Middle East

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Middle East,

term traditionally applied by western Europeans to the countries of SW Asia and NE Africa lying W of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Thus defined it includes Cyprus, the Asian part of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, the countries of the Arabian peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait), and Egypt and Libya. The area was viewed as midway between Europe and East Asia (traditionally called the Far EastFar East,
in the most restricted sense, region comprising the countries of E Asia, namely China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan, and the easternmost portion of Russian Siberia (see Russian Far East).
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). The term is sometimes used in a cultural sense to mean the group of lands in that part of the world predominantly Islamic in culture, thus including the remaining states of N Africa as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the 20th cent. the Middle East has been the scene of political turmoil and major warfare, including World War I, World War II, the Arab-Israeli WarsArab-Israeli Wars,
conflicts in 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973–74, and 1982 between Israel and the Arab states. Tensions between Israel and the Arabs have been complicated and heightened by the political, strategic, and economic interests in the area of the great powers.
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, the Iran-Iraq WarIran-Iraq War,
1980–88, protracted military conflict between Iran and Iraq. It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran, although Iraqi spokespersons maintained that Iran had been engaging in artillery attacks on Iraqi towns
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 and the Persian Gulf WarsPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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.

Middle East

 

the conventional name for the area of Western Asia between Europe and Pakistan. On occasion, especially in English and American literature, the term “Middle East” is interchangeable with the term “Near East.” More often, however, it refers to the countries of the Near East together with Iran and Afghanistan. For the most part, therefore, “Middle East” is not used by itself but as part of the term “Near and Middle East.”

Middle East

1. (loosely) the area around the E Mediterranean, esp Israel and the Arab countries from Turkey to North Africa and eastwards to Iran
2. (formerly) the area extending from the Tigris and Euphrates to Myanmar
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