The Middle East After 10 Years of Peace

A Final Project for the YaLa Peace Institute: “What is your vision of the MENA region in the year 2025 (if peace were to be established today) building on what you have learned from the YaLa Peace Institute?”

by Joaquina Menedez Behety (Argentina)

In The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington stated that state-nations would continue to be the most powerful players in the international scene, and that main conflicts in global politics would occur between nations and group of nations belonging to different civilizations. More over, the clash of civilizations would dominate global politics and, in times to come, discrepancies between civilizations will become the battle front of the future.

Instead, Reza Aslan, in his books, establishes the reactionary response to the Arab Spring, and the evolution in the way to live Islam in contemporary times as well, not as a fight between Occident and Orient, but a war that is being forged within Islam itself. A clash that is derived by the evolution of Islam, and that it is being fought in the core of the religion. It is caused by a division in the belief of how Islam can coexist with modern times.

There is a current that leads to a possible modernization of Islam, and revisionism of its law, the Sharia, and of its legitimacy in shaping everyday life. On the opposite spectrum, and as a response, there is another current that pressures the religion towards an orthodox extremism. As Aslan illustrates in its book, it is an occurrence that has happened before, with Catholicism in the XIV century, with reformism that resulted in most of Christian Protestantism.

What is in great interest in this theory to me is that I see it as a proper way to see the conflicts that are ravaging the region. At the same time, I find that it gives a hopeful message of the future, not only in the Middle East, with a possible peace process and resolution of the current civil wars, but a possible future peaceful coexistence of Muslim people living in the West. In seeing that the problem is not to be found in a contraposition of beliefs, but that it is the result of a crossroad in Islam itself, in which the same Muslim youth the ones claiming a revision in the way they live their own religion, and that the conflict comes from the current that, in fear of progress and evolution, won’t allow them to move forward, so it becomes extreme from its own origins.

A future full of hope is where I see Middle East in 10 years. I see a religion that will go through a process in which it will evolve but not Westernize, and instead will be adapted by its own culture.

On the other hand, concerning the leading minority, in 10 years I can only conceive peace as a result of many-sided peace treaties, as well as broad cooperation in the region in the areas of defense and economy. I see an economical process in which the different countries within the area learn that depending on each other is the only path to thrive as a region and the biggest step in an economical advance. This would also decrease the room for confrontation, as each country would have much to lose with the use of violence. As economical growth can only happen in a region that does not tolerate violence, in which the governments will help each other to be the rightful owners of the power of physical coercion inside their frontiers. Its an essential step, as there cannot be trust between the so-called “failed states” (states that do not hold the monopoly in the use of force), as they aren’t capable of guaranteeing the ability to hold a long-term peace process – which is key in a cooperation based region. It is also essential to eliminate the danger of guerilla movements and their international politics.

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