Friday, April 10, 2009

What would be the best way to resolve various crises in the Middle East?

Though the documentary shown during the breakout session today did not relate directly to the issues in the Middle East, various conflicts and disagreements did come up from time to time, namely the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iraq. I suppose you could include Afghanistan and Iran in this, as well.

Now, in terms of circles of knowers, I'm pretty far removed from these conflicts, though I know there are Diploma Programme IB students at Poudre who are quite close.

Nevertheless, these are my ideas about how some of them might be resolved, or simply my opinions on what would be most just:
Israel/Palestine: Either allow the formation of a Palestinian state from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, put the region under control of the UN with input from both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, or eliminate the West Bank and Gaza Strip zones and incorporate the country under joint leadership, perhaps with a legislature composed half of Palestinians and half of Israelis and two prime ministers.
Iraq: The US needs to withdraw its troops, if not immediately definitely within a year or a year and a half. I'm also aware that there are conflicts between Shiite (Sh'ia) and Sunni Muslims as well as the Kurds. So far as I can tell, one of the main conflicts is that the plurality of the population is Shiite, so the Sunnis (who were in control prior to the US-led invasion) are concerned that a Shiite majority in the legislature will lead to the government ignoring the needs of Sunni Iraqis. The Kurds, on the other hand, want their independence, though I'm not clear on why it is denied them. I think the best solution seems to give the Kurds their independence (if this means taking territory containing a Kurdish majority from other countries to the north of Iraq do so). The Sunnis can either form their own government or join neighbouring Saudi Arabia (as I understand natural and economic resources are scarce in central Iraq, which is primarily populated by Sunnis). The Shiites can choose a new capital and form their own government in the South (primarily populated by Shiites). The other option is to either stick with the current government and try to even out the majorities either with or without the Kurds.

Disclaimer: these are to an extent just ramblings. As I said before, I am not very close to the issues mentioned here at all, and don't mean to offend anyone. Those who are more informed that I (Karam? Meredith?), please shed some more light on the issues and let us know how you think they might be resolved.

5 comments:

Meredith Wheeler said...

Well since you asked... :)

Israel/Palestine: The "two state solution" is often talked about in the media, but what it would realistically entail is a far cry from what you have described. Israel/Palestine is basically an apartheid state at this point (some would disagree with me on this point, but that's my perspective). People don't really realize just how much U.S. aid goes to supporting Israel, and the Israel lobby (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful in the United States. The question of Israel is HIGHLY relevant to all U.S. citizens, and U.S. support of Israel is viewed VERY negatively in the Middle East (in many ways more negatively than the Iraq war) Now, let me say off the bat that Israel needs to exist (there are a lot of reasons for this), but the question of the Palestinian territories is a lot harder to resolve. Your first proposal (formation of a Palestinian state) is somewhat feasible, with the exception of UN control. The UN doesn't have the power in its charter to oversee territories, so that would technically be illegal. There would have to be a Palestinian controlled government, but where it gets tricky is in terms of political parties. As the situation stands currently, Hamas would likely be in control, which brings with it a whole host of other issues. The recent conflict in Gaza did little except make Mahmoud Abbas even less popular and make Hamas more so (if I got into the reasons for this, it would be another paragraph). Your second proposal is entirely unrealistic (I tell you this with the utmost respect). There is NO way that there will ever be joint leadership, as neither side wants that. Essentially, there must be some degree of Palestinian autonomy, but then you get into the question of refugees, which is (if possible) even more complex.

On the question of Iraq, I'm hesitant to support a division based on religion (because that promotes sectarian violence). The question of the Kurds is much broader than just Iraq--giving them independence would have dire ramifications in Turkey, particularly, and the U.S. cannot do that politically, as Turkey is an important ally. Joining the Sunnis with Saudi Arabia would be, in my view, disastrous, as the strict Wahabbism practised in Saudi is loathed in much of the region. Saudi Arabia would also likely not accept such a union, as they are fiercely isolationist.

However, I do appreciate your value of "fairness"--it's important to recognize the legitimacy of all sides. The views expressed about America in the segment on Israel/Palestine were eerily close to views I heard expressed on a daily basis in Jordan, and recognizing the perspective and its origins is critical to U.S. success in the region. Most of the issues in the Middle East don't split evenly between Republican and Democrat (I seriously object to Joe Biden's Iraq plan, for example).

Just my (extremely long winded) two cents. I'll elaborate on any points you would like me to.

Nels said...

I really don't know much about the details in the Middle East with no ties to the region, unlike Meredith or Karam (who I think is in seminar). I base a lot of what I believe on what I have learned about international politics this year and my moderatly liberal belief with conservative ties.

As for Israel and Palestine, emotionally I feel like the separation is morally bankrupt. However, having said that I can understand why that is such an appealing option when suicide bombers are thrown into the mix. I think that eventually there needs to be an autonomous Palestinian government. However, I believe that a creation of a state led by Hamas (a party that I know little about other than what the news feeds me) would be detremental to the U.S. and the rest of the world. The one of the reasons for U.S. intervention in the Middle East is to help alleviate this extremism and allowing a extremist state to be formed would be detremental to our cause. Right now, I believe that it is not within our interests to allow Palestine to become a nation.

With Iraq, it would be extremely detremental to the United States if it were to exit without finishing. It would be a Vietnam repeat and it would be detrimental to our prestige, giving the world two examples of when America ended a war because it was unpopular on the homefront. Again, I don't think splitting up Iraq based on religious ties would be a wise decision, as it would separate the Shiites and Kurds and make the more vunerable to the Sunnis. It is not difficult to visualize another Pakistan-India situation. Also, as Meredith pointed out, I believe that this separation would allow more sectarian violence.

I believe that once this radicalism (language) that we associate with the Middle East is dealt with, America and the world will have done its job. Personally, I don't believe that the Middle East will be an important sphere in the future, as the world will turn to energy resources other than oil, I don't think we need to worry to much about placing the region under our influence.

Nels said...

How did I write as much as Meredith when I obviously know less about the issue at hand???

Big D said...

Here's my two cents on this issue.

The problem in my opinion is that ultimately all of these conflicts begin with a conflict between who owns the land. Seperate tribes of people claiming land that others also claim. (ToK issue: Who actually owns land? What does it mean to own something? If I claim something do I own it?)

The solution: A regional federal government. Now it's not a flawless comparation but the EU has effectively stopped land conflicts between participant nations because regardless of who owns the land, everyone benefits from the joint ownership of all land. Also it promotes regional unity which the ME could definately use.

It's not perfect but its a big step

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