I put this in a blog because much of the information is my own personal opinion. I welcome any comments or misunderstanding that I may need help with clarifying.
Here my goal in creating this blog is to consolidate information about the middle east and discuss what I believe is happening and what will happen of the course of time.
I start with some background on Islam, in the context of politics. Next I go on to discuss some of the history of the middle east. I pick a few post 9/11 events and current events. Based off of these events, I surmise what will happen.
Basically, in current events there is a lot of talk of events in the middle east with no particular source that addresses everything as an overview. My goal here is provide a quick overview of events for the TL community. I will try to be as unbiased as I can, but I do have to say that I get my information from books and media outlets. If my information is incorrect please feel free to correct me. I do not pretend to understand everything. I"ll try to cite my sources as best I can remember.
First, to understand the middle east, I want to point out that religion and politics are intermixed. The NSA and the US have been somewhat anti-religion for a long time. (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/#wrapper, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/07/nsa-faces-new-threat-religious-gun-and-pot-groups/67232/) A lot of this has to do with the fact that religion confounds politics. This is a common starting point of controversy in what foreign countries dislike about the Democracy agenda. (BBC documentary: Putin and the west, BBC documentary:Iran and the West) This stirs up a lot of controversy. At times, the US is pro-religion as well such as lobbying for israel. (BBC documentary Israel and Palestine the truth) A sentiment which is being challenged currently with our democrat leaders.(http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/obama-meets-with-anti-israel-pro-hamas-groups-before-trip-to-israel/)
To decipher the consequences of that fact i need to explain some things about Islam as I understand them.
1. The beautifully written Koran(Qur'an) (spelling like port) states that Allah promises the people the land. (http://www.meforum.org/2462/the-quran-israel-not-for-jews)
2. There are two main religions that had a heavy split. (Sunni and Shia) Shia follow the Ayatollah, which is mildly comparable to the pope in Christianity. Sunni's are mildly comparable to evangelicals in Christianity. Usually they have local leaders and not a single centralized
3. Many political parties cross multiple countries and have varied leadership such as the Muslim brotherhood, a Sunni based religion.
4. Historically, Islam countries Have very very strong legal systems which base most of their laws on the Qur'an.
5. In addition to the Qur'an, there are edicts such as the Hadith, which is sort of a collection of writings about Mohammed, and shariah law which has been adapted over time. The inclusion of these is selective depending on groups which splits beliefs in Islam.
Brief history of the middle east-
Beginning of Islam-
Before Mohammed, Judaism and Christianity has many similarities. Early works leading into Islam were teachings by Rabi Hillel, where he simplified the laws of the bible into love your neighbor like your self and stepped away from the eye for an eye mentality. He was followed by Jesus(Isa), whom is mentioned heavily in the Qur'an. Muslims take the gospels to be somewhat accurate, but like the gospel of Barnabas, which refutes Jesus claim to divinity.
The Roman empire Had decline from roughly 250-500 AD. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_the_Roman_Empire) A lesson in history shows that wherever there is a void in central political power, it will be filled by the next victor, and in this case it was a somewhat bloody beginning for Islam. Mohammed received revelations from Allah, bringing an end to the gospels and a uniting of religious though which happened around 600 AD. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad)
After this Islam lead to a strong peaceful presence and many modern advances in medicine and literature were kept. The unfortunate happened when Temujin, Genghis Khan invaded China then the middle east Killing nearly 20% of the worlds population. (about 1.2 billion in modern day standards) After this much of the information was lost, and the pathway for information brought through trade from the East to the West was broken, leading to the dark ages.
During the Dark ages, the time when both Christianity schismed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East%E2%80%93West_Schism) and Muslims further split, while the first recovery came at Damascus (BBC documentary Syria), the middle east was ruled mostly by the ottomans who flourished under religious freedoms, but frequently were at war with the Russians and french.(ottoman empire documentary) The Americas were discovered and imperialism flourished. The ottomans declined(http://www.flowofhistory.com/units/asia/6/FC49) and the world wars happened, while the US didn't fight the middle east, Russia did heavily.
During the second world war, Israel was formed via the removal of Palestinians from their homes.(The birth of Israel:Occupation of Palestine BBC documentary) This was largely unaddressed by the west given their interests. The land precedent was set via the India-Pakistan separation. This precedent implies that having a majority rule is extremely important in politics, and often this is done at the expense of genocide. (India-Pakistan Partition BBC documentary)
Besides the land precedent, another in place was unilateral aid in middle eastern conflicts, mostly from the cold war. Two such events mostly results from the sales of weapons to one side and not the other. (1967 Israel 6 day war, and the weapon sales to Iraq during the Iraq-Iran Conflict.) The idea of sanctions arises from this.
During the Cold war, the emphasis was on controlling assets to secure military might such as oil pipelines. US support for Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, and Israel vs. Russian support for Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon. During these conflicts another precedent arose, asking for support from the UN peacefully was often ignored or observed without intervening in religious conflicts(Iran, Serbia, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon pleas for help), meanwhile violent aggression was often rewarded. (I.e. Hamas defeating Israel, Afghanistan defeating Russia, Georgia Russian conflict)
Thus from history, some take home messages are-
1.Since the time of Genghis Khan, Wherever there is a void in power, it is often filled by the most violent group.
2.The west unilaterally intervenes in certain conflicts and has proxy groups the protected their interests.
3.The Middle east had served as a proxy in the cold war.
4.The current constant war between middle eastern groups arise from a precedent of land rights, and differing support of various groups in the middle east.
