By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Originally the Middle East has been the home to many ethnic, religious, political and social divisions that outlined the current political map of this region. A combination of numerous historical and political diversifications resulted in these divisions and led them to adopt different approaches according to the experiences and circumstances. Therefore, the current tensions and conflicts unfolding in the Middle East are the outcomes of lengthy accumulations dating back to many centuries ago.
A sizable portion of Muslims and Middle Easterners in general tend to adopt the idea that due to conspiracies and hidden agendas the Middle East has been the aim of many super powers, ever since the expansionist policies started being implemented. Therefore, for the sake of containment and maximizing wealth extraction, colonial powers like the British Empire adopted the policy of “Divide and Rule”, to prevent the emergence of unified fronts and strong oppositions.
Personally, I tend to ignore any notion of conspiracy and the allegations of hidden agendas, since any observer would affirm that POLITICS has no religion and no faith. Common and mutual interests are the factors mandating the implementation of political policies around the world, and as far as each side is able to deliver their portion of partnership, the relationship would remain binding and enforced. However, the intention of this article is not dissecting the policies and events that resulted in those divisions, or whether there are conspiracies being architected by hidden powers. The intention of this article is presenting the unfolding of current divisions taking place in the Middle East, which are very unique due to their new nature and outcomes.
Introduction and preliminary background
The ruling elites of the Middle East have depended on a combination of redistribution of wealth and ideology to contain their masses and acquire legitimacy, in the post-colonial era. Therefore, due to revamping of global political affairs, these systems were not able to maintain their competitiveness and their ability to develop new means of governance. As a result, the political shifts that took place during the cold war era and post-cold war era, forced the Middle Eastern states to adopt old fashioned methods of governance and containment, which included coercion and compulsion. Therefore, the priorities of the states became matters like, political survival, mass containment, favoritism and reaffirming legitimacy through coercive means. Due to these realities, the basic necessities like security, housing, economic reforms and employment were famine and unavailable, which resulted in emergence of radicalism and constant instability.
Finally, the phenomenon of Arab spring ravished the Middle East, and what was sought to be due to economic, transformed into full-scale political uprisings, which were demanding political reforms and civil liberties.
Emergence of New groups and divisions:
The uneven experiences of what is called the Arab Spring introduced new sets of ideologies and schools of thoughts, which don’t even have any roots on the historic grievances of this region. Fairly quick and blood-less revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in new identities, which the Middle East is not even familiar with, and has made them very unpopular even though they might be rational and legit in concept.
Rest of the Middle East
Due to the bloody and destructive nature of the conflict in Libya, Syria and recently in Yemen, rest of the Middle Eastern states realized the necessity to introduce some sorts of liberties and economic reforms to anticipate the possibility of uprisings in their countries. However, due to emergence of global social media phenomenon and the impossibility to limit and contain the deliverance of information, the states had acknowledged the impossibility of preventing influence of other uprisings on their own masses. Therefore, bogeys like sectarianism and ethnic tensions were mobilized in a way that prepared the Middle Eastern masses to adopt new norms and ideologies.