A compilation by Eitan Negri
The Middle East is always on the radar when it comes to big news and events. Here’s what happened this year in a number of countries including Libya, Syria, Israel and Egypt.
1) Libya Transition
One of the biggest events to happen in the Middle East in 2012 was the birth of the National Transitional Council of Libya, which resulted from the ousting of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In 1969 Gaddafi took control of the Libyan Arab Republic however, after a series of name changes and persistent oppression, the people of Libya began a civil war. Riding the momentum of the Arab Spring, Libyans demanded the removal of the dictator. After an array of bloodshed NATO placed a warrant for the arrest of Gaddafi, who fled and was eventually killed in October of 2011. After his death the National Transitional Council of Libya was born, put in place by Libyan rebels and their western allies.
2) Hosni Mubarak Arrested-
In 2011 Hosni Mubarak reached the paramount of his reign as the president of Egypt, also contributing greatly to the events of the Arab Spring. After multiple systematic killings, the citizens of Egypt supported by the Western Powers demanded the removal of Mubarak. In Response to the demands, Mubarak stated that he will never leave and he “will die on Egyptian soil”. He also felt that it was important to make it clear that those who stood in his way would lose their heads. In June 2012, Mubarak was found guilty of not putting a stop to the killing of protesters by the Egyptian security forces and sentenced to life in jail.
3) Iranian Nuclear Threat-
A huge threat that much of the world, especially Israel, stressed concern over was Iran’s ongoing Nuclear weapons project. In late 2011 into 2012 Iran divulged the advance in their progress towards obtaining a weapon of mass destruction. The United States and Israel put pressure on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stifle their construction although it was met with much criticism on a global scale. Many argued that Iran has the right to nuclear technology however after statements made by Ahmadinejad about the annihilation of the State of Israel, global support grew for Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak Obama’s case against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Israel and The USA have been standing by ready to dismantle Iran’s program as the danger still looms.
4) Pakistani Girl shot by Taliban-
Earlier this year the Taliban shot Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, in the head after her criticism of the militant group in addition to her advocacy for girl’s education. The Taliban have a history of oppressing women and limiting them from attending schools, which is why there has been a growing support for women’s rights in Pakistan and Afghanistan alike. Yousufzai was shot by a Taliban official after stepping off of a bus and was considered to be in critical condition although survived and continues to support her cause.
5) Quran Burning Protest in Afghanistan-
Early this year a series of violent protests took place in Afghanistan in response to the burning of Islamic materials by United States Soldiers. The Soldiers were disposing of copies of the Quran that had been confiscated from members of the Taliban which were used to relay information. Afghans took to the streets outraged throwing stones and setting off multiple bombs. The Protests resulted in 41 deaths and at least 270 injuries.
6) Iraqi Protests-
In March of 2012 there were an abundance of attacks in Iraq which were the sixth waves of bombings to hit Iraq during the insurgency. It was also the second biggest attack since the United States withdrawal towards the end of 2011. At least 50 people were killed and about 250 were wounded in the attacks, which took place in 10 cities. The deadliest attack took place in Karbala where two bombings killed 13 and injured 15.
7) Ambassador Killed in Banghazi-
On the 11th anniversary of 9/11 a heavily armed group stormed the united States Embassy in Benghazi, Libya killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other members of the diplomatic mission. The attacks were in response to an anti-Islamic film that was made by a man in California. The film, entitled “The Innocence of Muslims” was aired on Egyptian news, which triggered an outcry in the Muslim world and a call for bloodshed. The attacks were condemned by the rest of the world, however Muslims continued to protest around Europe Asia and Africa.
8) Israeli-Palestinian Clash-
Another wave of violence occurred between Israel and Gaza starting with a barrage of Missiles fired from a Hamas stronghold in Gaza. In response to the attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a strike retaliating with missiles of their own, killing a top military commander of Hamas in addition to 19 other Hamas members. The Israeli Defense Forces aimed at eliminating Hamas as a threat after consistent Palestinian rocket fire. Most rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system however other attacks such as suicide bombings in Tel Aviv were successful. The IDF stated “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.” After a drawn out clash which left many Israelis and Palestinians dead, a cease fire has finally been reached for the time being, however peace talks have been nearly irreparably retarded.
9) Syrian Civil War-
It started in 2011 when Syrian forces opened fire on protesters leading to an ongoing civil war. The Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bassar Al-Assad, who continues to quell protests with violence. An opposition party of Syrian rebels quickly took to fighting back at Assad’s regime and have recently acquired support and supplies from the American Government. France has also shown solidarity with the Syrian rebels however they are hesitant to supply them with any materials. In total approximately 54,485 people have been killed, of which about half were civilians.
10) Palestinian Recognition-
The U.N. has voted by a more than two-thirds majority to recognize the state of Palestine. This vote upgraded Palestine’s status to a non-member observer state. Only Four countries opposed the recognition of Palestine as a state including Israel and the United States. After the vote, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu gave the go ahead to continue building Israeli settlements in the West Bank which is disputed land. This event was seen as a major victory for the people of Gaza and the West Bank as they took to the streets dancing, however the recognition might has severely damaged any progress made for peace between Israel and Palestine.