20th Century Middle Eastern Conflicts

From Acw


With the end of the Second World War, the Middle East was decolonised. By the end of 1949, Britain and France, the last two surviving powers in the area, had divided their remaining territories into the newly minted states of Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan, and a collection of politically less important Gulf States.

Regional History

Lines in the Sand

With their forced exit from the Middle East, the British and French were concerned with two things - reward and punishment. In the wake of their disastrous war with Germany, they were determined to make sure that loyal allies were rewarded, and traitors punished. Saudi Arabia, a stable, loyal British friend since the previous century and great supplier of petrolium, was granted the British protectorates of Kuwait and Yemen. Egypt, under the loyal King Farouk I, was made fully independent, with the exception of the Suez canal, which remained sovereign British territory. The loyal Emir Abdullah of Transjordan became King Abdullah of Jordan. The Jews, despite their previous terrorist activities, were given their own homeland - Israel - mostly to spite the Nazis. And the Kurds, who in the later stages of the war had sabotaged Turkish oil shipments to the Nazis, were given a huge swath of territory, carved from Iraq, Iran and Syria.

However, there were losers. The Iraqi shi'te majority, who had attempted to join the Axis under Rashid Ali in 1941, were punished by the reinstatement of the Sunni Hashemite dynasty, and the loss of their northern territory to Kurdistan. Iran, too, lost territory to the Kurds for their own attempted defection, and Shah Reza, replaced by his son in 1941 after the British/USSR invasion, was removed to London to stand trial, on account of his British citizenship. His somewhat loyal son, Shah Mohammed, was allowed to retain the throne.

The Turks, although fiercely independent, were punished by the creation of a Kurdish homeland on their doorstep - one with designs on its own, not insignificant, Kurdish territory, in which lay its greatest oil reserves. The Syrians were punished for their mid-war revolt by the creation of an independent, Christian Lebanon, although French power was so far gone in the area, this was the most they could accomplish. Most dramatic, though, was the punishment of the Palestinians, losing fully 1/3 of their land to the new state of Israel. While it was obvious that the British intent was to snub the Nazi's, the creation of the Israeli state was considered a great injustice by the Palestinian people, considering their own wartime record of support; and a dangerous provocation by the regimes of Jordan and Syria. In the long term, the creation of the Israeli state was the single most damaging blow to British power in the Middle East before or since.

The Red, the Black and the Green

While it was always obvious that British power in the Middle East would ebb, few had realised how quickly that would occur. None of the surrounding states accepted the legitimacy of Israel or Kurdistan, and fighting broke out almost immediately.

The Israeli War of Independence was a marvellous success for the Jewish state, holding off the combined armies of Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and even a small Nazi expeditionary force dispatched in late 1948, and withdrawn in February 1949 following a disagreement with their Syrian hosts. In fact, Israel increased the size of its territory by 26%, further infuriating the Palestinians. The war ground to an uneasy halt in May 1949, with no Arab state prepared to sign a treaty with Israel.

  • In Kurdistan, under attack by Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, the results were less favourable. Turkey pushes deep into Kurdistan, forcing the Kurds to revert to guerilla war - which quickly spreads the war back over Turkey's border. Turkish forces retreat in confusion to secure their supply lines, but ravage the country-side on their way back. In the south, the Kurds have greater conventional success against the demoralised and unwilling Iraqi conscripts, and the brilliant Mohamad Öcalan, father of later president Abdullah Öcalan traps the Iranian forces in the mountains to the south of As Sulaymaniyah, where they resort to chemical warfare to dislodge him.

Stung by both these rebuffs, the Arab states began to turn to the great powers for help - particularly the friendly, and Israel-hostile Nazis.

In 1950, Rashid Ali al-Kaylani secretly returned to Baghdad from Berlin, and led a coup by members of the dissolved parliament, which executed the 13 year old King Faisal, and declared Iraq a Fascist state. King Emir in Jordan (the murdered Faisal's uncle, incidentally) hoisted his colours for Nazi-ism the following year, in return for military assistance, equipment and training - clear preparations for renewed war on Israel.

Point form is my friend!

  • Syria - Turns Nazi in 1951, under Shukri al-Quwatli, who begins to conduct a brutal genocide on the rebellious Druze, assisted by the Jordanians.
  • Iran - The Shah is briefly deposed by the Socialist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in response to his veto on the nationalisation of Anglo-Iranian Oil company in 1953. Following a brief but intense civil war, he regains power, but nationalises the company anyway, to punish the British who failed to assist him. He also turns to the Nazi regime.
  • Kurdistan, now surrounded by Fascist states and under continuing attack, looks north for assistance, to the USSR. The PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) forms the first Communist government of Kurdistan in the city of Mahabad, in 1953, but does not immediately sue for membership of the USSR. Guerilla war continues in Turkish controlled areas, spreading into Turkish Kurdistan.
  • In Egypt, resentment against the pro-British King Farouk finally boils over in 1953, with his exile to the UK. General Naguib, his successor, is also replaced in 1954 by the charismatic General Nasser, who aligns himself strongly with the Soviets, while trying to build links with the Saudis and Turks against the Fascist regimes now dominating the region.
  • Wahhabis begin proselytising throughout the area, sowing discord in the secular and atheist regimes. Iran in particular, is heavily affected. In 1955, the Shah brutally puts down a Wahhabi-influenced army coup, using his secret police force, the SAVAK, to torch both Sunni and Shiite mosques in reprisal.
  • In 1958, with Nazi prompting, Syria, Jordan and Palestine unite, in Greater Syria, a constitutional monarchy led by King Emir. The prime minister is the Syrian General Atfah, after the suspicious death of Shukri al-Quwatli, the man who stood him down after his failure in the Israeli War of Independence. The majority of Palestinians are dissatisfied with their incorporation, but too weak to resist. The Socialist PLO declares itself prepared to resist both Zionist and Syrian aggression, and goes underground. The Wahhabi movement also grows in Palestine.
  • In 1959, the First Lebanese Civil War breaks out, with Greater Syrian troops and Wahhabi-influenced Islamic militias fighting the government-backed Christian army, as well as the guerilla forces of the PLO, based in the southern refugee camps. The term Civil War is still disputed today. The war ends in a stalemate in 1964, with the Christian government holding sway in the North, the PLO in the South, and an anarchic area in the east of the country.

