Note: this article is generally canonical, but may reference old lore that may no longer be accurate. Contact the Lore Mods with questions.
Credit to Schwaff aka /u/Topesc
BRIEF HISTORY: ' Ever since Parahumans began to appear, the Middle East had seen it's fair share of conflicts. The clashes between Israel and her neighbors had grown more frequent and violent, with the power struggles of other states, primarily those of Iraq and Syria following suit. Through American and Soviet aid, the Middle East was able to maintain a balance of power, albeit one that survived through constant violence and bloodshed, propped out soley through foreign aid. Even it this time, there was significant debates within the United Nations as to whether or not the Middle East should be left to it's own devices, or whether more aid was required to keep the region stable.
The Middle East had always been the recipient of immense amounts of international aid after the two Endbringer attacks on Alexandria and Jerusalem, especially from the United States and Soviet Union. However, growing discontent in both the United States and the Soviet Union caused foreign aid and troops to gradually trickle out of the Middle East.
The governments of the Middle East were thrown into frenzy as some of their most reliable sources of income suddenly stopped. The region began a slow decline, with the regimes of the area began to feel their influence crumble. Iraq and Syria and particular began to feel the pressure of foreign aid vanishing, and began to look for alternate sources of income. The two states, both under Ba'athist regimes, formed an informal alliance, deciding to take matters into their own hands.
This didn't go unnoticed by the UN, and the Ba'athist alliance proved to only inflame the ongoing debate over what needed to be done over the fiasco in the Middle East. This marked the first time that the idea of essentially quarantining the area was put forwards, by the Turkish delegation. However, this mostly was seen as an extreme measure, and the two Ba'athist states were instead sanctioned, further increasing the economic woes within their borders.
In the summer of 1980, the Ba'athist alliance would make it's first move, crossing the eastern border of Jordan amid heavy international criticism. The UN scrambled for a solution, organizing a peacekeeping operation to stabilize the region. But these things took time, and that was to the Ba'athist's advantage. The region was not totally defenseless, however. Both Iran and Turkey armed themselves to move into Ba'athist territory, while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait secured their borders against the threat of invasion.
Jordan was swiftly and decisively defeated by the Ba'athists, whose armies were larger, more well equipped, and boasted far more Parahumans than the Jordanians. Turkey raced into northern Iraq and Syria, and the Ba'athist armies moved to confront them. With Israel and Lebanon both crippled from their own war, the Ba'athists left only a token force to defend their fresh conquests.
Following a series of indecisive clashes in northern Syria, the Turkish forces fell back to their own borders, opting to conserve their manpower rather than lose men fighting pointless battles. The Ba'athists pressed their attack, and the disorganized and retreating Turkish army was soundly beaten at the battle of Şırnak in the winter of 1981. The Turks would fall back to a secondary perimeter, and prepare to hold the line against the invaders. But with the mountains of southeastern Turkey aiding in the defense, the Ba'athists opted to cut their losses and dig into their new holdings. The next target would be by far the greatest foe to defeat: the Imperial State of Iran. But the Iranians would be dealt a killing blow before the battle even started.
Rebellion in Khuzestan, Iranian Kurdistan, and Iranian Azerbaijan would herald the retreat of the Iranian Army over the Zagros mountains. Despite having defeated the Iranian army, the disparate rebel groups of Iran were unprepared for what now seemed like an unstoppable army in the form of the Ba'athist alliance. The final obstacle to Ba'athist dominance in the Middle East was Saudi Arabia, and her ally, Kuwait.
The Saudis, not liking their chances, opted to fall back behind their greatest defense, the Arabian desert. The desert in the north of Arabia boasted the same hills that made Turkey such a challenge to defeat, as well as the scorching heat of a sandy desert. Kuwait, not having the luxury of a ordered retreat, fell easily. With the fall of Kuwait in summer of 1982, the UN was ready to intervene.
