Introduction The Middle East is a transcontinental region

Introduction

The
Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey (both
Asian and European), and Egypt (which is mostly in North Africa). The
corresponding adjective is Middle Eastern and the derived noun is Middle
Easterner. The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near
East (as opposed to the Far East) beginning in the early 20th century.

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The
region is home to a wide array of cultures, religions, and ethnic groups,
including Arabs, Jews, Kurds, Persians, and Turks, among others. It also is
home to the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in
addition to many smaller religions like the Bahá’í, Druze, Yazidi, and
Zoroastrian faiths.

The
Middle East is deeply sectarian, and these long-standing divisions, exacerbated
by religious extremists vying for power, are central to many of the challenges
that the region faces today. Arab–Israeli tensions are another source of
instability in the Middle East region.

 

Issues Motivated for choosing the study;

The purpose why I chose
to take this topic is to propose a credible explanation for the long-running
conflict in the Middle East and the sphere of western influence and interest in
the region.

I think the root cause
of this current conflict lies neither with Israel, nor Palestinians, nor any
dispute between them. The conflict was generated and is maintained by powerful
economic actors, originally in the British Empire, but now mainly in the USA to
maintain their interest in this region. So I have heard that Islam is the root
cause of the ongoing conflict in this region. I, as a Muslim felt obliged to
take a step and do this project to uncover the real issues for this bloody war
and conflict which has paralyzed most of the Middle Eastern nations.

Origin
& nature: The Middle East
has been a region of geopolitical and economic significance to the world far
before American involvement in the area. This was mainly because the “Middle
East bordered on the land bridges, passageways, that provided the best routes
connecting the different parts of the vast Eurasian/African continent.

The
value of being a prominent player in the region was therefore obvious to the
United States as well as to several other Western powers including Great
Britain and France. On August 8, 1944, the Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement
was signed, dividing Middle Eastern oil between the United States and Britain.

What are Western vital interests in the Middle East?

1.
Affordable and secured energy resources must keep flowing to sustain the global
economy.

2.
Key waterways such as Suez and the Persian Gulf should not be exposed to
instability and uncertainty.

3.
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates should not be given the opportunity to exploit
chaos and vacuums of authority to re-establish footholds in the region.

4.
A safe security environment for Israel and the Palestinians to pursue peace
should be protected and enhanced, not eroded.

5.
Anarchy and chaos should be avoided at all costs, because of the negative
attendant consequences of failed states as fertile grounds for terrorism,
access to weapons for militias and the like.

 

US
involvement in the Middle East: American policymakers
typically view the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as a strategic region, a
place of “vital” economic and political interest for the United States. The
region’s markets have also been developing and have become targets for US
exports and investment. But those interests, though growing, remain
overshadowed by oil and other non-economic concerns. This region constitutes
30% of all the oil reserves in the world.  United States was “popular and respected
throughout the Middle East”. Indeed, “Americans were seen as good
people, untainted by the selfishness and duplicity associated with the
Europeans, because at that time the European powers colonized the Middle Eastern
nations.

Interests
and Strategies of Other Major Players: the EU, China, and Russia: The
EU’s interests and strategies in Middle East region are similar to those of the
US. However, the EU’s interests are much more focused on economic issues, with
the non-oil components also having somewhat more weight. The EU has a
particular interest in helping MENA develop economically and politically so
that the immigration pressure from the region would diminish. In terms of
strategic difference, the EU countries focus more on the North Africa region,
while the US is more focused on military presence in the Persian Gulf, where it
is the dominant foreign power. China has gained increasing interest in MENA as
its economy has grown. On the one hand, Chinese economy has developed more
thirst for energy.

Existing scholarly work – Literature Reviews

1.     
While Arab countries are going through massive political change, the
role of the United States in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is
changing. The political ties between the US and the newly emerging democracies
are likely to be weaker than has been the case under dictatorship. At the same
time, tensions between the US and Iran are rising and getting close to a
boiling point.  “Hadi
Salehi Esfahani* Departments of Economics and Business Administration”

2.     
US leaders have declared a range of vital (and
not-so-vital) American interests in the Middle East. These have varied by
administration and historical era, but they have long included ensuring the
free flow of oil and maintaining Israel’s security. The United States has also
expressed a strong desire to prevent further nuclear proliferation in the Middle
East . “Daniel Byman and Sara Bjerg Moller- Sustainable Security: Rethinking
American National Security Strategy”

3.     
The Middle East is a transcontinental region that is
made up of different countries with predominantly Muslims and Jews. The area
extends to North African countries like Egypt, European nations like Cyprus and
Turkey and parts of western Asia.  “Duaa
Binzafran- California State University, Chico”

4.      The Sykes-Picot accord that has
shaped and distorted the modern Middle East was signed one hundred years ago,
on May 16, 1916. In the deal, Mark Sykes for the British and François
Georges-Picot for the French, with the Russians Sykes-Picot created a miasma of
fear about foreign intervention that explains the still widespread preference
for discerning supposed hidden causes over overt ones. What in 1916 appeared to
be a clever division of territory among allies turned out to set the stage for
a century of mistrust, fear, extremism, violence, and instability.

