A Political and Economic Dictionary of the Middle East
The boundaries selected for this first Political and Economic Dictionary of the Middle East may appear somewhat arbitrary. It is difficult to define precisely ‘the Middle East’: this foreword attempts to explain the reasoning behind my selection. For the purposes of this Dictionary, the region includes six countries and one disputed territory in North Africa (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Western Sahara), eight countries in Western Asia (Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran), seven in Arabia (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Yemen), five newly independent states in southern Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and Afghanistan. It also, somewhat controversially, includes the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. (A full treatment of Cyprus will appear in the companion volume A Political and Economic Dictionary of Western Europe.)
We have chosen not to include all of the countries where Arabic is spoken, although, arguably, many of the countries of the Sahelian region just south of the Sahara (Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan), constitute in some sense a part of the ‘Arab world’, as do Djibouti and Comoros. These countries appear in a companion volume, A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. We have also chosen not to include Pakistan, despite its close links with Afghanistan, seeing it as more properly treated within the context of South Asia as a whole—although it is not ignored here either. Nor have we included the Caucasus region, despite its links with the Middle East.
We have, by contrast, chosen to include the predominantly Arabic-speaking countries of western North Africa (the Maghreb), including Mauritania (which is a member of the Arab Maghreb Union) and the non-Arabic-speaking countries in the northern part of the region that are sometimes referred to as ‘the northern tier’—Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan—and the relatively new independent republics in southern Central Asia, which previously constituted a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) or Soviet Union. The countries of Arabia and the Gulf constitute a distinctive yet integral part of the Middle East, while the history and location of Israel, despite its extraordinary characteristics, ensures that it remains, as it has done at least since 1948, at the centre of Middle Eastern politics...
The campaign against the Kurds waged by the Iraqi regime in 1988, during which poison gas was used on cities, including Halabja. Some 100,000 civilians were killed, more than 4,000 villages were destroyed and nearly 1m. people displaced.