Tag Archives: Middle East

American Knowledge Of Middle East— Needs Improvement!

A recent survey of the American public’s knowledge of Kuwait reveals extensive ignorance. Few understand Kuwait has elections in which women have rights and vote. The poll found 62% of Americans do not know women vote in Kuwait, 58% do not realize there are democratic elections and in a somewhat confusing pattern, 12% believe Kuwait is a “center of terrorism” while 13% believe it is “an ally of the United States.” Although Kuwait has a booming economy in which numerous American businesses are involved, only 5% of Americans believe it is a good place to do business.

The poll results are not surprising given that few Americans ever study about the Middle East or the Muslim religion in their academic career. Information about the area is gleamed from sound bites appearing on the six o’clock news that are presented by individuals who have limited knowledge themselves about topics they are discussing.

Egypt And Iran–Cooperate For Peace In Middle East?

Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Iran were broken when President Sadat of Egypt in 1979 offered refuge to the deposed Shah of Iran. Since then, the two nations have stood on the edges of the Middle East as hostile forces, one leaning closely to the United States while the other detests America. Mohamed Sadek Al-Husseini, Secretary General of the Iranian Egyptian Friendship Association, believes the two nations can play important roles in fostering peace in the Middle East. At present, Iran and the US are in an angry confrontation mode while Egypt is a member of the “6+2+1″ group composed of six members from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt and Iran, and the United States whose goal is containing Iranian influence within the region. “Al Husseini points out that Egypt and Iran “are very influential countries. If Egypt and Iran were to work together to address hot spots of contention in the Arab-Muslim region, much can be done.”

Egypt presently has been opposed to the idea of an American attack on Iran and defends Iran’s right to peaceful use of atomic energy. Resumption of Egyptian-Iranian relations might provide an important voice assisting Iran to rethink its hostility towards working with the UN to ensure its atomic energy program is geared toward peaceful rather than aggressive purposes. It might benefit America and the region if Egypt were to assume a more forceful and significant role in dealing with regional issues. Step one in working toward that end is restoring relations between the two nations.

Kuwait To Deport “Runaways”

The Kuwait Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is preparing to take action against runaway domestic laborers. Nearly 1,200 domestic laborers are presently sheltered in embassies, deportation prisons, and domestic labor shelters. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department issued a report blacklisting Kuwait for trading in human beings.

The Middle East, which the Bush administration claims is a bastion in our fight for democracy, is among the most notorious centers of human abuse in the world. Thousands of immigrant workers have been brought into these countries where they are subject to beatings, rape, and even being killed without much concern on the part of governments. The “runaways” are being punished for escaping brutality rather than having action taken against those inflicting brutal actions against them. There have been many reported cases of suicides, particularly on the part of young women who frequently are beaten or sexually abused by employers. It is quite clear victims will be persecuted while victimizers will be ignored.

Turkey Seeks Regional Stabilization

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, is visiting Israel as part of an effort to achieve some form of regional stabilization. Turkey has maintain good relations both with Israel and Arab nations which enables it to serve as a mediating force in the Middle East. Turkey, also, has its own reasons for maintaining peace. Ten percent of its population is of Kurdish descent which creates extensive sympathy for the new Kurdish nation. Kurdish rebels continue attacking Turkish forces and then retreating back into Iraq.

President Bush has failed to draw upon Turkey as an active player in the effort to achieve stable conditions in the Middle East. It is led by a Muslim government which endeavors to satisfy secular groups within the nation and its military for years has been close to Israel. Perhaps, if Condi Rice would spend more time interacting with Turkish leaders, it might be possible for that nation to assist in dealing with radical groups such as Hizbullah.

Syrian President Bashar Assad Won’t Retaliate

Bashar Assad, president of Syria claimed the recent Israeli air attack on his nation only resulted in damage to a deserted building. He argued Syria had he right to retaliate, but would not take advantage of that right because his nation seeks peace with Israel. Assad also noted Syria might attend the upcoming American sponsored Middle Eastern conference if there was a real possibility of dealing with substantive issues like the Golan Heights.

President Assad runs a right dictatorship in Syria, but he also may well have pragmatic needs for his nation. Return of the Golan Heights is a symbolic issue for his people and his willingness to discuss peace with Israel if he can secure its return is a healthy indication peace is possible. It is ironic that Assad, the dictator, is discussing issues of peace while a democratic Israel is discussing needs for war.