Geopolitics of the Middle East

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Geopolitics of the Middle East

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  • We acknowledge that this region is writtled with conflict but lets take a look deeper to understand the “why” behind the social and political unrest in the region. \n\n
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  • The people of indigenous North africa before the Arab invasion were known as Berbers most of the 15 million berbers exist today as farmers, but were previously pastoral Nomads \n\nNomads groups of people who move from place to place depending on the season and availably of grass fro grazing and water. \n\nOther principal groups in North Africa are the Arab people. Arabs frist migrated from the Arabian Peninsula to north africa in the A.D. 600s. Nomatic Bedouin are arabic-speaking people who migrated to north africa from the deserts of southwest asia. \n\nEgypt was the primary gateway for arabs migrating to North Africa\n
  • The people of indigenous North africa before the Arab invasion were known as Berbers most of the 15 million berbers exist today as farmers, but were previously pastoral Nomads \n\nNomads groups of people who move from place to place depending on the season and availably of grass fro grazing and water. \n\nOther principal groups in North Africa are the Arab people. Arabs frist migrated from the Arabian Peninsula to north africa in the A.D. 600s. Nomatic Bedouin are arabic-speaking people who migrated to north africa from the deserts of southwest asia. \n\nEgypt was the primary gateway for arabs migrating to North Africa\n
  • Lets think. Why would people live in a very high elevations in a warm subtropical region?\n\nMany civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and the euphrates river. This became the world's first cultural hearth. \n\nCultural hearth is an area where culture developed and spread outward. \n\nThe fertile crescent between the two rivers was a large rich agricultural region that supported civilizations \n
  • Lets think. Why would people live in a very high elevations in a warm subtropical region?\n\nMany civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and the euphrates river. This became the world's first cultural hearth. \n\nCultural hearth is an area where culture developed and spread outward. \n\nThe fertile crescent between the two rivers was a large rich agricultural region that supported civilizations \n
  • Lets think. Why would people live in a very high elevations in a warm subtropical region?\n\nMany civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and the euphrates river. This became the world's first cultural hearth. \n\nCultural hearth is an area where culture developed and spread outward. \n\nThe fertile crescent between the two rivers was a large rich agricultural region that supported civilizations \n
  • Lets think. Why would people live in a very high elevations in a warm subtropical region?\n\nMany civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and the euphrates river. This became the world's first cultural hearth. \n\nCultural hearth is an area where culture developed and spread outward. \n\nThe fertile crescent between the two rivers was a large rich agricultural region that supported civilizations \n
  • Middle east shatter belt includes Iran, Afganistan, All of the countries of the Aribian peninusula, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Isreal, Lebenon, Egypt, Libia (off the map), and you could include northern Sudan and parts of Somalia for various political and pirate reasons. \n\nIts a some what undefined region. And that’s something we’ll explore. because the middle east is something sort of made up and its a region that has really come to life in the last century. and is a big product of European colonialism. Particularly British colonialism.\n\nOne of the things that i wish to empart is to get away from the notion that this is a region that has in tractable historic conflicts. You frequently hear people say that this region has aways been in confilt peopel here just hate each other. there will never be peace in this region and as students of both geography and history I hope that we’ll be able to find that rheam of though increadibly short sighted. yes of course there has been tenshion in varous groups over centures but that is true in every part of the world, and yet people still have the capcity to find peace. and I beleive that, that same kind of peace can still be found in the confilct regions here in the middle east. I do no subscribe to that ancient notion that this a region that has always been in war and confilct and therefore we should just through our hands up and give up on the region. Rather we need to understand the geopolitics. the particular issues of the day. that drive the types of probles and types of issues that we see, that are the stumbling blocks to peaceful coexistence for the peoples of the middle east. \n\nBig P - power politcs. the simple notion that there is a struggle by force to control the territory. most notiably the issue between Isreal and the Arab States. that is hard power politcs. who has the bigger weapons? who has the military advantage? who has the alliances? and the political relationships there to come out on top. one of the reasons there has not been a major war between isreal and the arab countires, since the 1970s is Big P power politics. Isreal has the backing of the United States that gives it domanace in the reagion. likewise it’s the United States supplying of military weapons to place like Saudi Arabia that has kept larger conflict from breaking out. \n\nAt the same time we have Little p or soft power politics. this is the fact that counties like Saudi Arabia, and Iraq and Iran and a few other countries that have substanial oil reserves, exersize an increadible amount of soft power. because they control the energy for the world. and that kind of soft power, the ablilty to get what you want, to play politics because people need what you have is a very powerful form of politics, that plays into the nature of the middle east today. \n\nand lastly then we have power in its different meaning. and that is power as energy resources. because we cannot understand the current situation in the middle east today without making reference to the fact that this is one of the key sources in the world for key resources in particular crude oil. \n\nso we see in the middle east today a confluence of hard/soft/and power politics through the cohesion of controlling the economic rheighns of power. and the simple fact that this is geographically the place of energy resources in the world today. The alliances and the conflict patterns that we hear about in the news, when we talk about curds, Palestinians, Saudi arabians, and the rise of Al Qaida, or the strength of the saudi arabian monarchy. terrorists in Yemen and conflicts in sudan. These all in some form or another tie back to the issues of the 3 “P”s of power politics and the location of energy resources. \n
