The Roots of the Current Crisis in the Middle East

It is now fully five years since the greatest upheavals in the modern history of the Arab World started in Tunis. Always impressed by the latest events, we tend to forget the deep roots of the current violent struggle. But unless we confront the causes, there is little chance that the symptoms will be healed.

(A partial version of this article in Spanish was published earlier in Free Haifa)

The wave of refugees that has reached Europe and the terror attacks in Paris reminded many people in Europe and beyond of the crisis in our region – but at the same time led them to forget that the main victims of this crisis are the people of the region themselves.

Divide and Rule

For many centuries the people of the Middle East were not really free. They could not manage their own economies and politics as they would like.

After the Ottoman Empire was destroyed in the First World War, the European powers were quick to grab control of the region. Britain and France divided the region that expands from Turkey to the Indian Ocean between themselves in the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916.

In order to ensure their control of the region, the imperialist powers used the well-tried policy of “divide and rule”. In many regions of the Middle East they supported minorities and gave them privileges over the majority, knowing that the minority would always be dependent on external powers to maintain its influence and control. In other areas they gave control to local families and made them kings or emirs, concentrating power in the hands of small elites.

  • They gave Palestine to the Zionist movement to build a state for Jewish immigrants at the expense of the local Arab population.
  • They built a sectarian state in Lebanon with the Christians at the top of the hierarchy.
  • They granted Sunni Islam a privileged position in Iraq.
  • They created the kingdom of Jordan and bestowed it on the Hashemite family from the Arab peninsula, which relies on and secures privileges for the Bedouin minority.

Syria comprised what was left over after the rest of the Arab East was divided between imperialist clients. It went through a period of instability, until it also came under the rule of a dictatorship based on the Alawite minority.

The Political Economy of Oil

The economy of the Middle East is mostly characterized by its dependence on oil as the main export product. Oil is a very political product, as it is easy to control and to monopolize. Even in many developed countries, oil taxation is an important source of government income. In our region, oil is the main export product and the main source of revenue for many governments.

An oil-based economy differs from one based on agriculture or industry. Primitive agriculture requires a large workforce. Developed industry requires educated workers. In normal economies the prosperity of the government or the elite is to a degree dependent on the well-being and cooperation of the masses and on some level of peace.

Oil requires a very small workforce to extract. The key to controlling its riches is sovereignty, or control of the state apparatus. The masses are not useful in this process. The rulers regard their people as unwanted extra mouths: you have to feed them and they may complain. In addition the price of oil tends to soar at times of war and insecurity and to slump at times of peace.

The interest of the imperialist powers is not only to secure the flow of oil to their economies. They also gain much of the proceedings through ownership of the fields themselves or of the shipping, processing and distribution facilities. It is also in the interest of the western economies that the oil wealth will not be invested in the development of the local economy or the wellbeing of the local population. Trillions of oil dollars, which were accumulated by the local rulers, are kept in western banks or investment funds and constitute a mainstay of the western economies.

Another way that the oil money is going back to the western powers is through selling weapons to the local regimes. In the arms industry profits are very high. A few western powers still maintain the technological superiority to control the markets. The security and political alliance with the top world powers is also a safety belt for the local rulers against any demand for reform from their wretched people.

The division of the Arab region between small artificial states helps to prevent the utilization of local resource to develop the local economy. Generally speaking – the oil belongs to some states while the hungry people live in other states. One special example for this policy was the creation of the state of Kuwait. It was an Iraqi oil field that was separated from Iraq by the British and given by them in 1961 to the Sabah family to rule.

The destructive role of Zionism

The Zionist colonization of Palestine was designed from its beginnings to serve the imperialist powers (initially Britain, later the US) as a bulwark against Arab independence. The Palestinians were the immediate victims

Palestinian_refugees_Galillee_1948

              Ethnic Cleansing in the Galilee 1948

of Zionism, as 78% of Palestine was occupied by Israel in 1948 and most of the population was expelled in the ensuing Ethnic Cleansing.

The regional role of Zionism was first emphasized in the “Tripartite Aggression” of 1956, when Israel spread-headed a joint attack with Britain and France against Egypt over the nationalization of the Suez Canal.

