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Middle East 3-Pack

Program #MAKU001-GIAC002-ARIA001.

3 CDS

Ussama Makdisi - Sectarianism in the Middle East

The corporate media have trouble with nuance and complexity. They like things black and white, good and bad. In their simplistic reporting, history and context are, if at all, fleetingly referred to. Take the Shia-Sunni divide in Islam. It is routinely described as an ancient feud between two factions competing for supremacy among Muslims. What is ignored in such formulations is the role of British, French and Italian imperialism in the Middle East and more recently the United States. Following classic divide and rule strategies the Europeans and then the Americans sliced and diced the peoples of the region, created borders and even states where none existed. All marinated in a stew of racism about what is best for the natives. No discussion of sectarianism can be separated from the catastrophic U.S. invasion of Iraq, which excited tensions between Shias and Sunnis in the Middle East.

Chris Giannou - Understanding the Middle East

Large parts of the Middle East today are engulfed in violence. Why? What historical factors shape the current conflicts? Take Iraq for example, a country in chaos. The U.S. has been intervening in Iraq non-stop for decades. What has it produced? Sectarianism and strife. Death and destruction. Actual U.S. policy in the Middle East is buried in a blizzard of propaganda about democracy and human rights while in practice Washington backs feudal and repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Emirates as well as dictatorships like Egypt. Justification for U.S. military bases, invasions and occupations are cloaked in the garb of altruism and noble intent. It’s always been that way for imperial powers. A moronic media never questions Washington’s self-professed motives. Thus, most people are ignorant about what is going on. It doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Abdullah Al-Arian - Inside the Middle East

Antonio Gramsci, the great Italian Marxist said, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” That certainly seems to describe the Middle East today. Lots of morbid symptoms. After a series of uprisings, the so-called Arab Spring, the region has spun into a deadly spiral. Just sample these headlines, all from the same day: Libya: Islamist Militia Fighters Clash with Troops; Egypt: Bomb Kills 2 in Army Vehicle; Turkey: Boy Accused of Insulting President is Arrested; West Bank: Firebomb Seriously Wounds an Israeli Girl; Jordan: Threatens ISIS with Grave Consequences. And the horror that is Syria and the decade-long catastrophe that is Iraq continue unabated. The scope and scale of instability and violence has no recent precedent. Why is it happening?

Speaker(s):

Ussama Makdisi

Ussama Makdisi is Professor of History and the first holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University. He is the author of Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations and The Culture of Sectarianism.

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