The Middle East Conflict: Is There an End in Sight?
by Nicole Elzayek
The struggle in the Middle East has roots back to the time of the Crusades. It encompasses multiple counties and various sects within each of these nations. It is based on religion, politics, and national pride. Various attempts have been made to bring about an end to the troubles, but so far, no lasting peace has been established. This issue has been marred by thousands of audacious acts of violence, killing countless numbers of innocent bystanders. The conflict has recently become visible to the rest of the world in modern times due to the influence of the mass media as well as the United States’ involvement within Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout it all, one common question has been asked by people around the world: “Is peace possible within the Middle East?” There are differing thoughts on this subject, there are some who believe that peace is within reach, those who feel that there can be no conclusion to the hundreds of years of problems, and those that feel that all these countries need to establish some sense of harmony is some outside intervention. The articles that will be presented below will help to show the reasoning used by each side to come to their conclusions. Those that believe that peace is a possibility feel that democracy is the key to making it happen, which is one author’s claim. Hussein A. Hassouna author of the essay, “Democracy Can Succeed in the Arab World” and Ambassador of the League of Arab States to the United Nations and to the United States says, “In our day and age, democracy is the only acceptable form of government” (Hassouna). It has been observed that while most people within the Arabic community feel that the idea of democracy is an impossible feat, they have failed to see the changes taking place within that nation and are ignoring the roots of Islam itself. According to Hassouna, “…Muslims consider Islam to be the oldest form of democracy” (Hassouna). In fact, many Muslims feel that some of the teachings of Islam outlined in the Koran speak of the concept of leaders seeking the approval of their followers when ruling, which is also one of the main doctrines of democracy. Detractors to Hassouna’s way of thinking often argue that there are too many obstacles in the way to prevent any form of democracy from occurring. Hassouna addresses those who object to his point of view expressing that although there are various challenges that lie in the path of democracy, every country that has strived for this same ideal has also had to face some adversity, even the United States (Hassouna). Some of the various obstacles that these nations have faced are their diverse socioeconomic statuses, the level of education among the populations, a language barrier, a religious barrier, and a political barrier. Many find that a move towards a democratic system has started and Hassouna points out “There is increasing respect for human rights, for freedom of speech, and for an active civil society” (Hassouna). Some feel this wave of improvements is a step in the right direction towards establishing a sense of harmony. Hassouna is able to build ethos with the audience as his title establishes him as not only a public figure, but one who is familiar with the plight in the Middle East. Also, a man in his position would most likely not publish inaccurate information, as it could jeopardize his career. He not only includes information about the history of the Middle East quarrel but also references the Koran to further strengthen his credibility. He directs his writing toward a middle-aged, well educated audience those who may at least be somewhat familiar with the discord within the Middle East. Hassouna takes the stance that peace can be accomplished within this area and that the move towards democracy is just the beginning towards achieving this goal, which is the key point of his claim. He does have sub-claims, showing the various obstacles that lie in the way to democracy and how each of these challenges are faced as well as the steps that have been taken so far towards reaching this objective. He does avoid appealing to the pathos of the audience, knowing perhaps that a plea to the reader’s emotions would make it appear as if he was lacking facts to back up his claims. Hassouna did quite a bit of researching, citing over a dozen essays and books within which he gathered his information, which also is part of his appeal to logos. All of his claims are backed up with logical information, but while his argument is a well documented one, it does fall a little short in its explanation of how democracy will bring about peace in this troubled area.
On the other hand, there are those individuals that truly believe that this fight has been going on far too long to ever be resolved peacefully. In the essay, “The Arab-Israeli Dispute Causes Conflict in the Middle East”, written by co-authors Beverley Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe, the root of the Middle East clash is revealed. Beverley Milton-Edwards is a professor of Middle Eastern politics at Queen's University in Belfast and the author of Contemporary Politics in the Middle East. Peter Hinchcliffe is an honorary fellow at the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. According to Milton-Edwards and Hinchcliffe, “The conflict between those regularly referred to as the Jews and the Arabs has been well under way for nearly a century” (Milton-Edwards et al.). This backs up their claim that there is no end in sight to the violence. Many historians are able to pinpoint the root of the issue, an area referred to as “The Holy Land”, also known as the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, which is being fought over by both Israel and Palestine. Some claim that back in World War One, when Great Britain needed help in the fight against the Ottoman Empire, they turned to both the Zionist Jews and the Arabs for help, promising both groups control over most of the region once the Ottoman Empire was defeated (Milton-Edwards et al.). The authors point out “It soon emerged that the British had promised more than they could deliver and had engaged in what later emerged as duplicitous behavior described as a disgusting scramble for the Middle East”(Milton-Edwards et al.). Many educated individuals feel the conflict came to a head at the end of World War Two when the United Nations decided that in order to stop the fighting between these two groups, divided sections would be given to each side and the land, known as Jerusalem would be under international control. The Palestinian people felt that “their land was being given away as a means of appeasing European guilt over the Holocaust” (Milton-Edwards et al.). Historians note that not long after the war ended, fighting broke out over the land known as Palestine. This fighting has continued ever since then with no solid resolution in place. Differences in religion and attitudes amongst these people have led to wars, military zones, and even fundamentalist groups. Several meetings have taken place to try and achieve peace but too long of a time frame was given to settle the various conflicts and treaties have fallen apart (Milton-Edwards et al.).
