Stability is threatened as British public misunderstand the Arab world

Crisis in the Middle-East

A poll has been conducted to examine what the British public think about the Arab world. The poll was conducted by Arab News, YouGov and the Council for Arab and British Understanding (CAABU). The results of this poll have highlighted the extent to which the British public misunderstand the Arab world and the crisis in the Middle-East. This post will discuss the importance of tackling these misconceptions for global stability and peace.

By Lucette Davies

Issues that led to instability across the Middle-East and the Arab world date long before the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.  Some Brits confused Middle-East countries as belonging to the Arab world.  Although clearly this is a misconception.  A discussion about why our population would benefit from understanding of the Arab world has to consider instability in the Middle-East.  This poll has revealed that many of the British public misunderstand the Arab world.

Since the start of the West’s ‘war on terror’ we have seen a growth in the number of wars and places of war.  We have seen a growth in instability across the world.  There has been a growth in the production and sale of weapons of mass destruction.  And as we all know, we have also seen a massive growth in the level of terrorism.

Britain is now intervening in some way in wars based in: Afghanistan; Iraq; Syria; Libya; Yemen; Somalia and Pakistan.  The billions of pounds being spent on these interventions are barely discussed in parliament.  They are hidden from public scrutiny and exempt from austerity measures.

Clearly the impact of British Foreign Policy in the Middle-East and the Arab World is of huge significance. It is something our population needs to understand.

Instability across the Middle-East threatens global peace and security.

Wars, poverty, the reign of various despots and climate change have led to millions fleeing their home countries.  The West has been struggling to cope with mass migration of people seeking safety.

Although Britain is signed up to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention we have been closing our borders to refugees.  Appalling conditions, breaking the UN Declaration of Human Rights, have been disclosed at our immigration detention centres.  And, concerns have been raised regarding deportations to countries that many would argue are far from safe.

We have witnessed a rise in racism and Islamophobia with attacks on Muslim dress and culture.  We have also seen the scapegoating of refugees. Since 2001, whole sections of the Muslim community have been equated with extremism and terrorism across Britain.

The Brits are already feeling that UK foreign policy in the Middle-East is failing.  But, we are yet to take that step to where we campaign for what we feel would be a more advantageous policy.

Many feel that Brits struggle to accept the rights of individuals to live with cultural practices of their own choosing.  Complaints that the West has ‘interfered’ with how other countries are run are widely heard.

But the history is complex, Britain and other Western countries have at times interfered with how countries are run.  Our hydrocarbon society has left us with an enormous dependency on oil. Our politicians from all parties have turned a blind eye to the human rights abuses of the Saudi’s.  The Balfour declaration that precipitated the creation of the state of Israel has inflicted a reign of terror over Palestinians.

Britain’s support for the Saudis has heightened the anger some Brits feel about our arms trade.  According to UN figures published in September more than 1,100 children have been killed in the conflict in Yemen.  The vast majority were killed by Saudi air-strikes.  British government after British government have authorised billions of pounds worth of arms sales to this oppressive regime.

Many would say that we have an economy based strongly on the arms trade.  CND and Stop the War Coalition have both campaigned for peace and gained huge public support as they do so.  Very few Brits know how much of their taxes gets spent on subsidising the arms trade.

To offer a discussion on British actions that negatively impact Arab states and the Middle-East would be an enormous task.  As would be a discussion about how instabilitiy in the Middle-East and the Arab world affects our lives in Britain.

But one thing is clear, the British need to move expeditiously towards a foreign policy that will enhance global security and peace.  Many people now feel that we can no longer just rely on our Government to do the right thing in that respect.  The sooner we get our heads round what is happening in the Arab World as well as the Middle-East the better.

NB This article reflects the personal views of Lucette Davies and not LASER as a whole

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