Argumentative Essay On Sociology Of Middle East
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How do we define Middle East? Is that definition based on shared culture recognized and defined by the people of the region, and/or the Western World? Can you explain the role of Islam in that process?
Historically Middle East a region known to be the parent of the world’s three religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It has possessed great Empires such as the Ottoman Empire and it was a place where people gathered for meeting four to five hundred years ago. Islam has mostly contributed to its development and most of it is ruled by Islam. The adhering to the faith has united the people and led to spread on to other regions such as North Africa, Arabian Peninsula and the borders of modern Turkey which is part of the Middle East.
Middle East is a controversial and confusing region which is mostly misunderstood by other parts of the world. The controversy not only lies on its political and cultural activities but also in its definition. The name Middle East is also not well understood and often it is question; Middle of what and East of what? Middle East is a British name initially and was/now widely translated and used. It has an imperial origin and known as a region that was in the middle of a swathe of world i.e. from Morocco to Philippines. It is a region around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea extending from Morocco to the Iran, Arabian Peninsula and beyond. In the political arena the term Middle East lacks a universal definition due to the many issues that involve it. Contemporary the term Middle East is used to refer places as in the east i.e. Pakistan and Afghanistan and goes as far as Morocco including Sudan in the South. However, the National Geographic Atlas of the Middle East excludes Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan instead it includes Cyprus and turkey.
The definition of the region started to evolve during the World War II when the British military command in Egypt was given the term Middle East from Near East. Near East was a central part of the region from Mediterranean Sea to Morocco from Arabian Peninsula, Iran and beyond. Why Near East? Near East is a name given to the region by the modern Western geographers and historians. It applied to three regions, place near Europe Extending from the Mediterranean Sea to Persian Gulf; Middle East, from Southern Asia to Persian Gulf; lastly the Far East, the regions facing Pacific Ocean. Scholars like Bernard Lewis in Orientalism was involved in the Middle East and helped in the definition of Middle East in the 20th century. During this period the region included Arabia, Mesopotamia the Persia Gulf and the Near East was used to refer to places such as Levant, Egypt, Balkans and Anatolia and lastly the Far East was China, Japan, Southeast Asia and Korea.
The definition of Middle East cannot solely be concluded that it was based on shared cultured and recognized by the people of the region, and/or by the Western world. However, it has been affected by numerous factors such as, contemporary factors, the history, culture, the Ottoman Empire, European Colonialism and even the establishment of the Israel state, Islam and USA. The prevailing factors in this region ties it to many challenges in economic, social and political sphere. Culture on its part defines the region as an Islamic region and recognized by the people of the region and the Western world. On the onset of the definition basing o the region’s political, social and cultural aspects the some regions like North Africa and Iran s should be included. North Africa and Iran practice Islamic cultures and the people recognize them and it will be wrong to exclude them from the region. Though American and European scholars disagree on Maghreb in including it the region, it will be fair to include it due to the cultures it has and the challenges it faces are similar to the region. The European scholars agree to the notion while the American Scholars disagree on it. The secretary of the United States Dr. Dulles in 1957 defined Middle East as the region from Libya on the West and Pakistan on the East, Turkey on the North and the Arabian Peninsula to the South including Sudan. In his conclusion he stated that the Middle East and the Near East are similar. The inclusion of some countries such as Sudan is not correct though the people share an Islamic culture with the Middle East Region. In the oriental works of Edward Said, he states that the Western world helped in defining the Middle East especially during the European Colonization. Orientalism to Edward Said was a term that was used by the West to patronize the perceptions and depictions of Middle Eastern, Asia and North Africa. North African countries such as Sudan may have similar cultures to Middle East but the challenges that they face are not similar and thus cannot be included in the region. Hence a perception like this by the Western cannot be confirmed to be true. It can only be concluded that though some countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan have similar cultures to Middle East cannot be included due to the different challenges they face from the Middle East. Middle East region faces political, war, hunger, oil oriented wars, harsh climate conditions and other challenges that these countries do not face. Taking Turkey as of the countries that are contested upon to either belong to Middle East or Europe though sharing the Islamic culture can show that the region is not yet well defined using culture. The Middle East atlas excludes Turkey as part of the region, though many scholars in include it and others exclude it. The University of Texas Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, PBS and the CIA World Factbook include it as part Middle East while the Columbia Electronics Encyclopedia includes only the Asian part of Turkey, the US State Department includes it in Europe and Eurasia and lastly BBC places it in Europe. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk led Turkey to its independence and introduced modernization and secularization in the hope of making Turkey a strong state like other countries such as America and still this did not help it to be recognized as part of Europe. Turkey was formed after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the EU as refused to recognize it as part of Europe due to the practice of Islam and many challenges that faces it. It remains open to discussion on which soil does it lie, despite the fact the Middle East has helped it in its development and in its politics, Turkey cannot be placed in the Middle East region due to its strong politics, power and conflict. It can be concluded that the only shared culture agreed upon in defining the Middle East is Islam by the people and the Western world. However not all areas that practice Islamic culture are included in the Middle East i.e. Sudan, Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan.
