Modern era is a timeline that is characterized by higher economical, political and social expectations from various sectors based on limited time framework as demand for services and products continues to grow. Complexities of the current era seem to emanate from the evident global economical, political, social, and religious crises. According to Yam and Murray, the complexities of the modern era in Middle East are characterized by the evolution of democratic transition in various sectors (1). They note that such transitions have failed to address the underlying problem of the region’s social stability, resulting into economic, political, and social crisis in the Middle East.
Yam and Murray point out that the modern revolution that has been evident in the Middle East has not only created a transition in democracy but has also triggered the development of social unrest in the region, ranging from religious conflict to terrorism activities (1). This has in turn led to food crisis, financial instability, and increasing rate of unemployment, which are some of the complexities of the modern era facing the Middle East. This paper highlights and discusses various factors that have contributed towards the complexities of the modern era in the Middle East.
Factors Contributing to the Complexities of the Modern Era in the Middle East
Globalization is one of the major factors that have contributed to the complexity of the modern era in the Middle East. The primary objective of globalization is to enhance economic stability of various countries. As pointed out by Al-Rodhan, globalization is the system of interaction between countries with a major aim of enhancing countries’ economic integration in the global market that is neither influenced nor controlled by sociopolitical factors (3). The Middle East has been also characterized by globalization efforts as external and developed countries intervene in establishing stable and dependable economic activities in the region. However, what creates globalization complexity of the modern era in the Middle East is the nature of power and force that these developed states employ on these countries. Yam and Murray note that the effect of globalization in the Middle East is even worsened by the fact that its citizens are continuously expressing their dissatisfaction with the intervention of these powerful states (1). The citizens continue to see countries like America as opportunistic nations seeking to exploit their oil resources; that is, they believe that globalization is another form of colonization.
Thus, for instance, the United States had argued that its main reason of intervening in Iraq during the rule of Saddam Hussein was to enhance Iraq’s economic stability. However, Yam and Murray point out that it is during this era when Iraq, a rich oil producing country, was experiencing the worst economic decline as its citizens were suffering from poverty and lack of economic opportunities (1). Instead, the war in Iraq increased the concern about the U.S. intension to colonize Iraq rather than to boost the economics of the country. It is due to such crude economic intervention that most of the Middle East countries do not develop effective economic ties with the developed countries. These nations have, thus, continued to rely on their underdeveloped domestic stimuli projects that are not effective in creating stable economies. Most of the Middle East countries even in the modern era still experience economic instability due to poor productivity, which has resulted into rise of poverty and unemployment among their citizens (Yam and Murray 1).
Terrorism is another factor that has contributed to the complexity of the modern era in the Middle East. This has been because of the fact that region is majorly characterized by terrorist groupings, which have continued to create and engage the rest of the world in series of wars due to their terrorist activities. According to Barzegar, Middle East has been a region of tension and insecurity, which has threatened the global peace and security of many nations (113). He points out that the evident terrorist activities in the Middle East have drawn various international security concerns towards the region.
As a result, nations like the U.S. have currently changed their international policy to strengthen their war against terrorism and, thus, the region. Equally, the persistent terrorist activities in the region have also changed the general perspective from which the world view and relate with the Middle East. Even though, the root cause of terrorism in Middle East is political, cultural and economical instability, the world seems to disagree with the manner these terror groups air their grievances. Their activities have not only affected their international relations, but have also negatively impacted on their economic and social wellbeing.
Most of the Middle East countries are oil producers with the gain from oil export forming their main source of income. However, oil is a non-renewable source of energy that is not continuous; therefore, the future stability of the region will depend on the extent to which it will be able to use the other forms energy, such as nuclear energy, for example. However, the terrorist activity that is evident in the Middle East has not made it possible for the region to exploit these other energy resources as they encounter opposition from the entire world. Katzman notes that the current United States’ criticism of the Iran’s involvement in nuclear projects demonstrates that the region may still remain vulnerable due to its economic instability, especially due to its inability to venture into other energy generating resources (1).
Another important factor that has contributed to the complexity of the modern era in the Middle East is maritime piracy. According to Wilson and Kraska, maritime piracy has affected the economic stability of the Middle East countries due to its negative impact on trade, fishing, and oil production (12). They point out that most of the Middle East countries have not been able to effectively export their products such as oil to other countries due to the nature of the sea trading. They note that sea transportation is an essential mode of transport as it helps in the transportation of variety of products, ranging from raw materials to consumable products, that help in developing the economy of any state. According to them, the complexity of over dependence on locally manufactured products by most of the Middle East countries is based on the rise of maritime piracy. They also point out that these pirates normally kidnap and demand for hefty ransom in exchange for the release of those kidnapped. Even though various United Nation states have intensified their efforts to counter maritime piracy, especially in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea, the act is still eminent, and it continues to complicate the economic and social wellbeing in the Middle East.
According to Salzman, religious conflict has also contributed to the complexity of the modern era in the Middle East (95). He notes that the Middle East comprises of the Muslims, Christians, and Jews who have different religious principles. These religious differences have not only created political conflicts, but have also altered the spiritual perspective of the people. This has in turn complicated both the social and moral values of the people from this region. According to Salzman, the despicable immoral and social values that have continued to characterize this region in the modern era signify indecisive religious cultures and differences emanating from the tensions between these religious cultures (96).
Thus, the modern era of the Middle East has experienced several religious conflicts, such as the wars experienced between the Muslims and the Christians. Salzman argues that just like it was in the early days when the Muslims strongly believed in jihad, which establishes the holy war of spreading Islamic religion worldwide, today’s war has been characterized by terrorism (96). He points out that the holy war plays a central role in Islamic war as their main intention is to create one Muslim nation (Islamic Ummah). They, thus, continue to fight in an attempt to spread Islamic teaching and beliefs. A good example of the beliefs is the encouragement of suicide bombers among the Muslims with a promise of better heavenly life full of virgins. Contrary to Islamic teachings, Christianity is against forced religious conversion. This has led to various religious conflicts between the Muslims and the Christians; for example, the war that was between Israeli and Palestinians.
It is, therefore, true that the modern Middle East has been characterized by a number of complexities, the causes of which cannot be easily overcome by the nations. Such factors as terrorism and maritime piracy continue to isolate the region in the international arena, hence making it difficult for the nations in this region to thrive economically. This has been worsened by the fact that this region majorly depends on its export of oil, which cannot thrive in a region characterized by such a high level of terrorist activities. There is, thus, the need for the Middle East nations to deploy effective economic interventions that would not undermine the freedom of their own citizens as well as that of the rest of the world. This will require such nations to end their terrorist activities and reconsider their religious beliefs so to be able to thrive in the modern era.