The Nation

opinion

Smaller
Larger

Divide-and-conquer strategy in Middle East runs out of gas

"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends; you talk to your enemies," Israel's former foreign minister Moshe Dayan once said.

Ill-conceived, hazy borders, which defined Middle East national boundaries for nearly a century, have become increasingly blurred by constant turmoil, uncivil wars, sectarian bloodshed, autocratic regimes, power vacuums and leadership failures. The animosity between Shi'ites and Sunnis, the rival branches of Islam, has been stoked by wealthy powerbroker Saudi Arabia, reopening deep infected wounds and inherited cross-border hatreds. The un-neighbourly regional unrest is redefining alienated Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey, which are struggling to cope with displaced refugees.

In 1916 French and British diplomats secretly carved up the Ottoman Empire according to vested interests, creating artificial borders without adequately addressing tribal wants and needs or legitimate sectarian and ethnic demands. The current uncivil strife and social-network revolts that are boiling over have less to do with religious differences and more to do with outsider oily motive. We are playing a game of foreign domination: control, divide and conquer. Western bullyrag intervention seldom works in our quickly changing dysfunctional world order.

While all six Gulf States, the US and UK label Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organisations, millions of Palestinians depend on relief agencies to provide essential public health, disease prevention, family development and free community services. They regard much-needed assistance as welcome partners in efforts to boost global economic revenue and guarantee sane, safe security measures. For centuries Sunnis and Shi'ites, but also Christians, Jews and other religions, lived together in relative peace. Why not now? A positive "can do, will do" attitude and "just-do-it" action plan should result in an equal-rights mindset to settle grievances and negotiate a long-overdue truce.

No Holds Bard Charles Frederickson

Bangkok


Comments conditions

Users are solely responsible for their comments.We reserve the right to remove any comment and revoke posting rights for any reason withou prior notice.