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Where Is "Middle East"?  Who Or What Is Part Of Middle East?

The answer is that technically there is no such place as "Middle East".  It does not really exist on a map.  Even though I can point out some very respected people that used the phrase "Middle East" in an innocent manner, such as J.F. Kennedy1, sadly, Middle East has become a derogatory slang term (always has been a slang term) utilized mostly by media, and often by bigots and ignorant people.  Being ignorant is not an insult.  We all start as ignorant and shed our ignorance on a topic by learning.

What country is part of the so called "Middle East" is a constantly changing choice and selectable according to anyone's will.  Most often the phrase is utilized by people and media establishments that want to isolate or separate a country from a larger group in an insulting manner.  A few minor very old past usages of this term or similar term were simply done by people who were bad with geography or wanted to temporarily distinguish a region of their own reference from the larger whole of Asia, since Asia is a pretty large continent.  Notice, I said Asia, and no mention of Africa or other region.  Later, others, with good and bad intentions, utilized the phrase to reference a non-defined region within Asia for ease of speech.  Over time, the imaginary region of "Middle East" has grown and changed to include and exclude countries.   Anyone is able to make their own definition of "Middle East", as it is a casual reference usage and a slang term.  In recent times, some are including countries of North Africa, while others are not.  Some include an East Europe country while others do not.  Initially, all countries thought of as part of the Middle East were all really West Asia.  Even now, most so called "Middle East" countries are Asian (western part of Asia).

Please note that I am not paid to write these articles.  It took half a day to write this article, including research involved, if I do not include the time for past research that had already been done.

 

Is Saying Middle East or Middle Eastern To Refer To A Country, Region, Or People An Insult?

Yes, it is an insulting usage.  None of those countries are East to anyone or anywhere of their own choosing, and none of the people or countries requested to be referred to as Middle Eastern or part of the Middle East.  The phrase was not created by any scholarly establishment and not by any recognized naming body/entity.  Middle East, MidEast, Middle Eastern are slang terms.  Countries often thought of or guessed by people to be part of the "Middle East" are already part of a known and named region.  For a long time, and normally, Middle East was and is really West Asia, and recently some have been including or thinking of North Africa countries as part of the Middle East.  Some have included a European country.  As the countries that are part of the so called "Middle East" keeps changing, other regions may also get associated with it.  Depending on one's reference point, every country is middle of somewhere and East to some place; including the country you are in now while reading this.  The more one thinks about the phrase, the more one realizes what a bad phrase it is, and in my opinion it should stop being used, and countries should be referenced by their proper continent region they are in.

For example, Iran is often thought of being part of Middle East, but it has not been the case always.  Iran is actually part of West Asia, and the proper term is to reference it as West Asian or Western Asia.  Same is true for many other countries often thought of or guessed to be part of the "Middle East", like Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, and most others.  Although, countries like Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran can also be argued to be part of Central Asia.   The reason this argument can be made is that there is no defined border or region of West Asia or Central Asia, and it depends on a person's preference and/or judgement.  This is where the rub comes in.  Because if you are trying to reference a narrowed down region of Asia, and you cannot decide if it is West or Central Asia, you may be inclined to make up a phrase like "Middle East" as referenced from your own countries perspective (such as a European country or USA perspective).  This is in fact what I propose happened.  However, Asia is an accepted name, and referencing the West of Asia is a significantly more accurate and proper than telling a people of a country you are East of us or Middle of some place with the usage of Middle East or other derivative or similar term. 

 

Countries That Are Part Of "Middle East".

Here are some lists I could find, and some from memory that show what people considered as Middle East or MidEast.  I have tried to organize the lists from oldest top to latest at bottom, when I could figure out what period of time the countries of that list were thought of.  Often I could not figure out what period the list was for, and included as best effort.

 

  1. Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan
  2. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan
  3. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan
  4. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel
  5. Iran, Afghanistan
  6. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates
  7. Greece, Turkey, Iraq, Iran
  8. Iraq, Syria
  9. Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait
  10. Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
  11. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar
  12. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen
  13. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Egypt
  14. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Egypt, Pakistan
  15. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Egypt, Pakistan, Azerbaijan
  16. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Egypt, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Cyprus
  17. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania
  18. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ubekistan, Turkmenistan
  19. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Omen, Pakistan, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ubekistan, Turkmenistan

At the time of writing this article, individual contributors to Wikipedia decided to say the imaginary region of "Middle East" includes these countries and territories: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Of course with time, even what is listed at Wikipedia will change, and even possibly completely removed since it is false to define a region of countries that is based on a slang phrase of an imaginary region that does not truly exist and has a fluid definition.

As you can see from the above lists, the meaning of "Middle East" has changed a HUGE amount over time, and even as you read this some people consider a certain set of countries as part of the imaginary "Middle East", while other people think of a different set of countries as part of the "Middle East".  Again, the reason for this is that there is no such place as the "Middle East", and it is slang phrase definable by anyone according to their own wants.

 

Map Image Examples

 
WordAtlas.com 8/19/2000 CE


WordAtlas.com 12/4/2002 CE


WordAtlas.com 8/1/2003 CE


WordAtlas.com 8/12/2016 CE

Armed Forces Journal Article Middle East Map - June 2006
Armed Forces Journal Article Middle East Map - June 2006


MidEast Web Middle East Map, March 2, 2000 CE.


MidEast Web Middle East Map, November 27, 2001 CE.

 

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References:

1. John F. Kennedy Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963.
2. Blood Borders, by Ralph Peters, in the Armed Forces Journal, June 2006. Archive URL.
3. MidEast Web Maps.
4. WorldAtlas Middle East map.
5. Archive of WorldAtlas 1998 Middle East list.
6. Archive of WorldAtlas August 19, 2000 Middle East Map page.
7. Archive of WoldAtlas December 4, 2003 Middle East Map page.

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  • Guest - Siman

    Finally! Someone posted and explained this well. THANK YOU! :)

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