Observations on the Middle East

1 Jul 2015

Image: Creative Commons


I recently read an excellent article published by Philip A. Gardner on Backbench. I would go as far to say it was one of the best foreign policy articles I have had the pleasure of reading. It gives the reader a fair and objective overview of the region. That said, I disagree with the writer’s conclusions with regards to British and American involvement in the Middle East.


Do we have a legitimate place in the Middle East?


I'm going to outline how I would tackle ISIS. Most commentators in the mainstream media fail to call ISIS by its name. It's not "ISIL" as Obama repeatedly calls it, or "IS". If you pop onto YouTube there is a fascinating documentary called The Origins of ISIS, which demonstrates this point.


I've always been a great believer in the principle that to solve a problem you must first go back to the beginning and understand where the problem started. Once this has been achieved, you need to evaluate the problem. After understanding the origins of ISIS, I found myself asking: what drives people to want to fight for this organisation?


At the root of the answers lies, invariably, American and British foreign policy. For some bizarre reason we seem to think we are the world's police. We seem to think we can take our values and principles and deliver them via bombs, while showing ourselves to be morally corrupt.


Chronic Hypocrisy


I think it is absolutely shameful for the USA to pose as a friend to Palestine, whilst being in bed with Israel politically. This is the same United States of America that preaches freedom and democracy abroad, whilst its President rushes through his treasured Patriot Act, which will allow the state to profile innocent citizens’ phone records and emails without a warrant or prefacing evidence against them.


The hypocrisy doesn't end there, however. Some dictators are supported whilst others are attacked. Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have been targeted. Meanwhile, dictators in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remain unchallenged in the region; in the interest of liberty, fairness and democracy?


The final hypocrisy in the Middle East is the policy of the US towards Iran. A country that is exercising its legitimate right to harness and develop nuclear energy is being told to stop the programme. Why can't the Iranians, if they so choose, develop this technology? Even if Iran does develop nuclear weaponry using this technology, how can the US legitimately cry foul? If Iran invaded Cuba, overthrew the government and acted aggressively in the region, how would the US react? I think the history of the Cold War provides the answer.


We hope to combat ISIS without demonstrating clean political morals. Thus, we risk alienating domestic citizens that should be sympathetic to the democratic cause. It's high time we imposed sanctions on Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – acting with consistency throughout the region.


The ultimate question is: what will it take for America and Britain to wake up? I hate to imagine the answer to that question.  


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