In the spirit of Ben Smith's "11 BuzzFeed Lists That Explain the World" for the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy, the FP staff decided to look at the world through BuzzFeed's eyes for a day. For more, check out 14 Hairless Cats That Look Like Vladimir Putin, 7 Things North Korea Is Really Good At, 9 Disturbingly Good Jihadi Raps, and 1 Pentagon Weapons System That Was on Time and Under Budget.
1 - 2.
As World War I was raging, the British and French carved up the map of the Middle East to
preemptively divide the imperial spoils from the Ottoman Empire's fall.
The agreement, negotiated by François
Georges-Picot, who appropriately sported an imperial-style mustache, and Mark
Sykes, seen here with a chevron-style 'stache in need of a trim, created a blueprint for Western European control in the region that would set in motion
the next century of puppet governments, periodic uprisings, and ethno-religious
University of Montreal/Wikipedia
3 - 8.
These guys are just awful. Osama bin Laden, the founder of the
international terrorist network al Qaeda; his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri; and his acolytes from across the region -- Nasir al-Wuhayshi and Said al-Shihri, the emir and deputy
emir of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; Abu
Musab Abdel Wadoud, leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; and former
AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Each
sports his own variation of the Salafist scruffy beard. A 2009 study found that despite its supposed targeting of Westerners,
al Qaeda hasn't shied away from killing member of the Ummah. With a death toll
of eight Muslims for every one "apostate," al Qaeda and its affiliated
mustaches are definitely preventing peace in the Middle East.
Al Qaeda's Sept. 11
mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has tried a couple looks -- he wore a particularly bedraggled mustache before going back to
being a beardo.
After running a brutally repressive regime that
used chemical weapons on its own citizens -- and waging a decade-long war against
Iran in which unarmed civilians were used to clear minefields -- the United States toppled Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein and his notorious chevron-style mustache in 2003.
11 - 13.
Hussein's rivals in Iran
haven't helped calm tensions in the Middle East either. In addition to waging the Iran-Iraq War, the country's leadership
supports terrorist groups and brutal regimes around the region and may be
developing nuclear weapons, while suppressing domestic dissent with political
violence. Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini's beard (and glare) are legendary, but don't be fooled by current
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's
grandfatherly whiskers or President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's scruffy cheeks.
Gabriel Duval/Sajad Safari/Spencer Platt/AFP/Getty Images
Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, appreciates the
importance of Iranian patronage, and of grooming his rather stately beard.
Haitham Mussawi/AFP/Getty Images
15 - 16.
Another recipient of
Iranian assistance is Bashar al-Assad,
who has spent the past two years waging a civil war against a popular uprising-turned-armed rebellion. His brutality is a learned behavior; many feel he
lives in the shadow of his father, Hafez
al-Assad, who also ruthlessly suppressed Syria's population -- and his
father's mustache, which grew much fuller.
Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images
It hasn't given way to civil
war, but the two-year-long protest movement in Bahrain isn't contributing to
regional peace either. King Hamad bin
Isa al-Khalifa and his mustachioed regime haven't helped matters, conducting
mass arrests of activists and even the doctors that treated them after clashes
Mandel Ngan -- Pool/Getty Images
Assad's cruelty has only been
matched recently by the late Muammar
al-Qaddafi. Though he spent most of his career as the self-proclaimed brother
leader of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah clean-shaven, his facial hair matched
his growing disconnect from reality later in life. By the end he had adopted
some more scraggly stubble, and he lived his last days on the lam as the
mustachioed "mad dog of the Middle East."
Qaddafi was contributing
to unrest in the Middle East decades before the civil war in Libya. He is
believed to have ordered the assassination of the Lebanese cleric Musa Sadr, who established the Movement
of the Disinherited during Lebanon's civil war. Sadr's movement became a
rallying point for Shiite nationalism in Lebanon and, in time, became an
ideological predecessor to Hezbollah and generations of beards to follow.
The 1960s and 70s were turbulent times for the Middle East.
There was the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its leader, Yasir Arafat. Arafat renounced
terrorism in 1993 and, in his later days, his mustache thinned to a wiry,
somewhat unsettling shadow of its former self.
21 - 22.