Islam is a major factor in defining Middle East. Despite the fact that the world’s three religion originate from Middle East, Judaism, Christianity and Islam included. Jerusalem is the city where the three religions originated and are recognized to come from. Middle East is a region where the people can discuss evangelical politics and understand each other. Islam however has largely influenced the process of defining the Middle East. Looking at the countries defined to include the Middle East largely practice Islam. North Africa countries such as Morocco practice Islam and therefore said to be part of the region. Sudan is not included though it mostly practices Islam due to the challenges it faces which are similar to Sub-Saharan Africa. Asian countries such as Iran, Iraq and Arabian Persian are Islamic countries and have been defined as part of the Middle East. The region occupied by Middle East is mostly ruled by Islamic politics. Islamic politics as viewed by scholars as an illegitimate extension of Islamic tradition outside it’s historically dominion. Areas covered by Middle East have political Islam parties such as Egypt Hizb al-Amal and in Algeria Islamic Salvation Front. There is always war between the majority Islam and other religions and high elimination of the other religions in Middle East. In the instance of Iran and Egypt Christians are eliminated, and one is hanged if found to practice Christianity. Israel a Jewish country and Palestine an Islamic state are always at war due to cultural differences and this has led to many deaths. However, other factors such as resource e.g. territory, oil and land cannot be left out as factors contributing to war between the two states. Many countries in the region are ruled by Muslim and Islamic laws are used in governing them, e.g. in Baghdad where there is the rule of Islamic Caliphate. It can be concluded that most parts of Middle East are Islamic oriented except for Israel which is a Jewish state and there are few Christians in these countries.
Discuss the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East and its implications, both for Palestinians and the region in general. What do you think are the biggest obstacles in fro of possible peace process? What are your policy suggestions to resolve it?
The establishment of Israel and its reorganization as a State by other countries was a process that is attributed to the Zionist. Israel state was formed in !948 after a long struggle and uprising against the Palestinians. The struggle started far back in 1919 after World War I when the number of Jewish Immigrants increased in Palestine. Before that, in 1882 a Jewish writer came up with the term Zionism its aim was to establish a homeland for the Jews and end discrimination ant Jewish prejudice and the pogroms against the Jews. There was a great number of Jews migrating to Palestine and by the end of World War I and it was estimated top 56.000. In 1917 the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared Palestine a homeland for the Jews and the consequence this can be seen before and after the formation of Israel state which is to the Palestinians a catastrophe (al-nakba). In 1919 the Zionist Organization demanded for Jewish homeland from the East of Jordan River however their request was rejected by the British government but permitted the Jews to continue migrating to Palestine. Zionism was an ideology used by Jews to wanting a homeland, to liberate them though the lives of others were threatened. The Jews adopted Ze’ev Jabotinsky’e articles in which he dismissed the idea of the Arabs accepting them and helping in establishing a homeland. He stated that there should be Iron wall based on the military strength, to defend the Jews so that the Palestinians would recognize the existence of the Jews. Acceptance of Jews by Palestinians would mean they could negotiate and come to a compromise.
The Jews did not trust in the Balfour declaration of 1917 that there religious rights and other aspects were to be respected and thus they fought for a homeland. Jabotinsky’e view of Israel should be uncompromisingly reliant on its strength gave the Jews encouragement. Thus, from 1920 to 1939 it saw uprising against the Jews as the Zionist never wanted a place to live but a homeland. The Arabs resisted the increasingly migrations of the Jews, especially in 1933 when the Jews were being killed in Germany by Hitler and thus most migrating to Palestine. The result of these wars between the Arabs and Jews was formation of two states and this was reached at by the Royal Commission of 1937 and 1938. In May 14th 1948 Israel State was formed and it became independent. The new state was faced by many challenges such as culture of the Jews due to the fact that they lived in different countries before migrating to Palestine. There the leaders impacted educating the people a national language and culture for national unity and understanding. The formation of the State ended the homelessness of the Jews but brought a new misery of the Palestinians.
