International American Council

International American Council
Middle East and North Africa

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Iran

Iran

Official name: Islamic Republic of Iran

Capital city: Tehran – population approximately 7.5 million

Area: 1.648 million square kilometers (636,296 square miles)

Population: 77.3 million

People: The majority are Persian, but there is a significant Azeri minority. Other ethnic groups include Kurds, Arabs, Lurs, Baluchis and Turkmen

Language: Persian (Farsi) is the national language. Azeri is the next most widely spoken language – most Azeri speakers living in the northwest around Tabriz. Other minority languages include Kurdish, Arabic, Luri and Baluchi

Religion: The official religion is Shi’a Islam. The majority of the population are Muslims, approximately 89% are Shi’a, 10% are Sunni, mainly Kurds. The rest are mainly Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian or Bahá’í

Currency: Iranian rials (10 rials = 1 toman)

Government type: Unitary Islamic republic

U.S. – Iran relations:

The United States and Iran had diplomatic, economic and political relationships from 1880 until 1979, when the Islamic Republic of Iran changed its policies dramatically and occupied the American embassy in Tehran by taking 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days. The Islamic Republic of Iran heavily restricted laws on women rights, freedom of speech, press, and assembly. Additionally, the disclosure of the nuclear proliferation center in Natanz and Arak raised international outcry on Iran’s ambitions in reaching nuclear power. The U.S. also has concerns about Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and human rights record.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

English

Israel

Israel

Official name:  State of Israel

Capital city: Jerusalem. Other cities – Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba

Area: pre-1967 borders : 21,000 square kilometers  (8,250 square miles)

Population: 7.5 million

People: Jews (76%), Muslims (16.1%), Christians (3.4%), and Druze

Languages: Hebrew, Arabic. English and Russian widely spoken

Religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity

Currency: New Israeli shekel (NIS)

Government type: Parliamentary democracy

U.S. – Israel relations:

Since the funding of the state of Israel in 1948, the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and development has been a crucial element. Both the United States and Israel encourage democratic systems of governance and protection of human and women rights in the region. The United States and Israel have bilateral economic, strategic, diplomatic, political, and scientific relationships, implemented through organizations such as the Binational Science Foundation, the Binational Agricultural Research Joint Economic Development Group, and Joint Counterterrorism Group.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

English

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Official name: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Capital city: Kabul. Other main cities are Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e Sharif

Area: 652,230 square kilometers (251,745 square miles)

Population: Estimated to be 30 million (UN) with an estimated total of two million refugees in Pakistan and 915,000 in Iran (UNHCR)

People: The population comprises of numerous ethnic groups, the major ones being Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Chahar Aimaks, Turkmen and Balochs

Languages: Dari (related to Farsi) and Pashto

Religions: Approximately 99% Islam – around 80% of whom are Sunni Muslim

Currency: The Afghani

Government type: Islamic republic

U.S. – Afghanistan relations:

The United States has made a commitment to assist the government of Afghanistan and Afghan people by providing resources and expertise to Afghanistan in a variety of areas, including humanitarian relief and assistance, capacity-building, security needs, counter-narcotic programs, and infrastructure projects. Additionally, the United States encourages the government of Afghanistan to combat corruption, and building upon democratic reforms, including a commitment to women rights and better governance.

Afghanistan and United States are both members of international institutions, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and World Bank. Moreover, Afghanistan has previously signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

 

English

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Official name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Capital city: Riyadh

Area: 2,149,000 square kilometers (870,000 square miles)

Population: 29 million

People: Arabs; 8.5 million of the total population are foreigners

Languages: The official language is Arabic, although English is widely spoken in business.

Religions: Islam; about 90% of the Muslim population is Sunni and 10% is Shi’a. Publicly practicing any other religion is illegal

Currency: Saudi riyal (SR)

Government type: Unitary Islamic absolute monarchy

U.S. – Saudi Arabia relations:

The United States and Saudi Arabia established full diplomatic relations in 1940. Saudi Arabia’s unique role in the Arab and Islamic worlds, its possession of the world’s largest reserves of oil, and its strategic location make its friendship important to the United States. The two countries share common concerns and consult closely on regional security, oil exports and imports, and sustainable development, including issues such as the Middle East peace process and shared interests in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia is a strong partner in counterterrorism efforts, providing military, diplomatic, and financial cooperation. It works closely with U.S. law enforcement to safeguard both countries’ national security interests.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department 

English

Syria

Syria

Official name: Syrian Arab Republic

Capital city: Damascus

Area: 185,180 square kilometers (71,498 square miles)

Population: 22.5 million

People: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians and others 9.7%

Languages: Arabic, French, Kurdish and English

Religions: Sunni Muslim (72%); Alawi Muslim (14%); Christian (12%); Shia Muslim and Druze minorities

Currency: Syrian pound (also called Lira – LSYR)

Government type: Dominant-party unitary semi-presidential state

U.S. – Syria relations:

The United States established diplomatic relations with Syria in 1944 following U.S. determination that Syria had achieved effective independence from a French-administered mandate. Syria severed diplomatic relations with the United States in 1967 in the wake of the Arab-Israeli War. Relations were reestablished in 1974. Syria has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list’s inception in 1979. Because of its continuing support and safe haven for terrorist organizations, Syria is subject to legislatively mandated penalties, including export sanctions under the Syrian Accountability Act and ineligibility to receive most forms of U.S. aid or to purchase U.S. military equipment.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

English

Turkey

Turkey

Official name: Republic of Turkey

Capital city: Ankara; largest city is Istanbul

Area: 783,562 square kilometers (302,535 square miles)

Population: 75.6 million

People: Majority Turks (70-75%). Certain non-Muslim minorities recognized under the Treaty of Lausanne including Jews, Armenians and Greeks. Other ethnic peoples include Kurds (18%), Circassians and Bosnians

Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish

Religions: Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion. Islam is the dominantly practiced religion Turkey; it exceeds 99% (mostly Sunni)

Currency: Turkish lira (TL)

Government type: Unitary parliamentary republic

U.S. – Turkey relations:

The United States and Turkey have established full diplomatic relationships since 1947 when the United States made a commitment to assist Turkey in advancing its economy and stability. The United States has provided loans and grants – around 21 billion dollars – to Turkey. Both countries share common goals of promoting regional security and stability in the Middle East, strategic energy cooperation, trade and investment, security ties, counterterrorism, and human rights progress.

