The Arab world in the 1990s and beyond: old problems and new challenges

by Mary E. Morris

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Emphasizing the importance of an understanding of the past, this paper considers the history of the Middle East, and the events that are occurring there now and that are likely to occur in the future. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has exposed a number of fissures and cleavages in the Arab world. The author reviews the underlying problems that have caused the fissures: the Palestinian problem; scarcity of resources, especially water; population growth and increased urbanization; economic imbalances; religious differences; border disputes; and the impact of Western values on traditional societies. The author suggests that the changes brought about by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait present opportunities as well as challenges which will best be met by acting out of an understanding of the past.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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