No. 33




Islamic impasse in Middle East

08 June 2016


RiTo No. 33, 2016

For several years, Middle Eastern Islamic states have been in the grips of a devastating war, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and forced millions of men, women and children to flee their homes. Last year, the conflict reached Europe in the shape of 1.3 million illegal immigrants, and Islamic State terrorists.

To understand what is going on, we should look at the events that have caused this 21st century plague, which has already infected the majority of the Islamic countries and is forcefully making its way into Europe.

The time bomb that had been ticking away in the Syrian government and political system has ancient and deep religious roots. Centuries ago, Islam split. This lead to the development of its two largest competing branches – Sunnitism and Shi’ism – and to an internal strife. The conflict between the two main branches of Islam was an important factor contributing to the foundation of the radical Islamic State. The terrorist organisation that designates itself as the Islamic State poses a threat not only to the traditional Islam but also to other nations and religions.

Since last spring, Moscow had been observing with an increasing concern the civil war that was gathering momentum in its only Mediterranean ally. By summer, it had become clear that after the intervention of the Islamic State and its massive conquests in Syria, the position of the government forces had gravely deteriorated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin calculated that opening a new frontier in Syria – the fourth of his term – would enable him to save the regime of his trusted and only Middle Eastern ally President Assad, maintain Russian military bases and thus Russian presence in the strategically important Mediterranean region, direct attention away from the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine that Moscow has frozen, become a powerful partner of the Western coalition active in the Middle East, and an important player in the fight against the Islamic State. The Russian dictator took quite a significant risk in starting this new military campaign.

More and more experts think that the Islamic State is here to stay and must be taken seriously. Seeing that it is posing a threat not only to the traditional Islam but also to other religions, particularly Christianity, experts propose a way out by joining the efforts of all the confessions to fight the radicalisation of the youth. It is extremely important to neutralise the main argument of the Islamic State as quickly as possible: the theory of justice and injustice that the terrorists are exploiting.

Full article in Estonian