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Understanding Conflict in the Middle East

Updated on September 25, 2014

The Middle East

Map of the Middle East
Map of the Middle East | Source

The Concept of Understanding

I wanted to understand the seemingly endless conflict in the Middle East. Mainstream news only confused me with terminology I didn’t understand. Writing about something I don’t understand has always been a great way for me to learn and the concept is simple enough. I choose a topic, do the research, and write about what I have learned. The result is an informative and well organized article that provides clear and concise answers for the reader. Yeah, it sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?

It has always worked for me until now. After countless hours of researching my subject, I am as much in the dark as when I started. Read on and I think you’ll understand how I came to understand what I didn't expect to learn while researching the conflict in the Middle East.


Each day I turn on the news and I hear report after report about the conflict in the Middle East. I hear the names of geographical regions for which I have no visual recall. I hear about:

  • Qatar
  • Egypt
  • Libya
  • Chad
  • South Sudan
  • Yemen

  • Syria
  • Afghanistan
  • Somalia
  • Pakistan
  • Iran
  • Iraq

The list goes on an on. After thirteen years of war in Iraq, I finally have a basic understanding of the relationship of these areas on the map but little else about the individual areas.

Ethnic Groups

Buried in those same broadcasts are the names of ethnic groups that I don’t understand. I hear words such as”

  • Arabs and Kurds
  • Pashtuns and Jews
  • Tats and,Assyrians
  • Armenians, and Turks

And again, the list goes on and on and my understanding of the individual groups could fit on the head of a straight pin.

Extreme Militant Groups

Dominating the news are the names of militant groups in the Middle East. It was my understanding that we sent our troops to Iran to fight Al Qaeda. So what is the Taliban and what is I.S.I.S and I.S.I.L.? Who are the Hamas and Hezbollah? Are these all considered Islamic Jihadist and, what does that mean?

Look Back To When It All Began

When I woke up on the morning of September 12, 2001, I knew without doubt that the good old United States of America was going to kick someone’s butt for the horror we experienced just hours earlier on what would come to be known as 911. None of us would ever forget where we were when we heard that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one in a field in Shanksville, PA. No, we will always remember.

The Cost of the Conflict in the Middle East

Over the next thirteen years, I understood that we were at war with Iraq and that Al Qaeda was responsible for the worst event of my lifetime to occur on U.S. soil. In time I understood that some idiot named Osama bin Laden, was the mastermind and that he had to die. As much as I hated to see our troops sent to the Middle East, I understood and was grateful that we had the power and skills to execute such an operation. As time went on, my understanding would diminish in bits and pieces. Once Osama bin Laden was killed in his compound, I wanted our men and women to come home. In my opinion, the problems in the Middle East weren’t our problem any more.

For thirteen years our troops endured repeated deployments. Many left their families struggling just to make ends meet while one or both parents were fighting a war that most of us thought couldn’t be won. Our military and civilian hospitals began to fill up with soldiers who had traumatic head injuries, lost limbs, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As of September 8, 2014, the Department of Defense reports that here have been 6,684 military deaths as a result of the war in Iraq. They report that 52.224 have been wounded. So much pain and suffering and Al Qaeda is alive and well and, the least of our worries.


The years have gone by and our troops were finally coming home. The end was in sight. But there is no shortage of hatred and violence in the Middle East. Over the course of thirteen years I have come to understand that Iran and Iraq sit side by side on a map and that Afghanistan and Pakistan are their neighbors to the East. I now know that Saudi Arabia is on their southern border and Egypt and Libya are neighbors to the West. I understand that oil rich land and greed are in large part responsible for the greed and hostility between countries in the Middle East. And, I understand that it is a primary interest for the United States as well. I understand it but I don’t have to like it.

I had intended to research all the ethnic and militant groups in the Middle East. I thought it would help me understand why there is so much hatred and violence in an area so rich in resources. I was naïve, perhaps teetering on ignorant to think it could be done. I quickly learned that among all the groups, there are more similarities than differences but as minuscule as their differences are, they are the obstacles to bringing peace to the Middle East. The differences are rooted in religion, ideology, tradition, folklore, and class. There are no simple solutions for ending the conflict among such a diverse group of people and philosophies.

What I Learned From My Research on the Conflict in the Middle East

My original outline for this article included a discussion on what I had learned about the militant groups in the Middle East. I have changed my mind. I will not justify their existence by giving them more attention. I cannot wrap my brain around their lack of conscience and total disregard for human life and so I choose not to pursue my understanding of them. Instead, I will remind myself that there are good people in the Middle East who are living a nightmare at the hands of their own. Our men and women of the Armed Forces have sacrificed so much in an attempt to train soldiers to defend the rights of those good people to live in peace. Sadly, after all these years, they appear unable to do so. Enough is enough. It’s time to bring them home and let the will of the people prevail in the Middle East.

