The Middle East was the intermediate area, where today are Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, up to Iran, through Mesopotamia, and including the Arabian Peninsula.
This denomination had its origin from a Eurocentric point of view to delimit the geographic region. Since the 20th century, however, it has become a geopolitical designation for a group of countries more directly involved in conflicts or strategic issues. Therefore, the Middle East area can vary its name, depending on the objective of the analysis.
Three elements can be taken into consideration when delimiting the countries under this nomenclature: the confluence of three major continents, the presence of oil and natural gas reserves, and ethnic ethnic-religious rivalries.
The Middle East is considered the birthplace of civilization since it was here where the elements that started the development of complex societies were created. Thus, this means that the occupation of the area is quite ancient and that human groups originated from there and brought techniques, myths, beliefs, and many worldviews.
The region is also an old and vital zone of transit and transportation. The historic Silk Road, for example, was the stage for disputes between Christians and Muslims who sought to control the trade routes that passed through Constantinople.
Nowadays, some points in the region are essential for the transportation of oil and merchandise. The most prominent are the Persian and Aden gulfs, the Straits of Hormuz and Bab-El-Mandeb, and the Suez Canal, the main shipping route between Europe and Asia.
Abundant and good quality oil
Currently, about 54% of the world's energy comes from oil and natural gas. Therefore, access to reserves of these fuels is a strategic necessity for companies and governments.
Besides the quantity of oil, another advantage of the region is the low cost of production in most Middle Eastern countries.
The low cost of production is mainly due to two factors. One is the lightness of the oil: the lighter it is, the greater the economic utilization and, therefore, the higher the yield of the process.
The ease of access is another factor that makes the cost of producing oil in the Middle East attractive. This ease happens because, over time, the region was uplifted by the pressure of moving tectonic plates, taking oil formed in deep areas closer to the surface.
The three main religious groups in the Middle East are the followers of Islam (Muslims), Judaism, and Christianity. These three religions originated in this region from the same cultural source, so they have many elements in common.
From the point of view of the history of religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are classified as Abrahamic. According to the Jews, Abraham founded the monotheism of the Hebrew people, who would be the ones chosen by God. The conception of a chosen people means that Judaism does not have an evangelizing aspect. For this reason, it has the smallest scope among the three.
The Middle East was dominated by European nations for decades between the end of World War I and the end of World War II when independent countries began to organize themselves. During this period, artificial borders were created, such as those in Africa.
Interference from foreign powers and disputes between local forces over hegemony also generate conflicts in the Middle East. These interferences and disputes involving countries such as the United States, Britain, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, often fuel so-called proxy wars, in which local enemy groups are propped. The most lengthy conflict is the Palestinian War.