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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/30/14

Borders, Borders

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Message Sally McMillan

The Middle East is in chaos. In the chaos friends are becoming enemies and enemies are becoming friends, or at least fighting partners. Years of war and repression have led to an explosion of the masses. With emotions incited by the U.S. attack on Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Party, the people of neighboring countries have seized the initiative to rise up for their own liberation.

In North Africa the Arab Spring has brought mixed results. Time will tell whether the results are positive or not. The conclusions are still in the process of being worked out, with factions still divided over the power structure and what this means for them and for the countries involved.

The people's revolt in Syria added another dimension to the problems evolving. It has spilled over to include the surrounding countries of Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, and even Israel and the Palestinian territories. Various groups are fighting not just against the Syrian regime, but from their own dis-satisfactions and for their own goals. Much of the breakdown is along ethnic and religious lines.

Historically speaking, these are countries formed from the breakup of the Ottoman empire. Borders were established by Western powers to suit their own interests, but without regard for the wishes of the people living there. Strong leaders were installed friendly to the West to rule these new nation states. For example, Saddam Hussein governed a secular state, but with his Sunni party exerting control over the predominately Shia majority. Kurds in the north were split between Turkey, Iraq , and Iran. The Assad family in Syria with its Allawite connections to the Shiites gave little power to the Sunnis. Since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, Sunnis also lost power in Iraq.

Recent events have brought all these old and new resentments to the fore. The original plans were not valid ones: they required a strong force at the top to keep things together. We are now seeing rebellion against this. A powerful new group , ISIS, consisting of mostly Sunni militants, advancing in the area to form a state of their own, has rung the alarm bell with threats to everyone, including the United States for our role in this part of the world.

Perhaps it is time to discuss BORDERS. Included in this, of course, should be Israel and the Palestinians. The UN established borders for these two peoples back in 1947 when Israel was established. Periods of war and occupation have obliterated the distinction, leaving this another area of conflict.

Would it not be possible for the United Nations to step up and fulfill the role for which it was formed: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war? Let the UN convene a regional conference of all groups engaged in these disputes and work out some BORDER REALIGNMENTS based upon the wishes and needs of the people of those areas? Could these people not put aside enmities and come to some amicable agreement among themselves without trying to attain their goals through warfare? Would peace not be worth it? The General Assembly meets in September and could take the lead.

It would of course, require compromises and bargaining, and it would probably take not months, but years of discussion. The atrocities of the past would have to be acknowledged, repented, and dismissed in order to achieve truth and reconciliation. The U.S., Russia, and Western powers would not have a say (this alone might provide an incentive for this effort to succeed).

The big power solutions of wars and bombings and political and economic self-interest haven't worked. It's time to try something different. The alternative is disaster.

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Sally McMillan is a mother, a grandmother, an activist and a writer. She's from Philadelphia, Iowa, and now Albuquerque. She has four children and 12 grandchildren.

She is a graduate of Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia PA (more...)

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