When I was working in the Middle East, 1979-1984, I found that many of the countries that I visited were secular…..that is the people were not bound by any religious beliefs or attitudes…..countries like Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, etc…..since I left the Middle East Sectarianism has taken control of the people’s lives……countries that now a days we would consider as governed by religion.
I guess that war will make a lot of people turn to religion for help understanding many things and government would be no exception.
I recently read an article that covers this thinking and what is happening in the Middle East…..
When one thinks of conflict in the Middle East, religious factors are probably among the first that come to mind. But, nowadays, competing strategic interests and imperial ambitions play a much larger role than religious or sectarian cleavages in defining regional politics. This is potentially a positive development.
Consider the struggle for regional influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Despite having long been viewed as a result of the Sunni-Shia divide, the competition is really between two opposing political systems: Iran’s revolutionary regime, bent on changing the regional balance of power, versus Saudi Arabia’s conservative monarchy, which seeks to uphold the old regional order.
In this context, Iran’s support of the Arab Spring uprisings makes sense. In an Arab-dominated Middle East, non-Arab Iran is the natural enemy; but in a Muslim Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a potential hegemon. So Iran was quick to back free elections, predicting that voters would bring Islamists to power.
I have noticed that social media is help in the spread of more non-religious considerations especially in what may become the new Iraq……
Rayyan Hadidi was 18 years old when he lost his faith. It was July 2006, and he was on his way to school when he stumbled upon a cheering crowd that had gathered near a local mosque. The group, made up mostly of mosque leaders and worshippers, had encircled two men accused of volunteering with the Iraqi police force, which many saw as a puppet of the American occupiers. Al-Qaeda gunmen brandished their arms, preparing to execute the men, as the crowd shouted, “Allahu akbar.” Hadidi stared at the two men, flinching when he made eye contact with one of them just before they were both shot.
For me that is good news…for like I said before I remember a secular Middle East of my youth….I realize that this will not make a difference to those hateful individuals that wants to blame all problems on a religion.
Part of the rise of extremist Islam came from the sands of Arabia for these Arabs follow an extreme form of Islam known as Wahhabism…..since the King decided to put his son in charge there has been some movement to marginalize the religion……
To cement his power, Prince Mohammed has in the past year marginalized establishment religious scholars, detained critics and neutralized members of the elite by arresting relatives, prominent businessmen, and officials and stripping them of much of their assets.
In doing so, Prince Mohammed has subjugated the kingdom’s ultra-conservative religious leaders through a combination of intimidation, coercion and exploitation of religious dogma particular to a Saudi strain of ultra-conservatism that stipulates that Muslims should obey their ruler even if he is unjust. Islam “dictates that we should obey and hear the ruler,” Prince Mohammed said.
Are the Saudis leading the way? Not in my book…they are just given the illusion of change……some minor reforms but the religion thing will remain.
And why is the MSM ignoring all the protests in Iraq since the election?
Although popular unrest is nothing unusual in Iraq, one key factor that has emerged is that all Iraqis have the same concerns, irrespective of their ethno-sectarian background. This fact could be a reason why the mainstream media have attempted to sidestep the protests and failed to give the demonstrations the attention they deserve because they prove that Iraqis are sick and tired of the sectarian nightmare that Iran exported to their country.