Ted Thornton
History of the Middle East Database
The United States and the Middle East

Origins of Key Geographical Terms


History by Region or State


History by Time Period


Special Topics









1784: Barbary Wars.

1801: Tripoli War.

1919, March: U.S. backs British in Egyptian bid for independence.

1919, August: King-Crane Commission.

1930s: Development of Saudi Arabian oil resources.

1945: U.S.-Saudi oil/defense pact.

1945: Heads of Middle East missions warn Truman on partition of Palestine.

1946: Anglo-American Committee inquiry into Palestine.

1953: U.S. role in overthrow of Mossadeq, Prime Minister of Iran.

1950s: Cold War and oil:  U.S. courts Saudi Arabia, exploiting its anti-Communism and anti-Nasserism and its bid to lead the Muslim world (see also Muslim World League). 

1955: Baghdad Pact.

1956: U.S. reneges on Aswan Dam deal.

1956: U.S. and Second Arab-Israeli War.

1957: Eisenhower Doctrine.

1958: Marines land in Lebanon.

1967, June: U.S. Navy ship Liberty attacked by Israeli forces.

1970: June and August: Rogers Plan for ceasefire in "war of attrition."

1970, September: "Black September". U.S. helps save Jordanian monarchy. Sharp rise in U.S. financial support for Israel.

1973: Henry Kissinger's "shuttle diplomacy" follows 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

1979: Iranian Revolution: New phase in Sunni-Shia  fitna that had begun in 656 (Battle of the Camel)Saudi leadership of Muslim world under attack from revolutionary Iran.  Saudis adopt jihadist foreign policy in Afghanistan to shore up their image. 

1979, March 26: Camp David Peace Treaty.

1979, November:  Iran hostage crisis.

1980, Jan. 23: Carter Doctrine.

1980, April: U.S. abortive attempt to rescue hostages held in Iran.

1980, January:  The U.S. signs the "Algiers Accord" pledging not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran (on January 21, the American hostages held by Iran are freed).

1981: Libya shoots down U.S. warplanes.

1983, April: After its embassy in Lebanon is bombed, U.S. becomes embroiled in Lebanese Civil War.

1984, September: Following further bombings of its installations, U.S. withdraws from Lebanon.

1986, April 15: U.S. bombs targets in Libya.

1987: Iran-Contra scandal rocks the United States.

1988, December 21: Pan Am passenger jet blown up over Lockerbie Scotland.

1989, January 4: U.S. shoots down Libyan fighter planes.

1990-1991: U.S. campaign to liberate Kuwait (Gulf War II).

1990, Sept. 23: Secretary of State James Baker testifying in Congress.

1991, March 6: President George H. Bush proclaims the "New World Order."

1991, October 30: Madrid Peace Conference.

1992, April: Collapse of Soviet backed rule in Afghanistan sets stage for "New Great Game."

1992, December: Abortive U.S. intervention in Somalia.

1995, June: Attack on American training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

1995, October 25:  Congress approves a resolution transferring the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

1996, June 26: Attack on Khobar Towers military barracks in Saudi Arabia.

1996, August: Osama bin Laden declares war on the United States.

1997: A new political lobby group, Project for the New American Century (PNAC), is formed calling for more aggressive American engagement in world affairs. Neoconservatism begins to make its mark. (But, see also.)

1998: PNAC begins lobbying President Clinton to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

1998, October: Wye Plantation Agreement.

1998, Oct. 31: Pres. Clinton signs "Iraq Liberation Act" into law committing the U.S. to overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

2000: Palestinian and Israeli summit at Camp David (ends in failure).

2001, January: Palestinian President Arafat turns down deal brokered by President Clinton.

2001: "9/11"

Post "9/11": “Nation building” in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gulf War III.

2001, September 16: President Bush declares his "war on terror."

2002, January 29: President Bush's global "axis of evil" (State of the Union speech).

2002, Sept. 20: Bush Doctrine.

2002, October: U.S. floats peace plan aimed at ending the al-Aqsa Intifada ("uprising").

2003, March: U.S. invasion of Iraq.

2003, April: U.S. "Roadmap" Peace Plan.

2002, May: U.S. rejects Iranian offer.

2003, May 12: U.S. target of attack in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.

2003, September: U.S. forces withdraw from Saudi Arabia.

2004, February: Bush administration pushes for democratic reforms ("Greater Middle East Initiative").

2004, spring: Attacks on Americans and others in Saudi Arabia.

2004, December 6: U.S. consulate in Jedda, Saudi Arabia attacked.

2006, April: Speculation about possible American plans to attack Iran.

2006, June: Pew survey shows deepening suspicions between Muslims and the West.

2006, September 6: The U.S. announces it will observe Geneva Conventions in treatment of Guantanamo Bay and other post 9/11 prisoners.

2006, September 8: U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee: "No links between Saddam and al-Qaeda."

2006, September 24: Intelligence report says occupation of Iraq has increased terror threat.

2006, October: Richard Haass writes that U.S. era in Middle East is over. (President Bush didn't think so - see David Sanger, "Korea as Model, U.S. Ponders Long Iraq Role," New York Times, June 3, 2007)

2006, November: Midterm elections mark huge defeats for Republicans. "War on Terror" in trouble.

2006, December: Levels of private contractors in Iraq approaches troop levels.

2006, December 6: Release of Iraq Study Group report challenges neoconservative policies. (See also)

2007, January 9: U.S. warplanes bomb suspected al-Qaeda targets inside Somalia.

2007, January 10: President Bush commits 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.

2007, May 28: Iran and the U.S. hold their first direct talks since 1980.

2007, May: Pew survey finds Muslims in America doing very well overall.

2007, October: U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran.

2007, November: U.S. hosts one day peace conference at Annapolis.

2007, December: Egypt and Israel in flap over U.S. aid.

2008, Jan-Feb: U.S. policy of containment re. Iran challenged.

2008:  U.S. - Pakistan relations cooling.

2008, September 5: Secretary of State Rice visits Libya.

2008, October 27:  U.S. raid on Syria.

2009, June 4: President Barack Obama delivers major speech to the Muslim world from Cairo.

2009, August: American drone kills Pakistani warlord and Taliban leader in Waziristan.


See also "Notes on Manifest Destiny."

Articles on the relationship between the United States and Israel (via ProQuest - must be on the NMH Virtual Desktop to access):

Steven Erlanger, "In the Middle East, Tests for an Old Friendship," New York Times, Nov. 13, 2006.

David D. Kirkpatrick, "For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel is 'God's Foreign Policy'," New York Times, Nov. 14, 2006.

Transcript of President Obama's speech in Cairo, June 4, 2009 (courtesy CNN) .


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email: tthornton@nmhschool.org

Last Revised: August 7, 2009