My project here is not a complete failure. Although I cannot understand the conflict in the Middle East but this I do know. When the people are divided, chaos and tragedy are the result. Perhaps we, as citizens of the greatest country in the world, should pay attention to that and learn the lesson before it is too late.

Article Resources

© 2014 Linda Crist


Submit a Comment

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Paula, you are more than generous with your compliment. Thank you so much! I really wanted this to be an informative piece. The more I researched, the more I realized that you can't explain the Middle East in an article. If I did nothing else, I hope that I made it clear that you cannot generalize the nature of people by country or religion. There is so much more to consider. Not all Muslims want to rid the world of Non-Muslims. Like you, I will continue with my attempt in understanding but honestly, I don't think I can wrap my brain around so much history and hated. When you finish that book, maybe you can help me. lol Thank you for your support and encouragement. You are3 precious.

  • fpherj48 profile image


    4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Linda....Like you, I have a need to attempt to "understand" all the insanity. While browsing a store, I came upon a table of discounted books. One of them was "The Middle East for Dummies."

    I have only just read parts, until I have the time to sit and read with focus & a highliter. But, already I can see this was the best 5 bucks I've ever order to achieve my goal of understanding the Middle East.

    You did a wonderful job of researching and I thank you for sharing all that you learned. Honestly girlfriend.....I came to the realization a while back that the Middle East will never be fully comprehended by us. Our cultures, beliefs, entire way of life are as conflicted as possible. The major and fatal difference being....."THEY" fully intend to rid the world of Infidels.......any and all Non-Muslims.

    Bless you. Sending hugs.....Great piece of work, Linda...Up+++

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Randi!!! It's been a while so I'm happy to hear from you. Thank you for the visit and for being as "in the dark" as I am. I no longer feel so alone. lol What a mess it all is and is only going to get worse, I am afraid.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Kathryn, thank you for the read. I tried, really tried to understand it all. I cannot see any reason for all the horror except....greed and power. I think I did not really do justice to that in this hub b. The point that I hoped people would get is that what we are witnessing in the Middle Ease is a result of a divided people. Here in our own country we are starting down that same path. That is what really terrifies me. That said, I certainly agree that we need to bring out troops home. The day will come when we need them here to protect "us". Where will they be? Thanks again for the visit. I will seek out your article on the subject later in the day.

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 

    4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    Like you, I am still trying to understand and wrap my head around all this conflict. Like you, I have never understood the who, what, where of it. Thank you for this explanatory, easy to understand ( even what we can't understand!) Do much horror in this world. I agree, we need to pull out troops out. So many damaged young men and women. Thank you for writing this! Up+

  • Kathleen Cochran profile image

    Kathleen Cochran 

    4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    I've written on this subject as well and come to similar conclusions. " I will remind myself that there are good people in the Middle East who are living a nightmare at the hands of their own. Our men and women of the Armed Forces have sacrificed so much in an attempt to train soldiers to defend the rights of those good people to live in peace. Sadly, after all these years, they appear unable to do so. Enough is enough. It’s time to bring them home and let the will of the people prevail in the Middle East."

    Our blood and treasure gave them a chance. Now it is up to them. We should only be involved to the extent that we must protect ourselves. That's defense. Offense is not to let them change how we live our lives.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi teaches12345. Thanks for the visit. I agree with you. We can keep hoping and praying, can't we?

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    4 years ago

    If we could only all get along what a better world we would have for all mankind. I'm only wish they could discuss their similarities, perhaps it would force them to see how they could bring peace to their nations.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, you know I agree with you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hope you are doing well. I need to catch up on reading your work soon.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, I agree. Our troops should come home. Let those countries fight their own battles. If we keep sticking our noses into other countries business, they're gonna get pissed off and we may have another catastrophe on our own soil. We can't change the way those people think and we have no right to try. Bring our troops home and take care of the issues we have right here in America.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, if wishes wee only answered prophecy. I wish, I wish, I wish. The future is a mystery but I don't believe we have seen our last tragedy on American soil. And if our enemies weren't enough of a threat, now we are turning against each other and that really frightens me. Thank God I am surrounded by so many good people. Thanks for stopping by. It is always good to hear from you.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Interesting piece here and I hope we all wish that we could just leave the area and find peace for ourselves. I would love to believe they will not export it here if we just leave them alone.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jackie, thank you. I agree that the recent murders are horrible and that we should stand strong against those who are responsible. What saddens me is that there are other factions who pop up and commit more heinous acts than the last. There is just no end to the amount of hatred bred in that part of the world. I appreciate your voice here.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dr Billy Kidd, thank you for taking the time to read my article and leave such an informative and thoughtful comment. The lack of respect for women is a sore subject with me I didn't get into it because I was sure I would come off as ranting. I would prefer to write a more refined article on that subject alone one day. Thank you for shining the light on it. I hope that my message regarding our own country doesn't get lost here. We are becoming a divided nation and it makes us weak. Thanks again!

