The world is awash with problems, the middle-east, Ukraine, Africa.
Arguably religious conflict is a factor. Nevertheless there are a good many other factors that have contributed to the current upheavals and conflicts. Ongoing strife between Israel and the Palestinians is one trouble spot. Understandably, because the injustice with respect to the Palestinians is plain for all to see, it is a running sore. How could such injustice in the world be permitted to continue for so long? The answer, I believe, is because the USA has used its veto to block any attempt at interference by the UN, and used its military might to deter any nation from interfering militarily. The UK and the EU have acquiesced, if not supported Israel and the US throughout.
Iraq is another unsettled area. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but he ran the country in a way that allowed women a good deal of freedom, permitted religious tolerance and brought prosperity to the majority of the population, because of his rather western approach he had been seen as a friend of the US at one stage, but the US and the UK now decided that he should be overthrown, their reasons for doing so were dubious and did not have the support of the UN and, in that sense, their action was illegal. They easily succeeded in defeating Saddam’s forces and inflicting immense damage to the country as a whole, killing several hundred thousand Iraqis in the process. Naively they assumed that, with Saddam gone, the people would somehow come together and create a democracy, the reality was a state in turmoil as various factions competed for control, a situation that has continued over many years with considerable further loss of life and a state that has yet to achieve a stability and prosperity anywhere near that which existed under Saddam.
Many Muslims saw the injustices of Israel and Iraq as an attack by the west on their Muslim brothers and this generated some anger that led to acts of terrorism and the creation of militant Muslim movements, most prominently Al Quaeda, led by Osama- Bin-Laden. This was the organisation responsible for the infamous attack on the Twin-Towers, an attack that was more disastrous than the planners could ever have imagined. This resulted in the US declaring their War on Terror, hitting out blindly wherever they could and hunting down Osama-bin-laden.
People who consider themselves oppressed by a superior power will turn to terrorism as the only means available to them to fight back, there are numerous examples through history where one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero or martyr. Pakistan , a Muslim country, has sympathy with fellow Muslims and tended to tolerate terrorists within its borders but pressure from the US encouraged them to try and drive them out and they crossed the border into Afghanistan, a country where an extreme fundamentalist Islam movement, The Taliban, were gaining control and where the terrorist groups were welcome.
The US and the UK had invaded Afghanistan with a view to defeating the Taliban and catching the terrorists. This resulted in a long drawn out rather inconclusive war with much destruction, many deaths and a country in some disarray.
The next target for US, UK and French attention was Libya and Colonel Gadaffi, although there had been times when he had been seen as friendly. There was some active opposition to Gadaffi in the country and this was given western support, UK, US and French war planes were used against Gadaffi’s forces so that he was eventually overthrown. This was seen as the beginning of a new era for Arab countries, the Arab Spring. Unfortunately, the west was naive once again, imagining that they could step back and watch a new democratic government emerge, but once again different factions were fighting each other and another once stable country has become destabilised.
The next middle-eastern country to receive the attention of the US and UK was Syria, undeterred by their previous experiences they decided that another leader, President Assad, should be overthrown. He too was seen as a tyrant, although he too was more western and more liberal in his approach than many other Muslim leaders. Nevertheless Obama and Cameron were determined that he should be overthrown, claiming that he had killed innocent civilians in fighting the rebels (This was a bit rich when one remembers how many innocent civilians the US and UK had killed in Iraq and the number of Palestinians killed by Israel without a word of protest from the US). They encouraged the rebellious Syrians and provided air attacks against the Syrian forces. Once again they succeeded in destabilising the country and, as a consequence, they created a vacuum into which the barbarous Islamist extremist group, the IS, was able to establish itself. The biggest challenge now is defeating IS. It was foolish to set out to overthrow Assad when he had the support of Russia, and Iran, and even more foolish to persist now. It has been obvious for some time that it was not going to be possible for the US and the UK to defeat IS and Assad at the same time. Now Russia is bringing more force to bear to ensure the salvation of the Assad regime.
In Ukraine there was a democratic presidential election in which a pro-Russian President, Yanucovych was elected. The US and the EU encouraged some elements in Ukraine that they should aim to get Ukraine to join the EU. This led to protests and civil unrest so that the democratically elected president felt forced to flee in 2014. The government declared that Yanucovych was no longer president, a questionably legal move, and organised a presidential election that was won by Poroshenko, a multibillionaire oligarch with his own TV channel and supported by the west. (The fact that a potential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, was in prison at the time for a dubious crime, might have helped also). This created a problem for Russia, they had a large naval base in Crimea, which was ok when Ukraine had a pro-Russian government but not now. They solved their problem by annexing Crimea. This they did in a peaceful manner by organising a referendum in Crimea which resulted in a truly overwhelming vote in favour of the annexation by Russia. Despite the peaceful and democratic manner of this annexation, the US and Europe imposed fairly crippling economic sanctions on Russia. In the Ukraine there remained a large proportion of the population opposed to the pro-western government, especially in the east of the country and they rebelled with support from Russia. Russia’s actions are understandable if one considers how the US might react if Mexico was lured into the Russian camp, especially if the US had a big naval base there.
Without doubt the US, UK and EU are largely responsible for the mess the region is in and we are seeing the consequences in the numbers of displaced people. It is true that two tyrants have been removed from power but perhaps, with so many tribal and religious differences, it needs a ruthless leader to hold these countries together.
There are other sinister forces at work as well, in the form of Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Israel must be pleased to see Iraq and Syria so weakened and one wonders to what extent they have endeavoured to influence the actions of the US. The Saudis are playing a dark game and the attitude of our government towards Saudi Arabia seems very odd to me.
Overall, I think, our record of bad government continues.
The world is awash with problems, the middle-east, Ukraine, Africa.