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.
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