First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations.
Diversity in our region creates certain dynamics that are simply too complex to be tackled through some facile generalizations. In this regard, and while Arabs across the region and the world seem to stand in solidarity with Hezbollah, the Bedouins in Israel seem to have a different opinion on this matter. Indeed, the Bedouins seem to “bitterly resent Hezbollah,” since of its Katyusha rockets tend to fall at them. Also, and contrary to how many Arabs feel with regard to the US, the Bedouins of Israel “don’t think the U.S. is engaged in a war against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere. They think Arab anger around the world can be laid at the feet of dictators who spread misinformation to distract people from inept rule.”
Conversely, many members of the Coptic community in Egypt seem to sympathize with Hezbollah and its cause. According to Bishop Rafic Gris, the spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, “[a]ll Arabs must be proud of Hizbullah’s gallantry.”
On the other hand, events in Iraq have shown that while one part of the country could lie in shambles, another could be considered as an “example of success.” In this regards, the Intelligencer wonders in reference to Iraqi Kurdistan: “Did you know there is a vast region of Iraq where no U.S. troops have been killed, enemy terrorist activity has been negligible, there are few U.S. troops deployed, it is safe for Westerners to walk the streets, new business investment is taking off and there is a stable, democratic government providing more than adequately for the regions security?”
Although, one has to note here the seriousness of the growing linguistic divide separating the Kurds form the rest of the Iraqi population.
A somewhat similar situation might be observed in Thailand. For while the southern parts of the country continue to witness an Islamic insurrection fueled in part by the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, Muslim communities in the northern parts of the country, which have a different ethnic and national mix than their southern co-religionists, seem to be well-integrated with the rest of the population.
For their part, the Turkmen of Afghanistan are still having integration problems in the post-Taliban political system, adding another layer of complexity to the fragile situation in the country.
The problems of the Indonesian province of Aceh, on the other hand, have been further complicated when the provincial government adopted Sharia Law as the official law of the land. Indeed, this article in NY Times notes: “[a]cross this most religious of Indonesia’s provinces, brown uniformed policemen in black wagons enforce Shariah, or Islamic law. They haul unmarried couples into precincts and arrest people for drinking or gambling. Increasingly, many of the cases are pushed to the ultimate conclusion, public canings at mosques in front of pumped-up crowds.”
So, and as the region continues to struggle with the problems emanating from its diversity, its ongoing identity crisis, the aftershocks of the introduction of modernity into its folds, and fro deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and foreign dabbling, turmoil rather than wealth is the only thing that the region seems to be capable of generating at this stage. How long this will last depends heavily on the ability of the various peoples of the region to develop more pragmatic approaches to governance, development and “national priorities.” Indeed, a long-term vision for the development of the region, coupled with the necessary political will, is needed in order to prevent its continuing implosion.