The 1953 CIA- and MI6-backed coup that overthrew Mohammad Mosaddegh is one of the few bits of Middle Eastern history that actually gets overemphasized in the popular consciousness, mostly because relations between the US and Iran are what they are. It’s also not an easy fit in this “today in history” series because, believe it or … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the 1953 Iranian coup
The “Battle of the Nile,” which didn’t really take place on the Nile but whatever, can be seen as the naval companion to the Battle of the Pyramids, which was fought 11 days earlier between French and Egyptian forces outside of Cairo and which, coincidentally, didn’t take place anywhere near any pyramids. It can also be … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Nile (1798)
The First Battle of Kut was as complete an Ottoman victory as you're likely to find in World War I's Middle Eastern theater, and it stands as one of the lowest points for the British military not just in that war, but ever. Following the disaster, the British army replaced its commander in Mesopotamia, Lt. General … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Fall of Baghdad (1917)
The World War I Battle of Aqaba took place on this date in 1917.
The Middle Eastern front in World War II often merits only a brief mention before you move on to Pearl Harbor, the Pacific campaign, and so forth. So Operation Exporter, or the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, doesn’t get that much attention. Indeed, even during the war news about the campaign was downplayed or outright suppressed in Britain, … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Operation Exporter begins (1941)
Today is the anniversary of ISIS’s least-favorite arbitrarily-drawn line on a map, the Iraq-Syria boundary delineated by the Sykes-Picot agreement. Al-Jazeera has a pretty handy explainer on the agreement, though I think the headline oversells the content a little bit. Here’s another explainer over at Juan Cole’s Informed Comment that is pretty good. Or you can read my long-ago look … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Sykes-Picot is signed (1916)
Today is the anniversary of one of the worst military fiascos in British history, the surrender of the 6th division of the Indian Army to the Ottomans at the Iraqi town of Kut. Kut followed right on the heels of the Battle of Ctesiphon in November 1915, and this epilogue turned that indecisive battle into a major strategic … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Surrender of Kut (1916)