21 mar 2016
For most of the Middle East’s history after World War II, the Arab world was involved in one armed conflict or another- either an independent war, or in conflict with Israel. And the result has been that through this infernal conflict thousands of people died, billions of dollars has been spent, and a great opportunity for development has been lost.
Recently, during the past fifteen years or so, wars have escalated. It is not just war against (external powers) but the new wars are mostly internal. Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, all in hot, internal wars, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and others, are in some sort of cold internal wars.
If we want to look for the causes of these extended conflicts in the Arab World, we can point easily to four causes. The first is the creation of Israel, and the repercussions this has created in the whole region, over a long time until today. The second is the Iranian revolution and its desire to export its kind of revolution. The third is the mostly Western power involvements in the region. The last is the failure of the National state, to build a reliable and modern system of government.
Those four elements intertwine to produce most of the causes we are witnessing in the region. Some of those elements are gradually weakening, and some are getting stronger. Most observers see that the Western involvement, especially the American one is gradually subsiding because of internal pressures, or failure in most projects they have undertaken since the 9\11 disaster.
Other causes are growing in strength, mainly the Iranian involvement in the Arab region, in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen in particular. Their success in Lebanon by creating Hezbollah, an armed militia, first under the auspices of fighting Israel, has encouraged the militants in Iran to duplicate this form of group, which they have tried in Bahrain, Yemen, and even in Egypt, and Sudan.
Their main success was in Yemen, where they managed to bring the Houthis (a Zaydi sect of Islam) under their wing, immediately after Yemeni people’s popular uprising against a dictatorship ruled by Ali Saleh. Iran quickly went to fill the vacuum by creating their agent- the Houthis. Arms were pouring into Yemen from Tehran, while the Houthis were sweeping Yemen with the help of the difficult to get rid of Saleh supporters. This was unacceptable to Saudi Arabia and its allies, and at the end a war broke out, to stop Houthis delivering Yemen to Tehran, like Hezbollah did in Lebanon- handing over Lebanon! The Yemen War is nearly approaching its first year, and it looks as though there is no apparent end to it soon.
Syria and Iraq, are governed on paper, not to speak, about national governments, but the real designers are in Tehran for both countries. Increasingly Damascus and Baghdad, depend upon the military and political support of Iran. This situation has angered a sizable population of both counters, and a civil war has been waged in both countries, thousands of people were killed so far. Some analysts, even some go so far, believe that the ISIS group has been a ‘social haven’ for those citizens dissatisfied with the Iranian involvement in the internal affairs of their national state.
The involvement of Iran has ignited conflicts, politically or even socially. Iranians are blamed for hundreds of thousands of Arabs falling victims, dead, or kicked out of their villages and homes. Thus a great portion of those wars around us are either supported by Iran or have been started by its involvement in the neighboring region. This interference seems to have no immediate end, just as the conflict in Iran itself is still going on, between so called ‘reformists’ and ‘fundamentalists’. In fact Iran’s interference in the neighboring countries, mainly Arabs, has created its own ‘industry’ so to speak, as it is hard now in Iran to speak publicly against this interference, as it is exactly like speaking against the ‘revolution’ itself or the doctrine of the first leader of the revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini!
Actually we have heard some bold public announcements recently, by prominent Iranians in office, saying proudly that ‘we occupy four major Arab capitals- Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana’! If this attitude by the Iranians is not reversed soon, the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen will continue to breed confusion and misery for quite some time.
The fourth reason for the regional wars is mostly the failure to create reliable and functioning nation states. This has a number of reasons, including the takeover by military of most Arab states, under the pretext of fighting Israel, so that a whole region is almost completely under military rule, which has produced in the end various sorts of dictatorship, with no room for modern institutions or the just rule of law. Even in those countries which have some kind of ‘political parties’, those in power tend to ban all other parties and become the sole agent of the people of the land.
It is obvious that this kind of government cannot produce a healthy community, or any sort of real development. Although some of those rulers once had in their hands abundant wealth, it was wasted either on useless ‘adventures’ or fighting their own people. Democracy, civil society and modern education are seen by dictators as ‘evil and a western conspiracy’ which make states vulnerable and insecure, and ‘when the time comes, all of these will fall like autumn leaves’.
Among all these complicated factors, one cannot see at this stage how those internal and external wars in our region can end. Probably we need a third party to mediate, and this not readily available so far, as the big powers- namely USA and Russia are still fighting a ‘revenge war’ a leftover of the ‘Cold War’, and this reviving war is being paid for by Arab souls.
The alternative is to build an axis of Arab states starting with a United Gulf State. Until this ‘dream’ come to life, to me it seems there is no way of putting those conflicts to rest.