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Discuss the Rise of Radicalism in the Middle East, the Impact and Ramifications of That Occurrence

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Sectarian-based conflicts — or at any rate, spasms of intercommunal violence characterized as such — are certainly not new

Nor is Iraq or, for that matter, the Middle East as a whole, the only locus of conflict depicted as being sectarian in nature, as the disturbing events in Burma/Myanmar, as well as in the Central African Repubic (CAR) and Nigeria clearly illustrate. With increasing frequency, media accounts of the civil war in Syria describe it in sectarian terms and report that the violence there has inflamed "sectarian tension" throughout the Gulf and beyond. Meanwhile, headlines have warned that the "sectarian divide" in Pakistan is widening and intensifying.

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The first cause of Islamic radicalism lies in what can be called the ‘Western Grip,’ the strong presence of American and colonial culture. After World War 2, oil resources developed and sent imperialistic powers to the Middle East. This created a dependency on the Middle East and their resources. However, the relationship between major global oil economic powers and local populations in the areas of extraction has not been fostered; instead, an irreconcilable divide between Islam and the West emerged. Similar to British imperialism, the United States involves itself in the politics of the Middle East and takes it upon itself to solve the Middle East’s problems, initiating conflict and invasions. As Western influence increased, industry created a connection to Western culture, one that includes provocative clothing, music, and habits- all of which go against the fundamentalist interpretation of the Quran. These directly oppose the ideals of the fundamentalists and thus fuel anti-Americanism and further rebellion against modern progression

The reason why such radical religious organizations thrive is by their use of religious persuasion to impose the ‘true’ interpretation of the religious text. They oppose modernity and instead act on Sharia law, which instead of governing by secular laws, only looks toward Muslim rules and regulations based on strict interpretations by the Quran. In addition, when the United States began to occupy Iraq, it created an anti-American sentiment in the area that only grew as Muslims realized a long history of American negligence and indifference towards supporting followers of Islam. Conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Gaza, directly targeted Muslim victims, and these conflicts are “…given as an example of where Western nations have failed to act quickly or effectively to protect Muslim civilians/

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While the Islamic State has been fighting along ethnic/sectarian lines in Syria and Iraq, many of these new onsets pertain to cases that primarily concern radical religious interpretations within a given ethnic group, such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s relation to the Sunni majority in Egypt or Boko Haram’s relation to the Fulani and other ethnic groups in Northern Nigeria. Thus, while ethnic rivalries in Iraq and Syria helped bring about the phenomenon of the Islamic State (Byman 2015; Yosofi 2016), this new surge of civil conflict cannot be reduced to ethnic civil conflict (Juergensmeyer 2018). First, the main conflict cleavage often does not run along the boundaries of the involved ethnic communities so much as through them. Second, the rebels’ stated aims typically go well beyond partial or full sovereignty exercised by a specific ethnic group within a given country (Byman 2015, p

137). Quite on the contrary, the Islamic State and its affiliates are truly transnational in their aims that aim to create a larger caliphate with unclear borders. In fact, rather than being ethno-nationalist, these claims are more based on transnational interpretations of Islam.

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As has been noted, identifying as early as possible groups that are moving in a direction towards violence, to deal with the period between prevention of violence and catastrophe (the intervention period)

Recognizing that information warfare goes both ways. Propaganda from extremists about bombings and civilian casualties can be countered with success stories about effective cross-national cooperation, e.g., the joint humanitarian aid operational activities between France and Russia (the Istanbul event).

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Byman, Daniel. 2016. "Understanding the Islamic State: A Review Essay." International Security 40: 127-65.

Buhaug, Halvard, and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. 2008. "Contagion or Confusion? Why Conflicts Cluster in Space." International Studies Quarterly 52: 215-33.

Juergensmeyer, Mark. 2018. "Thinking Sociologically About Religion and Violence: The Case of ISIS." Sociology of Religion 79: 20-34.

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