Friday, July 18, 2014

How long can the radicalized Islamic State be 'contained' in the Middle East?

The events in the Middle East of the past few decades have had their formation for a good many more years than our lifetimes. Some would say they date back to the Crusades when the West tried to impose its own 'ideals' on the emerging Islamic world, using the justifications, not dissimilar to those we hear today form so-called radical Islam. Then as now, other forces, based more on the political aspirations of nation states and wealthy power groupings, that go beyond mere borders. Since the establishment of a modern Jewish state, the call had gone out to those opposed and the response from Israel had only added to the tension left by artificial colonial map makers, who had previously carved up the oil-rich area into 'vassal' states. Under such conditions, opposition always emerges and how it is handled influences the response. Those who opposed colonial rule and the governments they left behind slowly turned to radicalism; using religion as an excuse as much as the more pragmatic reason for maintaining power at all costs. The call to respond to such moves is weakened by indecisive and fearful governments in the West and to a certain extent, in China and Russia, as they too begin to be drawn in to this struggle that uses religion as the decisive dividing point. The moderate elements in the Middle East are in disarray as they consider their responses. They are divided within themselves and often play a dangerous double game; appearing to suupport the processes of moderation, but secretly supporting armed militants. With the expansion of the ISIS or Islamic State within Iraq and neighbouring countries, we are seeing the emergence of this movement to the point where it threatens not only the very existence of Iraq, but for larger areas, way beyond the lands they purport to control now. The fear on the streets of Bagdad and other capitals is palpable, lessening the governments ability to react. It is a matter of time, be it months, years or decades, but the radical version of Islam, with its complete disregard for dialogue (unless it suits their purposes towards their overall aim) freedom of expression, democratic processes, individual thinking, the arts, science, and every aspect of that which most of the world 'at least pays lip service to,' is threatened by this mediaeval world view. The leaders of this 'movement' have made it clear that they are ready and able to reach out beyond their borders and terrorise populations in the west and beyond. They have proven their ability to do this, in Nigeria, the USA and Europe. Local versions have also emerged in China and parts of the former USSR. The question has to be asked: How much has the colonial adventures of Western powers contributed ton this revival of an Islamic caliphate? The answers are possibly now a moot point, in that the damage done by history and ignorance on the part of the old 'Great Powers,' is now beyond 'repairing,' given that the nations they artificially created are at war within themselves and the consequences are spreading beyond those borders. How the forces, within those nations and the rest of the world react is crucial as to how this modern day crisis plays out. Latter day calls for a war against terrorism will not result in a lasting 'accommodation' unless they include real dialogue with moderate and unified forces within the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Middle East is as dived within itself as the array of nations facing the threats of an expanding Islamic resurgence. Of course the 'big eye,' will move to side-shows, as we are witnessing in Ukraine and the struggle in the 'Biblical Lands.' The ramifications of events in the 'old world' reach far beyond those areas and those far away should not assume that they are exempt from the pain and suffering of how it all plays out. Never has a real United Nations been more needed. www.authorneilcoleman.com