Today in Middle East history: the Arab Spring makes its mark (2011)

The Arab Spring began on December 17, 2010, when a Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on the streets of Sidi Bouzid to protest his perceived mistreatment at the hands of a city inspector. The city inspector was probably just doing her job, but Bouazizi’s self-immolation set off a national protest… Continue reading Today in Middle East history: the Arab Spring makes its mark (2011)

The day a bunch of hooligans almost toppled the Emperor

Originally posted on and that's the way it was:
NOTE TO SELF: Never declare yourself out of commission without checking some “this date in history” collections. You never know what might pique your interest. When Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from his presidential grandeur last February, it happened really quickly. The Euromaidan protests had been…

The Iran-Saudi pilgrimage dispute has historical precedent

Originally posted on and that's the way it was:
Iran has barred its citizens from traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah, or lesser pilgrimage to Mecca, which is the recommended-but-not-obligatory pilgrimage that can be performed any time (as opposed to the obligatory Hajj, which has to be performed during the annual Hajj).…

Today in European history: the Battle of Vaslui (1475)

“Moldavia” as it existed back in the late Middle Ages isn’t really a thing anymore. Its successor, I suppose, is the Republic of Moldova, but they’re not entirely the same thing. Moldova is the direct successor state to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia, but historical Moldavia was bigger than the Soviet state, encompassing parts… Continue reading Today in European history: the Battle of Vaslui (1475)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Gallipoli campaign ends (1916), and the Battle of Rafa (1917)

There are two World War I battles that have anniversaries today. Of them, Gallipoli is far and away the larger and more famous. But while we’re here I figured we could at least mention the other one. Technically this is anniversary of the end of the Gallipoli campaign, which lasted eight and a half months starting… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Gallipoli campaign ends (1916), and the Battle of Rafa (1917)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Eisenhower Doctrine, or: They All Lived Happily Ever After (1957)

The United States enjoys two things more than just about anything else: doing war and making presidential doctrines about doing war. This country has been involved in some kind of military conflict or another for more than 90% of its existence, and of our 44 presidents, at least a quarter of them have issued some… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Eisenhower Doctrine, or: They All Lived Happily Ever After (1957)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Faysal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)

As World War I was wrapping up, and the Ottoman Empire was collapsing, the question of what to do with all that soon-to-be-former Ottoman land loomed large. Most Ottoman territory outside of Anatolia was predominantly Arab, and the 1916-1918 Arab Revolt had done much to advance British war aims in the Middle East, so the… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Faysal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)