Archives For HIST 241 M E HIST from 1800

As seen in recent campaigns, there is a tendency among politicians to conflate all religious fundamentalist movements into one. Wahhabism is widely perceived as the beginning and end. Did religious fundamentalism arise in the Middle East with Wahhabism, inaugurating a continuously expanding, homogeneous and monolithic Islamic fundamentalist movement under unified leadership? As a matter of fact, no, it did not. Middle Eastern religious fundamentalism is much older than Wahhabism, heterogeneous, and fragmentary.


Religious fundamentalism did not arise in the Middle East with Wahhabism. Abdul Wahhab, the eighteenth century founder of the neo-orthodox Wahhabism movement was influenced by late thirteenth century to early fourteenth century Islamic fundamentalist, Ibn Taymiyyah. In the four centuries between them there were other movements as well.

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Christopher Hurtado —  December 22, 2008

Hizbollah was a splinter off of the Amal militia funded by Iran during the Lebanese civil war that attempted to wrestle power from the Maronites who had held it under Lebanon’s Confessional System since 1932. The Maronites had been given this power by the French based on the 1932 census, which was probably cooked to begin with and outdated at the time of the creation of Hizbollah. The confessional system divided up cabinet posts and parliament seats among the Sunnis, Shi’a and Druze, but it gave the Maronites control of the parliament and the presidency. After the PLO’s Black September defeat in Jordan, it moved fighters to Lebanon and sided with the Sunnis, Shi’a and Druze against the Maronites. The Maronites had their own militia, the phalange, which killed a group of PLO fighters setting off the Lebanese civil war. After the 1979 revolution, following the formation of the Islamic Republic, which replaced the Shah with the Ayatollahs, Iran attempted to export the revolution to Lebanon. The Shi’a in Lebanon were most receptive to this. However, the head of the Shi’a militia, Amal, rejected Iran’s offer of funds, weapons, and advisors. Hizbollah splinters off and accepts the aid Iran offered.

Camp David I was an agreement between Begin and Sadat exchanging Egyptian recognition of Israel for the Sinai, entailing Egypt’s switching its affiliation from East to West and leading to Egyptian economic and political liberalization. Egypt’s change of affiliation occurred in the context of the Cold War. Sadat came to power in Egypt following Nasser’s totalitarian nationalist regime. Nasser’s Egypt had been socialist and in alignment with the East. Sadat pursued an Egypt first policy over the ideology of fighting for the liberation of Palestine. He began sending signals that he was willing to recognize and negotiate with Israel in exchange for the Sinai and investment capital from the West. This entailed moving Egypt from socialism to a free market economy, which led to the intifah (opening) of Egypt’s markets. Bread riots resulted from the intifah. Politically, it meant moving to a multi-party system, but Sadat chose the heads of the opposition parties himself. As for Israel, the head of the Likud government, Begin had to make some concessions of his own. In returning the Sinai to Egypt, Begin had to relent on the Likud party’s Greater Israel ideology.