The Palestinians were largely affected by the formation of the Israel State. Many of them were forced to migrate from Palestine to the Diaspora in 1948. They freed and became refugees and as the UN Relief and Works Agency reports, there are about 4 million Palestinian refugees in the world. Before the establishment of Israel state the UN in 1947 partitioned for a resolution wanting division of the land 55% was to go the Jews and the rest to Palestinians. The dividing of the land led to armed struggled since the Arab and Palestinian governments did not agree and the struggle resulted the Jews acquiring 77% of the land. 725,000 Arab Palestinians left the area and became refugees. After the formation the Arabs refused to recognize Israel as a State and boycotted. The impact of the boycott was the loss of well established markets for Arabs products since Syria and Jordan could no longer use the oil refinery and port of Haifa and Iraq Petroleum Co.’s oil pipeline across the desert from Baghdad. There were many obstacles such as impairing of communication between Egypt and east Arab states, transport especially flights through Haifa became difficult and the routes had to be changed to Beirut becoming more expensive. The Palestinian issues affected most Arabian countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and Syria and even in 1951 the King of Jordan Abdullah was assassinated. The crisis affected most countries that depended on oil and the world economy was highly affected. There has been an impact of less development in the Near East, that’s the Iraq and Iran due to importation of weapons. During the consistent war between the two countries, many lives are lost especially in 1956, 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israel wars which left tens of thousands casualties, women are raped and hunger is largely experience and increase of refugees in the world.
William B. Quandt in his book Peace process writes an introduction stating that the peace was a term used to describe the American-led efforts in bringing peace between Israel and her neighbors but it became a synonym which now has changed to a process of getting to there Achieving peace between Israel and Palestine is going to be a big milestone in history. It is a day that the world awaits and the victims of the war hope for. Will this day ever dawn? If it will never come what next for the victims and the world as it watches the two warring countries? The peace process in ending the wars has proved difficult due to many factors. The defeat of the Arabs and fear of Israel expansion from the Palestinians and the Arabs has led to acquiring of armaments and military preparation for war. Israel not trusting Palestinians leadership due to terrorism perpetrated by the Palestinians has hindered the peace negotiations. Pedahzur gives a view that the Palestinians do not give any effort in the peace process by stating that, suicide terrorism ( Islamic fundamentalism) succeeded where peace negotiations and discussions have proved futile in revitalize the withdrawal by Israel from cities and urban centers in the West Bank ( Western Asia). The matter of legitimacy and security has barred the peace process. The ideology on religion contributed to insecurity even Rabin in 1975 told Americans that no Arab ruler is prepared to make peace and normalization of relations with Israel, meaning that Palestine is not ready to have talks with Israel but wanting Israel to exit Palestine’s land. Israel main concern is security due to terrorism activities which are supported by Palestinian leaders. In spite the fact some leaders have promoted peace and stopped terrorism but still there are those who finance and fuel them making the Israel to agitate for security and going for war with the Palestinians. Iran being a strong state in the Middle East has become a barrier to peace process as it supports Palestine by providing ammunition and refusing to recognizing Israel as a state. This has largely contributed to fear on security by the Jews and thus refusing any peace negotiations.
Ending the Israel-Arab war may seem futile but if the two parties become determine and set policies, then it will prove fertile. The peace process to be successful policies such as these must be outline: other Arabic countries e.g. Iran and Iraq should step aside, Palestinians should implement security measures and eliminate terrorism in the region. The Western world to stop supporting any of the two countries, the Israelites should accept the return of the Palestinians refugees back to their homeland, Palestine to recognize Israel as an independent state and lastly no acquisition or production of ammunition by the two countries.
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Martin, B., & Huser, S. (2012). Political Change in the Middle East: An Attempt to Analyze the “Arab Spring”. Hamburg: GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
Sager, A. (2008). China’s Growing Role In the Middle East: Implications for the Region and Beyond. Dubai: Gulf Research Center (GRC).
Smith, D. (2013). The State of the Middle East: An Atlas of Conflict and Resolution. New York: Earthscan.
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