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Understanding Middle East Instability: An Essay Sample

In the Middle East, historical conflicts have covered the neighboring Arab Nations. These countries have always engaged in bitter conflicts, which have attracted the intervention of other countries, with the US taking the lead. The northern African Arabs have always enjoyed closer relations with the Iranian government because of limited historical connections.

Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran and Lebanon have always worked for positive relations. When the Islamic Republic was formed, Iran’s revolutionary elite and Ayatollah Khomeini started reaching out to the Shi’a community in Lebanon. In addition, offered financial and spiritual support. The mutual relationship between Iran and Lebanon expanded significantly in 1982 when 1,000 members were deployed in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (Cleveland 46). This was done in the Bekka Valley in reaction to the Israeli incursion of Lebanon. They also provided military training to Shi’ite Lebanese militias and were the reason behind the initiation of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is believed to have organized and carried out numerous terrorist attacks on American interests abroad.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded in 1979 under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. Anciently, the nation was called Persia, but this was changed to Iran in 1935. Iran became under military rule in 1942, which the United States did as they tried to maintain control of petroleum production. The military forces were withdrawn after an agreement to allow Iran to remain independent. Eventually, through an Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran could change its system of government. The Revolutionary government was protected by the military, whose main role was to get rid of all opposition.

In Iran, the relationship between the civil authority and the military authority was peaceful since some of the military personnel were also in the government. In addition, the military had a say in how the civil authorities carried out their economic and political duties in national development. The armed forces were well organized in three different ranks, all of which had leaders and were run in different ways, each with its mission. Despite that, they still worked together as the armed forces whose role was to maintain peace and order.

As Iran maintained producing its weaponry, it threatened the United States, leading to hostility. By producing its weapons, Iran was considered dangerous, thus discouraging international business transactions with other states. This was made harder by the United States, who devised a policy that nations should choose to do business with either them or Iran. Automatically, other nations chose the United States, leading to Iran’s bankruptcy. This was a risky policy since the economy of Iran being affected meant that the people’s living standards would be low, thus without development.

Despite this, Iran could grow economically without other nations’ help. The nation learned to be self-reliant and improved its economy. Since it deals with oil production, this sector was made broader, and it became successful due to the world’s reliance on oil as a source of energy. In addition to that, since the nation relied on its production of nuclear weapons, the budget of the Republic of Iran had limited attention to funding the military. Production of its weaponry has made it a threat to other nations, and facing accusations of wanting to stage a nuclear war (Daniel 49).

Due to the missions undertaken by the armed forces, mainly the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, a public image created was dictatorial. This meant that the military could manipulate the president in decision-making despite being under the president. An example is the student protests in 1999. It was stopped by the military and other actions taken by Mohammad Khatami, president. After the protests were quelled, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps addressed a letter to the president, which was believed to imply that if the president could not take action against the students, then the armed forces would do it. This portrayed that they felt superior to the head of state. The overall impact of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) on the government’s political role is that it poses a threat to those in power since it participates largely in political issues. This threatened their role in government since it would be overshadowed by the military and eventually replaced.

Iran’s military coup took place in the year 2009. A coup d’état is a situation where a group of people or an organization tries to take over the government or overthrow it. This was done during the presidential elections when Mahmud Ahmadinejad was elected president. This coup was made possible by Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, who declared Mahmud as president. After this coup, there was a national riot, with people disagreeing with the results of the elections. The likelihood of Mahmud becoming president was doubtful. The Iranians did not love him, and few people voted for him.

The military stopped this unrest, and no complaints were brought forward for consideration. The military did this because their loyalty lies with the government, and they could not ignore their role. This shows the extent of the civil authorities’ power over the military. Despite being turned against by a big percentage of the civilians, the government was able to contain the situation. This shows the amount of power that the military has over the civilians besides the civil authority.

Civil War in Lebanon (1975 – 1990)

Lebanon has had a history of wars and conflicts, with the last civil war lasting 15 years. The fight was initially between the Muslim alliance, left-wing groups, and the large Maronite Christian force (Balance, 32). This war attracted intervention from neighboring states, i.e., the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which worsened the situation. Israel attacked Lebanon in 1980, intending to fight the Palestinian group. This eventually established a friendly government in Israel. This concluded with the killing of Bashir Gemayel as he became president.

Israeli forces stayed in Lebanon until 2000, when Hezbollah attacked them. Besides, Lebanon was under the occupation of Syrian army occupied Lebanon from 1978 to 2005 following the murder of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri (Ballance, 56). Lebanon is known to be a haven for other forces and nations. The Palestinian faction used Lebanon as the operating point to attack Israel. Syria, Iran and A use Lebanon as a battleground for their interests and to defend their country. For Israel, the South Lebanon Army was also a Lebanese militia during the Civil War in Lebanon, which split.

