Investments and Conflict Management in the Middle East and Central Eurasia
Number of pages
SourceForum of Ethnogeopolitics, 4, 1, (2014), pp. 5-6
Article / Letter to editor
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Forum of Ethnogeopolitics
SubjectNON-RU research; Onderzoek niet-RU
Conflict resolution or conflict management, that is the question. Or is it a non-question? Lately, much is being said and written about conflict management. It is certainly a catchword in present-day conflict studies. However, views and opinions differ about it. Conflict management is chosen above conflict resolution when resolving a conflict seems impossible in the short run. The aim of conflict management is to alleviate the burdens of conflict off the shoulders of people affected by it. Sometimes a learning process is initiated within the cadre of conflict management; people and scholars have to learn from a conflict. This is a noble and reasonable goal. We should learn from each conflict in order to have a broader knowledge about violent conflicts and in order to be able to solve, manage or prevent them. One problem, however, is the materialistic and even economistic approach taken in so many projects of conflict management. This approach is informed by a materialistic, and often resource-based, understanding of conflict eruption. Therefore, it is often argued that conflicts are more likely in environments of poverty and destitution and will diminish when people’s livelihood prospects improve. As a basic rule, it is believed that offering jobs to the combatants will make them less eager to fight. This line of thinking is clearly shown in the World Bank’s World Development Report 2011, entitled “Conflict, Security, and Development”. The materialistic and economistic assumptions may be true in the poorest countries, and whenever the material aspects of conflict outweigh its identity aspects. Such assumptions, however, may not be valid in the context of identity conflicts and tensions prevalent in Central Eurasia and post-Communist states elsewhere (e.g. Ethiopia). Although the social economic situation and the youth’s unemployment may have been among the root causes that took people to the streets in many North African and Middle Eastern countries, the conflicts in these regions go far beyond social economic issues. These conflicts also have an ethno-religious aspect, which is generally neglected in the Western media. This has been the case notably in Bahrain and Syria. The revolutions in Post-Soviet Eurasia—in countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan—have preceded those in the Arab countries. Today, owing to advanced communication technologies, one event in one part of the world may easily trigger other ones in other parts of the world. Similarly, the protests in Turkey may not be irrelevant to these happenings, as have been Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s public support for Egypt’s former President and leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi. Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East are in many ways related and, therefore, it is not sensible to analyze the situation in one region without taking into account the situation in other regions. Hopefully, the emerging discipline of ethnogeopolitics can offer valuable insights in that regard.
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