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The 5 Biggest Myths and Lies about the Middle East

Politics / Middle East Jul 30, 2015 - 12:45 PM GMT

By: Atlantic_Perspective

Politics

The more well informed you think you are about the Middle East, the more likely you are being manipulated by the media. Just because a lie or a semi-truth is repeated millions of times, doesn´t mean it´s true.

Here are the 5 biggest lies and myths about the Middle East today:


Myth #1: A successful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will bring peace to the region

If you got a dollar each time you hear “Palestine is the biggest problem in the Middle East”, you´d probably be rich by now. This is a myth.

The Middle East is populated by myriad of nations and tribes. During their colonial rule of the region, England and France divided the territory to the best of their interest, but to the misfortune of locals. The current borders in the Middle East are basically meaningless to millions of people in the region. Nations and tribes were cut in half and mixed together in the same country with other Arab nations, often rival ones.

The first thing to understand is that there is no “Arab Nation”. This would be as foolish as saying that there is a “European Nation”. Arabs speak a common language but that´s basically it.

Islam is also a common feature in most of the Middle East, but if you take into account the different sects of Islam, you will quickly see that Islam is more often a diving factor than a cause for union. Sunnis and Shia are easily manipulated into killing each other. And then you also have the Alawi, Alevi and dozens more. Also, although Islam is the dominant religion in the region, there are also millions of Christians and Jews. Christians, although in minority, represent important segments of the population in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

For cultural, historical, economic or religious reasons, many tribes and nations of the Middle East just don´t get along. And yet, they are forced to live together inside artificial borders imposed on them. This is a constant source of problems.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an open wound in the Middle East, but far from being the only one. It´s simply the one that gets the most media coverage. For religious and historical reasons, millions of people in the West feel connected to Israel in some way. But ask the average Westerner if he/she knows about the problems between Shia and Sunni, and most people will not even know what that is. So, don´t know, don´t care. But please care about this: If or when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, the instability will go on.

Until there´s a complete redefinition of borders in the region, peace and stability will be the exception, not the rule.

Myth #2: There are “good” and “bad” guys in the Middle East

Anyone over 6 years old should understand that the oversimplification of “good” against “bad” is just that: an oversimplification for children.

As explained before, the Middle East is made of totally artificial countries. People lack a feeling of national identity, as their first loyalty is to nations or tribes that don´t exist on the map. Imagine being forced to share the same space with people you really don´t like for some reason, or that you were taught to hate since you were a child. The potential for conflict is huge.

Dividing sides in the Middle East between the “good” and the “bad”, makes news much easier to swallow. Basically, the rule is: The ones supported by the West are the “good”, the others are not so good. And if the West really doesn´t like them, then they are bad.

A good example: Bashar Al-Assad is bad, very bad. But for several decades, the West supported similar dictatorships all across the Middle East. If Assad was a friend of NATO instead of having a Russian naval base in Syria, chances are that he would be supported by the West, just like Mubarak was for decades. Even Saddam Hussein was openly supported by the United States for years. Saddam “good”, Saddam “bad”. Which one is it?

Violence is the second language of the Middle East. For cultural and religious reasons, democracy and human rights are still foreign concepts to most in the region. Together with Africa, the Middle East holds the sad record for the most dictatorships per country.

The Saudi royal family and all the other royals in the Persian Gulf rule with an iron fist. Lashings, imprisonment, torture and amputations are the law in several countries. But somehow, these regimes are sold as “the good guys”. When they stop serving the West´s interests, you will see how fast they become “bad” in the eyes of the media.

Myth #3: The United States dictates what happens in the Middle East

Those were the good old days. The US does have influence in the region, but not to the point of controlling the events. Syria and Iraq are totally out of control. Iran is an extremely tough bargain. In Egypt, Mubarak was kicked out of power to the horror of Israel and the displeasure of the US.

As sure as night follows day, one of these days the absolute monarchies of the Persian Gulf will fall. And most probably, they will not be replaced by democracies. Saudi Arabia is on a path to become an Islamic republic, much like Iran the early days of the revolution. When that happens, the United States will not be able to do much, just like it couldn´t do anything about Iran.

After the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans don´t want to be involved in another war in the Middle East. Everyone in the region knows this, so the threat of military intervention has basically been removed, aside from air strikes. Diplomacy, sanctions and clandestine operations can only go so far. When the tide turns, there´s not much the US can do. 

Myth #4: Israel is the United States biggest ally in the Middle East

Said billions of times over the last few decades, this is not a myth. It´s a downright lie. Let´s check the facts, by clarifying what an ally is. The Merriam Webster dictionary gives several definitions for ally, one being “one that is associated with another as a helper”.

There is no question that the US are allies with Israel. But is Israel allied to the United States? When was the last time Israel helped the US in anything? Actually, the question should be: Has Israel ever helped the United States?

The United States offers military protection to Israel, along with billions of dollars in financial aid. Because of Israel, the US is basically at odds with most of the Muslim World. The same Muslim World that provides the West with one of the basic conditions for modern society: energy.

And what does Israel give to the United States in return?

a) Energy: No, Israel is not a producer.

b) Military support: No. The United States has participated in several wars in the Middle East and American allies were mostly Arab and European countries. Israel was never there to help.

c) Money: No. At least not for America or Americans in general. Israel only doles out dollars to American politicians. And now you may start to understand why America and Israel are such good “friends”...

So, in conclusion: Israel doesn´t give anything to the United States, except problems. And in return, Israel gets military protection, money and diplomatic backing for all kinds of atrocities. Not a bad deal!

The day the US stops supporting Israel, most American problems in the Middle East will simply disappear and more money will stay in the US. Simply put, Israel has American politicians in its payroll and totally controls American foreign policy in the Middle East (the Iranian nuclear deal is probably the only exception and comes at a time when an American president is finishing his second term).

The United States and Israel are not allies. The United States are a puppet of Israel. David didn´t kill Goliath, it controls it.

Myth #5: Turkey is fighting against ISIL

This is the topic du jour and another lie. The Turkish government has been supporting ISIL for years, providing military aid and taking care of its wounded in Turkish hospitals.

The proof: The day after the ISIL bombing in Turkey that killed 32 people, hundreds of ISIL members were arrested in Turkey. This clearly means that Turkish authorities knew who ISIL members were and where they lived in Turkey.

Politics a la Turca: The Turkish president wants to oust Assad at any cost and will support anyone to achieve this goal. Anyone?  Well, anyone except the Kurds, who are also big enemies of ISIL and Assad. Turkish politics is very complex, but there is one subject most Turks agree on: Kurdistan cannot be allowed to exist as a country and Kurds must submit to Turkey at all cost.

Syria, the economy and whatever are all backstage issues for Turkey. Preventing the Kurds from getting an inch closer to having a state is a Turkish obsession. Turkey used the killing of two police officers by the PKK, as an excuse to launch an attack on Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. If you ask any Turkish government official about ISIL, he or she will reply PKK.

The Turkish obsession with the PKK and the Kurds means Turkey is not a reliable partner in the fight against ISIL. Turkey has its own agenda and has been working with ISIL against the Kurds.

Conclusion

People in the West are being fed nonsense about the Middle East. Armies of commentators get hours of airtime to say rubbish and simply confirm what is being said on the news. If you really want to know what´s going on in the Middle East, switch off your TV. That´s the Atlantic Perspective.   

Copyright © 2015 by The Atlantic Perspective.

The Atlantic Perspective is an opinion blog, aimed at explaining and providing solutions to some of the world´s most relevant issues.

www.atlanticperspective.com


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