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, includingMorocco 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 fromMorocco to Timbuktu, from Russian Turkestan to West Pakistan.9 It should be apparent by now that there is noaccepted 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 'MiddleEast' is an artificial nineteenth-century abstraction, a strategic concept imposed from without by the Britishauthorities. But it was not until after the Second World War that scholars and policy makers alike in the West began toemploy the term-though without any consensus on its geographical boundaries. What is ironic is that the use of the term haseven spread to scholarly circles in the Middle East itself. However, the problem of definition is not merely academic. It isalso ideological and political. Equating the 'Middle East' with a particular entity (the pan-Arab region) or anIslamic community (the Muslim umma) carries political implications. It implies rejection of an entireacademic 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'andsubstitute for it the concept of an Arab regional subsystem, which in their view represents more truly the interactions andrelationships in the area. This Arab system includes all Arab states extending from Mauritania to the Gulf, whose membersare bound by geographic csontiguity and who share similar linguistic, cultural, historical and social properties. Forexample, Jamil Matar and Ali Dessouki claim that the concept of a Middle Eastern system does not have any geographic orhistoric 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 MiddleEastern subsystem. They justify their decision on technical grounds or on the fact that the notion has become such a part ofthe general discourse that it cannot be disposed of. It would be futile to suppose that any authority could have the powermaterially to alter the trend in naming so potent a part of the globe.