Agence Global - Article
A Symbiotic Death Dance
by Rami G. Khouri Released: 14 Feb 2009
BEIRUT -- History is a stubborn companion to life and politics in the Middle East, so to understand what is happening in the region today you have to go back 30 years. One of the pivotal moments in modern Middle Eastern history was the 1977-79 period, when three major developments occurred that still define, and sometimes plague, the region today. These were the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Israeli election victory of the rightwing Likud Party of Menachem Begin in 1977, and the rise of the current Islamist movements in Arab countries (heavily sparked by the negative consequences of the sharp rise in oil income, like inflation, corruption, and widening poor-rich disparities).
All three will prove to be momentary or transient phenomena, to be replaced in time by other political movements. They dominate our lives and societies today, however, because they reflect a basic human instinct to withdraw into the protective sphere – however illusory – of ethno-religious nationalism, mobilized by charismatic demagogues, sincere populists, and the occasional wild man or crook....