Friday, 16 September 2016

An idiots guide to the Middle East

Am I alone in finding the situation in the Middle East very, very confusing? There are legions of Middle East experts advising us on how to act in this area but most of them can't seem to agree on anything other than it is very, very messy. It is clear that we need and want the oil that comes from this area. And let's be honest, other than the oil and not having planes fly into our buildings or our citizen’s blown up or their appendages chopped off, most of us really don’t care about the Middle East. We just see it as a hell-hole of conflict. But we can't admit that because we really, really need the oil. One thing is certain, however, and that is whatever actions we have taken in the Middle East in the past have done little to improve the lives of the people who live there. In fact our intervention over the years has resulted in political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations and the growth of ISIS/ISIL or what have you.

I'm not an expert and, for what it's worth (well, it kept me amused for a while) the following is a summary of my understanding of the current situation in the Middle East. Call it an 'Partially Informed Idiot's Guide to the Middle East' if you like.

* ISIS is a group of fundamentalist fanatics that want to convert everyone in the world to their fanatical religious beliefs. They are brutal and ruthless.  Al Qaida is another group pretty much the same as ISIS except they don’t like each other. The Taliban are like ISIS and Al Qaida and they will work with anyone that helps them defeat the Afghanistan government.
* There is a revolution in Syria. The rebels want to defeat the government and ISIS, ISIS wants to defeat the rebels and the government. The Syrian government hates ISIS and the rebels

* Iran hates ISIS and Iraq and Syrian rebels

* Russia likes Syria and hates ISIS and the Syrian rebels.

* Russia likes Iran and sells them weapons

* Libya hates ISIS and is a mess in general
* Iraq hates Iran, except they both hate ISIS and are fighting together against ISIS

* The UK does not like Iran and Iran isn't too keen on the UK. But they hate the US

* Saudi Arabia hates Yemen and Iran.

* Egypt is a mess internally and hates Israel

* Israel just wants to be left alone
* Pakistan and India hate each other

* Sunni Muslims hate Shia Muslims and Shia Muslims hate Sunni Muslims

* Afghanistan is fighting ISIS and the Taliban and Al Qaida

* The USA and UK are fighting ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaida and are siding with the Syrian rebels but working with Russia in fighting ISIS who we sometimes call IS, ISIL, the so-called Islamic State or Daesh
* All of the Middle East loves Palestine, except they don’t seem to do anything to help them besides using them to hurt Israel

* Israel likes the US but everyone else hates the US

* Everyone hates Israel except the US, and sometimes the US wobbles on this a bit

* Turkey hates the Kurds and ISIS

* The Kurds hate ISIS and some of Turkey

* The West likes Turkey, but Turkey doesn’t always like the West and the West likes the Kurds but won’t help them because we don’t want to antagonise Turkey.

* Jordan hates ISIS and we like Jordan. They were British once (as were most of the territories under question, come to think of it. Help! It's all our fault)

* There are a bunch of other little countries that have oil and are nice to the West so we help them keep their oil from bigger countries.

* Then some of the countries have tribes that seem to act separately from their country and lots of these tribes don’t like each other.

I am sure I've got a lot of this wrong, but the self-evident point is that it is very, very complicated. Whatever we do is going to irritate a whole bunch of countries, tribes and people. As I said at the beginning of this post, whatever we have done in the past has only made things worse.

So extreme measures are called for. My position (slightly tongue-in-cheek) would be to put whatever it takes into making us so energy independent that we don’t need to give a toss about what happens in the Middle East. Then we should just step back and do nothing. Let everyone sort it out on their own. It might take a few centuries, but let's just butt out. Has anyone got a better idea? Pretty please.
I probably shouldn’t be Prime Minister, should I?

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