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Western presence in the Middle East - Essay Example

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The Western presence today is more of a continuation of these older precedents than a novel or unique circumstance. The purpose of this essay is to outline and to analyze the particular motives underlying these persistent territorial ambitions…
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Western presence in the Middle East
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Western presence in the Middle East

Download file to see previous pages... The Western presence today is more of a continuation of these older precedents than a novel or unique circumstance. The purpose of this essay is to outline and to analyze the particular motives underlying these persistent territorial ambitions.The Western presence, in different forms and by different nations representing the West, has deep roots in the Middle East and the Gulf region. To be sure, the Western presence today is more of a continuation of these older precedents than a novel or unique circumstance. The purpose of this essay is to outline and to analyze the particular motives underlying these persistent territorial ambitions. To this end, twelve motives will be presented. These motives, taken together, provide a clearer understanding of conflict in the Middle East than an analysis of any particular motive in isolation. This is because many of the motives are, to some extant, interrelated; more specifically, economic motives such as energy security, in turn, give rise to additional national security and strategic geographical considerations. The Middle East is a complex study.As a preliminary matter, it is first necessary to provide some brief geographical and historical context. There is a great deal of debate, some historically-based and some semantically-based, regarding the precise dimensions of the Middle East in both geographical and cultural terms. Such a discussion is beyond the scope of this paper; therefore, for the purposes of this essay, the Middle East will be defined to include Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In addition, it is significant to note that the modern origins of the territorial struggle can be dated to 1918. This is when "the Ottoman sultanate, the last of the great Muslim empires, was finally defeated-its capital, Constantinople, occupied, its sovereign held captive, and much of its territory partitioned between the victorious British and French Empires" (Lewis, 2001: np). As the Ottoman Empire was conquered, Turkey became a peripheral, though significant, part of the Middle East. Although Turkey did regain its independence, it did so as a secular nation rather than as a Muslim nation. This essay will focus on post-1918 events and motives.
1.1. Oil Motive
No discussion of the Middle East can take place without a reference to oil and larger issues of economics and energy security. The West is most fundamentally drawn to the Middle East in order to secure and safeguard its access to oil. Indeed, as stated by Hill & Telhami et al,
The Persian Gulf region remains central to the global oil market and will become even more vital in the future. U.S. oil imports from outside the Middle East will not change this fact. The United States and the other major oil importers -- western Europe and increasingly, as Morse and Richard note, South and East Asia -- are all part of a single, seamless oil market driven by supply and demand, and global demand for oil has risen steadily over the last several decades. Oil currently accounts for 40 percent of global energy consumption and is not anticipated to fall much below this share in the next 20 years (2002: np).
The West is dependent on the Middle East for a huge percentage of its energy needs. Significantly, there is an increasing demand for oil being driven by non-traditional countries; more precisely, both South Asia and East Asia are demanding more oil as their economies develop and grow. China and India are countries which may increase their participation in the Middle East, driven by the same motivations as the West.
1.2 Strategic Geographical Motive
In addition to oil, there are very practical geographical considerations. During the Cold War, for example, the Middle East was treated by the West and the Soviet Union as a proxy for their larger ideological and military competitions. Today, China is increasingly seen as a defender of Iran and a defender of Arab rights and self-determination. The region links continents, is possessed with major shipping routes, and is a necessary link for the transport of oil. Thus, the geographical motive refers to a strategic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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