Ignorance may be bliss, but this saying is certainly not valid when witnessing the humanitarian, political and economic ups and downs in the Middle Eastern region. The more you are not aware of what’s going on in this area of the world, the less you can engage in world politics or establish a mechanism against the global security threat – what we can call humanity’s most urgent and pervasive issue to tackle.
Today, there is not a single security or stability crisis that is independent from others occurring in any corner of the world. All are linked and related. All have direct and indirect impacts on one another. Historically speaking, countless arguments can be found to explain this cross-relation between conflicts or cumulatively – or correspondently – growing tensions. However, this short piece of mine has the primary and specific goal of drawing attention to why the international community must contribute to peace in the Middle East.
In terms of the number of mini, major or proxy wars, instabilities or inhumane attacks, the region takes the lead among its peers. From Syria to Iraq, from Palestine to Yemen, almost every regional state is on the brink of political, economic or humanitarian collapse. This situation also deteriorates with the superpowers’ self-interested engagement and the presence of weak state mechanisms and terrorist groups. As a matter of fact, the entire region is day by day dragged into an increasingly blurry deadlock.
Just recently, world leaders met at another major international gathering in the heart of Italy and the Middle East was also among the topics. Any result? Literally none! Frankly speaking, the problem here does not lie behind the fact that countries lack the will and intention to end regional catastrophes but the miscalculation of diplomatic understanding regarding regional developments.
For instance, for a long period of time, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) all-around the world, including particularly Turkey, have rushed to get mobilized to reach out to people in need in the region, particularly in Syria. From basic survival needs to educational necessities, several different aid campaigns have been organized so far to help suffering people. On the one hand, it is both more than encouraging and admirable to see that there are still those who embrace and work for the values humanity shares while, on the other hand, unfortunately, we see an international community that does not provide the sufficient diplomatic and political support. The two sides of the coin tells us the world is supposed to shoulder responsibility just as ordinary people do.
Currently, it is reported that around 13.4 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in war-ravaged Syria. The World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that 12.4 million people – nearly 60% of the population – are facing food shortages. Only in northern Syria, there are around 3.5 million locals, the majority of whom are displaced, in dire need of basic necessities. More numbers and statistics follow each other to reveal the reality of life in the country since the war erupted back in 2011. Indeed, knowing what’s happening in this country is enough to comprehend the state of the whole region.
According to the European Union, in the Middle East, “a political and economic reform in each individual country in due respect for its specific features and regional cooperation among the countries of the region themselves and with the EU” is what needs to be supported and encouraged. By reforming the region, the world can contribute to rebuilding the region, the bloc believes.
For another example, in the decadeslong Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is one of the hot topics of the region, the bloc sees coming to a resolution as its fundamental interest while supporting “the two-state solution with an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.”
Or, take Iraq, whose socio-economic situation was severely damaged during the coronavirus pandemic. According to reports, some 2.4 million Iraqi people have acute humanitarian needs while the drop in oil prices and unemployment have collapsed the country’s economy. The presence of terrorism is another great challenge at hand. The EU is also of the opinion that, “There is a need to improve access to basic services such as water, health care, education and legal assistance, as well as protection, psychosocial care and physical rehabilitation” in the country.
For each country in the Middle East, the bloc has prepared a detailed report, showing the realities and providing key notes on what can be done to improve them. However, it also falls short as other developed or developing countries, organizations and institutions need to develop a common understanding. Since the path to global peace crosses through the Middle East, ignorance and intolerance toward the region cannot be accepted. Taking into consideration the direct and indirect impacts of the Middle Eastern problems on the world, no one can stay idle. Put simply, peace in the Middle East means peace in the world.