A Naval History of the Middle East

A Naval History of the Middle East


John P. Dunn, Donald Stoker

This book demonstrates the significant role sea power played in shaping the Middle East. From the dawn of Islam, until the 21st Century - naval power profoundly impacted on national policy.
Date Published :
June 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Wolverhampton Military Studies
Illustration :
2 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804512340
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9.6 X 6.7 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


A Naval History of the Middle East, 500-2020 examines how sea power impacted on a wide range of nations. But just what is “the Middle East?” The editors’ definition is broad, ranging from Morocco to Iran, and the Black Sea to the Indian Ocean. Our start point connects readers to the last war between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Iran, results of which benefit the rapid expansion of Islam.

Naval force originally came from warships propelled via oars and sails. These protected sailing ships used to transport soldiers or supplies. Combat mainly involved missile fire and boarding actions. As human rowers pulled the oars, strategy focused on securing food and water. Ships did not carry much of either, and needed frequent resupply.

Ports were prizes of great value, their control allowing admirals to advance, or halt an opponent whose crews seldom had more than a few days of water. Galley warfare had been this way since ancient times, but changed as new technologies like “Greek Fire” added new military options, or larger sailing ships extended storage capabilities, thus expanding an admiral’s reach.

Although early Muslim fleets did not have the naval traditions of the Byzantines, their leaders recognized the value of sea power. One might remember that “admiral” comes from Arabic. Muslims fought each other, along with their traditional Byzantine opponents and European volunteers serving during the Crusades.

Fighting ranged from fleet actions to amphibious operations, and piracy. Both Muslim and Christian pirates operated across the Mediterranean and Red Seas, plus the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Pirates continue to operate in the 21st Century.

Major change comes from Ottoman naval expansion in the 1500s. This was also a period of technological innovations with gunpowder weapons and larger sailing vessels supplanting boarding actions and galleys. Steam power, ironclads, torpedoes, aircraft, and missiles speed up these trends during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

We tell this story with a historical overview, supported by specific case studies. Our goal is to show Middle Eastern powers successfully employed navies to enforce national goals, and that powerful traditions support a continuation of naval forces in the 21st Century.

About The Author

Dr. John P. Dunn is a professor of History at Valdosta State University. His research is focused on military evolution in the long 19th Century, with publications connected to Egyptian, Polish, and Chinese topics. He published “Khedive Ismail’s Army” with Routledge in 2005.

Donald Stoker PhD is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the US Naval War College’s Monterey Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. The author or editor of seven books, his most recent work - Carl von Clausewitz: His Life and Work (Oxford University Press, 2014) - is on the British Army's professional reading list. His The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865 (Oxford University Press, 2010) won the prestigious Fletcher Pratt Award for 'Best Non-Fiction Civil War Book' of 2010, and was a 'Main Selection' of the History Book Club; it is commonly used as a text in graduate seminars and strategic studies courses. His other works include a co-edited volume on strategy in the American Revolutionary War and he has edited or co-edited books on military advising, conscription and the arms trade. He has written for numerous magazines, such as MHQ (Military History Quarterly), North & South and Naval History. In 2016, he was a Fellow of the Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College. He is currently writing a book on limited war and also co-editing several books on advising, as well as other topics.

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