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Published on October 28th, 2012 | by Alex Clackson
Image © [caption id="attachment_11322" align="alignnone" width="566"] A boy with an air horn during a peaceful protest in Bahrain. ©Hasan Jamali/AP/Press Association Images[/caption] After the Arab Spring began last year, the people in the Middle East and the rest of the world were so much full of hope and aspirations, genuinely or naively believing that this will be a new start for the region. However, one year on, the situation in the Middle East looks far worse than it could have ever been imagined under the likes of Gaddafi and Ben Ali of Tunisia. Obama told the United Nations in his speech how he truly believes the Middle East is on its way up and how delighted he is that the troops will be coming out of Afghanistan with “the mission complete”. I personally am not sure what the objectives of the USA were, but if continuous suicide bombings, insecurity and a dire economic situation in Afghanistan is what USA wanted to achieve after a decade, then I guess the mission is complete. The truth is, (and I am sure Obama knows the truth perfectly well), the Middle East is in tatters. The video mocking Prophet Mohamed has perhaps exaggerated the horrific situation, but to me the violence resulting from the video is just additional fuel to an already raging fire of violence and discontent in the Middle East. Unfortunately America is struggling to keep the lid closed on the violence and this has resulted in the murder of an Ambassador and three other officials. There are a number of reasons why the Arab Spring has not produced the desired results. An obvious reason is of course that after a major revolution, nations in general take a while to re-assemble and find the path that leads to prosperity and growth. The second reason is the fact that there are so many different factions and actors within the Middle East. The disagreement between Shias and Sunnis continues to create difficulties for the region and additionally the fighting that is spilling over from Syria into Lebanon and Turkey is further creating a rift between the citizens in the Middle East. Ultimately, the plethora of religious and political groups fighting amongst each other is making it very difficult for the citizens to get on with their lives in peace. Thirdly, the continuous tampering with affairs by the United States and its allies is not making the situation any better, despite the overwhelming amount of claims that the region requires American help. It does not. The Middle East is an old historic region with a great history and culture, vast past empires and extraordinary people who have blessed our planet with fantastic advancements in science and arts. Anyone who considers the Arabs as barbaric and unintelligent ought to know that the Middle East was the first region in the world to create modern scientists, astronomers and mathematicians. I am completely convinced that the contemporary Arabs can sort out their own problems without the constant bickering from the White House on what the new governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya should do. America has its own interest in the Middle East and it would be naive to think they genuinely care about the prosperity of the region. The constant threats against Iran from the US and Israel are not helping to establish the feeling of security in the region. There are undoubtedly other reasons for why the Middle East is in such disarray. Focusing on the three reasons mentioned above, will the Arabic region find peace again in the near future? Dealing with the first issue of transition after revolutions, time is undoubtedly the right medicine. Nevertheless, time as a medicine can only do so much to heal the severely ill region of the Middle East. Time will only help if the other two causes are dealt with properly. Primarily America must stop advancing its hegemonic claws into the region. Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen. Going back to the speech made by Obama to the UN, he spoke extensively of the need for America to play a vital role in dealing with the violence in Syria and the apparent threat of Iran building nuclear weapons. Undoubtedly, Israel is the likely cause for the continuous involvement of America in the Middle East, therefore as long as America and Israel hold a forever-loving relationship the US is unlikely to change its policy in the Arab region. In addition, having observed the Presidential election debates on foreign policy, it was clear that both candidates are content to ensure that America plays the role of a policeman, a judge and the executioner on the world stage (Romney more so than Obama). Turning to the factitious nature of the Middle East itself, again it is hard to imagine how the conflicting sects can find a way to cooperate. The different religious actors have been continuously in battle for many years now, especially after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by the Western powers. In addition, due to a certain post- Arab Spring vacuum of power, a variety of actors are now interested in filling that space. For example, the elections in Libya to elect the prime-minister and the parliament will take place in 2013. Until then we can expect a number of politicians and organizations fighting amongst each other to help them get in power. Within Egypt, Syria and Tunisia a number of political parties and individuals are also still struggling for the majority vote from the public. Due to these problems, it is difficult to see how the Arabic region can step on the path towards peace and prosperity, at least in the near future. It is a great shame as the region is filled with vital resources like oil and gas which could have helped the region progress at the speed of Saudi Arabia, if only the Arabic nations could have cooperated together rather than fighting amongst each other. It would be in the region’s interest to strengthen the Arab League. After all, the EU has helped the European states to maintain peace after the end of World War II. Until then, the fighting amongst the Arabs has allowed the American and European companies to take over the oil reserves while the fighting has carried on.  Perhaps one day the Middle East will return to its past glory of magnificent states like Assyria and Babylon, but for now the region will struggle on with violence and insecurity.

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Can the Middle East find peace again?

