Nationalism is a feeling of excessive pride in one’s home country. A sense of nationalism can be invoked when people feel like their region or country is being oppressed by more superior regions/countries. Regions like the Middle East have struggled with nationalism since before the 1800s with the Ottoman Empire and their fight for independence. Nationalism also plays out in the Middle East by conflicts between nation-states and various tribal, religious, or ethnic groups. According to Fareed Zakaria, author of ‘The Post-American World’, countries are depending less on the United States and are rising up not just globally but also within their own countries, which Zakaria refers to as sub-nationalism. Zakaria also fears the dangers of the rising of nationalism in that it will create less cooperation and legitimacy will be questioned because “Imposing it will not work if it is seen as the product of one country’s power and preferences, no matter how powerful that country.” With multiple countries rising, nothing will get done because everyone wants to be a superpower and become independent of countries like the United States. Examples of conflicts between nation-states and tribal, religious, or ethnic groups in the Middle East and Iraq are the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict.
Briefly summarizing these conflicts, the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 started on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Partition Resolution that would divide the former Great Britain’s Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948. Palestinian Arabs did not agree to this plan because they thought it favored the Jewish community. They did not like the fact that, under the plan, they would remain in Jewish territory. Attacks against Jewish cities, settlements, and armed forces broke out from a band of Palestinian Arabs and the Arab Liberation Army, which consisted of volunteers from Palestine and neighboring Arab countries. Their main goal was to stop the Partition Resolution. The Jewish side consisted of the Haganah, an underground militia of the Jewish community in Palestine, and the Irgun and LEHI (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) or also known as the Stern Gang. Their goal was to gain control of the territory that the resolution would allot them. On May 14, 1948 Israel declared independence and ongoing conflicts intensified with Arabs armies from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraqi Israeli joining in, with Israeli forces eventually gaining the offensive. Israel and Arab states did not reach a formal armistice agreement until February 1949.
The Kurdish-Iraqi conflict was a series of conflicts that broke out between the Kurds and the central authority of Iraq. The conflicts began after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I and lasted until the United States invasion in 2003. In 1919 Mahmud Barzanji, a Kurdish national leader, attempted secessions and by 1922 proclaimed the short-lived Kingdom of Kurdistan. The second major secession was done by Mustafa Barzani, another Kurdish nationalist leader, in 1943 which resulted in him fighters being exiled to Iran. In 1958 Mustafa returned, trying to negotiate a Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq with their new regime, but attempts ultimately failed which resulted in the First Kurdish-Iraqi War on September 11, 1961-1970. Conflicts like these create relations that are everlasting, either in a good way or a bad way, which can affect how minorities today coexist with the majority. Bad relations ultimately turn into inequality that can still be seen throughout parts of the Middle East today.
In Manfred B. Steger’s Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, he talks about how the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, less than $1.25 a day, fell in every developing region in 2005 to 2008 and that since the progress has been so drastic, the United Nations’ Millennium Goals had been met three years before the 2015 deadline. In the Middle Eastern region of the world, poverty has gone down from 6% in 1980 to 2.7% in 2008. Though poverty is very important for developing countries it is not the only source of inequality in developing regions like the Middle East. Throughout the Middle East there have been issues with gender inequality, economic inequality, racial/ethnic inequality, religious inequality, etc. When inequality problems arise conflicts like the ones summarized above happen, and governments can only focus on each problem for so long, which then causes uprisings and revolts which lead to chaotic times that the Middle East is currently involved in. So many steps can only be taken.