In the 1967 war Israel succeeded not only to complete its occupation of Palestine but also to take Sinai from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. One dangerous consequence of that war was the decision of the Egyptian leadership, led by Anwar Sadat, to change course and “sell-out” Egypt economically and politically to the US, in return for regaining formal control of Sinai. In Syria the sense of vulnerability in face of the Zionist aggression was an important factor behind the right-wing coup that brought the Assad dynasty to power. This pattern was consolidated into a comprehensive US strategy for the Middle East: Let Israel beat the Arabs and later hold Israel back in return for Arab political concessions to US interests.

To enable this mechanism, it was set in official agreements that the US should guarantee Israeli military superiority over any coalition of regional countries. This was possible when the Arab armies were mostly composed of illiterate peasants led by corrupt officers. But to keep this promise of military superiority of a small settler state with a few million people (currently 6 million) over states representing hundreds of millions Arabs requires putting a brake over the development of the whole region.

After the 1979 Iranian revolution toppled the US-sponsored dictatorship of the Shah, the US encouraged their then-client Iraq’s president Saddam Hussein to attack Iran. At the same time, Israel supplied weapons to the Iranians – at the highest days of the Islamic revolution – with the clear goal to prolong the conflict and increase the destruction on both sides. In the war that lasted from 1980 till 1988 hundreds of thousands were killed on each side and the suffering and destruction were colossal.

In the aftermath of this war, Iraq became a main target of the US-Israeli policy of containment, utilizing the excuse of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Iraq was a rare case among the Arab states where Oil and Population met in one state – so it could become a center of economic and military development. This led to 13 years of intense sanctions on Iraq, including systematic prevention of food and medicine, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and many more adults. Not satisfied with this creeping genocide, the US, with active prodding from the Zionist lobby, occupied Iraq in 2003 and dismantled the foundations of the Iraqi state.

Even as Israel is not as useful tool for imperialism as it used to be, the commitment of the Western powers to preserve its racist system comes at a high price for the region as a whole. When, in 2006, there was a rare attempt to hold semi-democratic elections in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians gave clear majority to Islamic Hamas, rejecting the corrupt rule of Fatah that was oppressing Palestinians at the service of the occupation. The whole “international community” hurried to sanction the Palestinians for not showing more sympathy with their occupiers. The siege of Gaza, reinforced regularly by massacres, was designed to be a lesson in democracy and its outcomes for the whole region.

Israel very much wanted a repetition of the war on Iraq with another, bigger, imperialist war against Iran. This was too much for the US to swallow, as it already paid a very high toll for the Iraqi adventure, not least some 1 trillion dollar of expenses that could revive the crippled US economy. Now, as Syria is burning and bleeding, Israel doesn’t hide its satisfaction, as another “potential danger” is neutralized.

The rise of political Islam

In spite of all the above mentioned problems, many analysts still describe the current conflict as a result of the rise of “Islamic Extremism”. As if the people of the Middle East are not revolting against their oppression. As if all was well until unexplained crazy mood of extremism took hold.

This is the most superstitious and out-of-context explanation of political events.

Islam, as any other religion, and as many other ideologies like “liberalism” and “socialism”, all proposing a methodology for organizing society, can be used (or misused) to all sorts of political purposes: Justifying oppressive regimes, instigating war and genocide or struggles against oppression and discrimination.

In the 1980s the US used and paid for Islamic Jihadists to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Almost all Arab regimes use the Islamic religion, by one way or another, to legitimize the rule of elites of different types, most of them serving foreign imperialism more than anybody else. Not long ago it was official policy of Saudi Arabia and Mubarak’s Egypt, orchestrated by the US, to re-invent and inflame the Sunni-Shia conflict in order to distract Arab public opinion by describing Iran as “the real danger” – sparing Israel, the US and local “Sunni” Tyrants.

As all kinds of political expression are oppressed all over the region, it is just natural that the main form of mass organization that can’t be criminalized, practicing religion, becomes a central conveyer of the aspirations of the masses. But when Islam is used as an ideological or organizational framework for struggle against oppression it suddenly loses all legitimacy and described as a danger.

