Today in Middle Eastern history: the Suez Crisis begins (1956)

Before we dig into the 1956 dust up that bears its name, the first thing I guess we should talk about is why the Suez Canal was so important. Though to be honest, that almost goes without saying. I mean, in a world where sailing direct from Europe to the Indian Ocean had previously required … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Suez Crisis begins (1956)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Capture of Damascus (1918)

The Egyptian Expeditionary Force’s capture of Damascus in early October, 1918, marks the end of World War I in the Middle East. Some scattered fighting continued around Aleppo, but it took only two weeks after losing Damascus for the Ottoman Empire to undergo a complete political upheaval and reach out to the British government to … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Capture of Damascus (1918)

Bed, Ba’ath, and Beyond, part 1: Saddam’s Shopping Extravaganza

Hello readers! Today I'm very pleased to bring you the second attwiw guest post! Arms proliferation researcher Travis Haycraft joins us for the first part of a two-parter (coming next month) on Iraq. Part one looks at the Saddam Hussein-organized build up of the Iraqi military in the 1970s, leading up to the Iran-Iraq War. … Continue reading Bed, Ba’ath, and Beyond, part 1: Saddam’s Shopping Extravaganza

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Camp David Accords (1978)

A few days ago we passed the anniversary of the Oslo I Accord, US President Bill Clinton’s attempt to foster a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that turned out instead to be a lopsided, unworkable framework that’s fostered nothing but many years of failure and frustration. Today we mark the anniversary of Oslo’s closest antecedent, the … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Camp David Accords (1978)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Arsuf (1191)

As we’ve noted elsewhere, the Third Crusade is harder to assess than most of the other Crusades. The First Crusade was a pretty clear success. The Second Crusade was an unmitigated failure. The Fourth Crusade was completely absurd. And so forth. But the outcome of the Third Crusade is mixed. On the one hand, the … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Arsuf (1191)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the 1953 Iranian coup

The 1953 CIA- and MI6-backed coup that overthrew Mohammad Mosaddegh is one of the few bits of Middle Eastern history that actually gets overemphasized in the popular consciousness, mostly because relations between the US and Iran are what they are. It’s also not an easy fit in this “today in history” series because, believe it or … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the 1953 Iranian coup

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Nile (1798)

The “Battle of the Nile,” which didn’t really take place on the Nile but whatever, can be seen as the naval companion to the Battle of the Pyramids, which was fought 11 days earlier between French and Egyptian forces outside of Cairo and which, coincidentally, didn’t take place anywhere near any pyramids. It can also be … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Nile (1798)

Today (sort of) in Middle Eastern/European history: the Ottomans get started (1299, or 1302)

If you’ve read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire–and, you know, who hasn’t–then you may know that Edward Gibbon marks July 27, 1299, as the date of the founding of the Ottoman Empire. It was on this date, according to Gibbon, that Osman I (d. 1326), the Ottomans’ founder and … Continue reading Today (sort of) in Middle Eastern/European history: the Ottomans get started (1299, or 1302)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Abukir (1799)

Napoleon’s chances for a successful Middle Eastern campaign ended shortly after that campaign began, at the Battle of the Nile in early August 1798. We’ll talk about that battle and its repercussions later. But from Napoleon’s perspective, the British victory at the Battle of the Nile meant that he could no longer rely on offshore French … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Abukir (1799)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Pyramids (1798)

It is Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt to which we’re turning today, and specifically to one of the two major battles of that invasion, the July 21, 1798, Battle of the Pyramids. Here Napoleon’s forces almost annihilated an Ottoman army trying to defend Egypt and suddenly made France the new military power in the Middle East. … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Pyramids (1798)