The Middle East & Rise of Terrorism
September 11th and Beyond
Since the founding of Israel in 1948, Arab and Persian Gulf nations which are mostly Muslims have harbored great hostility towards the Jewish Israelis. The conflict has led to many wars. Because the U.S. has shown support for Israel, many in the Middle East have feelings of anger towards the U.S.
In recent years our alliance with Israel has been one of the major factors in the U.S. being a target of terrorism. The best known Islamic group is Al-Qaeda. The group’s leader was Osama Bin Laden, He was killed by Navy Seal Team #6 in May of 2011.
Al-Qaeda first gained attention when it bombed embassy buildings in Tanzania and Kenya. Then in 2000, terrorist attacked the USS Cole as it sat anchored in a harbor in Yemen.
The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11
Life in the U.S. changed forever on September 11, 2001. That morning, people across the country watched in shock as terrorist flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania killing everyone on board. It went down when passengers revolted and prevented the airliner from reaching another target. (believed to be either the White House or the Capitol. 9/11 brought the reality of terrorism home to the U.S. and shook peoples sense of security more than any event since Pearl Harbor.
The War on Terror
President Bush responded to 9/11 by declaring a “war on terror”. He created a new government department for protecting and preparing the nation against future attacks called Homeland Security.
Bush also signed into law the U.S. Patriot Act, This new law increased the authority of law enforcement in what measures they could use to obtain information. Although the law was criticized it was renewed by Congress in 2006.
Having confirmed that Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden were responsible for the attacks of 9/11, President Bush formed a coalition of nations to take military and diplomatic action. The government knew that Bin Laden was in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.
When the U.S. demanded the Taliban turn him over, the Taliban refused. In October, 2001 the U.S. military launched Operation Enduring Freedom, within weeks the invasion toppled the Taliban making it impossible for Al-Qaeda to train and plan operations.
War in Iraq
As part of his strategy on the war on terror, Bush felt that the U.S. could not simply sit back and defend against future attacks. He believed the U.S. needed to strike first against terrorists and state sponsored terrorism. In 2003, this policy resulted in the War on Iraq.
Believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that might be used to support terrorism, the U.S. and several allies invaded Iraq and removed Saddam from power. With all the excitement over Saddam’s fall from power, major problems arose. No WMDs were ever found and Bush came under harsh criticism.
U.S. Influence in the Middle East
Historically the U.S. has exercised influence in the Middle East, especially since the founding of Israel in 1948.The U.S. has traditionally been a strong ally and supporter of Israel.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter played a key role in negotiating a long lasting peace agreement between Egypt and Israel called the Camp David Accords.
Today the U.S. continues to exercise influence in the Middle East and sometimes this causes conflict. Because of the rich oil supplies, and key trading routes the Middle East will remain of interest to the U.S.