Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Unwrapping the Intricacies of the Middle East

Unwrapping the Intricacies of the Middle East

Ratings: (0)|Views: 38|Likes:
Published by jwaltz76
The overall situation in the Middle East is considerably more complicated than any concise black and white definition could provide simply because the underlying conflict owes in large part to culture, religion, politics, and the persistent interventionist policies of the West.
The overall situation in the Middle East is considerably more complicated than any concise black and white definition could provide simply because the underlying conflict owes in large part to culture, religion, politics, and the persistent interventionist policies of the West.

More info:

Published by: jwaltz76 on Feb 14, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC or read online from Scribd
See more
See less


Unwrapping the Intricacies of the Middle East
 By: Johnny Waltz 
Middle Eastern societies have historically been plagued for thousands of years withunprecedented turmoil and conflict that perplexes many in Western Civilizations. The generalimpression by Americans is that the entire region is caught in a murderous quagmire of hostilitieswhere oppression and terrorism are the norm. This was further cemented into the collective psyche of the American society after the devastating attacks on September 11, 2001, where wewere warned that “sadistic” terrorists were waiting to attack America once again and thatfreedom was at stake.In direct response to this, the birth of the Global War on Terror was set into place in order todefend the nation from the imminent threat of terrorism. Many in America were completelyclueless as to why a collection of individuals from a particular region that was thousands of milesaway would hate our nation so much that they would commit such a monstrous act.The mainstream media spoon-fed the masses with President George W. Bush's ideals that theterrorist attacks were an assault on democracy because Islamic extremists hated the Americanway of life. This sugarcoated version of the troubled relations between the Middle East and theWestern nations was far from reality. The overall situation in the Middle East is considerablymore complicated than any concise black and white definition could provide simply because theunderlying conflict owes in large part to culture, religion, politics, and the persistentinterventionist policies of the West.One fact can remain certain is that the conflicts in the Middle East cannot be extracted from their culture because of the Arab tribal mentality that influenced Islam and its followers perceptiontoward any outsiders who were not Muslim.
Tribal Influence and the Birth of Islam
Throughout human history, every civilization has struggled to develop some semblance of control not merely to survive but to flourish as well. For early Arab tribes they organized intoestablished groups of relatives where the central role of each individual member was to protectthe tribe from outsiders.The primary key to this was deterrence, which rests exclusively in the sense of parity betweenadversaries. This provided a balanced opposition where any potential invader would know that if they engaged in a conflict it would simply not be an inconsequential clash rather it could be indirect opposition to a tribe that was equivalent in magnitude to his tribe. The optimalconfiguration of the tribal system intended to produce a clear sense of unanimity while providingacrimony against any external aggressors. It was honorable then for the male warrior to protecttheir tribe and not doing so would bring shame.According to Philip Carl Salzman,
Balanced opposition is a ‘tribal' form of organization, a tribe being a regional organization of defense based on decentralization and self-help. Tribes operate differently from states, which arecentralized, have political hierarchies, and have specialized institutions--such as courts, police,tax collectors, and an army--to maintain social control and defense. [1]Prior to the Islamic faith, various tribes were ungoverned and did not necessarily have a definingvision for the future. Muhammad knew the intricacies of this tribal mentality and his endeavor to bring together the various feuding Bedouin tribes in a cohesive element was a revolutionary political triumph. Muhammad's introduction of Islam provided a structured set of laws, which provided a method for all of the tribes to live together. The exact interpretation of Islam issubmission, which by means of the Qur'an assembled the complete assortment of tribesmantogether “who collectively became the umma, the community of believers.” [2]Muhammad successfully formulated a focus for the tribes in a collective purpose, which was toserve Allah as Muslims. With the newly assembled holy army (ةسدقملا شيخ/jaysh al-muqaddas),the tribes were now willing to fulfill their religious obligation to spread Islam and eliminate anyinfidel nonbelievers in the way. This was the start to what has become known as the Islamicconquests and a substantial contributor to the thousand-year continuation of violence in theMiddle East.
Birth of Muslim Conquests and early Caliphates
Although most of the rapid expansion of the Islamic empire happened after the death of Muhammad, his resolute leadership did help to engage the Arabian Peninsula and set the precedence for the subsequent growth of Islam. Muhammad made a pilgrimage to Medina inorder mark the tenth year of the migration, which provides the Islamic rite of hajj that eachfollower is to make in their life. While there, he delivered an enforcement of the ideals of Islamin what is known as The Farewell Sermon. In this sermon, he further made it clear that there wasonly one almighty god who is Allah and in essence was a clarion call to dispel unbelievers.Muhammad said,O people, your Lord is One, and your father is one: all of you are from Adam, and Adam wasfrom the ground. The noblest of you in Allah's sight is the most godfearing: Arab has no meritover non-Arab other than godfearingness. Have I given the message? -- O Allah, be my witness.[3]Shortly after his farewell hajj, Muhammad died on June 8, 632, which his passing left a major struggle over who would be his successor. Umar ibn al-Khattab nominated the successor to beAbu Bakr, which was accepted and he was immediately made the first caliph under the RashidunCaliphate.The Rashidun Caliphate conquered present-day Syria, Armenia, Egypt, and parts of North Africa.The Muslim Conquests did not actually reach the borders of modern Europe until the successionof the Umayyad Caliphate.
Muslim Expansion Meets Christian Europe
In 674, the Ummayad Caliphate laid siege to Constantinople, which was a key battle that pittedthe Arab forces against the Byzantine Empire. Initially the raiders were incapable of breachingthe Theodosian Walls, and in turn, they encircled the city, which lasted until winter forcing themto pull out to an island nearby. In 677, a major battle ensued between the Byzantine andUmayyad navies, which ended in a significant loss for the Arab raiders causing a suspension of the expansion towards Europe. This lasted for nearly thirty years resulting in a significant defeatfor the Arabs at the second siege of Constantinople. Although this certainly was a significantsetback for the Ummayad Caliphate, they did finally reach present day Europe in the Conquest of Hispania that occurred from 711 to 718.The Ummayads tried to capitalize on this success with the Battle of Tours known in Arabic as theBattle of Court of the Martyrs (ءادهلا طب ةكرع) on October 10, 732 in present day France. [4]The battling armies included the Frankish and Burgundian military, which was led by AustrasianMayor of the Palace Charles Martel against the Ummayad Caliphate led by ‘Abdul Rahman al-Ghafiqi. At the time of this battle, it was widely seen as an epic fight between the most powerfularmies of both the Western Europe and Arab empires.The Ummayads had seen a significant number of military successes as they rolled acrossnorthern Africa and into Hispania, making them one of the most powerful militaries at the time.At the same time the Frankish empire, which consisted of present day France and Germany possessed an equally impressive military as well.The Ummayad invasion ended in a decisive defeat and the tragic death of their military leader Ghafiqi. Many Western historians contend that this particular battle was a pivotal moment of theearly Muslim conquests against Christian Europe and in turn preserved Christianity. An earlyhistorian Edward Gibbon expounded on this in his book The Decline and Fall of the RomanEmpire stating,A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to theconfines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouthof the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of therevelation of Mahomet. [5]The consequent demise of the Ummayad Caliphate ended in the year 750 after being soundlydefeated by the Abbasids. This was also the year that Muslims consider when Islamic historysplit into two where one part would head to Iberia led by ‘Abd al-Rahman and the other stayed inthe East, which created a city to be called Baghdad, where the Abbasids would provide their unique impact on history. Many years would elapse before massive battles resumed, whichforever cemented sentiments between Muslims and Christians as well as the Middle East and theWest.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->