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July 24, 2014 / subramanyam

Conflicts in the Middle East :: My take

          The Middle East can be safely declared as the conflict capital of the world. In the past few decades the Middle East has rarely experienced peace. Ethnic, religious and sectarian differences have always caused wars and resulted in loss of lives in this land.

          As on today we have the Syrian Crisis where Bashar-Al-Assad is fighting the rebels , (Bashar  is a Shia and the rebels are mostly Sunni), then we have the ISIS fighting the Iraq establishment. (Here ISIS consists of Sunni Groups while the Iraqi Picture taken on June 8, 2009 shows armeadministration is predominantly Shia. ) Last but not the least the fight between Israel and Palestine. (The state of Israel and the militant group Hamas are involved in a bloody fight for the past few decades.)

          Why does middle east have all these conflicts in the first place? Why is it that people in Middle East are always at war with some one or the other? I was trying to come up with an answer to these questions and here is what I have this blog post.

          Well there are many factors for the conflicts there.  This is my interpretation of the situation there, correct me in case you feel that I am wrong .

          Some of these countries were provinces in Ottoman empire. In spite of the fact that almost all the people in the Arab world are Muslims (Except Israel) they are from many different tribes. As provinces under Ottomans they lived under a single rule and were by and large living peacefully.   There were Shia’s and Sunni’s but then they co-existed. Provinces allowed the people to migrate and settle in new places. So demographic changes did not spell doom as at the end of the day it was a single empire.

          With the decay of Ottoman empire and  power coming into the hands of the European powers , new trouble started here. Europeans conquered some of the Ottoman provinces and when they were leaving these countries, they created new borders and at times new countries.  Some countries had more Shias and some had more Sunnies. Similarly, various tribes in various proportions got to stay in a country and this somehow started altering power equations. For example , the first Iraq-Iran war was because of a Border dispute and a fear that Iraq’s long suppressed Shia majority will get inspired by the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

          Then the oil, and power that came up with it. It bolstered the economies of many of the middle east countries. The countries started modernizing in terms of infrastructure and all. At the same time there were conflicts that rotated around getting more access to oil. Case in point is the 1991 gulf war. One of the main reasons for Saddam attacking Kuwait was that they are over producing oil . Some experts believe the western countries had a role here. People started believing that the west was interested in this region’s oil and nothing else.

          Many of the Arab countries had failed experiments with democracy. Even today many of them do not have a full-fledged violence1democracy. In many countries democratically elected leaders ended up becoming tyrants and they started pushing their own agenda.   The Shia-Sunni divide started becoming more and more sharper , the  countries with a Sunni majority were becoming apprehensive of a Shia majority and vice-versa. Many people believe that today’s war in Syria is more to do with Sunni majority which is out of power and Shia minority that is ruling the country. Few people take a step ahead say that Syria is becoming the battle ground for Sunni dominated Saudi and Shia dominated Iran. They say that these two countries are funding the rival camps. Well, we really do not know if all this has been proved true.

          As if these proxy wars are not enough, some radical branches of Islam and the thought process that mine is the only path to reach God sparked further debates. Many criticize that Wahabism is also a main reason why people have become so divided in the middle east. Look at the way ISIS is speaking about a caliphate today. I mean, when the world is wishing to have  more and more participative democracies, someone is dreaming to establish a caliphate!!!!! Well, doesn’t that sound odd?

          The idea of Muslim Brotherhood was used for exploitation by some groups, we all know the way Al-Qaeda and others stoked passions. A few self styled intellectuals with their blind hatred to west made the nations and populations hate west blindly. Today there are a few regions in middle east that want to see the end of their western neighbors.

          We cannot say that west had no part to play in this. The way they shifted alliances, the war on Iraq, the way some companies benefited from oil deals …… etc .. All these complicated the things and the hatred for the west went up.  I personally feel that the

War's only bring in Tears.

Wars at the end of the day only bring in Tears.

west should have stayed away from the region in many matters. I think some interventions did more harm than good in the middle east.

          Last but not the least, the rulers of the region. I think they had a very tough job to do. Many of these countries did embrace democracy but that contradicted the religious law people were following there. Almost every democracy in the region had to face a stiff resistance from the people who wanted Shariat in its purest form . Some rulers could broker peace and get going, some became dictators. Some gave in to the pressure and some neglected their subjects altogether.  The inefficiencies of the rulers too did its part in bringing more and more unrest.


All these factors have contributed and are contributing to the unrest in the middle east.


Leave a Comment
  1. bsaikrishna / Jul 25 2014 12:03 am

    A very disinterested and comprehensive account of the issue. Nice job!


  2. Shiva / Jul 26 2014 5:16 pm

    Very good analysis Subbu. It is painful to realize that religion is doing more harm to mankind than the good it is able to manifest. Thanks for this blog. – Shiv [from one of the ME countries]


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