Nov 20, 2001, 08:21 PM
Why is it that there are so many problems these days in the Middle East? I was just reading an article that the US has proof that a bunch of countries are developing biological weapons, and all the countries listed except one were in the Middle East. This is just the latest in a long string of events over the last several decades, which I'm assuming you are all familiar with. Some attribute this to the religion that dominates the region, and go off lighting mosques on fire. However I find this hard to believe, since what I've heard about Islam makes it sound like a peaceful religion, and there are peaceful Muslims all over the world. So it must be something else. Or is it just by chance that a bunch of crazy leaders have come to power all next to each other? Now not all countries in the Middle East have these sorts of problems, and there are similar countries in other parts of the world, but it seems that there is a much higher concentration of countries that promote violence and oppression in this part of the world than anywhere else. What are your thoughts on this? Is there some event or series of events in history that brought this situation about? or is it just chance?
Nov 21, 2001, 10:02 AM
Well, entire volumes have been written about this, it'd be hard to pull it together into a thread. Some of the reasons are cultural, others religious (fanaticism, at any rate), others deep historical origins.
You are right to assume Islam is a peaceful religion, just as any other. But as with any religion, hateful people often twist it for their own ends. Somehow this becomes a justification for what clearly is not acceptable under the tenets of the religion being misused. The idea that there are more muslim freaks may just be perspective. How often will CNN show you clips of a muslim running his business, eagerly attending class at the university, or playing with his children, or gardening? The gun toting, hateful freaks get the news time.
That said, religion is at the heart of middle eastern troubles historically. Jerusalem, in particular, because it is the holy city of of Judaism and Christianity, and a very important site for muslims as well. There are holy sites of all 3 religions there - places that are important enough that one does not want the other to have control over it. That's one reason so many wars have been fought over palestine. The crusades were entirely about recapturing the holy land from the heathens. Who then wanted to retake it from the infidels. Ad nauseum.
In the 20th century, the Jews were given Israel after the holocaust of WW2. Whether you think this was just, or simply a political move by the west, it happened. Today's Palestinians, a people without a homeland, had one just 60 years ago. That's still a fresh memory for them, and resentment is perfectly understandable. The Israelis, newly in possession of a country for the first time in eons, are quite willing to take up arms to defend it. These are obviously conflicting interests, to put it mildly.
Outside of Israel, you have the problem of alliances, foreign influence, and cultural tendencies. Turkey, for instance, is a muslim country with western leanings - both politically and culturally. This is frowned upon by more traditional states such as Iran (altho they are currently experiencing a surprizing shift in this regard) or Yemen. The cold war left its imprint, as both the US and USSR jockeyed for diplomatic/military position in the region. So there has been plenty of fodder for strife.
Nov 27, 2001, 01:59 PM
I am not an expert, but I don't think the palestinians had a homeland 60 years ago. The whole region was run by League of Nations mandate by the British. I have heard it said that they promised a homeland to both the Pals and the Jews. I would highly recomend reading a few books on the subject, because if you get any insider opinions they will be comepletely biased in their own direction. These two sides havenever even heard of grey when it comes to issues.
Most of the history of the region that applies today flows from WWI and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. There are certainly important events before this, but that marks the time when western influence started to be felt in the Middle East in a big way.