The Middle East is one of the oldest, richest and most conflictive regions in the world.
Since the times of Sumerians, Hittites and Egyptians the region has seen endless wars that endure even today. And as a matter of fact the environment is what makes the region so easy to plunge into war time after time after time.
The principal reason is the climate or in other words, it is very easy to wage continuous wars when you have summer all year long. In Europe on the other hand (that is also quite a turbulent region) the war is waged during the summer, the winter months are spent in hiding, recruiting, repairs and limited to blitz and guerilla actions. Of course Europe has also seen winter wars but the general action plans in 80% of European wars were as described previously.
The second reason for ongoing wars in the Middle East is that the region is and always was very rich and fertile. Great ancient empires constantly fought their neighbors or other empires in order to dominate the richest and most fertile parts of the Region.
On the other hand, in the modern times the fertility of the region has reduced to some extent but it is still fertile but the main attraction in the region has become oil. Since the beginning of the 19th century the Middle Eastern struggle for land has become the struggle for oil or “black gold.” Once again the region has become attractive for invaders and investors. The wars keep succeeding each other as the invaders come and go.
But before one start accessing the environmental reasons for the ongoing conflicts in the region one must become familiar with the region and its problems.
The “Middle East” is difficult to define. The geographic, political, ethnic, religious, and cultural borders that exist in the region do not always coincide. Formerly known as the “Near East,” the modern day Middle East stretches from northern Africa and Egypt in the West, north along the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey, East to Iran, and South to the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the remainder of the nations along the Arabian Peninsula. This site also includes Afghanistan in its discussion of the Middle East, though that nation has only recently been included in the region. The problem of defining the Middle East is not due to a lack of geographic, political, or cultural knowledge of the region. Instead, the difficulty arises from the fact that, depending upon which factor one chooses to analyze, the boundaries within the region begin to blur.
It is the for the same reason that the environmental issues that cause or aid the creation of a conflict, must be analyzed within several conflicted parts of the region, or in other words, except for the good weather, every country and conflict have different environmental reasons for ongoing conflicts. One also has to keep in mind that apart from the fact that environmental issues, are one of the most important ones regarding the endurance of the conflicts, and were the most important ones in the past, since the Middle Ages religion has become the primary reason for the endurance of the conflict.
In conclusion to this one can say that when religious intolerance combined with all year long good weather and plenty of goods to be stolen from the defeated gives excellent precedents for a long lasting conflict.
As a matter of fact by examining the most important Middle Eastern conflicts in the past three decades we can see that the situation is quite different for every country. Afghanistan for example is one of the poorest and least fertile countries in the world and its conflicts were usually internal and religious, or dispute over little fertile land and water that can be found there. However by the 1970s Afghanistan’s nature started attracting a new invader: the USSR. Namely, the country is the biggest producer of high quality heroin and hashish and the Soviets used the heroin money in the 1980s to finance their undercover operations just like CIA used the South American cocaine money to run their “black ops.” The soviets were expelled as the USSR was disintegrating and after a brief period of Taliban rule the USA stepped in.
The general word in the conspiracy theory lounge is that they merely want to take over the heroin trade but the fact of the matter is that Afghanistan’s environment had another surprise in stock. According to the U.S. Geological Survey and the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Industry, Afghanistan may be possessing up to 36 trillion cubic feet (1,000 km3) of natural gas, 3.6 billion barrels (570,000,000 m3) of petroleum and up to 1,325 million barrels (2.107E+8 m3) of natural gas liquids. That is a lot of money, and it is enough money to have the world’s superpowers fight over it in midst of an economic crisis. Unfortunately for the people of the country the hard times will only begin while the US transfer more troops over there and some rivals might finance guerilla warfare in order to sabotage or diminish the influence of the US. The trouble in Afghanistan is just beginning and its people will not see peace for many more years due to the natural richness they were cursed with.
Believe it or not Iraq and Iran are amongst the two richest countries in the world, they have vast territories, natural resources developed industries. Had they concentrated half of the energy and money on solving social and economic problems in the 1980s and 90s, they could be economic superpowers as well. During the 10 year Iraq Iran war enormous amounts of money was spent on arms and weapons of mass destruction on both sides. Endless amounts of petrol, minerals and gas were used in military actions while the civilian population was starving. As the war ended both countries were equivalent military superpowers for example’s sake one can say that in 1988 they were as mighty as India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa. Iraq was defeated in the 1991 war for invading Kuwait and was imposed sanctions that brought the country down as a superpower. Iran on the other hand kept military and scientific advancements and has become a very strong player on the international scene. Iraq did however manage to keep the control of its petrol until the 2003 invasion by the US.
The conflict between Iraq and Iran is the conflict of two oldest empires and cultures in the region: Babylonian and Persian. Those two countries fought over their natural resources for millennia and will probably do so again. At moment a stronger empire emerges from elsewhere and fights them for their natural resources like: USA or Rome but as soon as they are rid of invaders they will come back to same old, same old as long as the good weather, religious problems, big money and good weapons can be found in the Middle Eastern region.