According to the writers of the essay “What is needed and is missing is a minimum of ideological content that can cut across their differences and unify a nation”(Milton-Edwards et al.). This is the backbone of their sub-claim. A majority of the population feel that far too much money has been spent on all the fighting and far too many innocent people have died in vain. Some feel that peace cannot be possible because there is no common thread between the Israelis and the Palestinians that would unite them and help them sort out their difficulties. And while these are only two nations within the Middle East, you cannot talk about these two groups without other countries in this same region coming into play. There are those that think this conflict is just the basis of the discord between the other parties involved. The authors of this essay establish their credibility to their audience as they are both professors specializing in Middle Eastern politics and are most likely highly informed on the topic at hand. They do not try to appeal too much to their reader’s emotions as they are able to make their case purely based on facts. The audience is meant to be readers of no particular gender, but mainly a more educated and middle to upper class group that are aware of the clash between the various nations in the Middle East. Their purpose in writing this essay is to inform the reader of the roots of the Mid East conflict and to illustrate that peace is not a feasible solution as the issue has been ongoing for such long time with no previous success, backed up by each of the individual conflicts that have taken place between these groups in the past century. The authors use a wide variety of sources, ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Quarterly, all reputable references adding to their appeal to ethos and as well logos as their sources logically back up their claim.
Those that believe that peace may be possible at a price tend to take a neutral stance on the issue. Robert Malley, author of “Time to Start Talking” delves into the idea that an end to the violence within the Middle East is possible but not without some involvement from the United States. Malley explains, “The most alarming aspect of the unfolding crisis n the Middle East isn’t how many actors are jumping in. It’s who is opting to stay out” (Malley). Most of the nations within the Middle East as well as the various sects and fundamentalist groups have stepped into the fray, but so far the United States has remained uninvolved (Malley). Some believe that progress towards resolving the dispute seems to have only been achieved under two significant conditions. The first is American pressure and the second is the negotiation between the various nations being facilitated by the United States. Malley claims that the fighting “certainly won’t be halted without robust, credible, and influential third-party involvement” (Malley). The author thinks the United States is a prime candidate for the role of the arbitrator of the sway that it has within the area (Malley). The people in the Middle East believe in the possibility of peace.
Many of those who concur with Malley feel the United States has in the past asked many things of the various states within the Middle East, but has not offered any incentives to follow thru with these demands, other than to avoid being punished. In order to bring about peace, Malley argues, “would entail negotiating with all the wrong people about the wrong things, what the U.S. is adamant it will not do” (Malley). While many find that peace may be an option there are costs associated with it that the people of the Middle East and the United States may not be willing to pay.
Robert Malley appeals to the ethos of his audience by being a credible source as he is the Middle East and North Africa Program Director in Washington DC. He was also the Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs. The audience that he is writing for is middle to upper class individuals with a moderate to high education level and is somewhat familiar with the issues in the Middle East. He writes the article to convince his audience that the idea of peace is not one that cannot be accomplished but will not be possible without some outside assistance. He does not appeal to the reader’s sense of pathos, relying more upon the fact based data to make his case. His information appeals to logos of his readers as it shows that a neutral mediator is the most logical means to go about starting to fix the problems and is able to back this up through his various sources. Looking back throughout the history of the world, there has always been some sort of conflict within the Middle East. The idea of peace within the Middle East is a topic that has been widely debated within various circles and there are three differing schools of thought. There are those who feel that peace cannot be accomplished because the problems have been ongoing with no progress so far. Some studies show that democracy is the first step in creating a more stable peace within the region. Many also believe that peace may be accomplished but only with impartial outside assistance, mainly the United States. Each of the writers selected had various views on the Middle East situation and were used to show why each side believes what they do. I fall into the group of those individuals that would like to see an end to the violence but feel that there is too much history for peace to be a reality, just as Milton-Edwards and Hinchcliffe. I have watched over the years as the media has reported on yet another peace accord to be signed and then only days to months later to hear that violence had erupted between these same nations. I do not necessarily agree with Hassouna’s belief that democracy is a means to bringing about peace. There are still far too many people that believe in the patriarchal society in the Middle East and feel that their women should stay covered up. This is a far cry from the democracy that we in the United States are familiar with. I think that peace is to occur it will take a drastic event to make it happen. Perhaps Malley is correct in his thoughts that a neutral third party would need to be involved in the peace process, but I also think that force may be necessary to make all sides see the error of their ways.
Hassouna, Hussein A.. "Democracy Can Succeed in the Arab World." FALL 2001:
Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints. Johnson and Wales Charlotte.
04 DEC 2006
Milton-Edwards, Beverly, and Peter Hinchcliffe. "The Arab-Israeli Dispute Causes
Conflict in the Middle East." 2001: Opposing Viewpoints.Opposing Viewpoints.
Johnson and Wales University Library Charlotte. 04 DEC 2006
Malley, Robert. “Time to Start Talking.” TIME 168.4 (2006): 30-30. Academic Search
Premier. 13 December 2006. http://search.ebscohost.com.
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