Foreign interventions and internal conflicts have created a hellhole. Time to fix it.
An indispensable rule when looking at the status quo of a state, especially in the Middle East, is the rule of gradual appropriation of certain concepts, beliefs, and social norms by the government.
When I say government, I surely also mean the media, the various institutions, and the judiciary branch, which are either directly or indirectly influenced by the government. Gradual appropriation is often forced upon the nation piece by piece — a law amendment here, an executive order there, a military announcement every a couple of weeks.
Until there’s no return to previous states, and whether people like these bite-size transformations does not change the fact that they’re here to stay.
For dictators, government decisions are not up for discussion among citizens or the media.
But gradual appropriation isn’t why the Middle East is living its most deplorable situation for decades. Not just economically; think on a more unscalable level. Everything about society — whether as a small nation or an Arab sphere in the Middle East — has been either neglected, suppressed, or killed.
One of the main reasons, unsurprisingly, are dictatorships. Puppet regimes inserted in states, and éminence grise subjects pulling the strings for Western powers.
The Middle East isn’t the same anymore. Ever since the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the ensuing changes in geopolitical alignments, the unending Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Arab Spring outbursts in recent years, the Middle East has become a hellhole. An unbearable, uncontrolled playground for dictators to dictate and for foreign powers to bully.
Arab nations in the Middle East who have pledged and envisioned a better future for their countries and taken it upon themselves to prompt change have been suppressed by the despotic rule.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood initiative was undermined and resisted, eventually leading to Mohammad Morsi being overthrown by the army years ago. Now, an insolent dictatorship is not only worsening the economic downturn but also reestablishing non-revolution initiatives with both secular and religious facades. In Tunisia, while the revolution has had a pretty positive outcome in the grand scheme of things, the political realm in the country still faces schisms and imbalance. In Libya, a wartorn country that has not seen the light of day for decades now, foreign powers see it as an opportunity to abuse and demonstrate firepower. In Syria, war is still ongoing, with over half a million casualties. There does not seem to be an end, especially with foreign powers using the land space to test firepower. In Yemen, US-backed UAE and KSA forces have rendered the country uninhabitable, with Hothi militias taking control and establishing a rule of their own. In Palestine, the Arab-Israeli conflict has no apparent ending that is both hopeful and reassuring. With continuous transgressions on every end by the Israeli forces and an unrelenting resistance by Palestinian groups — as well as an incompetent, idiocratic, and puppet ruler as the president of Palestine — the conflict can only continue to worsen. In Iraq, I don’t even know where to begin.
Turkey, on the other hand, is rising in power, both economic and military, with a huge emphasis on regional and geopolitical influence, which goes head-to-head against Greek ambitions and willpower to eradicate Turkey.
The Middle East has been facing authoritarian regimes and all kinds of terrorism from militia groups either pretending to be ultranationalistic or following Islamic law for decades now.
Since the infectious US interventionism reached the region, most prominently after 9/11, with allegations that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction and that it needed liberation with forced democracy, it became evident that the Middle East was to face long-term problems.
But then again, as with every nation over the long course of history, true liberation does not come from the outside. It is unfeasible to expect or wait for foreign interference to resolve national conflicts.
The political scene in the Middle East has been secularized in a major way, especially after the resurfacing of “Islamic extremism,” which, by the way, has nothing to do with the major belief of Muslims or the Islamic jurisprudence (known to you as sharia law). With this secularization, political parties tend often to look up to likeminded parties in the West. This raises a few problems, which pertain to the idiosyncrasies of the Middle East and the Arabian peninsula.
With the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East was struck with a wave of Western influence, mainly British and French. This influence was primarily focused on turning Arab provinces and tribes against the Ottoman rule, thus forming a united Arab front to face off the Turkish regime and establish an Arab state. The Ottoman Empire in its last years was a deformed extension of the Islamic Ottoman state that ruled for centuries, which was eventually secularized by ultranationalists in Turkey — a group named The Young Turks — and kicked out of Arab provinces to be constrained to what is now known as modern Turkey.
