During this episode, I talked about importance of the Middle East from a historical, geographic as well as political background. We all know from our early school textbooks that from the dawn of history, the Middle East has been known as the “cradle of civilization.” Unfortunately, today, it is also known as a cradle of violence and mayhem. I discussed the content of three maps on the Middle East. Map 1, below, is the boundary of what academics refer to as the Middle East proper. The landscape includes the Asian portion of the Middle East as well as the northern shores of Africa whose inhabitants are mostly of Arabian as well as native Berber descent. The only non-Muslim member country in the Asian side of the Middle East is the Jewish State of Israel that was founded in 1949. After many centuries of persecution at the hands of ancient Egyptians, the Romans, and the experiences Jews endured in Europe during pogroms as well as the Nazi concentration camps, the State of Israel was created to accommodate the remaining refugees from Europe as well as Russia. It is should be noted, however, that Middle Eastern Jews or Sabras, have lived among other Middle Eastern peoples in the Middle East since biblical times that included the periods under Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Map 2 was discussed in reference to countries that border the Middle East proper and whose populations are overwhelmingly Muslim. Turkey, technically considered a European country, is included because the greater portion of its real estate lies in the Asian Middle East and because its population consists generally of people whose faith is that of Islam. Georgia and Armenia are also included because prior to their annexation by Russia, they were part of the Middle East culturally.
Finally, with Map 3, below, displays territories beyond traditional Middle East and its adjacent lands whose population is either greatly of Muslim faith or at one time it was so. As a result such “extraterritorial” regions remain culturally tied to the rest of the Middle East. One would notice Spain and Portugal that both fell to invading Muslim forces between 711 and 788 AD. Today, although totally Christian, the Iberian peninsula is replete with prior Muslim icons and heritage. Also, in this map great portions of Russia and mainland China are included since those two countries each hold a sizable number of Muslims: about 15% in Russia and about 2% or 50 million people in China.