This is the third part of Your Middle East’s epic 100 Years of Middle East History list. We now turn to events between 1964-1975.
1964: At the Arab League’s first summit in Cairo, several groups of Palestinians unite to form the Palestine Liberation Organization, PLO, with the aim of being the Palestinian people’s main representative. Its chairman for 35 years, Yasser Arafat, becomes the Palestinians’ most prominent leader. Pictured above, Yasser Arafat on a visit to the German Democratic Republic in 1971.
5 June 1967: After weeks of increased tension between Israel and its Arab neighbours, Israel preemptively bombs Egyptian airfields, almost completely destroying the Egyptian Air Force. The Syrian and Jordanian air forces suffer similar fates later the same day. Israel dominates the ground fighting that follows, winning control of the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, Sinai peninsula, West Bank and entire Jerusalem before a UN ceasefire comes into effect on June 10. Pictured above, Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights.
1968: The Iraqi Ba’ath Party takes power for the second time, having first come to power for a brief few months in 1963. Leader of the Ba’ath Party and instrumental in its second coup is Saddam Hussein, who then becomes president in 1979. Pictured above, Saddam in 1979 with Michel Aflaq, founder of the Ba’ath Party.
1969: Another Arab monarchy falls victim to a military coup when a group of Libyan officers seize power as King Idris is abroad seeking medical treatment. The officers are lead by 27 year old Muammar Gaddafi, who becomes Libya’s leader. Pictured above, Gaddafi with King Hassan of Morocco in December 1969.
July 1970: Said bin Taimur, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman, is overthrown in a bloodless coup by his own son, Qaboos. Sultan Said bin Taimur had grown increasingly erratic in his last years in power, keeping his son under house arrest, as well as leaving his country underdeveloped and isolated despite great oil wealth. Sultan Qaboos renames the country to simply Oman and launches an ambitious programme of reform and modernisation. Pictured above, a portrait of Sultan Qaboos as a young man hangs next to traditional Omani handicraft at museum in Oman’s capital Muscat.
17 September, 1970: The Jordanian army launches a full-scale attack on PLO guerillas, that have been using Jordan as a base of operations since the 1967 war. The guerillas had posed a threat to Hashemite rule in Jordan and PLO leader Yasser Arafat openly called for the overthrow of Jordan’s “fascist government”. The brief but brutal civil war is known as ‘Black September‘ — in ten days of fighting thousands of Palestinian fighters and civilians are killed. Pictured above, King Hussein greets Jordanian troops in a still from an American newsreel film.
1971: British authorities decide to end their protectorate over the so-called ‘Trucial Coast’, a confederation of small Arab sheikhdoms by the Persian Gulf. On the departure of the British, the Trucial sheikhdoms enter into negotiations to form an independent federation. The negotiations fail to satisfy all parties and the end result is the formation of three independent states. Seven sheikhdoms — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain form the United Arab Emirates but two, Bahrain and Qatar, become independent states. Pictured above, the seven emirs of the new united emirates.
6 October 1973: Syria and Egypt launch a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. The war quickly becomes a proxy conflict between the Cold War superpowers, with the United States supporting Israel, and the Soviet Union supporting the Arab countries. Fighting goes on for 20 days until a UN ceasefire. Pictured above, Israeli troops during the ‘Valley of Tears’ battle in the Golan Heights.
13 April 1975: Christian Phalangist gunmen attack a bus of Palestinians in East Beirut, Lebanon, killing 27. The so-called ‘bus massacre’ follows escalating violence between Lebanon’s many social groups, and becomes the spark that leads to all-out civil war in the country. Pictured, the ‘green line’ between Christian- and Muslim-controlled areas of Beirut in 1982.
Photos: German Federal Archives, Wikimedia commons, US National Archives, and IDF Photo Archives.