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Peace in the Middle East

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  • Category: Peace

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Middle East is a region boiling in the political, military and social crisis. Since the second half of the twentieth century, the region has been engulfed in long standing conflicts that have created one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. Constant conflict between Israel and Palestine has created instability in the region as different countries take sides in the conflict. Iran has created conflict with neighbors like Iraq and Israel with her endeavors to become a nuclear powerhouse in the region. On the other hand Iraq is boiling in internal political conflicts and extremist groups opposed to presence of Western influence in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Life has become worthless and everyday, people dies in the streets of Iraq and Palestine.  The spreading influence of the western culture has incised into the strict Muslim cultures and there is a growing crisis between young people and women who want to adapt freedom like in Western cultures and strict male dominated Muslim culture.  The conflicts the Middle East region takes different dimensions. Although it has been perceived as a peace fragile region, peace is possible in the region if mediation and compromise can be given a place by the conflicting parties.

Considering the initiatives that are being taken now and in the past, peace is possible in the Middle East region. Since the conflict erupted in the late 1950s, when the nation of Israel was implanted in the Palestine state and the end of the wars that followed, different stakeholders came together to find a solution for conflicts in the region. One of such initiatives was taken by the Jordan, Israel and Egypt, who were major players in the conflict. The three countries have signed different agreements which were aimed at bringing peace in the volatile region. In 1978, Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David Accords after 12 days of secret negotiations. The peace was mediated by President Jimmy Carter of United States and the formed the base for 1979 Israel -Egypt Peace Treaty (Avraham 49).

The peace initiative led to guarantee of free passage between Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. In 1993, the bilateral talks between Israel and Jordan were initiated during the Madrid Conference. These talks led to the Washington Declaration which was signed by Prime Minster Rabin of Israel and King Hussein of Jordan under mediation of President Clinton (Avraham 67). Both states opened a new chapter of cooperation to end belligerency between them and Israel agreed to respect Muslims shrines in Jerusalem. In the recent past, Palestine Hamas, who have fired rockets into Israel, has been holding talks with the U.S government (The Israel Project). A U.S delegation has visited Khalid Mishael, the Hamas leader based in Damascus. These talks are aimed at negotiating a middle ground between Hamas and Israel, two long time adversaries fuelling conflict in the Middle East.  As the situation becomes volatile, peace initiatives have also come from unlike quarters like Iran, making concession and bowing to pressure from the world.

After protracted defiance to continue with her nuclear program, Iran has finally bowed to international pressure and entered into a peaceful resolution by making deals with Brazil and Turkey to exchange enriched uranium materials for uranium fuel (News Wires). A nuclear Iran has lead to arms race in the region with countries like Israel, UAE, and others acquiring sophisticated military equipments in anticipation for any war. This agreement will go a long way to bring peace in the region. Another example of how peace can be achieved in the region has been combined effort between Yemeni and Saudi Arabia to fight Houthi rebels.  Al-Houthi rebels backed by Iran, have attacked Yemen and wounded Saudi counter terrorism chief (Adams). The recent joined operation between U.S, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia is meant to end their resistance in the region, and this may bring peace and stability.  There are other endless examples which exemplify how peace initiatives are possible in the region. It only needs mutual trust and commitment to the peace process. It is possible to achieve peace in the Middle East if all stakeholders are committed to the peace process.

There are many factors which have constrained the peace process in the Middle East. Unending conflicts in the region have made it impossible to sit down and come with a comprehensive peace agreement because there is a lot of mistrust and side taking.  There are many clashes which are currently going on, which are major impediments to the peace process. The ongoing crashes in Kurdistan, Iraq, the war against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and expansion of the settlements in Israel are just few of the conflicts that have made it difficult to come with comprehensive peace agreements. For example just when United States had mediated indirect talks between Israel and Palestine and all the negotiators were to come to the negotiation table, Israel announced it would go on settlement expansion program despite international resistance. The whole peace process was thrown into disarray and collapsed.

This shows that while the outside world wants peace, inside the region there are many leaders who are against the peace process. Peace cannot be achieved without a ceasefire and this has made it difficult to negotiate for peace between Yemen and Houthi rebels. In Iraq, the situation is the same as the rebel groups launch attacks against the innocent public (Avraham 72). These ongoing classes make it difficult to come to negotiation table. In addition, extremist groups in the region like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al Qaeda in Iraq have made it difficult to achieve peace. These groups do not want to use peaceful means but believe in using force to achieve peace. In their self determined religious ‘Jihad’ these radical groups have launched attacks on their own people in name of fighting western imperialism. They have frustrated all peace efforts in Iraq with their misguided self-determinism. In order to achieve peace in the region, the current ongoing clashes will have to be stopped and extremist groups agree to the role of mediators to negotiate peace rather the resulting to use of force.

Like in any other region in the world, peace is important in the Middle East. Peace is important for development and Middle East region cannot achieve meaningful development without peace.  The danger of nuclear war between Israel and Iran poses danger to the whole region. Israel is not ready to accept the possibility of nuclear Iran and this raises possibility of nuclear war.  Palestinians have lived without a state for many years and the number of refugees continues to increase. Palestinians are suffering due to military conflict between Hamas and Israel and there has to be peace to resettle Palestine refugees and give them their state as was proposed in the recent two-state peace settlement. Countries like Iraq have not known peace since invasion and thousands of people have died. People are dying in Iraq’s streets like dogs due to suicide bombings. For Iraq to achieve stability and economic growth for wellbeing of its people, there have peace in the region.

In conclusion, peace is important in the Middle East region. For the better part of the second half of twentieth century, Middle East region has been engulfed in conflicts in different countries and between neighbors. Considering the peace initiatives that have been taken, it is possible to have peace in the region. Peace initiatives like Camp David Accord, U.S. initiated peace talks with Hamas, and other shows that it is possible to achieve peace in the region. However, the ongoing clashes in Yemen and Iraq, and the presence of extremist groups like Hamas, Al Qaeda, and others have constrained the peace process. For Middle East to achieve lasting peace these clashes must be stopped and extremist groups agree to the role of mediators in the peace process instead of using force. It is only when peace is realized in the region that there will be stability and economic development in the whole region.

Work Cited:

Adams, Henry. Analysis: Houthi rebellion in Yemen on last legs but Yemen’s troubles far from over. December 20, 2009. May 25, 2010. <http://www.ufppc.org/us-a-world-news-mainmenu-35/9241-analysis-houthi-rebellion-in-yemen-on-last-legs-but-yemens-troubles-far-from-over.html>

Avraham, Sela. The continuum political encyclopedia of the Middle East. New York: Continuum, 2002

News Wires. Iran signs deal to ship uranium to Turkey for nuclear fuel. May 17, 2010. May 25, 2010. <http://www.france24.com/en/20100517-iran-nuclear-deal-sign-uranium-swap-turkey-enrichment-brazil>

The Israel Project. Timeline of Israel-Arab Peace initiatives since 1977. May 25, 2010. <http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/?c=hsJPK0PIJpH&b=3909089>

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