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Mid-East, still the US’stumbling block

Regardless of who emerges victorious at the next Presidential poll, the Middle East will continue to be the Gordian Knot of US foreign policy. Unfortunately, the indications are that the ‘knot’ is unlikely to be ‘cut’ in a hurry, which means that the Middle East would continue to bleed. If the US administration is to pause awhile, it would figure out that the unresolved Middle East conflict provides the fuel that keeps many a regional conflict raging. It is the continuing spread of religious fundamentalism that renders seemingly unresolvable numerous armed and political conflicts around the world, and they are overtly or circuitously linked to the spread of religious militancy, which is in turn linked to the unresolved Middle East conundrum to a considerable degree.

For instance, armed religious fundamentalists are generally supportive of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings and are currently even backing sections of the rebels in Syria, but they could prove a highly complicating factor if the rebellion succeeds in Syria and a new broad-based government comes to power. Depending on the influence these religious hard-liners, exert, the new administration would be for or against the West. But the point to be comprehended is that it is the Middle East problem which partly provides the rationale for the coming into being of these hard-line elements.

International opinion

Although, the Israelis were as dispossessed as the Palestinians, and could make out a case for themselves, it is the Palestinians who have managed to capture both the moral backing and the imagination of a considerable proportion of international opinion. This is largely on account of the fact that the West has not done anything much in terms of helping to resolve the Middle East conflict equitably.

It would not do to merely call on the Israeli state to halt the construction of settlements in contested territory. The West should cease to be seen as being an uncritical ally of the Israeli state and provide the evidence that it is prepared to deal even-handedly with all parties to the conflict.

As long as matters remain this way and as long as the Middle East conflict remains unresolved, Israel and the US would provide a rationale for the emergence of mainly religious fundamentalist armed outfits which would be staunchly opposed to both parties. Such organizations would not only proliferate on Middle East and Mediterranean soil but in other parts of the world too.

A case in point is the Taliban in Afghanistan. No doubt, local political and social conditions gave rise to the emergence of the Taliban on Afghan soil but it is also drawing considerably on the Middle East conflict to spread its influence worldwide and pose a threat to Western and US interests all over the globe.

Western interests

Likewise, Al-qaeda, which seemingly has links with the Taliban and is proving a threat to Western interests, is drawing on the Middle East to spread its influence among impressionable sections. The US-Iran confrontation too could be reduced in severity if the US acts in a more constructive manner to end the conflict in the Middle East. Besides, armed religious fundamentalism is spreading in some African states and here too one of the causative factors is the Middle East problem which could be resolved if the West makes constructive and positive moves, which it is fighting shy of initiating in a major way.

Accordingly, it is difficult to see any easing of the bloodshed in the Middle East inasmuch as it is difficult to see any US President moving concertedly and positively to end the conflict on account of the US’ vital economic and strategic interests in the Middle East. But an ending of tensions in most parts of the world depends on a containment of the Middle East conflict.

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