The elimination of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War I made many Arab states believe that the change that was discussed within the Treaty of Versailles and Wilson's 14 points would affect them in a positive manner. Many nations saw World War I as the end of Imperialism and Colonialism. This would mean that many of these colonies and territories would become independent nations. This was true for very few countries. Egypt gained their freedom in 1922 and Turkey in 1923. For many other Middle Eastern nations they would have to wait a little longer. Iraq was under the control of the British until 1930, and Syria had to fight the French for independence between the years of 1919 and 1934.
The time between the First World War and the Second World War was a time of limited progress outside of the above mentioned countries. The Iraqi government aligned themselves with the Axis powers during World War II. The controlling political party of Iraq was the Baath party. The Baath party modeled itself after the Nazi party of Germany. The Nazi Party liked the vision of the Baath party for various reasons; among them were their hatred for the Jews and also their dislike for the western powers like France, Britain, and the United States. The Baath party saw these three nations as hypocrites since they preached freedom during World War I, but yet the people of Iraq did not see it. The reason being oil. Both sides during World War II saw the value of Middle Eastern nations to their wartime cause because of oil. The Nazi Party went as far to say that the Iraqi people were better than any other people of the Middle East. This was a very surprising proclamation since the Nazi Party felt that everyone outside of their Aryan Race was inferior and not worth their time or effort.
The country of Iran was used by both the USSR and Great Britain for their oil reserves during World War II. After WW II, Iran was used as a pawn between the two super powers of the world, the United States and the Soviet Union. Both sides tried to influence the leadership of Iran by backing men that would support their personal political views. The time during the early cold war, Iran was influenced by the backing of the United States, and the Shah was considered in the back pocket of the United States. Many of the things done by the Shah were considered bad, but the Western powers turned a blind eye because internationally Iran was behind the West.
Israel is a creation of the United Nations. The abuse by the hands of the Nazi Party was the last straw needed to create a state for Jewish people. Since the 1890's many European Jews had been returning to the Holy Land. The controversy arose for two major reasons. The first reason is the force used by the United Nations to create a nation for the Israeli people. For this to happen, the United Nations needed to provide land. This land was the area of Palestine. Palestine was forced off their land and provides it for the Israeli people. To solidify their existence in the Middle East, the new Israeli government passed a law called the Law of Return. This law gave automatic citizenship for any Jew that returned to Israel. This law was supported and backed by the United Nations. The second reason why this decision remains a controversy is because of the support provided by the United States and in turn the United Nations to keep the nation of Israel alive during the Cold War and also after the Cold War. The political influence of the West has agitated many Islamic Countries in the region up to and including today.
Conflict did not arise in the Middle East between Israel and their neighbors until the mid to late 60's. The Middle East was too fearful of the power the United States wielded at the end of WW II and during the 1950's. Finally in 1967 Egyptian President Nasser created a plan to attack Israel. This conflict is sometimes referred to either as the 6 Day War, of the Israeli War. Overall, Nasser created a plan to attack Israel in coordination with the country of Syria. Knowing that their resources would be split between the 2 fronts, Nasser believed that this would counter the technology and military 'support' the Israelis have received from the United States.
The war did not go as planned. The Israeli air force quickly destroyed the attack of the Egyptians in the south, and the Syrians showed a lack of coordination to fight the well trained Israeli soldiers in the North. Israel won the war and was able to extend their borders into the Sinai Peninsula in the south and they gained land in the West Bank in the North. In 1973 President Sadat of Egypt was able to push Israel back and reclaim much of the land lost during the 1967 war for Egypt.
Since the 1960's Israel and the Middle East has been a target for terrorism. Many groups formed for the destruction of Israel and the influence of the West in Middle Eastern affairs. One of the more famous organizations was the PLO. The PLO stood for Palestine Liberation Organization. Their goal was the elimination of the country of Israel and the return of all lands back to the people of Israel. Their most famous leader was Yasir Arafat. He was a complex individual. In the early years he was involved in the planning and execution of terrorist plots against Israel and Western targets. As he climbed the ranks of the PLO, he became the leader of Palestine. In the older years, he claimed that his ties to terrorism were over and he pushed for diplomacy and discussion to further the cause of the Palestinian people. However, Israel claims that he still had ties to these organizations and supplied them with money and materials to continue their efforts.
During the 1970's, 80's, 90's, and today, there has been an escalation of violence between the two parties. Retaliation and more severe examples of violence were the norm between the two. However, there have been times when both sides have been able to negotiate and come close to peace. In 1979 Israel signed a peace accord with Egypt. In 1993, the Oslo Accords brought Israel and Yasir Arafat to the diplomacy table, and in 1994 King Hussein made peace with Israel.
Peace in the Middle East has multiple road blocks that prohibit a chance for complete peace and harmony in the region. Territory is a major obstacle between both sides. Palestine wishes to enter Israel under the Law of the Return. Israel refuses to accept Muslims into the country because of the fear of having Islamic leaders being voted in and upsetting the power base within Israel. Another road block deals with settlements. Israel was supposed to return land to Palestine during many of their negotiations. Israel refuses to force their people to forfeit their land back to the Palestinians. The last road block is the Holy City of Jerusalem. Neither side wishes to let the other control it. Both religions feel a strong religious connection between themselves and the religious history of Jerusalem. Neither will ever let go.