A boy with an air horn during a peaceful protest in Bahrain. ©Hasan Jamali/AP/Press Association Images

After the Arab Spring began last year, the people in the Middle East and the rest of the world were so much full of hope and aspirations, genuinely or naively believing that this will be a new start for the region. However, one year on, the situation in the Middle East looks far worse than it could have ever been imagined under the likes of Gaddafi and Ben Ali of Tunisia. Obama told the United Nations in his speech how he truly believes the Middle East is on its way up and how delighted he is that the troops will be coming out of Afghanistan with “the mission complete”. I personally am not sure what the objectives of the USA were, but if continuous suicide bombings, insecurity and a dire economic situation in Afghanistan is what USA wanted to achieve after a decade, then I guess the mission is complete. The truth is, (and I am sure Obama knows the truth perfectly well), the Middle East is in tatters. The video mocking Prophet Mohamed has perhaps exaggerated the horrific situation, but to me the violence resulting from the video is just additional fuel to an already raging fire of violence and discontent in the Middle East. Unfortunately America is struggling to keep the lid closed on the violence and this has resulted in the murder of an Ambassador and three other officials.

There are a number of reasons why the Arab Spring has not produced the desired results. An obvious reason is of course that after a major revolution, nations in general take a while to re-assemble and find the path that leads to prosperity and growth. The second reason is the fact that there are so many different factions and actors within the Middle East. The disagreement between Shias and Sunnis continues to create difficulties for the region and additionally the fighting that is spilling over from Syria into Lebanon and Turkey is further creating a rift between the citizens in the Middle East. Ultimately, the plethora of religious and political groups fighting amongst each other is making it very difficult for the citizens to get on with their lives in peace. Thirdly, the continuous tampering with affairs by the United States and its allies is not making the situation any better, despite the overwhelming amount of claims that the region requires American help. It does not.

The Middle East is an old historic region with a great history and culture, vast past empires and extraordinary people who have blessed our planet with fantastic advancements in science and arts. Anyone who considers the Arabs as barbaric and unintelligent ought to know that the Middle East was the first region in the world to create modern scientists, astronomers and mathematicians. I am completely convinced that the contemporary Arabs can sort out their own problems without the constant bickering from the White House on what the new governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya should do. America has its own interest in the Middle East and it would be naive to think they genuinely care about the prosperity of the region. The constant threats against Iran from the US and Israel are not helping to establish the feeling of security in the region.

There are undoubtedly other reasons for why the Middle East is in such disarray. Focusing on the three reasons mentioned above, will the Arabic region find peace again in the near future? Dealing with the first issue of transition after revolutions, time is undoubtedly the right medicine. Nevertheless, time as a medicine can only do so much to heal the severely ill region of the Middle East. Time will only help if the other two causes are dealt with properly. Primarily America must stop advancing its hegemonic claws into the region. Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen. Going back to the speech made by Obama to the UN, he spoke extensively of the need for America to play a vital role in dealing with the violence in Syria and the apparent threat of Iran building nuclear weapons. Undoubtedly, Israel is the likely cause for the continuous involvement of America in the Middle East, therefore as long as America and Israel hold a forever-loving relationship the US is unlikely to change its policy in the Arab region. In addition, having observed the Presidential election debates on foreign policy, it was clear that both candidates are content to ensure that America plays the role of a policeman, a judge and the executioner on the world stage (Romney more so than Obama).

Turning to the factitious nature of the Middle East itself, again it is hard to imagine how the conflicting sects can find a way to cooperate. The different religious actors have been continuously in battle for many years now, especially after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by the Western powers. In addition, due to a certain post- Arab Spring vacuum of power, a variety of actors are now interested in filling that space. For example, the elections in Libya to elect the prime-minister and the parliament will take place in 2013. Until then we can expect a number of politicians and organizations fighting amongst each other to help them get in power. Within Egypt, Syria and Tunisia a number of political parties and individuals are also still struggling for the majority vote from the public.

Due to these problems, it is difficult to see how the Arabic region can step on the path towards peace and prosperity, at least in the near future. It is a great shame as the region is filled with vital resources like oil and gas which could have helped the region progress at the speed of Saudi Arabia, if only the Arabic nations could have cooperated together rather than fighting amongst each other. It would be in the region’s interest to strengthen the Arab League. After all, the EU has helped the European states to maintain peace after the end of World War II. Until then, the fighting amongst the Arabs has allowed the American and European companies to take over the oil reserves while the fighting has carried on.  Perhaps one day the Middle East will return to its past glory of magnificent states like Assyria and Babylon, but for now the region will struggle on with violence and insecurity.

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About the Author

Alex Clackson

"Alex has a degree in Politics and a Master's degree in International Relations. His main interests and expertise lie in issues surrounding the Middle East, Western foreign policy and also Russian political system. Alex currently works in communications/public affairs and is also an active supporter of the anti-war movement"



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