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50 years of US policy in the middle east

By Compiled by Julie Finnin Day / September 27, 2001



1947-48 UN votes to partition Palestine into two states - one for Jews, one for Palestinian Arabs. Arab states invade; 300,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to flee Jewish-controlled areas. Jewish forces prevail, declaring Israeli independence. US recognizes Israel.

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1953 CIA helps Iran's military stage a coup, deposing elected PM Mohammad Mossadeq, whom US sees as communist threat. US oversees installation of Shah Mohammad Reza Pavlavi as ruler of Iran.

1956 Israel attacks Egypt for control of Suez Canal. Britain and France veto US-sponsored UN resolution calling for halt to military action. British forces attack Egypt.

1960 Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela form Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations (OPEC).

1966 US sells its first jet bombers to Israel, breaking with a 1956 decision not to sell arms to the Jewish state.

1967 Six-Day War. Israel launches preemptive strike against Arab neighbors, capturing Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. Kuwait and Iraq cut oil supplies to US. UN adopts Resolution 242, calling on Israel to withdraw from captured territory. Israel refuses.

1968 First major hijacking by Arab militants occurs on El Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv, marking decades of hostage-takings, hijackings, and assassinations as a strategy by Arab militant groups.

1969 Muammar Qaddafi comes to power in Libyan coup and orders US Air Force to evacuate Tripoli.

1972 Eight Arab commandos of Palestinian group Black September kill 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games.

1973 Egypt and Syria attack Israel over its occupation of the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. US gives $2.2 billion in emergency aid to Israel, turning tide of battle to Israel's favor. Arab states cut US oil shipments.

1974 UN General Assembly recognizes right of Palestinians to independence.

1976 The UN votes on a resolution accusing Israel of war crimes in occupied Arab territories. US casts lone "no" vote. US Ambassador to Lebanon Francis Meloy and an adviser are shot to death in Beirut. US closes Embassy there.

1978 Egypt and Israel sign US-brokered Camp David peace treaty. Eighteen Arab countries impose an economic boycott on Egypt. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin receive Nobel Peace Prize.

1979 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini leads grass-roots Islamic revolution in Iran, deriding the US as "the great Satan." Iranian students storm US Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage for next 15 months. US imposes sanctions. Protesters attack US Embassies in Libya and Pakistan.

1981 Israel bombs Iraqi nuclear reactor. Muslim militants opposed to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel assassinate Egyptian President Sadat.

1982 Israel invades Lebanon to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization, facilitate election of friendly government, and form 25-mile security zone along Israel's border. Defense Minister Ariel Sharon permits Lebanese Christian militiamen to enter the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps outside Beirut. The ensuing three-day massacre kills 600 or more civilian refugees. US and other nations deploy peacekeeping troops in Lebanon.

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