A frequent occurrence in 20 Minutes into the Future settings, especially those with some version of The War on Terror. A strange coalition that seems to consist of most Islamic and/or Arab nations or just of numerous terrorist organizations (often themselves funded by a Western Ancient Conspiracy of some sort) excluding Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. (Sometimes, writers who don't know better have Shia, Persian Iran uniting with Arab Sunni states like Saudi Arabia.note note )
This seems to often be used as a strange version of an Anonymous Ringer for nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya and other Southwest Asian or Middle Eastern states.
Prior to the 1980s, these tended to be secular military dictatorships or socialist/nationalist regimes (like the real-life abortive attempt to set up a United Arab Republic combining Egypt, Syria and Iraq, as well as Libya's attempt). Since the rise in fundamentalism, the Iranian Revolution and especially 9/11, a more popular idea is to combine it into one huge poorly defined "Inevitable Caliphate" theocracy. This is al-Qaida's and ISIL's primary war aim, but it is probably not in the stars — at least not if Iran and Turkey have anything to say about it. Beyond that, al-Qaida and ISIL are, at the end of the day, lunatic fringes; most other Islamists are non-violent nationalists who probably have a worse view of Osama bin Laden than most Westerners ("You're making us all look evil!" is what they usually say), and al-Qaida itself—according to the CIA, MI6, French Intelligence, Russian Intelligence, and pretty much everyone else—is down to about 300 guys on the run in the mountains of Pakistan and Yemen.
Israel's state with this power around is rarely mentioned. If Persians and Arabs are being conflated, there's often no mention of what the Kurds or Turks think of all this, and the Arab Christian population is — er, wait, there are Arab Christians?
Type I: International, Governmental Entities
- In Worldwar: War of Equals, as the aliens come closer and closer to Earth, every nation within the Middle East agree to help each other fight The Race invaders. Hell, we even have Israelis teaming with the Egyptians (not that strange, in Real Life, Egypt is one of the two Arab countries Israel has a peace treaty with).
- The monumentally-tasteless cult film Americathon parodies this trope, featuring an anti-Western, oil-hoarding Hebrab coalition of Middle Eastern states, that includes both Islamic nations and Israel.
- The Ender's Shadow series has one of the main characters made Caliph. This one's borderline, since the Caliphate is not formally a government; instead, it's a secret, pan-Islamic shadow government that counts Israel as its closest ally. It becomes more public in Shadow Puppets, when the Caliph conquers India and defeats China.
- The Caliphate in Stuart Slade's TBOverse actually subverts this trope in that the stories show the proposed caliphate to be unworkable due to its internal contradictions and it collapses in barely more than a decade. By the time of the last story, set in 1986, "The Caliphate" has collapsed and the ruling authorities are trying to rebuild their relations with the rest of the world.
- In Tom Clancy's Executive Orders the ayatollah leading Iran manages to unite his country and Iraq with an eye towards further expansion but it doesn't last.
- Note that Iraq doesn't do this willingly - Saddam (the book was written prior the 2003 invasion of Iraq) is assassinated by an Iranian deep sleeper agent, paving the way for Iran to move in and take over.
- In Wild Cards, the Caliphate of Arabia runs from Sudan to Egypt, although some independent arab states still exist. The Caliphate becomes a real problem when it decide to stop selling oil to western countries.
- Some of H. Beam Piper's short stories mention an Islamic Caliphate, or "Kaliphate" in The Mercenaries, where it's one of the world's four great power blocs. The Caliphate in the TFH story "The Edge of the Knife" is clearly pro-Western in 1973, shortly before World War III.
- The Caliphate in Lee Konstantinou's satire Pop Apocalypse.
- In Dark Future there's the The Pan-Islamic Congress. Due to the books primary setting being North America, they only get a passing mention in the news bulletins in Krokodil Tears and Demon Download, but the capital is Tehran, the Congress is currently occupying Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. They're also pursuing Neil Gaiman for his blasphemous work ''Tintin In The Land of The Ragheads.''