5.There is a lot of inconsistency in diplomacy with the middle east, which makes it difficult to judge sides.
The US and Russia Meddle at a different rate-In the 80's Israel Bombarded Lebanon, and Russia could no longer afford to support its proxies. This ultimately led to a decrease in bilateral support for the proxies of the middle east. A peculiarity in balance started around the time of the fall of the Berlin wall, the Cold war wrapped up and Russia and the US slowed their aggression towards one another. The Russians reformed their government into a society which communicated more openly with the west. The US companies had tried to exploit the many gas reserves in Russia, which caused a huge political divide. (Putin and the West BBC documentary) This led to the Rise of the Iron Fist of Saddam Hussein.
Many proxies were setup in the middle east to support Saddam Hussein such as Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Meanwhile, Conditions in Iran and Afghanistan deteriorated quickly. These conditions led to the belief that the Iran Shah, and his relationship with the west was a cause of the suffering of the Iranian people. The ayatollah was forced to France and from there Iman Ali Khamenei led a revolution in Iran following the lessons learned above as take home messages. The precedents from the West caused a more violent driven group independent of western influence, driven on revenge for the unilateral support of the west. At this time they took hostages, upon which President Carter Tried to free. Unsuccessful, a proclaimed act of god ruined the mission, empowering the Ayatollah.
Saddam decided to wage war vs another us Proxy, Kuwait. This time consistent with the point 2. The US prevented Kuwait's invasion fearing it would turn out like Iran and the use of chemical weapons would occur against the Geneva convention. This was the first gulf war. After the gulf war, the Us realized that it had supported too much one side and tried to support other groups. This military support, in fact supplied Hamas and Al-Queda.
Can the middle east have peace? The answer is no. At least for a while. There are too many precedents in international politics preventing this.
The Last 12 years-
The US was warned by Russia that Afghanistan and the Taliban were supporting Al-Queda and they were going to have retribution for the Israel invasion of Lebanon.(http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Wars-Afghanistan-Invasion-September/dp/0143034669/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375830432&sr=1-1&keywords=ghost+wars) Attacks on the World Trade Center, changed US policy from having proxy wars to sending troops actively abroad. In addition, the US tried to take advantage of having resources in the region to invade Iraq.(the reasoning being false information about chemical weapons) This was done so and Saddam's Iron fist was removed. The people who the US turned to for support against Al-Queda were the Iranians. Hamas took advantage of the freedom and attacked Isreal in 2008. Israel invaded and lost to Hamas. The fall of Saddam and Israel, following the principle from above a void was made, and the idea of an unfightable dictatorship was gone. This led to a strong civil war in Iraq that continues to this day. Both sides violently trying to fill a void of power.
After the initial wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, a huge release of information revealed that the US turned a blind eye on its proxies. Wikileaks (Wikileaks:The secret life of a superpower), exposed weaknesses and regrettable acts. In Tunisia after the exposure a man burned himself alive, which lead to the event known as the Arab spring (http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline). The three most ruthless proxies, Syria, Egypt, and Libya's people defied leadership and fought to gain control of their governments. After elections some strong groups became even more powerful, such as the Sunni Muslim brotherhood. Syria particularly took the longest and is still in active conflict with the Shia Alowite minority trying to retain power.(Syria BBC documentary)
The last Few days-
Since 2012, the Sunni Al-Queda based mostly in Yemen and Pakistan are fighting to slow down Iran's ascension into power. Iran has a Trump card, its relationship with Pakistan and Russian military arms dealers has given them the opportunity to develop nuclear arms. This would mean that the void of power would be filled with a nation that believes that peaceful negotiations do not work with the west(Iran and the west,BBC documentary ). Al-Queda is doing anything and everything to try and muster up support to beat Iran to the punchline. In the past fews weeks they have freed many of their militants from prisons and attacked heavily during Ramadan (http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/05/world/yemen-us-drone-strike/index.html?hpt=hp_t2). (a holiday which Muslims fast during daylight and usually stay up later and gather) Politically,Edward Snowden is being used to put more emphasis on how poorly the US handles international and domestic affairs, suggesting that they are as bad as the Stasi were at spying.
The next 5 years-
The Us will finish pulling out of Afghanistan. Iran is continuing development of Nuclear arms and likely will have/detonate one. If it does a public test, possibly Israel will invade Iran within 2 years. If this happens the Sunnis will likely come into power, and possibly could be one of the bloodiest conflict of the next 50 years. (~8-20 million killed) More likely Iran will do a private underground test to show that they have the capacity. This will probably make Shiites emboldened and probably they will gain the majority control of the middle east. The US or its allies probably will not invade Yemen, but will send 1-2 aircraft carriers there. I think the conflict in Syria will still go on, until a nuclear weapon is developed. If the Iranian nuclear weapon is developed the current Syrian Alawites will stay in Syria. If not, I believe it will fall. If a nuclear weapon is developed it will results in an arms race int he middle east. If there is no war before nuclear arms, I hope that they are not used.
Considering all of the jail breaks. Its in a way a counter statement to Guantanamo. Notwithstanding, Guantanamo will not close, unless us citizens put excessive pressure on the government to do so. Iraq will be in civil war until that time. Egypt's conflict will worsen as well. Turkey will likely get involved soon as well, but their apprehension is noted. Russia and China will dominate the worlds economy. Gas prices will probably exceed 6 to 7 dollars a gallon if there is intercountry war in the middle east.
I really really hope I'm wrong tho and like Hillel wanted people will calm down, try to focus more on good deeds, realize what is going on politically, and stop this madness.