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US Policy Failures Give Glimmer of Hope to Middle East

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The Middle East has long been synonymous with instability and violence. As ever, this is blamed on some inherent defect of the people, as if only reasonable Westerners know how to behave democratically, and the conflicts in places like Northern Ireland and the Basque Country never existed.

This is an example of “institutional racism”, one of the many practices the West claims to condemn, but is happy to introduce everywhere else at every opportunity. If the comic book Middle Eastern traders who are products of this same racist stereotyping can’t create democratic solutions which suit everyone, who can? As the old joke runs, the Middle Eastern nightly news is broadcast at nine o’clock – but for you, eight forty-five.

However there are signs that the paradigm of Western-Middle Eastern relations is changing, precisely because the wrong attitudes have informed this relationship for so long. The West is, as usual, trying to find a way out of the mess that he has made in the region. For the first time in a generation, that way out might actually be one the regional countries could take, without either losing out or gaining so much that it upsets their various patrons.

Not so bad after all

The Middle East has traditionally been divided by external policy into different factions: Jews versus Arabs, Christians versus Muslims, one sect verus another, “moderates” versus “radicals,” etc. This is why Israel is presented as a functioning democracy, despite all the backroom deals which create the main blocs, whereas Lebanon is not, despite its long traditions of government by gentleman’s agreement between ethnic and religious factions, which only failed when the West could no longer tolerate it making Western democracy look inferior.

However in recent years the West has rewritten the narrative. Increasingly there are only two sides: “constitutionalists”, which includes all the people who allegedly hated each other before, and “terrorists”. They try to paint it so simple, and with one side being right.

We are to understand from this that Saudi Arabia’s armed support of murder is constitutionalist and Hezbollah’s non-violent participation in mainstream Lebanese politics is terroristic. But the West has decided that, having created most of the terrorists to suit itself, it can now lump most of the previous factions together as the “good guys” who are threatened by the bad guys it has created for them.

People who live in the same country always have a wide range of common interests. Public services, opportunity, security and responsive government are universal concerns. Only when particular groups feel that they cannot have these things within their country do they press for a change in its political structure, or outright independence for their group.

So if the rest of the world wanted peace in the Middle East, they would encourage regional countries to adapt their political structures to the needs of local population groups. However the whole concept of “local population groups” being political entities is anathema to the same powers who insist they are when they want to divide people.

The Middle East has had to endure the same pre-packaged solution imposed everywhere else: governments which have the form of Western democracy, but are only tolerated........

© New Eastern Outlook