The dominance of Islamic movements in the Middle East is not only a result of political oppression. Nationalist and socialist movements were at the center of Arab politics for decades, but they lost credibility between the masses due to their own mistakes and shortcomings. At the same time Islamic movements, like Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and the Sadrists in Iraq, kept the right balance between grassroots work to care for the daily needs of the masses and political struggle against occupation and tyranny. They implemented the methods taught by Lenin and Mao on how to build a movement effectively. Those Islamic movements that were connected to the masses and opposed local rulers (until Hezbollah took sides with Assad) were also more ready to support democracy and form coalitions with other parties and people from different religions.

What actually pushes masses of people to look for extreme solutions is not “ideology” but extremely harsh conditions. The Sunni communities in Iraq engaged in peaceful protest throughout 2013 against discrimination and oppression by the Shia-led Maliki government that was supported by both US and Iran. It was only after the government rejected any political solution, preferring to send the army to besiege their cities and bomb them, that the local militias organized with the so-called “Islamic State” to throw out the army. Only the shock caused by the victory of the Islamic State in Mosul forced the US and Iran to push aside Maliki and try to sponsor a less sectarian Iraqi government.

In similar conditions, years of bombing of their cities by the Assad regime pushed some Syrians into the arms of the Islamic State. The massacre of more than 200,000 Syrians was not regarded by “the international community” as an emergency until foreigners started to be in danger. It should also be said that the brave Kurdish and Arab opposition in Syria started to fight against the extremism of the so-called Islamic State long before it became an international affair.

Other regimes are likewise driving their people towards extremism. Egypt’s dictator Al-Sisi is doing it in Sinai. In Libya it is the policy of the army led by retired general and CIA agent Haftar, supported by the “internationally recognized” government in Tobruk. The method is well known: Bomb the people instead of listening to them. The reason is also familiar: When you’re the only “defender of the country” against “extremists” you will get plenty support and nobody will dare to question your crimes.

No mechanism for change

The Arab countries, with more than 300 million inhabitants, are now the most politically retarded and oppressive region in the world. There are several reasons for this.

First, it is the region where imperialism is making most money. When the US was forced to withdraw from Vietnam (in 1975) they declared the Middle East to be their next red line: Here they will fight rather than giving up control to nationalist or socialist movements.

The traditional support by western powers for Israel is another reason why they see any democratic reform in the region as a threat. Arab democracies which would need to take public opinion into consideration might well give more support to the Palestinians.

Since the beginning of the 70s and the dramatic rise in the price of oil, and until the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011, there was no political change in any country in the region. The ruling elites had enough resources to buy or crash any opposition.

While there were significant steps toward democratization in every other region in the world, in the Arab world the ruling elites have only became more oppressive.

A general rehearsal for things to come was played in Algeria in 1991. After the Islamists won the first round of the elections, the army took control in a coup and outlawed the Islamists. In the civil war that emerged some 200,000 people died. The military government was fully supported by the western powers all along.

The accumulation of contradictions all over the region inevitably led to a much wider wave of protests and upheavals – the Arab spring.

For forward looking analysis you can read in Free Haifa: The Arab Spring, five years on, is here to stay and win.


