Oil. That is what the modern Middle Eastern geopolitics have usually been about. Given the vast energy resources that form the backbone of western economies, influence and involvement in the Middle East has been of paramount importance for the former and current imperial and super powers, including France, Britain, USA and the former Soviet Union.
Map of the Middle East
Source: World Atlas
Prior to the discovery of oil, the region had been a hotbed for religious conflict and wars over other rich resources and land. The declining Ottoman Empire paved way for the rising European imperial and colonial powers interested in securing various territories and controlling access to Asia. In more recent times, interest in the region has been due to the energy resources there.
As a result, for centuries, western populations have been acclimatized to a type of propaganda and vilification of the Arab and other people of the Middle East, and of Islam in general. This was especially so during the European colonial times, as so vividly examined by Edward Said, in his well-respected book, Orientalism. This negative stereotyping has served to provide justifications for involvement and to ensure “stability” for the “national interests” of the powers that want to be involved in the region.
This cultural stereotyping and racism has occurred in the modern times too. Often, especially in the 1980s, war films depicting an Arab or Islamic group as the bad guys were common place, sometimes reflecting prevailing turmoils at the time. Even in the 1990s, those ideas continued, where the bad guy was often a despotic Arab from one of the “rogue states” and as a result of the terrorist attacks against the US in September 11, 2001 and the resulting “War on terror”, such imagery is likely to continue. Over such a long time then, such boundaries of discourse about the Middle East have already been framed. To overstep those boundaries is to be labeled anti-Semitic,... [continues]
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