The Ba'athists had secured a vast domain for themselves by this point, hoping that their new conquests would provide them with wealth beyond anything that the UN or the Superpowers could provide. They had the military to exert their will over their new conquests, and planned to do so. But there were radical elements to the Ba'athist forces, and they demanded that they push their advantage further. With the UN mustering to intervene, the armies of the Ba'athists invaded Saudi Arabia, rushing past the secondary border the Saudis had established.
The desert took it's toll, and the Saudi army, with the aid of the United States in the form of their Strategic Territory Recovery and Intervention Force in Arabia and the Levant (STREIF-AL), was able to defeat the Ba'athists in a crushing defeat at the battle of Murat. Unfortunately, the Coalition forces were unable to press their attack, and the Ba'athists were able to retreat in good order. But the damage had been done.
The UN peacekeeping force, the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Arabia and the Levant (UNPOAL), took advantage of the defeat at Murat to attack the Ba'athist's western holdings in Jordan. After the capture of Jordan's former capital, Amman, the UN buckled down, and prepared itself for any possible retaliation. On the other side of the border, the remaning Ba'athists did the same, as did the US-lead coalition in Arabia. A stalemate had begun. the people of the Middle East had grown tired of conflict, and the UN was split on to whether or not to press their attack into the Ba'athist holdings.
As time passed, the fortifications on the borders of the Ba'athist holdings were reinforced many times over, forming more and more permanent defenses. The outside world locked down the area around the Ba'athist holdings, hoping to kill off their enemies through attrition.
Today, the Ba'athist alliance that tore through the Middle East is no more. Following their losses on the Arabian frontier and an economic collapse in the 90s, the Middle East, dubbed the "Arabian Strife" by the American press, owing to the name of the American intervention operation, has devolved into a humanitarian nightmare, with only the UN able to maintain any sort of peacekeeping operations in the Strife. The states that have lost territory to the Strife have had to make peace with holding their new borders, with any forays into Strife territory being met with a bureaucratic nightmare in the form oh having to 'civilize' the area.
DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: Population estimates of the Strife vary greatly. Low estimates hover at around 10 million, while high estimates are as high as 20 million. A vast majority of people in the Strife are Arab, with large minorities of Turkic peoples, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Jews, Persians, Copts, and Berbers.
The top five languages spoken in the Strife are Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, and Hebrew. Arabic is often spoken as a lingua franca. There are also tens of minority languages spoken in specific regions of the Strife. Languages within the strife have also been subject to their own evolution, with Strife Arabic becoming recognizable as it's own unique dialect.
Religion is also vastly diverse, although the three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism, there are also many minority religions, the most popular of which are the Baha'i Faith, Yazidism, Druze, and Shabakism. Older religions, such as Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, and even old Mesopotamian religions have begun to make a resurgence in the wake of the Strife.
PARAHUMANS: Parahumans are vastly more common in the Strife due to the chaotic nature of the region. Attitudes surrounding Parahumans vary from place to place, although they are generally seen as an enormous asset to a given group of people, especially smaller villages. Parahumans rarely hold leadership roles within larger factions, often being seen as little more as than tools to further the goals of the faction. The power that Parahumans hold often comes with a healthy dose of fear, and this allows Parahumans to seize control of smaller communities.
UN PEACEKEEPERS: Dedicated to holding the border against the chaos of the Strife, the UNPOAL force is the largest UN peacekeeping force ever assembled, and holds a huge swath of land that stretches from the Turkish border to the Sinai peninsula. The end goal of the force is to rebuild the government of Jordan so that it can hold the border on it's own. The base of operations for UNPOAL is Tel Aviv, Israel, with secondary command centers in Amman, Jordan and Kuwait City, Kuwait.
THE ASSYRIAN LEAGUE: A confederation of small villages centered around the city of Mosul, since renamed to Nineveh. Following the collapse of the Ba'athist alliance, Mosul was taken over by local Assyrian militias, who have now established themselves as a local power. The dominant language of the League is Syriac, and a vast majority of the population follows either the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox Church. There are also minorities of Mesopotamian Pagans, although these are often involved in more radical elements of the League. There are also minorities of Kurds and Arabs within the League, who primarily follow Sunni and Shia Islam. The league has risen to become a regional power within the Strife by way of it's powerful military and relatively stable government.
