Thursday, November 24, 2011
Real Middle East Conflicts
We barely acknowledge the deep divisions promoted in Islamic societies by the various nation states and the constant scapegoating of minorities. As in
Europe, once education actively counters this type of
state ideology, the so called natural hatreds actually disappear. After all why did Englishmen, French and
Germans all hate each other so enthusiastically during the nineteenth century?
After the creation of the EU it all seemed to go away.
In the Arab world we see these educational idioms been replicated over and over again and a sheer lack of political will anywhere to overcome this nonsense.
We know the cost to
Europe to finally get it right. It could easily be implemented in the Islamic
world also provide Islam itself is harshly separated from the state and secular
law and education instituted.
East the Sunni/Shiite conflict is now been fought out in each
separate state and is largely behind most of the ongoing conflict. One wonders what western interveners are
smoking when they step up to the plate to attempt a resolution.
Accept that the whole design is seriously wrong and accept that resolution has to be draconian. Parts have been attempted and much has been just as often abandoned.
1 Insist that all Islamic religious leaders complete a western education in the humanities to the BA level. That is the long term solution but it also eliminates the doctrinaires now. (I would love to do the same to the Christian leadership also)
2 Sharia Law refuses to reform to meet modern needs. Until that happens, apply Western laws as the superior authority. I do not know about you, but I do not wish to ever be governed by seventeenth century English Law.
3 Since Women are not protected under Islamic traditions then all land titles must be held by women who have the primary responsibility to protect their children.
4 A democratic electoral system is established but half the candidates for each political party must be from non majority groups. This will be gamed of course, but it is enough of an encumbrance as to make ethnic oppression a big problem for those attempting it.
5 An education system not allowed to impose propaganda while promoting modernity and free of religion.
This is what an immigrant largely accepts when he moves to the West in order to function here. It generally works for them and only fails when they backslide to the norms of their homeland.
What’s Really Wrong with the Middle East
In following the Western press one gets the impression that the Arab (Palestinian)-Israeli conflict is the most important story that needs to be covered in the
Middle East. In reality,
however, it ranks third in order of importance when viewed within the stricture
of three concentric circles that complete the picture of the current Middle East. What makes these circles all the more
significant is that they all touch upon religion.
The first and most important of the circles addresses the Sunni-Shiite divide and pits the aggressive and revolutionary Shiite
Iran against Sunni (Wahhabi) Saudi Arabia over hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Directly associated with this circle
is the attempt by Sunni-Muslim Turkey, led by Islamist Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, to assume they are the champions of Sunni Islam.
Erdogan’s involvement in Syria, his support of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), his unwavering support for Hamas (Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) and his close ties with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (poised to govern Egypt if and when civilian government resumes), are part of Turkey’s attempt to play the leadership role in the Muslim and Arab world.
The most obvious clash between Sunnis and Shiites has been over control in
Although Arab Iraq
is predominantly Shiite (60%+) it has been traditionally governed by Sunnis
(the last one being the dictatorship of Saddam
Hussein). While the 2003 Iraq U.S.
invasion toppled Saddam and restored majority rule, it created a Shiite-led
government that is close to the Islamic .
For Republic of Iran
and the Sunni world this portends a “mortal
threat.” And, when coupled with Shiite (Hezbollah) dominance in Saudi Arabia ,
it appears even more ominous. Lebanon
The second circle involves the recent uprisings in the Arab world, better known as the “Arab Spring,” which have granted power to Islamists everywhere, and made the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood (or affiliated parties) the dominant political force in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Syria. Political Islam has become a potent force throughout the
Middle East, replacing
nationalism and socialism – which some Arab regimes engaged in for decades.
The intolerance of the MB towards non-Muslims (Jewish
for instance), Christians
and Shiite Muslims (whom they consider as “errant” Muslims) is
connected to the first circle. Israel
The third circle is that of the conflict between Arab countries as well as non-Arab Muslim countries (
and their ethnic and religious minorities. These include the Jewish state
of Turkey Israel, the Coptic
Christian minority in Egypt,
the Kurds in Turkey, Iran, and Syria,
and the Sunni Baluch minority in Iran
as well as the Ahwazi-Sunni Arabs in . Iran
What the three circles have in common is religious and ethnic hatred and intolerance between Sunnis and Shiites, between Arabs and Persians, between Shiite Persians and Sunni Kurds, Baluch and Arabs, between Turks and Kurds, between Arab-Muslims and Israeli Jews, and between Egyptian Muslims and Christians.
