155 1. For decades, the Middle East has been the location of conflict. Modern Israel was created in 1948 on land that had belonged to Palestinian Arabs. As a result, there has been repeated war and violence. In several wars against Egypt and others, Israel gained move land. This is called the occupied territories.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, led by Yasir Arafat, fought against the Israelis. In the occupied territories, Palestinians launched uprisings called intifadas. In addition, suicide bombers spread terror inside Israel. The Israelis responded with armed force, and Palestinian bitterness increased. Leaders, such as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, pushed for peace. There were many stumbling blocks, however, such as disagreements over Jerusalem, a city sacred to Jews. Christians, and Muslims. During the early 2000s, new steps toward peace offered some hope, but serious obstacles remained.
LEBANON IS HOME TO DIVERSE ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS. The government depended on a delicate balance among Arab Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, and Druze. In 1975, Christian and Muslim militias battled each other, and both Israel and Syria invaded. By 1990, however, peace had been restored.
Conflicts also plagued Iraq. Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority dominated the country for centuries. The Kurdish minority and Shiite Muslim majority were excluded from power. In 1979 Saddam Hussein took power as a dictator. He fought a prolonged war against neighboring Iran in the 1980s. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. In response, the United States led a coalition against that invasion. In the Gulf War that ensued, Kuwait was liberated and Iraqi forces were crushed. Saddam Hussein remained in power and used terror to impose his will. The United States, France, and Britain set up no-fly zones to protect the Kurds and Shiites. The UN worked to keep Saddam Hussein from building biological, nuclear, or chemical weapons, called weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
In 2003, the United States led a coalition that invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein. Iraqi insurgents fought against the occupation that followed. In 2005, national elections were held for the first time.
1. How did Israel come to control the occupied territories?