- Tom Kratman's Caliphate: While the core Middle Eastern lands do become a Caliphate, it does not take part of the story. And with good reason.
- Matt Ruff's Mirage has the United Arab States, a constitutional republic that occupies most of the Middle East although it has a nasty problem with Christian extremist terrorists.
- A distant future version was the Global Caliphate in Dan Simmon's Illium. It was a genocidal evil empire hellbent on conquering the world and destroying the Jews. Eventually they became so insanely fanatical that they tried to destroy the world using black hole loaded missiles.
- The Grand Jihad in Maurice Dantec's Cosmos Incorporated resulted in a Caliphate encompassing the entire Mediterranean, Great Britain and the east coast of the United States. By the time of the book it has broken up politically although the European and American portions remain Islamic.
- One of these is mentioned in the Star Carrier series. They're barely tolerated by the Terran Confederation of States because Islamic terrorists were responsible for World War III in the backstory, started by their nuking several major Western cities.
- They also refuse to adopt the White Covenant, forbidding proselytization, a requirement for joining the Confederation.
- In the fifth novel, they ally with the USNA, Russia, North India, and China in the war with the Terran Confederation, demanding that the other powers agree to include them in the new Confederation with the White Covenant repealed.
- Present in the Alternate History duology Wolfish Nature by Vladimir Vasilyev with the nation of Turan (some amalgamation of Turkey and Iran) effectively running the show. It's more like EU in Real Life than an actual government.
- In Victoria the various Muslim nations all unite to invade Boston, along with a Black Muslim uprising, with the full approval and backing of the United Nations. Almost a decade later, all forms of Christianity unite to invade the Middle East (which isn't exactly the totality of Islam) and end the Islamic faith forever.
- In Legacy of the Aldenata an alien invasion causes one of these to form that includes Israel. Which is destroyed off-screen and only given an offhand reference after the fact.
- Both The Last Crusade and In the Year 2050: America's Religious Civil War by Ira Tabankin feature these.
- The FTL Newsfeed near-future news program that ran on the Sci Fi Channel in the mid-1990s had a Holy Islamic Federation covering the whole of Africa (except Fortress Israel).
- The Outer Limits (1995): In "Phobos Rising" and its sequels "The Human Factor" and "Human Trials", the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States is one of the two major power blocs on Earth and Mars, the other being the Free Alliance.
- In Armageddon, the Middle East's held by a military alliance against the Church of Revelations, aided by the largest single group of the Heavenly Host in the world. The main players in the alliance are Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran - an Enemy Mine that would not have been possible if the world weren't literally coming to an end.
- The Middle Eastern Alliance in the Battlefield-inspired Tabletop Game Battlefield Evolution.
- Turkey, Cyprus and Syria were taken over in the mid-2030s by militant Muslim sects (under the umbrella of "Alliance for Allah") and formed an alliance called the Second Jihad to launch an invasion of Europe. It ultimately failed, and the three countries have since broken free from these militant sects' control.
- The countries of the Arabian Peninsulanote merge in 2055 after prodding by the Islamic Unity Movement, forming the Arabian Caliphate. It then absorbed Jordan in 2063.
- There's a reformed Islamic Caliphate in GURPS Transhuman Space. Sunni only, and a bit of thought has gone into how it happened; it was formed by a number of moderate middle eastern countries. By no means does this cover the entire region. Iran (which has become secular by 2100) is specifically excluded. Despite this the author has gone on record that he wishes he'd thought of a different name.
- The setting for Ground Zero Games's Full Thrust, Dirtside II, and Star Grunt II have something called the Islamic Federation as one of the factions, which evidently controls the Middle East and north Africa (having swallowed the territory of Israel along the way), along with a number of colony planets. In a bit of a twist, the IF has problems with the breakaway Saeed Caliphate.
- Israel in the setting was destroyed by nuclear terrorism, but has a (literal) Spiritual Successor in the form of the New Israel colony at Epsilon Indi.