“DanielPipes-TheWashingtonTimes”
May 9, 2016″

 

5.     
The Middle Eastern construction industry is still suffering from cost
overruns, delays, and disputes. Inefficient management practices and lack of
management are frequently reported reasons for such problems. Researchers
attribute such problems to the traditional management practices that are
utilized in the Middle East. This study shed the light on the characteristics
of Middle Eastern management style. It also examines the applicability of
western management in the Middle Eastern. “Zamaan Al-shabbani- University of Kentucky
UKnowledge”

 

 

Current situation: The Middle East is trapped in a cycle of war and is
suffering from lack of collective security. The historic Palestinians-Israel
problem, the power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the utterly
destructive policy of Turkey toward the threat posed by Daesh, the sectarian
Shiite-Sunni war, and the rapid rise of terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, and
Libya are the major current  issues in
the region.

Since the Middle East events of 2011 (mislabeled
“the Arab Spring”), the region has been in turmoil. Following is a
brief of the current affairs in the region;

The Sunni-Shiite divide has come to
dominate Middle Eastern politics: The
Sunni-Shiite divide, a constant feature of Middle Eastern politics, has become
more dominant as Shiite (Iran) and Sunni (Suadi Arabia) are meddling into the
affirs of weaker nation through their direct of proxy wars. This got much more
serious after 2011 which we saw the outbreak of civil war in Syria and the
involvement of both Iran and Saudi Arabia in this war

The regional vacuum created by U.S.
feebleness invites growing Russian and Chinese involvement: The Chinese ambitious One Belt One Road infrastructure
project tries to tie the Middle East to Chinese economic and political
endeavors. China inaugurated its first overseas naval base in Djibouti in July
2017. Located astride a crucial maritime choke point, the military installation
is symbolic of its growing confidence as an emerging global power, capable of
projecting military force and directly protecting its interests in the Middle
East, Africa and the western Indian Ocean.

The War of Saudi Arabia on Yemeni
terrorist group and the economical blockade of Qatar in 2017 by the Saudi and
its allies are also the major alteration in the political scenario of Middle
East.

In 2015 the Iranian nuclear deal
with the US and its western Allies was a major development in removing the
level of instability in the Middle East. Though this deal is about to be
cancelled by the US president Donald Trump

Nevertheless, the Middle East is full of economic
extremes. For example:

•           Qatar
is the world’s wealthiest country in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per
capita, while Yemen, a mere 700 miles away, ranks 194th.9

•           Saudi
Arabia has 265 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

•        Bahrain
ranks 18th in the world in terms of economic freedom, and Iran ranks 171st.10

 

 

Lessons learned

I personally believe that, the fact that the
industrial prosperity in the West depended on Middle Eastern oil renders,
favorable political arrangements, and geopolitics in the region – a matter of
prime concern for Western strategists since a misappropriation of the oil
resources or political turmoil – could send devastating shock waves across
Western economies.

Another reason for Western countries has been to
safeguard the security of Israel. Israel plays an important role in preserving
the post-war liberal order in the West.

It is also obvious that the US and western nation in
order to ensure the supply of oil to themselves and not China or Moscow see the
importance in this region.

Another lesson that one can learn from studying the Middle East
issue is that; the western intervention has always hampered the situation in
the region. Let us ask these three questions.

Is Iraq better off today than before 2003 under
the bad dictatorship of Saddam Hussein even much worse?

Is Libya better off today than before Muammar
Gaddafi was toppled by NATO?

Is
Syria better off now than before its civil began in 2011?

 

Recommendations
for Future

The best recommendation
that one can give for a final solution of the conflict in the Middle East and
cutting the western meddling in the region is security and peace. Instead
of a blaming game and pointing fingers, one can think about finding ways for
peace. If our choices are between bad – dictatorships – and good – democracy –
we should surely choose the latter. But, in the deep crises that the Middle
East is facing, one must choose between bad – dictatorship – and worse – civil
war, instability and bloodshed. Peace and security are the requisite conditions
for social and economic development, which in turn is closely linked with
development of democracy and respect for human rights. Without security,
democracy and respect for human rights, there will be no economic development.

Second, I argue that the West’s discourse of
democratisation of the Middle East is dubious because it hides how the West
actually de-democratised the Middle East. My contention
is that, from the 1940s onwards, democratic experiments were well in place and
the West subverted them to advance its own interests. I offer a few examples of
democratization that reportedly CIA-engineered.
The US democratisation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran and Syria are the
vivid intervention of the US in overthrowing the democratically elected state
in the Middle East. This has to be stopped! The reason for this is because
power elites see the region as a people with diverse, dynamic
social-cultural texture instead of a repository of multiple resources and
strategic interests. Hence their prime aim was to keep the Middle East
“stable” and “manageable”.

In general if one wants to bring peace and
prosperity to this region, the history and cultural values of the people living
in this region should be considered. The western countries should stop thinking
that they should be like us. They must respect the culture and region of the
people living in the Middle East. The political and economical effect of this
region should also be thoroughly studied

 

 

Reference

Alam, Assadollah. 1992. The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of
Iran’s Royal Court, 1969–1977. Introduced and edited and by Alinaghi Alikhani.
New York: St. Martin’s Press. Carter, Jimmy. 2006. Palestine: Peace Not
Apartheid. New York, NY, Simon and Schuster, Inc. Hoekman, Bernard and Khalid
Sekkat. 2010. “Arab Economic Integration: Missing Links”. Journal of World
Trade, 44.6: 1273–1308.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/201232710543250236.html