Middle East Term Paper

Let’s speak about Middle East… When one looks at a situation like that of Hafez Asad passing his presidency onto his son, it would seem extremely difficult in a presidential system, like that of Syria, to transfer rule from father to son. It would make it even more difficult considering that the son, Bashar Asad, does not fulfill many of the qualifications outlined in the constitution. However, somehow Hafez Asad was able to accomplish this transfer of rule to his son Bashar.

Hafez al-Asad had his mind set on paving the way for Bashar to succeed him as president. Many steps were taken and many changes were made by al-Asad to ensure and secure the presidency for his son. This was a fairly smooth transition. Al-Asad began to bring strong supporters of Bashar into the cabinet and appoint them into key positions. Out of the thirty-six possible positions available in the cabinet, twenty-three had been given to these young, loyal supporters of Bashar. The remaining thirteen seats however were still held by the older officers and were the most important seats in the cabinet.

The constitutional obstacles that would have otherwise prevented Bashar from taking power were dealt with and were no longer a problem. The Syrian parliament held a meeting after the death of al-Asad and amended article eighty-three of the constitution, which held that presidential candidates must be at least thirty-five yeas of age to be granted presidency. The parliament changed that legal age to thirty-four, allowing Bashar, who was thirty-four at the time, to succeed the presidency. The People’s Assembly later elected Bashar as the president.

The public needed to be convinced that Bashar had many of the same underlying qualities as his late father. Bashar was groomed and formed into this image by supporters, managers, and his loyalists. However, no matter what measures were taken to make Bashar look like his father, bottom line is that Bashar is not his father. His father was the elite in Syria. He made all the important decisions. Basher on the other hand, acts only as a figurehead president, just some one who can fill in the presidential void. The majority of the key decisions are not made by Bashar, but rather are made by the barons, who rule Syria behind the scenes.
I personally believe that Bashar has no chance at remaining in power for a long-term period. First, Bashar lacks maturity, experience, and self-confidence. At the time of his appoint, and in Syria today, doubts that Bashar can lead the country are evident. The only reason I see for Bashar to stay president for the time being is simply because there is no one else. In his two years of power, it has been pretty calm and stable, however, the Syrians’ attitude toward Bashar has not changed. The fact that Bashar has not yet gained the trust of his own people, and that his ability to govern Syria is still in question today, leads me to believe that his reign will not last long.

Saddam’s Attack on Kuwait
After the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein found himself in a very tight spot. To him, quick take-over of Kuwait, his neighbor to the south, seemed like a good solution to all his problems. Kuwait, like Iraq, was a small country that had once been a part of the Ottoman Empire. When Kuwait was granted its independence, its borders were set in an illogical manner, and are not readily defensible. This made it easy for Saddam to make his decision in invading the country.

In many ways, Saddam in Iraq looked at Kuwait as an irritant. There were many reasons behind Saddam’s aggression toward Kuwait. Kuwait had committed the unforgivable sin of loaning Iraq considerable amounts of money during the Iran-Iraq war. After the war, Saddam had found himself and his country in serious debt. He owed Kuwait large sums of money, and Kuwait wanted their money back. Saddam claimed to have saved not only Iraq, but also the entire region from the Iranian steamroller and explained that he deserved special consideration amounting to renegotiating or even canceling the debt completely for doing so. Kuwait refused to acknowledge this request.

Like most of the Persian Gulf region, the majority of Kuwait’s revenues were derived from the oil industry. At the time of all these occurring events, Kuwait had lowered the oil prices. This was the last thing Saddam needed because in lowering the price of the oil, Kuwait was cutting into the Iraqi oil revenue. This upset Saddam as he began to see that there was no way he can pay off his debt selling oil at such low costs. He explained to Kuwait that the oil could be sold at a much higher cost and there was no way he would be able to pay Kuwait back with such low oil prices. Again, Kuwait did not want to hear it, and refused to put the price of oil back up. During late July of 1990, Saddam Hussein built up his military forces on the border with Kuwait. On August 2, Iraqi divisions rolled over the border. Resistance was nearly non-existent. Saddam proclaimed his annexation of Kuwait, built up his forces, and waited to see what the world would say or do.

Political System of Iran
Islamic politics are strongly based and influenced by Islamic law. For example, it is stated in the constitution that all laws and regulations including civil, criminal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political or otherwise, shall be based on Islamic principles. This applies generally to all the articles of the constitution.

The supreme leader is the single most powerful figure in the Islamic Republic. An Assembly of Experts who is popularly elected from candidates vetted by the Guardian Council selects the leader. The appointment is for life, but the Assembly of Experts has the power to dismiss a leader who has become incapacitated or unfit for duty. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became supreme leader on the death of the charismatic founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989. The leader has the final word on national policy, is commander of the armed forces, and appoints the chief of staff, judiciary chief and head of the state broadcasting monopoly. He is responsible for resolving disputes between the arms of the state and must stay above political power struggle. He has the power to dismiss the president.

Constitutionally, the second most powerful figure in the country, the president is directly elected by the people and heads the government, which is responsible for day-to-day administration of the country. The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and, as the Chief Executive, for the exercise of the Executive Powers. Those matters that directly relate to the Leader are not within the President’s power. The President is elected by the direct vote of the people for a four-year term of office. His consecutive re-election is allowed only for one term. The Judiciary and the Legislature supervise the President. Conservative opposition to his reformist agenda has hobbled Khatami, re-elected in a landslide win to his second and final four-year term in 2001. The Supreme Leader can dismiss the President after a Supreme Court verdict or following an Islamic Consultative Assembly vote against the President. In order to proceed to a more democratic society and to reform the political system of Iran, the authority of the President must gradually increase. The President is elected by the direct vote of the people and, moreover, he must answer to the direct representatives of the people. This is where the dual political system is evident, between the Supreme Leader and the President.

The Parliament is next to the president, followed by the Guardian Council. The council is made up of twelve men. Six clergymen appointed by the supreme leader and six jurists selected by parliament from a shortlist submitted by the judiciary chief, who is in turn appointed by Khamenei. The council has the power to veto legislation it considers contrary to Islamic law and has used this means to block a string of Khatami’s reforms.
Since the election of President Khatami, several political parties have emerged. They are as follows: Executives of Construction, Followers of the Imam’s Line and the Leader, Islamic Coalition Association, Islamic Iran Solidarity Party, Islamic Partnership Front, Militant Clerics Association, Second Khordad Front, and Tehran Militant Clergy Association.

The Future of Iraq
I do not envision a future for Iraq without the capture of Saddam Hussein. I believe that at the moment a successful attempt to set up a new government in Iraq is made, Saddam has something planned to destroy it. This is of course if the United States leaves Iraq. I envision the future of Iraq to go nowhere. The U.S. has always looked out for its own interest, and at the moment the interest of the U.S. is oil. I envision a U.S. take over rather then a U.S. helping to form a workable government in Iraq. We will use up all the resources of oil available and when we no longer need Iraq for its resources we will leave it on its own. It will remain unstable and unsafe. Other countries will eventually attempt to come to the “aid” of Iraq, but will merely want to extend their territories.

If the U.S. does set up an Iraqi government, it will be one that looks out not for Iraq, but for the U.S. This is apparent because it is up to the U.S. to decide what they want to do now that they are in Iraq. If Iraq has any chance of surviving and becoming a wealthy, independent country, it has to be left up to the people to decide what they want as government, without the influence of the U.S. However, as I stated before, Saddam has to be found before anyone can establish anything in Iraq.


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