- Topic 1IntroductionsUsing the forum below, please introduce yourself to the rest of the class and to me. Debate will play a key role in this online experience for you, so it's important we feel comfortable enough with each other to engage in honest, yet respectful debate with each other.
- Topic 2Mapping the Middle East
The Middle East dominates our news, but keeping track of all the countries can be difficult. This activity will give you a basic working knowledge and visual for where all of these countries are located. Please keep your answers to this assignment nearby as you go through the assigned tasks.
- Topic 3Religion and the Middle EastReligion plays an active role in the lives of many people living in the Middle East today. During this unit, though, it is very important to understand that religion is not always the source of problems in these regions; at other times, though, it does play an integral part in understanding the conflict. Knowing when the conflict is mainly political, economic, or religious goes a long way in understanding the complex dynamics of this region.
Therefore, it is important to have basic knowledge and understanding of Islam and Judaism, the two most notable faiths in the region. By understanding the basics of these two faiths, it will be easier to analyze the current conflict in the Holy Land, and it will make it easier to compare and contrast the beliefs that the overwhelming majority of Muslims have to the beliefs that extremists (like Osama bin Laden) have. These extremists oftentimes distort the true meaning of their faith and cause outsiders to form inaccurate and negative stereotypes about members of the real faith.
- Topic 4
For nearly nine years the United States has had a military presence in Afghanistan. Before learning about the history of this country and its current issues, please answer the following poll questions at PollEverywhere. We will revisit these poll questions at the end of this unit.
- Topic 5
Afghanistan: 1979 to 2001
As most everyone knows, on September 11, 2001, al Qaeda trained terrorists hijacked four airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and an open field in Pennsylvania. Within a month, United States military forces invaded Afghanistan to destroy the al Qaeda network after the Taliban refused to hand over key members of the al Qaeda network to U.S. authorities. United States military involvement is now stretching into its ninth year.
What fewer people know, though, is how the Soviet Union's failed invasion during the 1980's led to the rise of the Taliban, how al Qaeda grew into a worldwide terrorist organization, and how these similar, yet different, organizations formed a friendship that led to the horrific events of 9-11.
Using the following videos and readings, please complete the assignments labeled below to understand and analyze the the story of Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion in 1979 to September 11th, 2001.
- Topic 6
The War Against al Qaeda and the Taliban (2001-Present)
The nine year war against al Qaeda and the Taliban has been marked by many successes and failures. Attached below is a chronology of key events dating back to October 7, 2001, the day U.S. and British forces began their invasion of Afghanistan.
- Topic 7
Along with trying to eliminate al Qaeda and the Taliban, the United States government has worked diligently over the past nine years to try to rebuild Afghanistan into a stable, democratically run country. The rebuilding has proven difficult due to the vast poverty of the country, a resurgent Taliban in recent years, increased opium production, and corruption within the new government. The following activities will take a critical look at the rebuilding effort including an analytical look into whether or not the United States military should remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.
- Topic 8
Final Wrap Up - Afghanistan
After furthering your understanding of Afghanistan's history and current issues in rebuilding, has your opinion changed since the beginning of the unit?
- Topic 9
Saddam Hussein - The Butcher of Baghdad
As Afghanistan was being invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979, Iraq, too, was experiencing a transformation that would soon tear it apart. Saddam Hussein took control of Iraq in 1979 and over the next 24 years terrorized anybody who dared speak out against him. The following video and biography will give you a chance to see, hear, and read more about what life was like for the Iraqis unlucky enough to live under his rule.
- Topic 10
The Second Iraq War (2003-Present)
The United States' first war against Iraq in 1991 lasted a very short period of time. In just one month, the United States achieved its sole objective of removing Saddam Hussein's armies from Kuwait. After the First Iraq War, though, a strategic decision was made to allow Saddam Hussein to remain in power. There would be no invasion of Iraq at that time.
As Saddam continued to defy the world community at the United Nations, however, pressure mounted to wage a Second Iraq War. This Second Iraq War, started March 19, 2003, had very different objectives than the first one. First and foremost, Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party government would not be allowed to remain in power. Secondly, Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) would be destroyed, and finally, a total rebuilding of the country's political and economic structure would have to take place after Saddam's removal. While the first task proved relatively simple, the rebuilding efforts have been slow and difficult due to an increase in ethnic tensions between rival factions of Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in the country. Seven years after the invasion and Americans, still to this day, debate the overall success and necessity of this war.
- Topic 11
Conflict in the Holy Land
Of all the conflicts in the Middle East, perhaps the most complicated of all is the conflict in the "Holy Land", where the land of Palestine and holy city of Jerusalem resides. Jerusalem is a holy city for three major world religions and the controversy over who should control it has lasted not only for decades, but centuries. In modern history, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims have squabbled over control of Palestine and the capital city of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, bloodshed has been a constant in the area since Israel's creation as a country after World War II.
Historically, the United States has given more support to the Israelis than the Palestinians. This has enraged terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, and they continue to point to this issue when attempting to recruit new members in the Middle East. Quite frankly, pointing out U.S. support of Israel has and always will be al Qaeda's best recruiting tool in the region, since many Arabs feel as though they're land was stolen by the Israelis.
A long lasting and well respected peace deal in the Holy Land would go a long ways in eliminating bloodshed in the region as well as improving the United States' image in the Middle East. After learning about the history of the conflict and the varying perspectives that Israelis and Palestinians have on the issue, will you be able to create a plan that works?
- Topic 12
- Topic 13
Creative Commons Attribution
The Middle East in Conflict: Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Holy Land by Rob Kieffer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.