The fighting widened throughout the country, especially in the capital of Beirut, which was predominantly devastated. As the war intensified, intra-group hostility emerged, which increased the death toll (Ballance, 68). The civil war that lasted for 15 years killed about 150,000 people, almost 5% of Lebanon’s population, up to 1990.

Kurdistan War within the Iraqi State

Kurdistan is predominant in a territory ellipse overlapping Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, and the former Soviet Union. Consequently, the Kurds have destabilized Iraq’s peace and security for a long time and are likely to continue using their military prowess to disrupt any state that denies them adequate space to breathe while strengthening those that do (Binder 21). There is no independent Kurdish state in existence, although there was an attempt to make her independent sovereignty towards the end of World War II, with some Kurds currently enjoying a considerable measure of independence in several territories patrolled by United Nations militia in northern Iraq. This manning of Iraqi territories to protect Kurds from Iraqi attacks has an element of humanitarianism and goodwill on the one hand and yet an aspect of bullying implicated upon Iraq by forcing them to allow the grabbing of their state-owned territory by the Kurds who are not Iraqi nationals (Miller 16).

In the 1960s, Mustafa Barzani, the famous leader of the Iraqi Kurds, managed to gain significant success in maintaining de facto independence for the Kurds for many years (Miller 21). In 1970, this leader entered a negotiation with the Baathist Iraqi government headed by Saddam Hussein, leading to the promise of full autonomy for those Iraqi Kurds he led, leading to the eventual resolution of the problem of the settlement of Kurds in Iraq.

Despite the above negotiation, neither side trusted the other with the implementation of the provisions of their agreements. This eventually led to the reemergence of fighting again in 1974, finally leading to Barzani being defeated. Over the years, the broken March 1970 Manifesto has been referred to continuously to guide settlement negotiations in recent years (Miller 18). By way of example, it was considered the primary basis of the 1991 negotiations following the uprising between Iraqis and the Kurds.

After the Gulf War between Iraqis and Kurds in 1991, and the consequent failure to contain the uprising of the Kurds and the mass movement of Kurdish refugees to the borders and mountains of Turkey and Iran, the United States had to launch Operation Provide Comfort (OPC) to create safe havens for the Kurdish refugees (Miller 22). The US also maintained a no-fly policy to facilitate the return of the refugees to their homes by protecting them from further attacks by the Iraqi military (Binder 61).

This protection of the Kurds by the United States was reinforced by even more protection from the United Nations Security Council, which ordered the immediate cessation of the repression against the Kurds. This led to the emergence of the de facto Kurdish state, then known as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that even went ahead to hold elections in May, leading to the establishment of the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament that eventually declared the KRG a federal state in the future post-Saddam Iraq in October 1992.

Interestingly, the Kurdish Regional Government eventually prospered despite the hostility of their neighbors who feared that the just-formed Kurdish state in northern Iraq would hold demonstrations to incite the other Kurds in the surrounding states, leading to civil war (Miller 29).

Due to the disappointing blunders made by Saddam Hussein in taking upon himself the alliance led by the United States in the Gulf Wars of 1991 and later in 2003, a de facto Kurdish state emerged (Binder 68). This state was protected by the United States and supported by receiving 13 percent of the Iraqi revenue. The revenue was purely from oil sales as directed by the United Nations until the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Despite the goodwill of the move by the US and UN, forcing Iraq to accept Kurdistan as an independent and sovereign state within Iraq adds up to an infringement of its sovereignty privileges of Iraq.

In conclusion, the discussions above have addressed the political and military moves of the various players in the ever-unstable political environment of the Middle East. Concerning the de facto independence of Kurdistan as a state within Iraq, it is necessary to note that the fact that the Kurds occupy the Northern region of Iraq in addition to portions of other surrounding states, the cat that the Kurds are not legitimate citizens of Iraq deems their constant moves to declare themselves an independent state on Iraqi soil unlawful.

📎 References:

1. Ballance, Edgar. The civil war in Lebanon, 1975-92. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. Print.
2. Binder, Leonard. Ethnic conflict and international politics in the Middle East. University Press of Florida, 1999.
3. Cleveland, William L. A history of the modern Middle East. 3rd ed. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2004. Print.
4. Miller, Stephen. “The Kurds: Their effect on the attempt to democratize Iraq.” The Coming Anarchy, 16-30. Retrieved on February 18, 2011.
5. Connor, David Hebditch & Ken. How to stage a military coup: from planning to execution. Greenhill, 2005.
6. Daniel, Elton L. The History of Iran. ABC-CLIO, 2012.
7. LLC, General Books. Civil-Military Relations: Military Fiat, Military Dictatorship, Civilian Control of the Military, Coup D’état. General Books LLC, 2010.
8. Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003. Print.