A History of the Middle East by Peter Mansfield

By Peter Mansfield

The definitive historical past of the center East, completely revised and up to date via 2012

probably the most the most important, risky, and complicated areas of the fashionable international, the center East has lengthy confounded the desires of conquerors and peacemakers alike. This now-classic publication, totally up to date to 2012 and nonetheless the fundamental paintings at the topic, follows the ancient struggles of the center East from Napoleon’s crusade in Egypt and Syria, in the course of the gradual decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, to the Israeli-Palestinian clash and the heritage of Islam and its fresh resurgence.

For this fourth version, Economist correspondent Nicolas Pelham contributes an intensive new part reading contemporary advancements in the course of the center East, together with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the placement in Iran, the region’s kinfolk with the USA lower than President Obama, the Arab Spring, and more.

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In hindsight it looks a more innocent age. US policies in a region ten thousand miles away have boomeranged, at a cost of thousands of American lives both at home and in the Arab world. After returning to war with Iraq, the US is beating a retreat with the country’s promised political and economic reconstruction still unrealized. In Afghanistan as well as many places elsewhere, the US is fighting its former allies. And after two decades of on-off negotiations, the promised end of conflict between Israel and the Arab world remains as elusive as ever.

Roman rule in Syria was rather more relaxed. In the eastern or ‘Semitic’ half of the region, the Romans allowed the local rulers to retain their autonomy – provided they did not become over-ambitious and threaten the settled populations to the west. It was indirect rule of the kind employed by the British in their empire in Asia and Africa some eighteen centuries later. Thus the Nabataeans continued to control east Jordan and Damascus until in AD 106 the Emperor Trajan, exasperated by their spirit of independence, brought them under the subjection of Rome.

There was no question of huge masses of humanity converting to the Jewish faith, as was the case with its two successors – Christianity and Islam. From about the end of the ninth century BC, the character of the invasions of Syria/Palestine began to change. It was now less a matter of migrating peoples seeking a better place in which to settle – ‘a land of milk and honey’ – than of great powers aiming to conquer and impose their rule over the existing inhabitants. The Assyrians, who had their capital at Nineveh near Mosul in modern Iraq, first appeared in Syria in about 1100 BC, but it was their King Shalamaneser III (859–824 BC) who founded the Assyrian Empire, which lasted for more than two centuries and finally conquered Egypt.

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