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Since 2001 we have seen the United States and the United Kingdom go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, continuing violence between Israel and Palestine, Turkey rising as a Eurasian power and an ‘Arab Spring’ in which Middle Eastern governments have been toppled. There are different understandings when it comes to which countries constitute the Middle East, but it is commonly understood as including countries in South West Asia and North Africa, from Libya in the west to Afghanistan in the east.

The Middle East is of huge geopolitical importance in the world. This can be seen in the extent to which news media focuses so intensively on this one region and also how much interest world powers such as the United States take in its affairs – often directly intervening.

In Volume 4 Issue 5 Canvas explores the Middle East and some of the most significant events that have taken place and are still taking place in this region of the world. Gregory Pichorowycz analyses the horror and tragedy of what is going on in Syria today and argues that the situation requires military intervention, whilst Thomas Leighton looks at how Turkey’s relationship with Syria has changed over the years.

Joe Austin explores the ‘resource curse’ of oil and how it has had a major impact on the economies and politics of Middle Eastern countries. Meanwhile, George Richards focuses on one of the richest economies in the world, the United Arab Emirates, and argues that many of its workers are in the condition of a modern day slavery.

Inside this Issue there are also two articles on Iran: Simon Renwick looks at how the west constructs its perception of Iran and Alex Titcomb assesses the history of US interference in Iran and how consequences can be felt today. I look, ten years on, at the Iraq War and whether it can be described as a humanitarian intervention. There are even more articles that Canvas writers cover within the topic of Middle East. Chris Olewicz focuses on the country of Yemen whilst Huw Wales approaches the history of a pan-Arabian movement and whether such a movement will happen nowadays.

This Issue has a fantastic range of well-argued and thoughtful pieces. I feel honoured that each writer has taken the time to research and write such fantastic articles for Canvas. If you are reading them and want to write for Canvas please do – we are always looking for new writers and there are so many ways to get involved.

Ben Mackay


Gregory Pichorowycz, Don’t Listen to Assad’s Rhetoric; Why Western Militaries Must Play a Role in Syria

Thomas Leighton, Trouble down the Tigris

George Richards, 21st Century Slavery in the UAE

Ben Mackay, 2003 Iraq War: Was it a humanitarian intervention?

Joe Austin, The Resource Curse

Huw Wales, A Pan-Arabian Nation: A fantasy or a possibility?

Alexander Titcomb, The Iranian Shah and Underestimating Islam: A Case Study in Failed Puppetry

Simon Renwick, The Great Identity Crisis and America’s fear of a nuclear Iran

Chris Olewicz, Yemen: The road to reconciliation