The Great Pogrom

  • In 1968, Greater Syria invades Israel on Yom Kippur. Syria has hardened veterans from the Lebanese war and the newest Nazi technology, including the long-range missiles which rain Anthrax on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, killing Israeli and Palestinian alike.

Israel, starved of allies in the preceding years, has a small amount of American technology, relying, for the most part, on a deep system of land-mines and bunkers constructed over the previous 15 years. The Syrian troops carve through them in days, and are headed for the major cities.

  • Israel appeals for aid, and receives a small amount of money from the US, as well as the US 4th Fleet's assignment to guard its harbours. Importantly, the 4th Fleet is armed with the new Patriot missiles, and has nuclear weapons onboard.
  • The PLO takes its chance to launch a general Palestinian rebellion, which attracts a surprising amount of support, thanks to the depredations of Greater Syrian troops in Palestine. General Nasser of Egypt rushes to their aid, invading Israel from the Sinai and engaging both IDF (Israeli Defence Force) and Greater Syrian troops. Saudi Arabia stays out of the conflict, though the nascent Islamist militias it has encouraged support Greater Syria, for the most part.
  • Within a month, Israel is all but destroyed. PLO fighters target and purge Jews, with Egyptian support in the southern and coastal areas, as well as a small area near PLO controlled southern Lebanon, while rampaging Syrian forces in the north and east indiscriminately burn and loot, equally angered at the perceived disloyalty of the Palestinians. The US 4th fleet is, by now, organising large-scale evacuations of jews to friendly Turkey.

The Judgement of Canaan

  • On the 15th of November, Shayetet 13 Commandoes evacuating aboard the USS Manitoba take control of the vessel, triggering similar takeovers aboard the USS Sasketchewan, and the USS Roosevelt - all cruisers armed with nuclear Patriot missiles. They then broadcasting two prepared messages, one to the US government, apologising and promising to turn themselves over peacefully on the 17th, and the other to "The Foul Canaanites", reading:

"You have driven out God's chosen people, and YWH, in his wisdom, has judged you by our hand. Know then the wrath of God."

  • After repeating this message for two hours, simultaneous weapons launches were detected on all three vessels. 8 seperate nuclear detonations were recorded in Southern Lebanon, Israel and the Sinai, wiping out military bases, the cities of Nazareth and Beersheba, and Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Lebanon. Hours later, Moshi Dayan's bunker in Tel Aviv is finally stormed by Egyptian troops. When they discover him already dead, apparently by his own hand, they go on a rampage, razing the city to the ground, killing Jews and Palestinians alike.
  • Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader, is killed in the attack, and the previous leader, Yahya Hammuda, regains the leadership, aligning himself with Arafat's powerful Fatah faction.
  • The dead number in the millions, and after their surrender to the US government, the US sends the commandoes to Greater Syria for trial, angering Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon, who all had strikes on their territory. They are, inevitably, executed.
  • Greater Syria abandons Palestine entirely, and expels the refugees back into the now contaminated areas. The PLO takes charge, and with Egypt's assistance, begins to evacuate its surviving people to the relatively clean areas around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, brutally slaughtering the remaining Jews. Egypt also agrees to relocate many Palestinians to its own economically depressed southern regions.

Cold War, Hot Zone

  • The Judgement has far-reaching effects. All the warheads aboard the American cruisers were tactical-level weapons, but were certainly not "clean". The stagnant and salt-filled Dead Sea becomes highly radioactive, spreading the contamination deep into the water-table, through to the northern Saudi oilfields. The prevailing westerly winds in the Sinai spread the fallout from this weapon into the Nile Delta, the breadbasket of Egypt, which is only finally decontaminated 60 years later. In the meantime, the USSR flies in millions of tonnes of food aid, virtually overnight, despite the famine continuing in the Ukraine.
  • Palestine's once rich farming areas, apart from a few small pockets around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, are now wasteland, and the state, now officially ruled by the KPP (Socialist Party of Palestine, the reformed PLO) under Yahya Hammuda. He dies of leukemia later in the year, and the country subsides into anarchy. The flows of refugees increase, particularly into Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Greater Syria institutes a shoot-to-kill policy on its borders, prefiguring the later Migration Crises.
  • By now, the post-war boom has kicked in around the globe, and the Middle East's abundance of oil is beginning to pay off for Saudi Arabia, still openly aligned with the British - and their allies the US, who begin to consume an ever greater proportion of the Saudi produce. The relationship between these two states strengthens.
  • Iran also benefits from the oil boom, through the Shah funnels an increasing amount of


The New Caliphate


1972, 1994 and 2010




1968 and 1972





1988, 1991 and 2004



Saudi Arabi


Gulf States

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