Most Americans do not realize that the US involvement in the Arab world is over 200 years old…..its involvement began with the very founding of the country after the great Revolution of independence…..
As usual I cannot help myself…..you will get a bit of my usual historic perspective…….
The US involvement in the Arab world began with its confrontation with the Barbary republics of North Africa……
These actions were called “the Barbary Wars”……
- The Berber Muslim states of northwest Africa—Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis, and Morocco, collectively known as the Barbary States—regularly attacked ships in the Mediterranean, demanding tribute from various countries.
- President Jefferson’s administration refused to give the tribute and went to war in the Mediterranean in 1800, ending in an American victory and a treaty of peace in 1805.
- After the First Barbary War, the United States found its attention diverted to its deteriorating relationship with Great Britain, and the Barbary States took this opportunity to resume attacking American and European merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.
- The Second Barbary War occurred in 1815 under President Madison’s administration again as a result of piracy in the Mediterranean. Like the first war, the second war ended in victory for the United States and granted it full shipping rights in the Mediterranean Sea.
The First Barbary War…..
The First Barbary War (1801–1805), also known as the Tripolitan War or the Barbary Coast War, was the first of the two wars fought between the United States and the Northwest African Berber Muslim states, known collectively as the Barbary States. These included Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers, which were quasi-independent entities nominally belonging to the Ottoman Empire, along with (briefly) the independent Sultanate of Morocco. Pirate ships and crews from the Barbary States regularly attacked and captured ships in the Mediterranean, extorting ransom for the lives of captured sailors and demanding tribute from various countries to avoid further attacks.The war began when Thomas Jefferson became president of the United States in 1800 and refused to pay the Barbary States a tribute, the amount of which was greatly increased upon his election. Upon Jefferson’s refusal, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, declared war on the United States; however, Algiers and Tunis did not follow their ally in Tripoli. In response, Jefferson sent a U.S. naval fleet to the Mediterranean on May 13, 1801, under the command of Commodore Richard Dale. Throughout the war, the U.S. navy bombarded the various fortified cities along the coast and maintained a blockade in Tripoli’s harbor. After a stunning defeat at Tripoli and wearied from the blockade and raids, Yussif Karamanli signed a treaty ending hostilities on June 10, 1805, and the United States was given fair passage through the Mediterranean.(boundless.com)
In agreeing to pay a ransom of $60,000 for the American prisoners, the Jefferson administration drew a distinction between paying tribute and paying ransom. At the time, some argued that buying sailors out of slavery was a fair exchange to end the war. William Eaton, however, remained bitter for the rest of his life about the treaty, feeling that his efforts had been squandered by the state department diplomat Tobias Lear. Eaton and others felt that the capture of Derna should have been used as a bargaining chip to obtain the release of all American prisoners without having to pay ransom. Furthermore, Eaton believed the honor of the United States had been compromised when it abandoned Hamet Karamanli after promising to restore him as leader of Tripoli. Eaton’s complaints generally went unheard, especially as attention turned to the strained international relations which would ultimately lead to the withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from the area in 1807 and to the War of 1812(wikipedia)
After the First Barbary War, the United States found its attention diverted to its deteriorating relationship with Great Britain over trade with France, which culminated in the War of 1812. The Barbary pirate states took this opportunity to resume their practice of attacking American and European merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea and holding their crews and officers for ransom.
The Second Barbary War, also known as the Algerine or Algerian War, occurred in 1815 under President Madison’s administration. At the conclusion of the War of 1812, the United States returned to the problem of Barbary piracy, and on March 3, 1815, Congress authorized deployment of naval power against Algiers. By the final week of June, the U.S. navy had won several battles at sea and reached the coast of Algiers. The United States initiated negotiations and made demands for compensation, and the Algerians signed a treaty under which they agreed to return all American captives and pay $10,000 for seized shipping. The treaty guaranteed no further tributes by the United States and granted the United States full shipping rights in the Mediterranean Sea.