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Middle East Studies-A Reflection

Jenkins Macedo
Professor M. Eskandari
Reflection on Chapters 2

Chapter 2 was lengthen than chapter 1 and provided detail geographic information of the landforms of the Middle East, its Water Systems, the region’s skies and winds that influence the climate system and other environmental features such as soil and their ecological relationships, vegetation and animal life.
The landform patterns of the Middle East include the stable interior province such as the Nubian-Arabian Shield, the Mobile Belt and the Median Trough, which is an intermediate between the two. The Nubian-Arabian Shield contains both the narrow coastal plain, “Tihamah that extends virtually the full length of the Arabian Peninsula’s to the Red Sea coast and supported by tremendous mountain ranges” (Held, 2006 pg. 19). Sedimentary materials found in the eastern Arabian Peninsula overlies the basement rocks found in the Fertile Crescent and the Syrian Desert which are located in the heart of the Middle East. Nevertheless, strata found in the central areas of the Middle East are more level and are mainly made up of Cretaceous limestone. An important “geomorphic feature of the western Fertile Crescent is the Levant Rift System, which is a great trench that extends from the northwestern end to the Red Sea up the Gulf of Aqabah and along the Wadi al-Arabah, Dead Sea, Jordan River Valley and the Bekaa of Lebanon” (Held, 2006 pg. 20). According to the plates tectonics theory this feature is located on a transformed fault, which is also an active geologic hot spot. The Mobile Belt or as it is sometimes called “Fold Belt” is a continuous band of folded, faulted and compressed mountains extending from the western to eastern Anatolia and southeastward leading to Iran and eastward to the Himalayas. The belt makes Turkey, northeastern Iraq, and Iran structurally extraordinary and complex.
Between the Arabian plate and the Iranian subplate lies the Mesopotamian-Gulf Trough, which is technically the southeastern edge of the Stable Interior Province and is considered to be one of the most important and conspicuous geomorphic features of the region. It is also the site of the world’s greatest petroleum province. Also, the Mesopotamian-Basin is located in the northwestern half of the shield and is above sea level and subdivided into two: low plateau located northwest of Iraq’s capital Baghdad and an alluvial-deltaic plain stretching from Baghdad to the Gulf.
The Middle East water system is a paramount feature just as any other region of the world. Water is life. There has be significant changes in the water levels in the seas and other water bodies in the Middle East. This can be attributed to “major modifications in response to slight crustal adjustments and variations in the conditions of the climate” (Held, 2006 pg. 25). During the Pleistocene glacial period sea levels fell to more than 393 ft./120 m below its current level. However, with the increase in precipitation throughout the region during the period of glacial maxima, the Middle East enjoyed an increased in water levels.
One important aspect that surfaced in the chapter in relations to water resources in the Middle East is the issue of the use of local water resources by oil producing industries. With the increase of oil companies currently operating in the Middle East almost everyday the local environment in which they operate receives significant negative impacts. For example, the trucks used in transporting equipments and finished products leave behind dusty roads and when those dust particles settled they pollute the local water reservoirs causing local human inhabitants, animals and plants life at risk. The use of water for agricultural purposes also leads to various forms of water pollution.
Water resources in the Middle East have significant influence on the weather (short term) or climate (long-term) conditions. The extensive and deep Mediterranean waters for example has profound effects on the climate of much of the Middle East, Southern Europe and North Africa.
Climate is the average weather condition of a particular place. Climate can also be considered as “Statistical weather.” Climate just as any other geographic features has direct or indirect influences on the people and the activities they undertake. Climate “affects the preferred places of human habitation, clothes people wear, the design of their houses, the vigor of their outdoor labor, energy use, agricultural activities, transportation, etcetera.


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