Israel, an advanced Western democratic state, gets a disproportionate amount of press and criticism, to the near exclusion of coverage and analysis of intolerant Arab-Muslim states by the mainstream press. The ease of access Western journalists have in Israel compared to the absence of secure access in the Arab and non-Arab Muslim Middle Eastern states, makes for unfair and inaccurate reporting in the Western media, which results in holding Israel responsible for the lack of regional peace. Moreover, secular western reporters and editors, who are disconnected from religion, fail to grasp the overarching role religion plays in Middle Eastern conflicts.
Contrary to the reportage written and distributed by Western media sources, conflict in the
Middle East is less
about territory and almost entirely about religion. True also for the Arab
(Palestinian)-Israeli conflict is that its foundation is in Islamic religious
intolerance rather than territory or Palestinian victimhood (Palestinian Arabs
could have established a sovereign state under the Peel Commission in 1937 over
72% of Mandatory Palestine, and again under the UN Partition Plan of
1947. They rejected both plans with the demand for all of or nothing — no
compromise with infidels). Palestinian Arab-Muslims seek to replace Palestine rather
than live side-by-side with it. And, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
which is fueled by arms, funds, and propaganda provided by Shiite Iran and
Sunni Saudi Arabia to the Palestinians against the Jewish state, still pales in
importance, to Shiite Iran’s encroachment and hegemonic ambitions in the Gulf. Israel
The current uprising in
is a perfect example of the Sunni-Shiite divide and the Iranian-Saudi rivalry,
as well as Turkish (Sunni)-Iranian (Shiite) rivalry over Islamic championship. Syria is allied
with the Syrian Alawi-led regime of Bashar Assad, and the Alawis are an
off-shoot of Shiite-Islam. The Alawis are despised by the Sunni majority which
is supported by the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab League and Iran Saudi Arabia, as well as non-Arab Sunni . Turkey
Saudis have supported the government led by Sunni Saad Hariri, while
supported the Shiite Hezbollah. In the Iran Arab
Gulf states and most recently in , the
Iranian regime incited the majority Shiites to rise up against the Sunni
ruler. Sunni Bahrain intervened on behalf of the Sunni
rulers. The Iranians have also incited the majority Shiites in the Hasa Saudi
Arabia . province of Saudi Arabia
For centuries, the Ottoman Turkish Empire and the
Empire clashed in battles over territory and faith. Today,
the two modern nations seek to export their respective model of a Muslim state
to Central Asia. And, whereas in the
presented itself as a model of a secular Islamic republic, under Erdogan it is
portraying itself as a Sunni Islamic Republic. Turkey touts itself as a genuine
Islamic Republic. Iran
change the balance of power in the Gulf and throughout the Middle
East. Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-ruled Gulf sheikdoms, as well as
Israel, view a nuclear
as an existential threat. Iran
Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran may be bitter rivals but they share in common the desire to implement Sharia law globally, and both these rivals support the restoration of the Caliphate. In more contemporary and immediate terms they both express hatred towards the Jewish state and the West. And, both regimes have contempt for the secular Arab regimes (
Iran makes the exception). Syria
To the extent that the Palestinians have any value in the Muslim world, it is that they are on the front-lines of a war against the infidel and despised Jews. Used as pawns in this war, they have otherwise been shunned and discriminated against throughout the Arab world. So, for example, in
Palestinians are regarded as aliens and therefore do not have the right to vote.
In Lebanon Jordan (where the
Palestinians form the majority population) and in (Arab-Israelis) alone have
Palestinians become free citizens, able to vote and participate in national
It is high time the Western media reflect these realities in their coverage of events in the
Middle East. The media has
largely ignored the intense religious rivalry in the region, and the historical
antipathies between Arab and non-Arab minorities. Likewise the media has
overlooked the Kurdish and Baluch quest for national self-determination. The
media have minimized the intolerance of the Islamists in Egypt towards the Christian Copts, and they have
failed to emphasize the religious motivation of the Arab-Palestinian in
right to exist as a Jewish State. Israel