Monthly Archives: July 2006

The Middle East conflict.


The ongoing conflict in the Middle East is an incredibly complex subject and one that I dont pretend to fully understand but a good starting point in trying to understand it is to examine where it all started. It dates back thousands of years to biblical times when the illegitimate first son of Abraham, Ishmael and his Arab mother Hagar, the Egyptian maid of Abraham’s wife Sarah, were banished away into the desert by the jealous Sarah.

It started when Sarah had found herself not having children, she arranged to have a child with Abraham by Hagar acting as a surrogate mother. Of course, Sarah became jealous of Hagar’s increased status in the household, became jealous and over time grew an intense dislike towards both Hagar and her son Ishmael. Sarah eventually gave birth to her own child, Isaac and after a while she insisted that Ishmael & Hager be sent away. The result was a bitter conflict between Ishmael and Isaac, who apparently did not meet again until Abraham died. Ishmael went on to have 12 sons, who became the founders of the Ishmaelite tribes that spread from Egypt to what is today Iraq. Many of the modern-day Arab peoples correctly recognize that they are the descendants of Ishmael, while the Jews, and the rest of the Israelites, are descendants of Isaac – but all are descended from Abraham. This bitter conflict between two half brothers and their descendants has continued on to the present day hateful conflict between the Arabs & the Israelis.

From the very first day Israel became an independent state, on May 14 1948, it has been under attack from it’s Arab neighbours. On that day it was the armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq that attacked Israel, The Arab nations that attacked Israel faced one major problem. There was nothing to co-ordinate their attacks. Each essentially attacked as a separate unit rather than as a combined force. However, the Israeli Army was under one single command structure and this proved to be very important. Israeli victories came on all the war fronts. As a result of their military victory, Israel was able to expand the territory given to the state by the United Nations after WW2. However, this could only be at the expense of the Arab population that lived in these areas.

Another war broke out in 1967, known as the six day war. It started when Egypt sent UN officials away from the Egyptian-Israeli border, increased its military activity near the border and blocked access of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships. Israel responded by launching a pre-emptive attack on Egypt’s airforce fearing an imminent attack by Egypt. Jordan in turn attacked the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Netanya. At the war’s end, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The results of this war affect the geopolitics of the whole region to this day.