Originally published on 2015-12-19

Source: Free Haifa

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

Judaism_vs_Zionism

READ MORE!
A Boomerang Policy: From Paris to Paris
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. Save
READ MORE
What is Israel’s Project in Argentina?
The Argentinian authorities are wondering about the massive purchase of land in Patagonia by a British billionaire, and the “holidays” that tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers are enjoying on his property. In the 19th century, the British government were undecided as to where they should settle Israel – either in what is now Uganda, in Argentina or in Palestine. In fact, Argentina was at that time controlled by the United Kingdom and, on the initiative of French baron Maurice de Hirsch, had become a land of refuge for Jews who were fleeing the pogroms in central Europe. In the 20th century, ...
READ MORE
“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East
This article was published on Global Research April 29, 2013. Global Research Editor’s Note: The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government (which has recently been re-elected), the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment.  The election was fought by Netanyahu on a political platform which denies Palestinian statehood.   According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”  According to Rabbi Fischmann,  “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt ...
READ MORE
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people. Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El ...
READ MORE
ISIS is a US-Israeli Creation: Top Ten “Indications”
Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative news / independent media site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at Tools For Freedom.com (FaceBook here), writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance. ISIS is a US-Israeli creation, a fact as clear as the sky is blue. It’s a truth as black and white as the colors on their flag. For many alternative news readers, this may be patently obvious, but this article is written for the large majority of ...
READ MORE
Islam: Beheadings, Decapitation and Butchering
Kosovo after June 1999: Serbian Orthodox church destroyed by by Kosovo Albanian Muslims The horrible pictures of the atrocious ritual beheadings of ICS, the Islamic Caliphate State, on the Internet, have shown an ugly face of Western leaders, avoiding and denying what is crystal clear, as if these heinous acts are not Islamic, and continuing their march of folly as if Islam is a religion of peace and compassion; as if ICS and Qaeda are in fact not Islamic; and as if these and other Islamic terrorist organization hijacked Islam, in order to smear it and de-legitimized its presence in the ...
READ MORE
Democratizing the US Constitution: An Idea Worth Considering
The grandees of the Republican Party are on the ropes. Donald Trump has them by the balls, but, even without Trump, they would be in what Bush the Father would call deep “do-do.” Any Republican candidate for President whom two-thirds of the electorate could abide would be anathema to the one-third that Republicans have recruited into their rank and file. Mitt Romney was the final straw. The establishment’s situation is so pitiful that even Chris Christie is starting to look good to them. If his candidacy survives into the Spring, late night TV comedians will rejoice; others, not so much. Ted Cruz remains ...
READ MORE
The Srebrenica Massacre as Paradigmatic Media Spin
Transcript of presentation by the author at the Conference of Independent Journalists’ Association for Peace, Vienna, Austria, May 2015. This year the twentieth anniversary of the massacre in Srebrenica is being observed. On July 11 a huge spectacle will take place at the Srebrenica Memorial center specially constructed for that purpose. It will feature the presence of most of the rather insignificant individuals purporting to be political leaders in the region and the Western-dominated world. Their speeches, which never vary substantially, will be infused with the predictable platitudes. I propose to deal with some aspects of the Srebrenica narrative from the standpoint ...
READ MORE
NATO’s Role in the Recruitment of Islamic Terrorists
According to Israeli Intelligence News Source This article was first published in September 2014. Can we believe Hollande and Cameron? Evidence confirms that NATO is behind the recruitment of “jihadist terrorists  While NATO leaders in Newport Wales [September 2014] debate the Atlantic Alliance’s role “in containing a mounting militant threat in the Middle East”, it is worth recalling that in 2011 at the outset of the war in Syria,  NATO became actively involved in the recruitment of Islamic fighters. Reminiscent of the enlistment of the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO headquarters ...
READ MORE
Confronting the West With its Responsibilities is Essential!
The West has a black history in the middle east that must be recognised. In 1916, Arabs joined the allied forces but deceived.The victorious  western powers divided the region as they wished without any consideration to the peoples’ will. Then  completed  this crime by planting the state of Israel, which since day one spread state terrorism throughout the region. The West supported Israel and defied the international law set by the West. Our part of the world continued to live in a climate of war, militarisation and tension because of this. In this respect, the West practised and still the most ...
READ MORE
Media Literacy 101: Kosovo and Libya
The media never merely report the news. They manipulate and distort the news. They want to tell you what and how to think. Pursuant to this role, they routinely rewrite history. A striking instance of media rewriting of history is in the reporting on Kosovo. In the AP article “US Prosecutor to Probe Kosovo Organ Trafficking”, it is reported that the alleged atrocity occurred “during Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia” in 1999. Everyone remembers that war as one to prevent genocide and ethnic cleansing, that it was “a humanitarian intervention”. But here it is now characterized and defined as a ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: An Evil Little War
