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Explaining the crazy Middle East

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October 1, 2014

The Middle East is complicated.

The religious, social and political cleavages of the region are myriad and hard to succinctly sum up. How do you untangle the Israeli-Palestinian situation, or explain the divide between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam, or square those who favor political Islam with those who favor secular government? Where do other religious and political minorities fit in? And where do big powers outside the region, most obviously the United States, exert influence?

Over the past year, as Syria’s civil war dragged on and the Islamic State extremist group became everyone’s worst nightmare, the desire to try to explain the Middle East – in a bid to help solve its daunting problems – has grown.

There have been a number of increasingly complicated attempts to illustrate the web of relationships in the Middle East. Below are nine of our favorites.

Last summer, a reader of the Financial Times tried to make sense of the Middle East with a widely shared letter to the editor (see above)... MORE

9 attempts to explain the crazy complexity of the Middle East (PDF)




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