The Middle East saw much conflict during the last century. Its deserts contain the world’s biggest oil fields, which have brought wealth to the area’s rulers but also colonial interference and wars. Other flashpoints were the creation of Israel and disputes over the role of Islam in government.
In 1948, the UN made part of Palestine the Jewish nation of Israel. Jewish people returned to their traditional homeland, but many displaced Palestinian Arabs became refugees. The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians for this land continues.
In 1963, the Ba’ath party seized power in Iraq with US support. In 1979, Saddam Hussein became president. Iraq fought against Iran, and invaded oil-rich Kuwait, which was liberated by a US-led coalition in 1991. In 2003, the US and Great Britain claimed that Hussein remained an international threat and invaded Iraq.