The complete timeline (all on one page)
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The Siege of Jerusalem
The Siege of Jerusalem happened in 70CE following a Jewish revolt against the Roman rule. The troops of the Roman Emperor Titus besieged the city before eventually destroying the Second Temple (until then the holiest Jewish site), although it is unclear as to whether or not he ordered the destruction of the 500-year-old Temple.
The Anglo-Ottoman Convention
An accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire which was never ratified, the agreement provided basis for an independent Kuwait and the borders of the country. It also cemented British control by providing a framework for British policing in the Gulf. Under the agreement the Ottoman Empire dropped all claims to Bahrain, on the condition that Britain would not annex it.
The agreement provided two contradictory claims: that Britain accepted Kuwait as an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Empire accepted the validity of agreements which had made Kuwait a British Protectorate.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a treaty negotiated secretly between Britain and France (negotiated by Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot, hence the name Sykes-Picot). With a mind to securing European domination of the Middle East following the (presumed) collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WW1. The treaty provided a basis for the establishment of a series of 'mandates' – countries governed by the colonial powers, but not formally made colonies. Administrating countries in this way was significantly cheaper than establishing them as formal colonies.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement conflicted with British promises made to other groups about what would be done with the land. The Balfour Declaration (of 1917) and the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence both pleged land to others; these pledges could not be resolved within the framework of Sykes-Picot.
The Balfour Declaration
One of three promises made over the same land to different groups. The Balfour Declaration promised the
The 1929 disturbances
The 1929 disturbances (also called the Buraq uprisings – the Buraq is a creature in Islam which is said to have carried the prophet Muhammad to heaven from the al-Aqsa mosque) were a series of Arab riots caused by a dispute over access to the Wailing Wall.
Following the riots, an investigation was launched. Lead by Walter Shaw, the Shaw commission the investigation claimed that the attack had been launched against Jewish inhabitants without any provocation. A later report conducted by Hope Simpson suggested called for measures to reduce Jewish immigrants because of a fear of lack of land to support them.
In 1936 there was an Arab revolt in Palestine. There were two phases to the revolt; initially it consisted primarily of a general strike. Later, there was a violent revolution lead by the peasants which provoked a British military response.
Following the outbreak of the violence in 1936, the British government commissioned an investigation lead by Lord Peel into the source of the violence.
The Warsaw Uprising
In 1944 the London Poles (so named because they had fled from Poland to London following the outbreak of WW2) orchestrated an operation to gain control of Warsaw. The planning of the attack was intended to be such that it coincided with the German retreat, but was ahead of the Soviet invasion.
The Soviet government refused to assist the London Poles in the Uprising; a direct order from the Kremlin halted the advance Soviet troops moving on Warsaw. In addition, there was a refusal to permit the Western Allies to use Soviet air bases to provide support to the London Poles. As a result of the uprising, the military force of the London Poles was considerably weakened which later reduced their ability to resist the USSR.
The Yalta Conference
The Yalta conference took place in February 1945. It was a meeting between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. At this point Soviet forces were only 65km from Berlin and the Western forces had advanced to the German border.
There were several important agreements following the Yalta conference:
- Germany would be divided into three zones of occupation (British, American and Soviet) with a fourth zone for France to be established from territory in the British and American zone.
- The eastern border of Poland would be moved to the Curzon line. To offset the loss of territory, Poland would be given territory from Poland.
- Stalin promised free elections in Poland.
- Roosevelt managed to get Stalin to agree to participate in the United Nations.
- The USSR would enter the US's fight against Japan.
George Kennan sends the 'Long Telegram'
The Long Telegram [backup link] was an 8,000 word telegram sent by Kennan (a US diplomat in Moscow) to the US Government. Kennan advocated a policy of containment be adopted in relation to the USSR.
Kennan suggested that the USSR lived in a world of "capitalist encirclement," claiming in a 1927 speech to a delegation of American workers Stalin had made clear he thought that it was inevitable that countries would gravitate two "centres" (a "socialist center" and a "capitalist center"). Kennan suggested that the USSR believed moderate left-wing socialists to be a greater enemy than capitalists.