English

Iraq

Iraq

Official name: Republic of Iraq

Capital city: Baghdad (population: 3.9 million)

Area: 438,317 square kilometers (169,234 square miles)

Population: 31 million

People: Arab 75-80%, Kurdish 15-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian and other 5% (estimated).

Languages: Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian and Turkoman

Religions: Muslim 97%, Christian or other 3% (estimated)

Currency: New Iraqi dinar

Government type: Federal parliamentary constitutional republic

U.S. – Iraq relations:

The United States has made a commitment to assist the government of Iraq and Iraqi people by providing resources and expertise to Afghanistan in a variety of areas, including humanitarian relief and assistance, capacity-building, long-term development, and assistance to vulnerable groups. Additionally, the United States encourages the government of Afghanistan to combat corruption, build upon democratic reforms, women rights, democratic system of governance, and develop a sovereign, stable, pluralistic and self-reliant country. Both countries are signatory to the Strategic Framework Agreement which emphasizes on US-Iraq strategic, diplomatic, political, economic, and security bilateral relationships.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

English

Pakistan

Pakistan

Official name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Capital city: Islamabad

Area: 796,095 square kilometers (307,374 square miles)

Population: 180 million

People: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%,

Languages: Urdu and English (official), Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Urdu, Balochi, and many other local languages

Religions: Islam (97%), Hinduism, Christianity and others (3%)

Currency: Pakistani rupee

Government type: Federal parliamentary republic

U.S. – Pakistan relations:

Since its independence in 1947, the government of Pakistan and United States held diplomatic relations with common goals such as providing stability in the region, combating terrorism, economic development, and democratic reforms. Pakistan pledged cooperation in counterterrorism efforts and strengthening of democratic systems of governance. The United Stated provides financial and humanitarian assistance (including emergency humanitarian assistance of one billion dollars during the aftermath of the 2011 floods) in order to alleviate poverty and develop economic growth. Both the United States and Pakistan are members of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, WTO, IMF, and World Bank.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

English

Egypt

Egypt

Official name: Arab Republic of Egypt

Capital city: Cairo (population – 17 million)

Area: 1,002,450 square kilometers (387,048 square miles)

Population: 77.5 million

People: Eastern Hamitic (Egyptians, Bedouins, and Berbers) make up 99%; Greek, Nubian, Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) make up 1%

Languages: Arabic (official)

Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) (90%), Coptic Christian (9%) and other (1%)

Currency: Egyptian pound

Government type: Unitary semi-presidential republic

U.S. – Egypt relations: 

The United States and Egypt initiated diplomatic, political, and economic relationships since 1921, following the country’s independence from protectorate status under the United Kingdom. The United States has long provided financial assistance to Egypt to strengthen its economic and military developments. As part of the assistance, the United States encourages Egypt to strengthen its independent civil societies, democratic system of governance, rule of law, inclusive economic growth, and to protect human rights and women rights.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

English

Jordan


Jordan


Official name: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Capital city: Amman (population: 2,027,000)

Area: 89,213 square kilometers (34,445 square miles)

Population: 6.5 million

People: Arab (98%), Circassian (1%), Armenian (1%)

Languages: Arabic (official), English

Religions: Sunni Muslim 92%, Christian 6%, Other (2%)

Currency: Jordanian dinar (JD)

Government type: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

U.S. – Jordan relations:

The United States and Jordan have had diplomatic, economic, and political relationships since 1949. The United States has made a commitment to provide assistance to Jordan to forward its economic development, stability, prosperity and promotion of peace in the region. The United States and Jordan have a mutual agreement on combating terrorism, extremism and those who promote instabilities. Thousands of Jordanians receive educational grants from the United States. The United States assists Jordan in areas such as energy, youth and poverty alleviation, maternal/child health, governance, workforce development, and education. Both Jordan and the United States are members of the same international organizations including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department


English

Yemen

Yemen

Official name: Republic of Yemen

Capital city: Sana’a

Area: 527,829 square kilometers (203,796 square miles)

Population: 23.8 million

People: Predominantly Arab; but also Afro-Arabs, South Asians and Europeans

Language: Arabic

Religion: Islam is the official religion, including Shaf’i Muslims(Sunni) and Zaydi Muslims (Shia). There are also small numbers of Jews, Christians, and Hindus

Currency: Yemeni rial

Government type: Unitary presidential republic

U.S. – Yemen relations:

The United States established diplomatic relations with North Yemen in 1946 and South Yemen in 1967. The North had previously been part of the Ottoman Empire, and the South had been ruled by the United Kingdom. The Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) severed relations with the United States on June 7, 1967 in the wake of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Diplomatic relations were reestablished in July 1972. Most U.S. investment in Yemen is in the oil and gas exploration and production sectors.

The United States and Yemen have signed a trade and investment framework agreement. The two also have concluded bilateral market access negotiations as part of Yemen’s efforts to accede to the World Trade Organization. The bilateral agreement provides new market access opportunities for U.S. providers of agriculture, goods, and services.

 

Reference: U.S. State Department

 

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