The Middle East is politically as complex as its position on a map suggests: an addition of states with imprecise and moving borders, situated at the strategic crossing between Europe, Africa and Asia; this juxtaposition of small- and middle-range powers with no big powers is a real threat to the balance of power in the area.
Borders are one of the most significant elements of the complexity in the region, since they were set up by the West after World War I, and have from then on been constantly fought by the Middle Eastern states. The majority of these states are constituted by recently-formed states which therefore are still politically weak.
Another key factor that makes the situation in the Middle East both tense and seemingly unsolvable is that the rivalries in this region are sometimes as old as the peoples who have settled there. This is especially true for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus, for external observers, and especially for a relatively young country like the United States, which was founded on promises of a bright future forgetful of the past, the weight of historical hostilities is hard to understand.
[...] The United States seems to overlook those divisions and see only the conflicts in the Middle East in terms of Arabs against the Israelis”. This has proved to be a myth more than a reality. Between 1945 and 1956, two clear systems of alliances were opposed to one another, with Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon on the one hand, and Iraq and Jordan on the other hand. In contrast, the United Arab Republic (UAR) formed in 1958 was only constituted of Egypt and Syria, with Yemen as a confederate member, and it only lasted until 1961. [...]
[...] Israel is unquestionably considered a democracy among Western powers, and one of the reasons that pushed Truman toward a pro-Israeli position was his support of the Zionist argument according to which Israel would be a bastion of democracy in the Middle East. Yet, Israel's unjust treatment of the Palestinian minority in the occupied territories regularly provokes consternation among Western democracies. The United States thus had to reshape its views in accordance with its obsession with treaties that stated definitive plans in the Middle East and didn't consider the extreme instability in the region. [...]
[...] Therefore, the United States had to take over the role and responsibilities of Great Britain without knowing much about the region because of their past isolationism. The weight of American principles The American perplexity toward the Middle East partly resides in the fact that religion is often used as a reason or an excuse for the conflicts in the Middle East. Religion is an important dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict; this is evidenced by the fight for control over Jerusalem. [...]
[...] The first fear related to the Cold War in the Middle East was when the Soviets refused to pull out of Iran in 1946. As a matter of fact, what is recognized as the first actual step into the Cold War on the American side occurred in the Middle East, with the implementation of the Truman Doctrine in 1947, which extended economic and military aid to Turkey and Greece, threatened by Soviet domination; the following year, Iran also received an allocation from the United States. [...]
[...] Thus, misperception of the situation in the Middle East is partly due to the American subjective view in a complex global context that motivated strategic moves to rally as many Middle Eastern states as possible. Kennedy understood this well when he proposed the Public Law 480 to help Nasser's Egypt. Conclusion Thus, the general perplexity and misunderstanding of the issues and the particularities of the Middle East mislead the United States' foreign policy in a region that is already problematic on its own. The extreme complexity of the situation in the Middle East itself makes it difficult to view the outcomes at stake. [...]
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