His [Kennan's] belief was that the people of the USSR's views did not coincide with those of the regime. Kennan urged the USA to adopt a policy of containment of communism.
Bombing of the King David hotel
In 1946 the Irgun bombed the King David hotel, at the time this was the British administrative headquarters. 91 people were killed and 46 were injured.
The plan was carried out by the Irgun (under the command of Menachem Begin) and involved them disguising themselves as Arabs to smuggle in explosives in milk bottles.
Start of First Indochina War
The First Indochina War was a conflict between France and The Viet Minh.
India became a nation, independent of the British empire.
Introduction of the Deutschmark
The Western Allies introduced a new currency into Germany. The intention of the currency was to counteract the weak Reichsmark which was suffering from hyperinflation leaving Germans starving and thus reduce black market trade. The introduction of the currency angered the Soviet government who reacted to it by launching the Berlin blockade. Previous attempts to solve currency problems in Germany had failed as a result of Soviet sabotage through the printing of huge amounts of money. The Deutschmark remained the West German (and German after reunification) currency until Germany switched to the Euro in 2002.
Berlin Airlift starts
The Soviet government closed the road to Berlin, making it impossible for American supply convoys to access Berlin. This was in retaliation to the introduction of the Deutschmark four days earlier. The official justification for the road closure was that the Soviets needed to undertake repairs upon it.
To counteract this, the Western Allies used aircraft to supply the city by air.
North Korean invasion of South Korea
On the 25th June 1950 North Korean forces invaded South Korea.
Assassination of King Abdullah I
In 1951 King King Abdullah I of Jordan was shot by a Palestinian gunman while entering the al-Aqsa mosque which resulted in his death. Prince Hussein (who subsequently became King) was also hit by a bullet, but a medal he was wearing deflected the bullet.
In 1953 Stalin died. He was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev. Stalin had pushed aggressively for the continuation of the Korean war, and his death was a factor in bringing about the signing of an armistice.
Iranian coup d'état
In 1953 coup d'état the Shah, backed by the CIA, overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran (Mohammad Mosaddegh). Named 'Operation Ajax' it was implemented following the nationalisation of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) which later became a part of BP. Originally Mosaddegh had tried to both audit the documents of the AIOC as well as limit the control the company maintained over Iranian oil reserves. Following the refusal of the AIOC to cooperate, the Iranian parliament moved to pass a motion nationalising the Iranian oil industry.
Start of the Suez Crisis
The Suez crisis began with the invasion of Egypt by Israel. Following the Israeli invasion, there was a further invasion by the United Kingdom and France. The invasion followed Nasser's move to nationalise the Suez canal.
Iraqi coup d'état
In 1958 the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq was overthrown by Brigadier-General Qasim. King Faisal II and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said were killed during the uprising. Following the revolution Iraq experienced a series of different coups.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis began when the US government discovered Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, evidenced by photographs taken by a U2 spy plane. In the preceding months, the Soviet government had smuggled the weapons into the USSR
Gulf of Tonkin incident
In 1964, the USS Madox fired three "warning" shots at three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats. The torpedo boats returned fire, a mix of torpedoes and machine gun fire being used. The USS Maddox fired more than 280 shells in a sea battle. As a result the three torpedo boats were damaged alongside one US aircraft.
The NSA (National Security Agency) claimed that a second such incident had happened two days after the first image (August 4th) but evidence supplied turned out to be false radar images rather than an actual incident. Later evidence has proved overwhelmingly that such an event didn't happen.
Following this the Gulf of Tokin Resolution was passed in the US Congress. This gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authorisation to provide assistance to any country in Southeast Asia who was at risk of "communist aggression." Johnson made use of the resolution to commence an open war against North Vietnam, with a deployment of US forces.
The US government initially denied that warning shots had been fired at the torpedo boats.
The Six Day War
The Six Day War was a preemptive strike by the IDF against the Arab states. Following the war the size of the state of Israel nearly tripled. Israel gained control of the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).
