The conflict in the Middle East has continued for decades and it had greatly influenced both the regional countries, ethnic groups, and geopolitical issues. This research paper examines the underlying causes of this Cold War, the primary forces that keep it alive, and alternative solutions. International and regional organizations, as well as their issue-related activity, were studied to obtain the final answers. In fact, Saudi Arabia and Iran have taken the lead as rivals in this region since they perceive civil wars as both threats and opportunities. In a conclusion, it was established that the only way to achieve permanent peace is for countries to give up their national interests, which is unthinkable.
Keywords: the Middle East, religion, civil war, national interest, Saudi Arabia, Iran
Civil wars and conflicts are common among countries that gain independence from other Empires or States over a long period of time. That is what occurred to Middle Eastern countries after World War I. When the Ottoman Empire fell, they needed to establish their national governments; nevertheless, it was not a simple task. The presence of numerous local associations in this region drew the attention of the British and French, who began colonizing the region. Certain questions arose, such as whether the Middle East will turn to North America. Will the cultures of Arabs, Kurds, and Persians start changing? Or will English and French be their official languages? At this point, we can claim that Saudi Arabia played a significant role in keeping the Middle East’s culture and history as it is now since it began to discover strength derived from its oil-rich lands. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took control of the majority of the Arabian Peninsula, including religious cities Mecca and Medina.
Main causes of endless battles
Following World War II, Pan-Arabism and Arab identity emerged, sparking revolutions. In general, the arrangement of Israeli state, its suppression of Egypt in 1967, the diverse ethnics in Lebanon, Jewish and Arab conflicts, the authority of the United States and Britain in Iran and Saudi Arabia, terrorism, constant policy switches in war zones, and last but not least, the issue of migrants are major factors in Middle Eastern insurgencies (Gilbar, 1997). According to the research, the major reason for Iran and Saudi Arabia to back opposing groups in bordering countries such as Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Lebanon is not just a Shia-Sunni conflict (Dorsey, 2016). It’s because they’re threatened and attempt to be prepared for any attack at any time. Nothing is foreseeable as the Middle East becomes more unstable each time. That’s why, as one intensifies its strength in one location, the other must likewise intensify.
Civil wars, upheavals, and attempts of coup d’état have all been a part of lifestyle of the people in this region. Despite their exhaustion from those, they cannot envisage a world of peace. In general, when Arabs (the region’s dominant ethnic group) experience a setback in their plans, they abandon them rather than revise them. Palestinians are an example; they could have formed a new government in the rest of the territory, instead, they wanted it all and lost what they had. Their inability to raise strong diplomats, failure to preserve their rights and a lack of foreign language abilities are all factors that contribute to Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria being on the weak side of international affairs. However, it is generally considered that the primary cause of endless battles is the national interests of governments.
Possible ways of resolution of conflicts in the Middle East
If one looks closely, it can be seen that certain civil conflicts ended a long time ago. This is the result of ideological reconciliation or the utter defeat of the rebel side. Looking at today’s Middle East, one might conclude that the possibility of ideologies reconciling is extremely low because they are mainly founded on religion (Lewis, 2002). On the other hand, a question arises: Why is there no winner in the Middle East’s never-ending battles? As an example, let us consider Syria or Libya where extremist jihadist organizations such as the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda became involved as foreign countries began to take positions, providing financial support, weapons, and warriors. Thus, insurgencies expanded driving all competitors to prevail over one another in an endless loop.
The most likely solutions to the wars in Middle East, at least to decrease the number of conflicts, would require the actions of both foreign governments and local people: the former to withdraw troops from the region, meanwhile, the latter to unite. It is possible to achieve such a solution through strong policy design and a designated organization established particularly for this purpose. However, claiming the troops of the USA to leave the Middle East suddenly would inappropriate and it would mean the terrorist groups invading Iraq and Syria immediately (Geoffrey F. Gresh, 2018).
The relevant activity of regional and international organizations
According to research, various international organizations, including the IMF, UN, UN Arab Human Development Reports, and the World Bank take an active role in analyzing the Middle East. They gather data and information regarding countries’ economies; give a statistical report about Arab people’s freedoms; and increase the focus on peace and security.
It must be noted that most regional organizations, such as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are also effective in dealing with minor, sub-regional concerns. Using the Arab Spring as an example, the Arab League supported a no-fly zone imposed under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 in 2011 (Al-Rasheed, 2016). However, the Arab League’s stance was overshadowed by Western attempts due to its inability to stop the huge NATO onslaught on Libya in 2011. In the case of Syria, however, the Arab League attempted to play a vital role in diplomatically defusing the Syrian issue. The Syrian dictatorship endorsed an Arab League plan in November 2011 that prohibited the Syrian army from using soldiers and tanks against peaceful protestors.
The Gulf Cooperation Council also is involved in strengthening connections between member states, developing similar regulations in the economy, commerce, customs, tourism, laws, and administration, and facilitating scientific and technological progress in industry, mining, establishing scientific research centers, joint ventures, and encouraging private sector cooperation (Michael Sturm, 2008).
The main starting point of the Cold War in the Middle East, the underlying causes of it, and the operations of both regional and international organizations have all been examined and researched. And, as it is seen, most organizations and councils in the Middle East are primarily concerned with how to build the economy or provide data on current statistics reports on specific elements. This leads to the conclusion that an innovative, politically powerful, regional organization must be created as soon as possible. The most crucial aspect, however, is that Saudi Arabia and Iran must both be full members of this organization. There is no possibility of long-term peace throughout the Middle East unless these two leading countries recover their diplomatic relations. As ex-Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in his report to AFP “if Iran changes its way and its policies, nothing would prevent turning a page and building the best relationship based on good neighborliness, with no meddling in the affairs of others, …, Iran is a neighboring Muslim country that has a great civilization and a friendly people, but the policies that followed the revolution of (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini have been aggressive,” (Interview with Saudi Foreign Minister, 2016). For this, Saudi Arabia and Iran must avoid confusing religion and politics, as well as acknowledge that no country will bring better foreign relations and a strong economy as much as neighbor ones. The possibility of this case is uncertain as nothing can be predicted in the Middle East.
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