Is American interference really to blame for the mess in the Middle East?

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23 November
13:17
November
2016

I think we need to go back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, to British and European colonisation and to the redrawing of the map of the Middle East, and more specifically the Levant. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was created by a British and French diplomat, who, between them, redrew what we now know as the modern Middle East. This agreement created countries like Iraq and defined their borders.

The problem was that it didn't really consider the people living in these areas: the tribes, their traditions and their conflicts. Adding to the mix and making things far more complicated is what's known as the Balfour Declaration, which ultimately led to the creation of Israel. All those issues: the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Balfour Declaration and a few other factors started the ball rolling towards some of the more modern conflicts and problems that we see in the Middle East.

"Arguably, it’s relatively reductive to blame the mess in the Middle East entirely on the US because the West as a whole plays a very large role in it."

We also certainly need to consider the U.S., whose involvement in the Middle East dates back decades. The reason it's proved so destabilising is because of who the US supports: most notably countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel. More importantly, the U.S. has typically supported dictators and strong man as opposed to trying to help nurture democratically elected leaders. We also now have to consider its bombing campaigns in Iraq, Libya, Syria and how this plays out.

Arguably, it’s relatively reductive to blame the mess in the Middle East entirely on the U.S., because the West as a whole plays a very large role in it. Not only because of the drawing of borders, or the creation of countries like Israel, but also because of its support for dictators and for a country like Saudi Arabia.

Nonetheless, The U.S. has emboldened these forces and this has ultimately led to some of the horrible things that we now see. Take Iraq for example: the implosion of Iraq following the U.S.-led war in 2003, and of course earlier conflicts there as well. All of this has led to what we now see as ISIL.

In saying all of that, some Arab countries need to bear some responsibility as well. They have leadership issues. But a lot of foreign forces have allowed for these issues to continue and persist. 

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