This Week in Middle East History

Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan who was deposed in July 1972 after forty years of peacefully ruling Afghanistan

Siege of Jerusalem – July 15th, 1099 – The Crusaders from Western Europe ended a month-long siege of Jerusalem by storming the city walls and taking control of the entire city.  Once the Crusaders entered the city they proceeded to forget their holy intentions and massacre most of the inhabitants of the city, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew.  By taking Jerusalem the Crusaders fulfilled their original objective and began a series of European kingdoms in the Levant that would last for almost two centuries.

– Beginning of the Islamic Calendar – July 16th, 622 – The Islamic calendar began its reckoning from the day that Muhammad left Mecca on his way to the city of Yathrib (to be renamed Medina).  This lunar calendar is used by all Muslims around the world and compromises the second most used calendar system to the European Gregorian calendar.

Abdul Rahman Arif is deposed – July 17th, 1968 – Arif, the third president of Iraq (from 1966 to 1968) was overthrown in a bloodless coup orchestrated by members of the Baath party that would later become infamous as the original party of future dictator Saddam Hussein.

Mohammed Zahir Shah is deposed – July 17th, 1973 – Zahir Shah was the last king of Afghanistan who ruled for over four decades until he was overthrown by an ex-Prime Minister while in Italy undergoing eye surgery.  Following his fall from power Afghanistan became a republic for the first time in its history.

– Birth of Ismail I – July 17th, 1487 – Ismail I was the first leader of the Safavid dynasty that would come to rule over much of Iran and neighboring countries until its fall in the mid 18th-century.  The Safavids brought about a rebirth in Iranian culture and power while also contesting the Ottoman Empire as the most powerful Muslim empire in the world.

Battle of Mirbat – July 19th, 1972 – A battle occurring during the Dhofar Rebellion in Oman that pitted the democratic, British supported, Omani government against the communist Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman that was supported the communist government of South Yemen.  Mirbat signified a significant victory on the Omani government’s long road to eventual total victory against the rebels within its territory.

Siege of Jerusalem – July 70 AD – The Roman forces, led by future emperor Titus, succeeded in capturing the city from the Jewish rebels who had revolted against Roman control three years earlier.  When the Romans entered the city they massacred many of the inhabitants, with estimates ranging up to almost one million killed.  They also destroyed the Temple of Solomon, which dealt a psychological blow to the Jewish people that still resonates to this day.

Previous weeks in Middle Eastern history –

July 4th

June 4th

May 27th

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