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Not meaning to seem mean; Linda, but I kind of felt like you and Bill until they did what they did to our two men and now I think we should stand as strong as we use to and wipe them off the face of the earth as quickly as possible. It is not just those two men as you said but all those of 9/11 and the ones they plan on killing. We use to be strong and we have helped many other countries with our strength and it has always been for good such as finally after millions killed getting Hitler. With these people we may as well face it; it is kill or be killed and I would like to make a long story short. We can do it if we want to and save much blood shed.

    Thanks for the chance to speak my mind.

  • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

    Dr Billy Kidd 

    4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Nice exploration you have started.

    In my part of the world, after 9/11 a friend told me that the U.S. should stay out of the Middle East. He said that bin Laden's grudge was that the U.S. had occupied Saudi Arabia, the country that Mohammad said must be defended from the non-believers.

    And indeed, the U.S. had the biggest air base in that part of the world, not all that far from Mecca--flying time-wise. Bin Laden got what he wanted when Bush immediately pulled the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia. After all, Bush wanted to create a reason to attack Iraq to get the oil for his Texas buddies. That's been documented. But like most important facts, that doesn't make the U.S. news--accept maybe on MSMBC and, of course, the press in other countries.

    The biggest fight, my friend said, was created by the fact that these are all tribal-ruled areas. So the male elders make the decisions in their own interest. ISIS has now taken that to the extreme. Their group believes that you kill all who are in the homeland of Mohammad who do not believe in their type of Islam. And that includes men getting as many wives as their fighting prowess deserves. So women are the prize to the Islamic State warriors. That's tribal thinking at its worst.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks Bill. I get it. At least I get the big picture. It's about oil and $$'s. Beyond that, it's just too old and complicated for this simpleton. Like you, I think we should let them figure it out and watch them evaporate. But it ain't gonna happen, is it? Thanks for the visit Kindred. I always appreciate your presence both here and in my lif.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I don't get it, Kindred, but I also don't get our insistence in being involved. Oh, I understand the economics of it. We rarely get involved in conflicts unless we can make a buck...and if that seems cynical then so be it. I would love us, as a country, to just say "to hell with it" and leave these countries to battle it out among themselves. We'll deal with whoever is left standing.

    Unrealistic, but I'm damned tired of it all.

    Great reflections my friend.


  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Miz B - I love you so much. You tell it like it is. I laughed when I finished this one and thought - "what a waste of my good time". I doubt this one will get more than a dozen views, if that. I really did want to learn about the various factions but once I started, it just all got so damned complicated and I realized exactly what you stated. This crap is ancient history. It hasn't changed since the days of Abraham and for all the reasons you stated. I was reminded of the wise words of my Mom. "You can't find logic where there is none."

    I made some choices while writing though and that made me feel powerful. I chose not to shed light on the militants. It probably won't keep me off of someone's list but I won't stroke their egos.

    Oh well, I wanted to write today and this one was just off balance from the beginning. It's done and I don't even care if it doesn't have a life on HP.

    I'm good Miz B. Hope you and the Mr are too. I see you're back on the notification list. It makes my day brighter to hear from you. I care about you too. Hugs!

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 

    4 years ago from Beautiful South

    Dear Girlfriend, I understand your chagrin and confusion. Congratulations on at least attempting to do an analysis on something that can’t be logically analyzed. I do know a couple of things, and that is the average U.S. citizen doesn’t give a tinker’s dam about the Middle East unless they blow up something in this country under our noses, despite the constant rah-rah in the media. I wrote on how Bin Laden’s death affected us as Americans, hoping to get a good discussion going, but it drew less than a half dozen comments and now has been retired by HP, so good luck with your hub.

    The other thing I know is that these people have been at it since at least the time of Abraham, and they live and die for their grudges. I really can’t be too sympathetic to the “good” people of the Middle East because they have grown up in this atmosphere and have done nothing to alleviate or mitigate their own situation. These so-called “innocent people” have raised these militant sons, and even daughters, so they are responsible. The bible speaks of children killing their parents and it is happening. Personally, I believe it is because there is no gentle hand of motherhood to bring the sons up right. Their religion and customs teach the sons not to respect women and if the women do not demand respect, there should be some of the blame placed on them. I admire the minuscule few women who are beginning to bravely take a stand.

    Now they are infiltrating this country and getting our own young men to join them. If we strong women don’t stop it here, we will be doomed, and it will be our own fault.

    So, back to my first paragraph: I have seen a couple of good hubs on militant Islam that are finally starting to get attention even if mine didn’t. I think we need to keep plugging along. As writers, hopefully we can use the proverbial pen to protect ourselves.

    I hope you are doing well. It is good to see you publish again. I truly care about you, my lovely friend. Voted up++


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