- The default campaign setting for the miniatures wargame Tomorrow's War has two, both founded in the mid-23rd century after the 2nd Iran-Iraq war, the United Arab Emirates consists of the original UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and what's left of Iraq and is largely Sunni and moderate. The Union of Islamic Theocracies, consisting of Iran, Basra (Shiah parts of Iraq), the Indonesian Islamic Republic, Sudanese Islamic Caliphate, and Islamic Republic of Bangsamero, is considerably more fanatical.
- The Middle Eastern Coalition from Battlefield 2 is the Trope Namer. In fact, their combined forces prove to be so powerful, that they actually have the ability to invade the East Coast of the United States! They are also allied with China which may explain how they got so powerful.
- A more polished, professional-looking version appears in the Project Reality mod. They also make a brief appearance at the end of the first Battlefield: Bad Company, when the player character and his squad, while tracking an unaffiliated third-party in search of gold, accidentally stumbles their way into the middle of a battle between the MEC and the US Army proper, which they're not technically part of anymore.
- UFO: Alien Invasion has the Middle-Eastern Alliance. Its existence is a major surprise to its founders, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Afghanistan, who originally created it to defend against expansionist China. By the end of the Second Cold War "their position was simply too good to allow it to crumble." Incidentally, Turkey, along with Israel, is part of the Greater European Union rather than the Middle-Eastern Alliance, which isn't that strange since the EU has very close relations with both countries in Real Life.
- In Hearts of Iron II, you can 'liberate' countries whose territory you conquer. If you conquer the Mideast, you can created a united Arab Federation which includes the territory from Egypt to Yemen/Oman and Iraq (but not Iran/Persia, Turkey, or Libya).
- In Tropico 4, "the Middle East" is one of the external powers you need to deal with.
- The first Civilization II expansion pack includes two scenarios that feature a unified "Middle East" bloc, although one of them is a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the Middle East is overrun by terminator-style robots. Various Arab and Turkish empires are seen in the other games and scenarios in the Civilization franchise, but they're all historical.
- The Al Falah in Civilization: Beyond Earth was created by a coalition of wealthy Middle Eastern powers - Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all mentioned - pooling their resources after the Great Mistake and exhaustion of the Middle East's oil resources. They had to make do with more primitive starship technology than the other interstellar expeditions, launching a Generation Ship rather than the cryogenic stasis systems everyone else uses, meaning the Al Falah in the game have only myths of Earth.
- The Canton-Protocol Strategic Alliance Treaty (CSAT) from ARMA III is something like this; their actual membership (including some South American and East Asian members, including China) and sphere of influence (having boots on the ground on a Mediterranean island just east of Greece in the main game, and with the Apex DLC hitting a South Pacific island between Vanuatu and Fiji) stretches out far further than most examples, and they've also got heavy support from Russia (including a lot of weapons and vehicles), but the primary players involved are Middle Eastern powers, mainly Iran (the faction was even originally meant to just be Iran). They're also more professional and better equipped than most examples, as pooling resources from the numerous member states has allowed them to make incredible leaps in military technology; in fact, in some cases like the protection offered by helmets and armor or the power of the weapons their Pacific forces use in Apex, CSAT equipment is actually superior to their NATO counterparts.
- A unified Middle East had happened many times throughout history:
- An Older Than Feudalism example: the Neo-Assyrian Empire was the first state to unify all of the Middle East as it is known today. At its greatest extent, during the reign of Esarhaddon (c. 600s BCE), it encompassed Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, and parts of Anatolia, Iran, and Arabia. Its successor, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, inherited most of it, except for Egypt.
- The Achaemenid Empire (c. 500s BCE), centered in present-day Iran, was another ancient empire to have conquered most of the Middle East. The only territory it missed was the Arabian Peninsula. Even though it wasn't Middle Eastern, Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire, which brought an end to the Achaemenids and inherited most of its land, can be considered a Spiritual Successor, as it also unified the Middle East, at least for a few decades.
- Another Iranian dynasty, the Sassanids, managed to top the Achaemenids for a brief moment during its war with the Byzantine Empire in the 600s. At its greatest extent, not only did it possess the above territories, it also established suzerainty over the Bedouin Arabs and also held Yemen at the southern tip of Arabia.
