the “near east”
Posted: 02 March 2007 10:06 PM   [ Ignore ]
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seems my education is lacking on this topic and it’s general meaning.

I always took it (near east) to be defined in accordance with the following link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_east

however, i’ve been reading up a bit on Morocco as of late (northwest Africa) and have come across it in terms of “near east” in accordance with, for example, this link…

http://www.usaid.gov/locations/asia_near_east/countries/morocco/morocco.html

i’m therefore curious as to the various opinions of the members of this demographically diverse board (wordorigins) as to the various understandings of what the “near east” is and it’s geographical lines of demarcation.

it’s not surprising to me, by the way, that the near east could be understood to come so close to the straight of Gibraltar, what with the obvious oriental flavor inherent in some variants of flamenco music and what not.

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Posted: 02 March 2007 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Note that Wiki also excludes Egypt from its definition of Near East, whereas USAID includes it, along with Morocco, in its grouping.  My take is that an organisation, such as USAID, can make an arbitrary decision to include any country in its “Regional” groupings when they have administrative, language, or any other reason of convenience, to do so.  Organisational groupings should not, therefore, be confused with geographical or geo-political ‘definitions.’

Edit to correct typo.

[ Edited: 03 March 2007 10:42 AM by Skibberoo ]
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Posted: 03 March 2007 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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(from your Near Eastern correspondent)

The Wikipedia article spells it out, in my opinion, fairly clearly. Obviously the implications of the term shift, depending on who is, or was, using it, in what context, and at what time in history.

Morocco is, it must be admitted, a long way East of the United States, but so are Ireland, Norway, and Belarus. I can think of two reasons for locating Morocco in the Near East:  (a) Ignorance (b)Administrative convenience --- the latter is the case, I would say, with the second of the two websites you quoted.

As little as a thousand years ago, the centre of the Western world was still Rome, to which all roads proverbially led. Morocco was as far West as you could get by land (the name “Morocco” derives from an Arabic word meaning “West"). Around 1100, Judah Halevi of Toledo (*), yearning for Zion, wrote: “My heart is in the East, and I in the uttermost West”.  Times change, yes, but not that much. If you were in Washington, setting up aid programs for faraway countries that need them, you might have sound reasons for lumping Morocco in with the Near East. Not otherwise.

(*) Spain, not Ohio ;-)

(Edit): Skibberoo says it better than I could. I was writing while he posted, and might have saved my electrons if I’d checked just before posting

[ Edited: 03 March 2007 12:41 AM by lionello ]
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Posted: 03 March 2007 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Here’s a previos thread, albeit a brief one. There are references there to an earlier thread but I can’t find that one.

I recall that in the British Army overseas postings were classified as, for instance, Cyprus - Near East, Aden, etc - Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong etc - Far East.

[ Edited: 03 March 2007 01:00 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 03 March 2007 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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"Near East,” “Middle East,” “Far East,” all these terms are very inexact and the definitions shift with who is using them. If you actually read the Wikipedia article, as opposed to just looking at the map with the colored bits, you will see that the definition of “Near East” expands and contracts depending on the needs of the person using the term, encompassing anything from the Balkans, to Yemen, to Morocco.

I’ve noted in US news/political speak lately that the commonly used definition of Middle East is narrowing to encompass only Israel/Palestine, as in “Despite the rhetorical claims to the contrary, Iraqi objections to the presence of US forces have little to do with the continuing conflict in the Middle East.”

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