supply huge amounts of aid to their respective allies
  • In 3 days Israel managed to push Syria back to its pre-war borders
  • Four day counter-offensive deep into Syria - shelling the outskirts of Damascus
  • The Arab world felt vindicated by the early successes in the conflict
  • lead to the 1978 Camp David peace talks which returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and in which Egypt was the first Arab country to recognize Israel

World Events

Saudis sign deal with Wahhabi Islamists


Judiciary was given to the Wahhabi but political institutions for the Saudi royal family

Palestinian Refugee problem

1947 - 1949

Approx. 700,000 refugees expelled from Palestine (Israeli officials say they weren't expelled... they were expelled.)