The Khartoum Resolution
After the Arab defeat in 1967, the Arab League convened in Khartoum. There, they agreed upon the Khartoum resolution, dubbed the "three noes." The resolution called for "no negotiation with Israel" as well as "no recognition of Israel" and "no peace with Israel."
UN Resolution 242
Nicknamed "Land for Peace" UN Resolution 242 was unanimously voted for in the UN Security council. It called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the "termination of all claims or states of belligerency."
The Palestinians were mentioned only by reference to the need for a "just settlement of the refugee problem" which caused considerable anger amongst them.
Fire in the al-Aqsa Mosque
In 1969 a fire was started in the Mosque by an Australian Christian extremist (Denis Micheal Rohan). Many Arab states blamed the fire on a "Zionist conspiracy." This was a major factor contributing to the founding of the OIC (Organisation for Islamic Cooperation).
Anwar Sadat appointed as the Egyptian President
Following the death of Nasser, in 1970 Anwar Sadat was appointed the President of Egypt.
Following his appointment, Anwer Sadat undertook what he termed the 'Corrective Revolution'
The Yom Kippur War
In 1973, Egyptian forces invaded Israel. Under the direction of then president Anwar Sadat, Egyptian soldiers attacked Israel on the eve of Yom Kippur.
UN Resolution 338
UN Resolution 338 was signed shortly after the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. Resolution 338 called for both sides to agree to a UN-mediated ceasefire before implementing UN Resolution 242.
Signing of the Algiers Agreement
The Algiers agreement was between Iran and Iraq, permitting Iran greater access to the Shatt Al-Arab waterway. The agreement stipulated that the river would be divided by its Thalweg The word Thalweg comes from the German "Tal" + "weg." It is the deepest point in a river (which is normally in the middle).. Previously (under the 1937 agreement) Iraq had had almost full control of the river.
Purge of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party
The purge of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party entailed the execution of hundreds of high-ranking members of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party on Saddam Hussein's orders.
Start of the Soviet-Afghan war
Leonid Brezhnev decided to deploy Soviet forces to repress popular uprisings against the Soviet regime. The war was unpopular amongst the people of the USSR and Gorbachev described it as "our Vietnam."
Start of the Iran-Iraq war
The Iran-Iraq war began with the Iraqi invasion of Iran on September 22nd 1980.
Anwar Sadat assassinated
In 1981 Anwar Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic extremist organisation called Islamic Jihad.
The Iran-Contra affair happened during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Senior US officials secretly sold arms to Iran, contravening the embargo which had been enacted at the time. In return for the shipment of arms, Iran promised to exert pressure on Hezbollah to release American hostages it held. Later on in the affair, Oliver North (a US military commander) decided to redirect the proceeds of the arms sale to fund the Contras – a right-wing insurgency fighting against the socialist government in Nicaragua (South America). This was illegal at the time because of the Boland Amendment which was passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in 1982.
End of the Iran-Iraq War
The First Intifada began in 1987, the 20th anniversary of the Six Day War, ('intifada' is derived from the Arabic verb for 'to shake off') was an uprising of Palestinians against the Israeli state in the West Bank and Gaza. It followed the collision of an Israeli truck with a car, which resulted in the death of four civilians. Rumours were spread that the driver of the truck had deliberately driven into the civilians.
The Intifada involved widespread Palestinian resistance against the Israeli government on the part of the Palestinians; Palestinians went on general strike, boycotted the Civil Administration (which had replaced the previously existing military governorate).
UN Resolution 660
Following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution (Yemen abstained from voting) condemning the Iraqi invasion and calling for its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait.
UN Resolution 661
Following Saddam Hussein's refusal to withdraw from Kuwait, UN Resolution 661 imposed economic sanctions upon both Iraq and Kuwait. Comprehensive in nature, the economic sanctions prohibited the import of products and commodities (including oil) from Iraq and Kuwait and the sale of arms to either nation.
The motion was passed 13-0, with Cuba and Yemen abstaining from voting.
Dissolution of the USSR
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