The U.S. Institute of Peace launches a new interactive feature about seven flashpoints in the Middle East, providing analysis, detailed chronologies, maps and illustrations about historic transitions up to today’s events.

Middle East political map (CIA)
Middle East political map (CIA)

Syria
Protests during the 2011 Arab uprisings triggered one of the deadliest wars of the early 21st century. It produced one of the gravest humanitarian crises, as hundreds of thousands were killed, millions fled their homes, and more than half the population relied on aid for daily sustenance. The chaos allowed the Islamic State to seize a third of the country, which led to intervention by regional militias and global powers. Read more.

Iran
In 1979, a revolution ousted dynastic rule dating back more than two millennia and introduced Islam as a means of governance. It rattled the region by exporting its zealous ideology. It sired or sponsored militant allies from Lebanon to the Gulf. For four decades, it has unnerved both East and West by defiantly challenging international norms. Read more.

Iraq
After Saddam Hussein’s ouster in 2003, Iraq’s new leaders struggled to chart a democratic course after decades of dictatorship. It suffered through a civil war, political turmoil, widespread economic corruption, sectarian tensions and an extremist insurgency, led by the Islamic State, that seized a third of the country. Read more.

Libya
The North African country has struggled to remain unified since the uprising in 2011 and the end of Moammar Qaddafi’s four-decade long rule. During the subsequent chaos, armed groups proliferated, and Islamism emerged as a powerful new political force. Separate governments continued to rule in Tripoli and Benghazi. Read more.

Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian movement split—politically, geographically, militarily and strategically—after the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Fatah, a secular movement, led the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Hamas, an Islamist movement, ruled in Gaza. Prospects for statehood were complicated by three major wars between Hamas and Israel. Read more.

Egypt
Since 2011, Egypt has witnessed protests, political turnovers, sporadic violence, and waves of repression. This analysis spans key events: a new generation of activists energized long-stagnate politics and countrywide demonstrations; political rivalries pitted secularists against Islamists; and internal turmoil led to the election of a former field marshal. Read more.

Tunisia
Protests in Tunisia ignited the Arab Spring in late 2010. The transition has witnessed the evolution of the most hopeful young democracy in the Middle East. But it is still fraught with economic, political and security challenges. Read more.

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