What did this entail?
Arab provinces — led mainly by Sharif Hussein of Mecca — were left high and dry by Britain, which was the one to instigate the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Britain backstabbed the Sharif and negotiated a colonialistic agenda with France, known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. Arabs were left to fight off British interventionism and political schisms amongst themselves, which further worsened the already dire situation, which hasn’t seen any change to this day.
Where’s the problem?
In all cases where a change of any kind — social, political, or economic — is needed, it is important to first identify the problem. Analysts and commentators may attribute the ruinous and woeful state of the region to social idiosyncrasies; the complexities and interrelations of social norms and religious beliefs, which are stringent and ever so variant in a climate like the Middle East. But the true problem is far more complex.
The Middle East doesn’t just face social problems — that is, issues regarding the belief system, the traditions, and the expansive schisms in lifestyle.
Rich countries rule the states in the Middle East.
When anyone says “rich countries,” they mostly refer to the gulf states. Most prominently, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which stand on the extreme secular side of geopolitics, and have been ever so fearful of the contagious phenomena of the Arab Spring, which tried to overthrew dictatorships and liberate nations.
In the Middle East, the two most important players are these two. Saudi Arabia has been known, especially recently, to have anti-Islamic viewpoints. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, which is also King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz’s son, has revolutionized the kingdom with modern, Western endorsement, putting hundreds of Muslim scholars behind bars for no reason other than that of slight opposition or ultrareligious views.
Scores of academics, economists, writers and human rights activists have been arrested in recent years in an apparent bid to stamp out dissent and opposition to Prince Mohammed, who has consolidated power with a purported anti-corruption crackdown. (Al-Jazeera)
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are known to have prevented national and social revolutions in neighboring countries, fearful of the emergence of an Islamic-oriented coalition with their archrival, Qatar, and the Turkish regime.
It is a known fact that Egypt’s Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi operates as a proxy dictator for the interests of the Gulf States. He is dependent on Saudi and Emirati monetary funds to maintain a seemingly lively economy, which has been in acute decline ever since he became president.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are known to back dictatorship regimes in the Middle East and stand against the oppressed nations. These can be exemplified in their US-backed military coalition in Yemen, as well as in Egypt, Palestine, and North Africa.
Looking for similarities instead of differences.
Political parties that work on utilizing agendas and ratifying theories in their national states tend to overlook the importance of unity between dissimilar minds and viewpoints.
With a unified agenda against dictatorship and oppression and a united front against authoritarianism, nationalist parties can work more effectively if other unimportant elements and differences were put aside.
It is always possible to discuss and agree upon the parity of esteem after the communal goal has been achieved, but as long as dictatorship remains, the status quo can only worsen.
Western influence is still lingering.
US Interventionism still plays an important role in funding terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is, in fact, a terrorist regime, and the US weapon deals with Saudi Arabia only help the USA with money, and Saudi Arabia with spheres of influence.
Regardless of whose name the Oval Office holds on the plaque on the desk, the US government will hardly change its foreign policy agenda regarding the Middle East. And that prolongs dictatorships and prevents true liberation.
Political freedom is nonexistent.
In states that pretend to be democratic and in states that are fine with being authoritarian, political freedom is nowhere to be seen. The problem with the mindset in the Middle East is that it is realist in nature.
Political parties who rise to power believe that it should be a lifetime contract, and so work on eradicating any opposing party or individual. They also highly depend on media censorship, unlawful arrests, or silent assassinations.
Is Iran really the biggest threat?
It’s been a long time since Iran’s firepower and nuclear capability have been exaggerated to Middle Eastern states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Iran is one of the most — if not the most — prominent terrorist regimes in the Middle East.
The United States has long warned of Iranian terrorist outbursts and thus outpoured money to fund initiatives in the region to fight it off, mainly with Israel being the obvious target. After the Emirati accord with Israel and the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations, it is no surprise that the Saudi regime follows suit, hiding behind the threat of Iran.
But is Iran the only threat in the Middle East?
Thanks for reading this analysis. This was originally published on Medium.