THE EMIRATE OF JABBAL SHAMMAR: Comprised of the city of Ha'il and it's surrounding area, the Emirate is a major player in the politics of the Strife, by way of having one of the most powerful militaries in the region, along with an incredibly easily defensible location. Ruled by an ultra-conservative cabal of warlords, the Emirate seeks to establish a monarchy in the form of a full sultanate in the Strife, although this dream is a long way from reaching fruition. A vast majority of people within the borders of the Emirate are ethnic Arabs, and follow some form of Sunni Islam. Many members of the 'nobility' follow a form of Salafi Islam, which has lead to some powers branding the Emirate as a terror group.
KURDISTAN: Already bordering on becoming it's own state before the Strife, the collapse of Iraq and Syria, coupled with the Turkish retreat from their southeastern meant that the historical borders of Kurdistan were now fully unclaimed. The Kurds, already possessing a military of their own, and nobody to oppose them, swept through their homelands, establishing their capital at the city of Amed. Today, the Kurds have the most powerful military in the Strife, and boast one of the few stable democracies in the region, acting as a Republic in most aspects of government.
BAGDHAD: The last remnant of the Ba'athist alliance that brought the Strife to the region, Bagdhad is a shadow of it's former self. The city controls the immediate surrounding area of the city, and tends to keep to itself in most affairs. Many of the factions inhabiting the Strife hold a grudge against Bagdhad, forcing the city to fortify itself against outside threats. The city also is one of the more fertile parts of the Strife, allowing it to exert some influence on it's neighbors through it's trade of grain. The city is ruled by a military junta of generals, some of whom served in the original Ba'athist wars.
ALEPPO: The city most focused on by UN relief efforts, the most populous city in Syria is now a hub of UN activity. The city governs itself by way of a semi-democratic system, heavily influenced by the UN. The city is also a hub of people attempting to cross the border into the UN zone.
NOTABLE REGIONS: THE BORDER: A catch-all term for the borders of the Strife, taking the form of anything from heavily guarded UN checkpoints to empty stretches of desert, and anything in between, the Border is what defines the Strife. The border is either often natural, with the Arabian Desert and Zagros Mountains of Iran making the two largest geographical borders. Except in places where the border has been explicitly marked out, like the UN exclusion zone, the border shifts back and forth from time to time.
THE UN BUFFER: A heavily fortified zone that keeps the Strife out of the former state of Jordan and the eastern part of Syria. From here, the government-in-exile of Jordan, as well as the moderate components of the governments of Syria and Iraq, make their homes, hopful they may one day reclaim their old homes. Humanitarian aid also flows out from here, mostly to the city of Aleppo.
KUWAIT CITY: A UN holdfast in the heart of the Strife, Kuwait was meant to serve as a hub for evacuations out of the Strife, but has since become essentially a refugee camp. The UN presence here his incredibly heavy, as the Strife threatens to take over the city at almost any time.
SAUDI ARABIA: The Saudis haven't lost much from the strife. Many of the inhabitants of the area of Arabia now within the Strife evacuated before the Ba'athists arrived, and the area holds no significant amounts of natural resources. The Saudis are by no means happy with the current state of affairs, but the situation as it stands is generally seen as workable by the Saudi leadership.
IMPERIAL STATE OF IRAN: Iran cannot claim to be in the same position as Arabia. With their oil fields gone, Iran has lost a wealth of natural resources, people and economic power. Iran desires nothing more than to retake it's lands to the west, although the mountainous nature of the terrain, and the general chaos in the region has made it almost impossible to hold on to.
TURKEY: With the only parts of Turkey lost to the Strife being Kurdistan, the international community is loath to allow Turkey to retake their former holdings. While Turkey is leery of the burgeoning nation to their southeast, their hands are tied in terms of recovering their lost land.