- The earliest Muslim caliphates (specifically, the Rashidun, Umayyads, and Abbasids) unified and centralized the Middle East from the 7th to the 9th centuries CE. The Abbasids continued to exist for the next seven centuries after that, but its power was effectively ceremonial, with other states only paying nominal tribute to the central government in Baghdad, which for most of its existence was controlled by Iranian, and later Turk, polities.
- The Ottoman Empire was the latest one, unifying most of the Middle East from the 16th to the 20th centuries (the notable exception was Iran, with which it was an Arch-Enemy). It championed itself as a reincarnation of the aforementioned early caliphates, which by all accounts worked; it was the last widely-recognized state to claim itself as a caliphate.
- The Arab League, although it's really quite a bit weaker in unity than other such bodies like the European Union, as it's a case of We ARE Struggling Together. And of course, it still excludes non-Arab states in the Middle East such as Iran and Turkey.
- In 2015, in response to a civil war in Yemen that featured the overthrow of the government by Iran-backed fighters and the escalating threat of jihadist terrorism in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East (particularly the rapid rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant from a terrorist group to an actual proto-state in 2014note ), the countries of the Arab League agreed to form a NATO-like military alliance to counter any Iranian "aggression" in their regions. The military alliance is officially called the "Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition". The brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia (then the Saudi defence minister), it was founded with 34 member states, later increased to 39 (with a few more potential members pending). Time will tell if this coalition holds together, but the fact that Iran presents them with a common enemy gives it at least a slightly improved chance of success.
- Uniting the Arab countries * is the goal of the various pan-Arab/Arab nationalist movements; this includes (at the soft end) democratic Arab socialism and (at the hard end) the Ba'ath Party (which rules Syria and used to rule Iraq under Saddam). Under no circumstances were Turkey or Iran invited, for the obvious reason that they're Islamic, but not Arabic. There have been quite a few attempts in real life to achieve this. In chronological order:
- The Arab Federation, a confederation consisting of Iraq and Jordan for a short period in 1958. This one was unique in that it was bound dynastically: both Jordan and Iraq were monarchies under the Hashemite dynasty (King Faisal II of Iraq and King Hussein of Jordan were second cousins). However, Faisal II was overthrown in a republican coup in 1958, making the Federation a dead letter.
- The United Arab Republic, a union between Egypt and Syria between 1958 and 1961. This one had a promising start, but President Gamal Abdel Nasser, despite his personal popularity with the Arab street—even in Syria—and his government fumbled the details. He favored fellow Egyptians over Syrians in high posts, and generally treated Syria as a junior partner—or to be more precise, as a group of new Egyptian provinces—rather than an equal partner. The union was dissolved by a coup in Syria, supported by the country's disgruntled business community and bureaucrats, that reasserted Damascus' independence. Egypt continued to use the formal description "United Arab Republic" until after Nasser's death in 1970; in 1971, it adopted the description "Arab Republic of Egypt".
- The United Arab States, a wider and more loosely-connected confederation of the above UAR that also included Yemen and existed during the same three years.
- The Federation of Arab Republics (1972-1977), a federation between Libya, Egypt, and Syria, which Sudan also intended to join. It was ratified by all three countries, but ultimately fell apart because its leaders couldn't agree on the specific terms of the merger. The stalemate in the 1973 War, which some Egyptians and Syrians blamed on the failure of promised Libyan (and Algerian) assistance to materialize, note did not help matters. The straw that broke the camel's back, however, was Egypt's decision to enter peace talks with Israel, announced by Sadat's trip to Jerusalem and speech before the Knesset in November 1977.
- The United Arab Emirates (which still exists to this day), formerly known as the Trucial States, counts on a technicality. Although internationally considered a single country, it is actually a relatively loose federation between seven different Emirates in the region (with Abu Dhabi and Dubai holding most of what power exists in the federation, which is part of why they're the only two of the seven that anybody ever hears about).
