Some analysts extend the Middle East to include Iran Afghanistan Pakistan

Some analysts extend the middle east to include iran

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Some analysts extend the 'Middle East' to include Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, the Maghrib, Israel and, of course, the Arab states. Other observers equate the 'Middle East' with the Arab world to the exclusion of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and even Israel. To some, the 'Middle East' means the Islamic world with its vast territories, including Morocco on the west and Bangladesh, India and Russian Turkestan on the east. Still others recognize that the 'Middle East' may be more a psychological than a geographical area. Anthropologists define the region as a culture area extending from Morocco to Timbuktu, from Russian Turkestan to West Pakistan.9 It should be apparent by now that there is no accepted formula to delimit the region. Definitions vary depending on the analysts' research designs. The ambiguous and amorphous nature of the notion should come as no surprise. After all, the 'Middle East' is an artificial nineteenth-century abstraction , a strategic concept imposed from without by the British authorities. But it was not until after the Second World War that scholars and policy makers alike in the West began to employ the term-though without any consensus on its geographical boundaries. What is ironic is that the use of the term has even spread to scholarly circles in the Middle East itself. However, the problem of definition is not merely academic. It is also ideological and political. Equating the 'Middle East' with a particular entity (the pan-Arab region) or an Islamic community (the Muslim umma) carries political implications. It implies rejection of an entire academic discourse, which takes the 'Middle East' for granted. Some Arab theorists, for example, dismiss the concept of the 'Middle East' as a product of Western 'colonialism' and 'imperialism' and substitute for it the concept of an Arab regional subsystem, which in their view represents more truly the interactions and relationships in the area. This Arab system includes all Arab states extending from Mauritania to the Gulf, whose members are bound by geographic csontiguity and who share similar linguistic, cultural, historical and social properties. For example, Jamil Matar and Ali Dessouki claim that the concept of a Middle Eastern system does not have any geographic or historic reality. Rather, it is a political concept in its origin and usage that reflects the strategic interests of the great powers. Thus, according to Matar and Dessouki, the concept of the 'Middle East' fails to capture regional dynamics and processes. Specialists on the area are aware of this definitional dilemma. Yet, they continue to talk about the 'Middle East' or a Middle Eastern subsystem. They justify their decision on technical grounds or on the fact that the notion has become such a part of the general discourse that it cannot be disposed of. It would be futile to suppose that any authority could have the power materially to alter the trend in naming so potent a part of the globe.
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