As a term, Middle East, albeit still contested in its meaning, did not gain much currency until after the Second World War. Especially during the Cold War, the terminology was popularised in US contexts (Adelson 2012, 47–50). Here, we use the neologism Middle East as referring to the geographical area situated at the junction of Europe, Asia, and Africa and of the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, reflecting contemporary politological conventions without denying the term’s contestations.
As such, the region occupies a unique strategic position. Hence, we can easily understand why the region has attracted the strategic attention and involvement of great powers and empires throughout history. The Middle East is also the birthplace and spiritual centre of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Specifically, the Middle East contains the holiest places of Islam as well as the highest institutions of Islamic learning, while the Holy Land of Palestine is associated with the aspirations of Jews and Christians. It is also the birthplace of civilisation in the Northern hemisphere (Jamieson 2016).
Moreover, with the beginning of the twentieth century and the discovery of oil and natural gas “the fate of the region” changed dramatically (Grigoriadis 2014, 124) because in the Middle East we can find the greatest single reserve of oil that stipulated other powers’ desires. The region’s significant stocks of crude oil added to its geographical, strategic and economic importance. Particularly ‘Saudi Arabia was no longer the regional backwater that it had been until the 1940s, but became one of the leading regional powers in the region.
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