Six Years Later, Kosovo Still Wrong In the early hours of March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For some reason, many in the targeted nation thought the name of the operation was “Merciful Angel.” In fact, the attack was code-named “Allied Force” – a cold, uninspired and perfectly descriptive moniker. For, however much NATO spokesmen and the cheerleading press spun, lied, and fabricated to show otherwise (unfortunately, with altogether too much success), there was nothing noble in NATO’s aims. It attacked Yugoslavia for the same reason then-Emperor Bill Clinton enjoyed a ...
READ MORE
Benny Morris’s Untenable Denial of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
The Israeli historian Benny Morris has been very vocal of late in denying that Palestine was ethnically cleansed of Arabs in order for the “Jewish state” of Israel to be established. In a series of articles in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Morris has debated the question with several of his critics who contend that ethnic cleansing is precisely what occurred. Not so, argues Morris. So who’s right? It’s worth noting at the outset that, while such a debate exists in the Israeli media, the US media remains, as ever, absolutely silent on the matter. Americans who get their information about the ...
READ MORE
The Six Day War – Myth and Reality
The Six Day War of June 1967, a series of battles fought by the armed forces of the state of Israel against a combination of Arab armies, is one of manifold significance. From a military standpoint, it presented a model strategy of how to prosecute and win a war waged on several fronts. The stunning victory also created a sense of euphoria among communities in the Jewish Diaspora: Among American Jews, a segment of Jewry David Ben Gurion viewed with disdain because of their failure to migrate en masse to Israel, a new sense of commitment in both emotional and financial ...
READ MORE
Disappeared People in Kosovostan
During and after the the Kosovo conflict in 1998-1999, the KLA abducted and kidnapped over 2,000 Kosovo civilians, Serbs, Roma, and Albanians that opposed the KLA, who were tortured and murdered. Ten years after the conflict, these 2,000 remain missing. Approximately 1,000 to 1,3000 Kosovo Serbs are missing and presumed dead. How did they die? UNMIK occupation forces have been reluctant to investigate these mass murders of Kosovo civilians. What happened to them? Evidence has emerged that the KLA ran a series of prison camps, in Kosovo and in Albania itself, where they tortured and murdered Kosovo Serbs, Roma, and ...
READ MORE
The Origin of the Nazi Salutes
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. Save Save
READ MORE
How Kosovo was Turned into Fertile Ground for ISIS
Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store. The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression. Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this ...
READ MORE
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel
A newly-released Hilary Clinton email confirmed that the Obama administration has deliberately provoked the civil war in Syria as the “best way to help Israel.” In an indication of her murderous and psychopathic nature, Clinton also wrote that it was the “right thing” to personally threaten Bashar Assad’s family with death. In the email, released by Wikileaks, then Secretary of State Clinton says that the “best way to help Israel” is to “use force” in Syria to overthrow the government. The document was one of many unclassified by the US Department of State under case number F-2014-20439, Doc No. C05794498, following the uproar ...
READ MORE
The US Aggression on Syria and the Principles of a “Just War”
The US military forces committed a classical example of the aggression on one sovereign and independent state on April 6th, 2017 by bombing a territory of Syrian Arab Republic by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles killing civilians who are proclaimed as usually as “collateral damage”. A formal excuse for the aggression was based as many times before (from Vietnam, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya… cases) on traditional political false flags and mainstream media fake news used by the US propaganda machinery to sanction the Pentagon’s hegemonic policy of the Pax Americana. The Fundamental Dilemma The fundamental dilemma is why the US administrations of Obama ...
READ MORE
Incompetent Espionage and Wikileaks
The entire sand-castle (a product of Obama CIA Director John Brennan’s imagination) the “Russians hacked the election” is finally washing away with an incoming tide. How this plays out is anyone’s guess. The open question is, how the new information will be leveraged, if it were to actually break into the open widely, with the bad boy Trump essentially captured by the surreal evil that surrounds him. Other than pure evil (e.g. Mike Pence), only a narcissist or a fool would ever desire to be president of this particular USA republic. In ‘The Donald’, we have both. 1 August 2017 an audio ...
READ MORE
A Boomerang Policy: From Paris to Paris
What is Israel’s Project in Argentina?
“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
ISIS is a US-Israeli Creation: Top Ten “Indications”
Islam: Beheadings, Decapitation and Butchering
Democratizing the US Constitution: An Idea Worth Considering
The Srebrenica Massacre as Paradigmatic Media Spin
NATO’s Role in the Recruitment of Islamic Terrorists
Confronting the West With its Responsibilities is Essential!
Media Literacy 101: Kosovo and Libya
Kosovo: An Evil Little War
Benny Morris’s Untenable Denial of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
The Six Day War – Myth and Reality
Disappeared People in Kosovostan
The Origin of the Nazi Salutes
How Kosovo was Turned into Fertile Ground for ISIS
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel
The US Aggression on Syria and the Principles of a “Just War”
Incompetent Espionage and Wikileaks
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu