Middle East Conudrum

It was after a thirty year war that continental Europe came on to the negotiation table to sign a truce. The Peace of Westphalia resulted in two major developments: first, the nation sate system; second, freedom of religion. The turbulent region of Middle East is devastated by the ravages of ethnic, sectarian and political problems. Moreover the regional and international proxy wars have exacerbated the crisis. Enter ISIS, a so called terrorist sate, has taken hold of the key strategic locations of the Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, tight grip of the Arab dictators on their countries is loosening which has resulted in one of the most brutal dictatorial regimes in the region. All these factors demand a political solution to a growing human crisis in Near East Firstly, the sectarian conflict in Iraq has worsened since the US led invasion of Iraq. The shiittes, though majority have mostly been living under the Sunnite minority in Iraq. The Baath part of saddam Hussain was a military junta which ruled the country before 2003. Alienating the Sunnite population, the Iraqi government paved the way for violent revolt of Sunnite and in some cases the former Baath party workers. Al-Qaida used this confusion to its own advantage by making a foot base first in syria and then in Iraq.
The curious mix of ethnic and sectarian violence has added fuel to already burning middle east. Belonging to a minority ,the partisan government of Asad family belongs to alwi branch of Shiite tree ; whereas, the former Baat part was a Sunnite led military junta, former ruling over Sunnite majority whereas latter ruling over a Shiite majority. The situation changed , however, after the American invasion on Iraq. The military elements , of former Baath party , now the self prescribed warriors of Islam , led a successful revolt against Iraqi government.With their allies gone, Iraqi government was unable to check the isis advance. The Syrian government was soon threatened by the bold projections of isis into its own territories. Rather to pacify its population, the Bashar ul asad used force onits own population. To support its arab ally, Iranian government started supporting his regime .

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia have extended its support to Syrian rebels; whereas, the iranian government has given arms to Iraqi Shia militias. Further, the regional and international proxies on both sides have failed to deliver a negotiated settlement. The old cold war politics has come to its play. Putin has not only delivered material support to Syrian regime but also provided military personnel to defend the incumbent president. On the other hand, the iraqu government has been supported by the American and NATO alliance on its fight against isis.To this mix the entry Ethnic Kurds ,though snit, but fighting purely on national terms have evoked a Turkish response. With problem of its own Kurdish elements, the Turkish military has a launched a offense to not only stop isis but also to deny the kurds a defacto state in Iraq and Syria. This jungle of warlordism requires taming.

To borrow a liberal metaphor, the jungle needs to be turned into a zoo. How can we achieve a peace in middle east because what happens to Iraq happens to arab world and what happens to Arab world happens to all of Islamic world. We need to use the auspices of both regional and international organizations, both humanitarian and political , to broker a peace deal. The totalitarian regimes need to give into democratic aspirations of their people but only through a peaceful transitions. International community needs to play a constructive not a destructive role in this affair. The regional players should respect the territorial integrity of sovereign states. What middle east needs is another Westphalia.

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2 thoughts on “Middle East Conudrum

  1. It is all very confusing to someone not educated in the history of the Middle East, but I have some what of a clear view now. It seems to me that the Middle Eastern countries are in a situation something like (but not exactly) Northern Ireland and Ireland, Protestants versus Roman Catholics who killed each other for over 30 years. Here is an interesting article about that 30 year war and how peace was restored. I send out my best energies for peace to you and all the people there.

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/charles-wheelan/2014/12/16/northern-ireland-peace-process-has-valuable-lessons-for-current-conflicts

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  2. I follow your thoughts and would like to think that “peace” can be brought to the region. But don’t you think something much stronger than the Peace of Westphalia is needed. After all, the theoretical ‘freedoms of religion’ don’t seem ever to stop violence between sects (eg the UK can the Northern Irish problem). Moreover, I think some of the big players in the Middle East would argue that protecting their ‘sovereign’ state is precisely what they are doing. I’m not offering a solution; I only wish I had one!

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