  • Lets look at the political history that has defined the region\n\nStarting with our old friend the european colonial system reigned supreme over the 1800s clear up until the end of world war two. this was known as the mandates period. during the first few decades of the 1900s the mandates period was a period in time when European powers were given a mandate to govern different regions of what is now the middle east. with the promise that these regions would eventually become independent countries. and this was sort of a stewardship model where the European countries designated themselves as more civilized and more advanced so that they were going to raise up the civilizations of the middle east, until they reached a point that they were able to govern themselves as responsible democratic states and at which point they would become independent. this was the official discourse of the colonial system in the latter part of the 1800s up through WWII. \n\nThe decisions of this period that really mattered were the decisions over where boundaries would be drawn and which nations would gain colonies and which wouldn’t. \n\nlater on we have the Cold War Period the cold war period was were the european mandate system was gone and we had independent states in the region. but, many of those states fell very short of the ideal of having nice democratic, market states. Rather, because of the cold war struggle between the US and the USSR both of these larger countries often propped up and supported Authoritarian Regimes, Dictatorships, and other types of Strong Men rule systems. All in the Game of Spheres of influences that reduced the middle east to simply a series of chess pieces as the soviet union and the united states struggled for control of the region and its lucrative resources and it’s key water access ways like the Sues canal. \n\nIt undermined the commitment to democracy. from both the United States and the USSR.\n\nLastly we have the post cold war period. Which we will continue to discuss as the framework for the recent uprisings in the region, protests, and pushes for both democracy and fundamental religious traditions. \n
  • The first of these is the colonial mandates period. This really reflects the peak of British world leader ship. The British were really the hegemonic power in the world before the united state. So the late 1880 up though it's final demise as a world power around the beginning of world war two. The colonial mandates period here reflects that european focus on the middle east. This period in time this was a time where countries were rapidly industrializing. They need new consumer markets. And new resource to fuel all the new industrial growth. Particularly they needed oil to make petroleum and to use in manufacturing. And they need to secure trade routes. Because one of the things that Europe. Was doing as they were industrializing. Making massive amounts of products. They Needed to be able to ship those products all around the world quickly to new consumer markets that were being created all across Asia and the Americas. So this region of the middle east became a focal point for the European colonial system. \n\nParticularly you had the trade routes going up though turkey. The old silk road. The suez canal that was built though the sinai peninsula. \n\nIt was the birth of oil geo politics. Before this time oil didn't really allot of difference. People knew that it was this funny back and brown stuff that came out of the ground. But there was little ended for it on a global scale. \nUntil the late 1800s. And the birth of industrialization cause a demand explosion for oil and over night became the global issue. All the countries striving for increased production the middle east opened oil lines that made people realize the vast amount of oil resources that wee sitting under the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. \n\nThe map gives a clear demonstration of which nations were under a mandate from which European powers. There were a few that we're independent from European control. Iran, turkey, and saudi Arabia in particular. However there were still strong informal influence between the elites of these countries and the European powers. \n\n\n
  • So then at the end of WWII this all changed. the Europeans were gone, however the economic ties were still in place so there were still strong ties between the european states and their colonial holdings, to an extent. however in the cold war, this region became the new turing point for geopolitics, one of several in the world. the US and the Soviets focused here in the middle east, they focused in southeast asia, they focused on latin america, and later they focused on Africa as part of their great game that was going on across the world. And it was the smaller countries that got caught up in the power struggle. Counties either got caught up under the sponsorship of the Soviet Union or the United States or they were actively trying to resist becoming a satellite of either of these two great spheres of influence. and in particular in the middle east we see this as a very distint pattern and that was what was called the soviet Southern strategy.\n\nSoviet Southern Strategy\nbecause of the geography of the Soviet union, it needed a southern strategy, it needed to secure territory to the south, it needed to secure port facilities and relationships moving down to the warmer climates. \n\nUnited States Containment Strategy\nthe United States Containment Strategy set up after WWII with the national secure council document NSC68 created a geopolitical strategy to contain the soviet union by creating a zone of US influence to hem the soviet union in. And also in the name of securing resources, we cannot ignore the fact that the United States as a rapid developing country and becoming the most powerful economy in the world at the time, needed those resources. \n\nArab Nationalism \nwhat we also see in the middle east becomes the great arab age of nationalism. the rise of religious counter-movements. historic leaders, of the mid 20th century, the shah of Iran, and even Saddam Hussan in his own way, were both the product of an arab age of nationalism. for some that took form in the idea of the Pan-Arab nationalism. They said “ok” all of these artificially created countries, were all arab. (which isn't 100% true) but for the most part most of the people of the middle east are arab in terms of their ethnic identity. So this idea of arab pan-nationalism believed that the region needed to put aside it’s petty differences and come together. to be able to have a stronger presence in the the world. and to be able to challenge the interference of the US and the Soviet Union. \n\nReligious Fundamentalists\nAlong side this, however, was this backlash that looked at the problems that had been unleashed by US culture and Soviet culture and economic relations, it looked at the illegitimacy of money of the leaders in the Arab world that were largely discerned with the people they governed. So there were these religious counter-movements who said this wester model that has been imposed on us, is not for us, we want to go back to and older time, a religious based civilization. \n\n\n
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