- Real life will enforce the failure of this trope at every possible attempt. The Arab nations are incredibly varied across all dimensions — wealth, democracy, individual freedom, education, religion* , the legacy of colonialism (and who did the colonizing), etc. — and there are multiple "Arabic" languages; the homogenous Middle East that most people imagine is a myth. Moreover, Lebanon, an Arab nation, is no longer "Lebanon," as the majority of its population is now a diaspora, with the Christian population displaced (being historically wealthier, they could afford to get the hell out of Dodge when things went bad in the 50s and 70s-80s) and Syrian refugees forming fully one-fifth of the population. Historically, the Arab nations have never been in universal agreement about anything and prolonged instability has given each nation a chance to hold a grudge against another. At best, national sentiment and stereotypes about other Arab nations are similar to jokes between the French and the Germans, and at worst, We ARE Struggling Together is invoked. General consensus holds that the closest thing to this that is likely to happen is some kind of EU-like "Arab Union," but that won't happen for at least another generation—if ever.
Type II: Non-Governmental, Terroristic Entities
- Subversion: The Ten Rings organization in the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Iron Man appears to be this (despite speaking languages such as Urdu and Romanian), but the novelization refers to the head of the organization, Mandarin, who is Mongolian.
- Of course, this is blindingly obvious to anybody who know anything about the comics.
- The third film reveals that the Mandarin is unaffiliated with the Ten Rings (although he wears them) and is actually an actor hired by Aldrich as a cover for his failed experiments and to drum up the need for his Super Soldiers.
- The Global Liberation Army from Command & Conquer: Generals is supposedly a terrorist organization, but in reality it goes far beyond that, with armored divisions, entire armies of soldiers, a (small) airforce, chemical and biological weaponry, weapons factories, and most of the Middle East and Central Asia under their control. They're so powerful that they conquer the Middle East and launch a full invasion of Europe!
- The Independent Liberation Army from the Real War series.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer is concerned about Bart's new Jordanian friend, simply because the boy is Muslim. Homer has a dream where "their kind" takes over the world, and turns Springfield into a Qurac...and wakes up screaming. Eventually, (emphasis on "eventually") he learns that Bart's friend and the parents of Bart's friend are just regular people, not terrorists bent on world domination.
- This is the goal of the Islamic State, a militant group and former unrecognized proto-state which at its peak in late 2014 controlled much of eastern Syria and western Iraq (total: 9 million civilians, 100,000+ soldiers, 110,000 square kilometers of territory). It also controlled land in Libya, the Sinai, Afghanistan, and Yemen and was formally affiliated with organizations in Nigeria (Boko Haram), Somalia (Abnaa ul-Calipha), and the Philippines (Abu Sayyaf), accounting for millions more civilians and tens of thousands more fighters. The Islamic State did very well against the incompetent and fractured forces of its local state and NGO opponents, but was basically annihilated when foreign powers intervened, most notably the United States (which launched over 35,000 airstrikes in some 200,000 sorties on top of deploying thousands of special forces and artillerymen), but also Iran (sent tens of thousands of soldiers and launched about a thousand airstrikes), Russia (similar role to the U.S., but on a much smaller scale), Britain (two thousand airstrikes plus some advisors), France (airstrikes and advisors), and Turkey (airstrikes plus direct ground intervention).
- Despite not being very large compared to most states, and recognized by no other entity, the Islamic State was notable for both the rapid (but brief) success it enjoyed and its international character. In addition to all of the 'provinces' and clients mentioned above, some 40,000 foreign volunteers from around the world joined the main Iraq-Syria branch. Most came from places like Tunisia (7,000), the Northern Caucasus of Russia (4,000), Saudi Arabia (3,000), and Jordan (2,100), but they also included Sunni Arabs from western countries like France (1,800) and multi-ethnic Sunnis from places as far flung as Bosnia (400), Tajikistan (1,000), and Indonesia (700). ISIS also conducted attacks (either via formal organizations or radicalized lone wolves who 'joined' right before committing an attack) in many countries outside of the ones they actually held territory in, most infamously with the November 2015 Paris attacks and the July 2016 Nice attack.