By Yoram Ettinger, The Ettinger Report—
“The Middle East and North Africa have a well-deserved reputation for being a region plagued by war and conflict. Every decade since the end of WW2 has seen at least one interstate conflict; it has also witnessed 25 types of intrastate war, including insurgencies, civil wars and protracted terrorism. In the same timeframe, 2.3 million citizens have died as a result of political violence – 40% of the global total of battle-related deaths, although the region accounts for 5% of the world’s population…. 25 of these [intrastate] conflicts have claimed 1.5 million victims – 64% of the region’s total war deaths…. ” (Florence Gaub, Deputy Director, European Union Institute for Security Studies, October, 2017).
Middle East inter and intra-Arab/Muslim conflicts – some of them 1,400 year old – have been largely intractable, defying Western conventional wisdom, which has been dominated by the well-meaning pursuit of peaceful-coexistence, conflict-resolution, democracy and improved standard of living.
According to Dr. Daniel Pipes and Prof. Gunnar Heinsohn, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars from 1948-2007, only 35,000 of them in Arab-Israel wars – 0.3%!
Middle East inter and intra-Arab/Muslim conflicts – which preceded the 1948 establishment of Israel – have exposed the oversimplification of conventional Western wisdom, which has approached the Arab-Israeli conflict as if it were “the Middle East conflict.”
Perry Cammack and Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stated: “More than any other region in the world, the Middle East is defined not by commercial ties, diplomatic interaction, or regional organizations, but by hard power and military might…. The Middle East suffers from a lack of both regional dispute-resolution mechanisms and diplomatic protocols that might reduce the scope for regional conflict…. In the last six years alone, Arab states and Iran have intervened militarily in four Arab countries (Syria, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain)…. Massive violations of international humanitarian law have become commonplace… including indiscriminate bombing of urban civilian populations, ethnic cleansing and civilian displacement on a grand scale, widespread sexual violence, use of chemical weapons, denial of humanitarian access and use of starvation as a weapon, and the bombing of hospitals and schools….”
Middle East inter and intra-Arab/Muslim conflicts – which ravaged the area well before the 1967 Six Day War – have demonstrated that the Palestinian issue has never been a core cause of regional turbulence, nor a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Thus, Toronto Ryerson University’s Dr. Murtaza Haider wrote: “Since the end of WW2… the Muslim world has fallen into one violent conflict after another, involving mostly Muslims. In the 1980s, the Iran-Iraq war left millions dead…. While intra-Muslim violence is claiming victims all over Pakistan, the violence against non-Muslims, including Hindus and Christians, often brings together Muslims of different stripes….”
The following are some of the inter and intra-Arab/Muslim Middle East conflicts, most of which have dwarfed the Arab-Israeli conflict as far as their impact on the (in)stability of all Arab/Muslim countries, the region and the globe:
Sunni Islam (85%) vs. Shite Islam (15%) has traumatized the Middle East since the 7th century; Shite Iran vs. Sunni-ruled Iraq (e.g., 1980-1988); Shite Iran vs. Sunni Saudi Arabia, directly and via proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Sudan; Shite Iran vs. Sunni-ruled Bahrain; Shite Iran vs. Sunni United Arab Emirates; civil wars in Libya, Syria (6 million refugees and 600,000 fatalities), Iraq (4 million refugees and 400,000 fatalities) , Yemen (3 million refugees and 70,000 fatalities in the last two years) and Sudan (3 million refugees and 400,000 fatalities); recent civil conflicts/wars in Iran (80,000 killed during the 1978-79 revolution), Saudi Arabia (e.g., 1979-1983 in the Qatif and al-Hasa Shite-majority eastern regions), Bahrain (2011), Lebanon, Jordan (20,000 killed in 1970-71), Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria (200,000 killed from 1991-2006); Iraq-Kurdish (200,000 killed by Saddam Hussein), Iran-Kurdish, Syria-Kurdish and Turkey-Kurdish conflicts; Iraq vs. Kuwait (e.g., 1990); etc..
Inter and intra-Arab/Muslim conflicts set the pursuit of Middle East peaceful-coexistence in a realistic geo-strategic context, which has been inherently war-ridden, terroristic, subversive, one-bullet tenuous regime, tenuous policies and agreements, intolerant, violent and devoid of civil liberties.
In 2019, the Arab Tsunami – superficially defined as the Arab Spring – which erupted in 2010, is alive and kicking, posing a clear, present and lethal threat to every pro-US Arab regime.
In 2019, the more turbulent the Middle East, the less attainable is durable peaceful-coexistence, and therefore the higher the threshold for national security requirements.