Given the avalanche of the analyses from all sorts of media outlets and international think tanks that scrutinize the developments in the Middle East every day, creating its own section “In the Middle” could seem quite a gamble for Opinion Internationale. Yet, if we have decided to do so, it is because this section does not aspire to a standpoint of disconnected objectivity. To be frank, we do have an idea behind our pens, even some ambition.
We believe that the Middle East question cannot and should not be exclusively subject to the cold-hearted interests of States, particularly those of the major international players, their fears for their energy sources or the deadly thrust of groups seeking to impose their truth by waging war.
The Middle East is the Holy Land for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, and is thus a region shared by all humanity. Our civilisations were built there. Our cultural and religious references came into being there. The split between the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire tolled the divorce at a very early date, but not the forgetting nor the cooling of passions. It is all too obvious that both the East and the West breed love and hatred for each other.
Today, the Middle East is filled with peoples, men and women who are oppressed, separated, harried and sometimes thrown onto the paths leading to some new tragedy on a scale never seen before. The divide runs along political, ethnic, economic and religious lines that go far back in history and move like tectonic plates once thought to be dormant.
The Middle East is a metaphor for the whole of humanity, which challenges us with its stunning hidden mix of often opposing strategic interests, deep-rooted age-old beliefs and forces from an oft-mythologised past. Today, this unique convergence threatens to engulf the multipolar and thus unpredictable global village.
The wave of terrorism that has bloodied the entire world started there. Thus, the war against Islamic terrorism must be won in these same lands. The solutions must be found there. Of that, we are firmly convinced!
In the Middle or the choice of the middle way
The editorial line that Opinion Internationale has chosen for its section “In the Middle” aims not only to decipher the forces driving the events, players and backstage making the news in the Middle East. Above all, it will strive to make the links, mark out the areas of agreement and bring to the fore what constitutes a common humanity beyond the differences and interests of the moment.
However, we are not naïve! Opinion Internationale does not believe in some secret key that would open a Garden of Eden full of peace and harmony in the Middle East. We are well aware of the iron law of international relations that puts interests before friendship. We also know that the various religions often find it more difficult to bring people together than to divide them.
We are also certain that handling the problems of the Middle East as a whole is best done by grasping its realities and innumerable complexities one after the other. Among the issues challenging us come the religious and political divisions inside Islam, the relations between the Arab and Persian worlds, Islamic terrorism and its ideological roots, the legitimate quest for a Palestinian state and the search for lasting security for Israel, the preservation of a multifaith Lebanon, the evolution of the Arab peninsula and the rescue of Yemen, the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies, the search for a viable political solution for Syria and the Kurds, and the Christians in the East left to their fate. Through “In the Middle”, Opinion Internationale wants to bring a new perspective with no other bias than to contribute, even in just a small way, to thinking in terms of a new Middle East, that is, a more stable world.
Moving the lines is possible! We believe that all peoples wish to live in dignity. We are not advocating imposing western-style democracy. Instead, we believe in the gradual opening-up of regimes and societies to build the Middle East of tomorrow. We have faith in the virtues of economic diversification, regional trade, the knowledge economy, culture, the arts and sport, that is, in short, in concrete forms of solidarity to get beyond tensions. Solutions or at least bridges can be built even in the worst of conflicts. “In the Middle” will reflect this stance.
To do so, we will show the leading lights and the modernity of the Middle East. We will give voice to both the experts and the players in the region, beginning with an interview of H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Jassim Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar. Others will follow, from all sides and horizons, but always in support of stability, peace and joint solutions, that is, multilateralism instead of unilateral decisions.
By choosing the middle path, we will surely upset quite a few people. However, as Rousseau wrote in his “Social Contract”, reason always prevails over emotions. The French and the Germans know that very well.
“In the Middle” has a flavour of French and European diplomacy: talking with everyone, discussing, more discussing, listening, finding the small loopholes in rigid positions, suggesting convergence, smoothing asperities or proposing possible solutions to crises. Dialogue is a powerful weapon for building.
At the heart of the topic, Opinion International will be organising regularly conferences on the main blockages afflicting the Middle East. The first conference, which will be held in Paris on Wednesday 14 March 2018, will be on the blockade of Qatar. Bookings are now open.
Since the Middle East deserves more than just an echo of noise, fury and tears, “In the Middle” has taken the side of reflection, peace and stability, an uncompromising commitment.