Fresh off the revolutions
of the 1950s, the Middle East settled into a cold war between upstart military
autocracies, with Gamal Abdel Nasser's
Egypt leading the way, and conservative monarchies, with King Saud bin Abdul Aziz's Saudi Arabia
foremost among them. The Egyptian-Saudi rivalry has subsided in recent decades,
but some of its undercurrents remain.
The Muslim Brotherhood is one
such undercurrent. Nasser suppressed the Brotherhood and imprisoned and
executed its foremost ideologist, Sayyid
Qutb, whose prison manifesto Milestones
remains a foundational text of modern political Islam. His influence extends
beyond the Muslim Brotherhood, though, and his work has been cited by violent
extremists, including al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
No discussion of peace in the
Middle East would be complete without a mention of the Arab-Israeli
conflict. And while where that conversation should start is an open
conversation, it should probably include fin
de siècle Jewish intellectual Theodor
Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. His book The Jewish State and (arguably to a lesser extent) his flared mustache and square-cropped beard were instrumental in establishing the movement that, half a century later,
would lead to the establishment of the state of Israel.
25 - 26.
In 1917, with Britain
preparing to assert control over Palestine, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to
Baron Walter Rothschild declaring
that Britain would support "a national home for the Jewish people" in the
Palestinian territory. Balfour (and his lightly curled handlebar) and
Rothschild (and his flared Hungarian-style mustache and Carnegie-esque beard)
set the stage for Jewish immigration to Palestine under the British mandate.
Israeli leaders have suffered
from a dearth of facial hair, but Israel's hawkish former foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is a notable
exception. Lieberman, who sports a Van Dyke and a neard (that's shorthand for
neck beard), called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent apology to
Turkey a "serious mistake" and likened the latest round of nuclear negations with Iran to Hitler's
invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Ariel Schalit -- Pool/Getty Images
28 - 29.
Israel's latest spat with Turkey
started in 2010, when a flotilla of Turkish activists tried to deliver aid to
Gaza and was intercepted by the Israel Defense Forces, which has blockaded the
Gaza Strip since the militant group Hamas came to power. Hamas
leader Ismail Haniyeh, who sports a close-cropped beard, and political leader Khaled Meshaal, who has a
salt-and-pepper beard with a high-contrast mustache, have flirted with
negotiating for peace with Israel, but they have also periodically fired missiles
across the border and refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist.
Mohammed Abed/Agianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
30 - 31.
Under the governance of the Islamist Justice and Development Party for the past decade, Turkey has pursued a policy of "zero problems" with its neighbors -- an approach that is wearing increasingly thin. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose modest mustaches lack the signature grandeur
of their Ottoman forebears, have engaged in domestic feuds with Turkey's
military, sparred diplomatically with Israel, and supported opposition groups
fighting the Assad regime in Syria.
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
On the positive side, the Turkish government appears close to ending one protracted conflict. The country's leaders recently announced an
agreement and the start of peace negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party
and its leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Ocalan (or Apo, as his followers affectionately call him) waged a
decades-long Kurdish insurgency in the southeast of Turkey. And while he was
arrested in 1999 and is now imprisoned Napoleon-style in isolation on an
island, his impressive chevron mustache is still hoisted on banners at Kurdish
rallies around the region.
Joseph Barrak/AFP/Getty Images
The Turkish government is also
sheltering Iraqi Vice President Tariq
al-Hashemi, who, along with his mustache, fled an arrest warrant in Iraq,
where he stands accused of commanding a political death squad during the
country's civil war.
Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images
Some have suggested that the
charges against Hashemi are politically motivated and were orchestrated by his
rival, Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki.
Human rights and democracy groups warn that Maliki, who sometimes rocks a
sort-of stubbly look but has been known to grow out a modest horseshoe
mustache, may be shifting the country back toward a repressive autocracy.
Jason Reed -- Pool/Getty Images
Maliki rose to power during
the U.S. occupation of Iraq. There are any number of U.S. officials who diminished U.S. influence in the region by backing the war in Iraq, and some who played a greater role, but none reached the facial-hair heights of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
from 2005 to 2006, John Bolton,
whose walrus-style 'stache became an icon of anti-internationalist
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
It's hard to do nuance in an 1,000-word weekly column, but Thomas
Friedman's formula of glossing over the details with platitudes and pop
culture references has produced a swath of New
York Times readers who mistake these for analysis. It's not surprising that Friedman's "mustache of understanding," has
become a multifaceted
Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press