Limits of space prevent me from thanking the many writers and thinkers whose work guided me in the preparation of this book. Among these people are members from the gamut of Middle Eastern nationalities. I hope that this work will serve to honor the quests for freedom in which many of these people are engaged.
I am grateful to the directors of the Curwen Stoddart Memorial Fund, who encouraged my work by making a grant available to me in 1979. The fund was established in memory of Curwen Stoddart, who had dedicated his life to facilitating Arab-Jewish rapprochement. I have earnestly sought to incorporate Professor Stoddart's progressive vision concerning the peaceful coexistence of Mideastern peoples into this work.
I am also indebted to the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and particularly to its executive director, Israel Singer, for enabling me to pursue the research that informs this work during my tenure as director of the WJCs Project for the Study of Middle Eastern Nationalities. During this project I benefited from the research assistance and friendship of Wilhelm ("Bill") Figueroa.
A special thanks is due to Dr. Ismet Sherrif Vanly, whose comments on my chapter dealing with the Kurdish national movement proved most helpful to me.
My greatest appreciation goes to my wife, Donna Eve Nevel, without whose intellectual prowess and analytic abilities this work would not have succeeded.
Self-Determination in the Middle East: The Endurance of Turmoil
The great expanse of territory extending from the westernmost reaches of northern Africa to lands east of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, from Asia Minor to the deepest Sudan, encompasses those countries presently under Arab rule, that is, the "Arab world." These stretches of land straddle the African and Asian continents and vary from desert wilderness to snow-covered mountains.
Ethnically, the "Arab world" is a highly heterogeneous region. Multitudes of Kurds populate the Middle East's northern tier along with Arabs, Azerbaijanis, Baluch, Persians, Turcomans, and other Turks. Arabs and Jews, Armenians and Assyrians, Druze and self-described "Phoenecians" inhabit Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. While the Arabian Peninsula is correctly described as a "sea of Arab-dom," Dhofaris, Persians, and other ethnic groups have struck roots deep in Islam's heartland.
Across the Red Sea, in Africa, Nubians and other ethnic Africans inhabit Djibouti and the south of the Sudan. Also living in these countries are ethnic Somalis, who make up the majority of the population in Somalia and Eritrea. Just north, in Egypt, live the
Copts, a small minority who some Egyptians maintain represent the contemporary manifestation of primordial Egypt. To the west of Egypt, in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco, Berber language and culture form the social basis of the Maghrebian hinterland. Mauritania, as its name denotes, is the "land of the Moors," a hybrid people of mixed Arab-Berber ancestry.
As diverse as the Middle East is ethnically, its linguistic and cultural richness makes the region a mosaic of peoples. Arabic language and culture are dominant in the region, but to depict the Middle East as a vast Arab domain belies the region's manifest heterogeneity.