Greater Middle East

Greater Middle East

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The Greater Middle East is a political
Political geography
Political geography is the field of human geography that is concerned with the study of both the spatially uneven outcomes of political processes and the ways in which political processes are themselves affected by spatial structures...

 term coined by the Bush administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 to group together together various countries, pertaining to the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

, specifically Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Various Central Asian countries are sometimes also included. Some speakers may use the term to denote areas with significant Muslim majorities, but this usage is not universal. The Greater Middle East is sometimes referred to as "The New Middle East",

This expanded term was introduced in the U.S. administration's preparatory work for the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

 summit of 2004 as part of a proposal for sweeping change in the way the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 deals with the Middle East.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981....

, alluded to the modern Middle East as a control lever on an area he calls the Eurasian Balkans. The Eurasian Balkans consists of the Caucasus (Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Armenia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) and Turkey. Turkey forms the northernmost part of the Middle East. Turkey's Western lands (i.e. the Eastern Thrace and the areas around Istanbul) are considered a part of the Southeastern Europe, and not the Middle East.

Criticism


The concept of a "Greater Middle East" that puts together different regions has been criticized by several people. According to the Al-Ahram Weekly
Al-Ahram Weekly
Al-Ahram Weekly is an Egyptian English-language weekly broadsheet printed by the Al-Ahram Publishing House in Cairo, Egypt.It was established in 1991 by the Al-Ahram newspaper, which also runs a French-language weekly version, Al-Ahram Hebdo....

, it is unclear whether widening the Middle East facilitates the control of its numerous conflicts. "The question is, however, whether there is such a thing as a Greater Middle East extending beyond the traditional geographical boundaries of the region. And, if so, what are the common features shared by the different countries now identified as parts of a body that would extend from Pakistan in the east to Morocco in the west? Take, for example, the call for the creation of an independent Arab state in Palestine. Does it follow that there should be a similar call for an independent Kurdish state or for an independent state in Kashmir? If all these countries are parts of one entity, should there not exist similar solutions for similar problems?"
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

 has said "One has also to avoid a uniform approach, as one can not treat the Maghreb with the same pattern as the Middle East or the Persian Gulf states, nor can one concentrate everything on the security issue. To be successful, our approach must be global, taking into consideration all the political, economic, social, cultural, educational aspects."

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