Middle East Citizens: An Iranian Perspective

The Assumption:

Western leaders have communicated with the East mainly through their allies or the westernized Diasporas. Never in reality have they been able to learn the true languages of the independents or adversarial forces. For the West, to comprehend the languages of Ahmadi Nejad, Hamas or Assad may be improbable but understanding the Taliban or Al-Qadeda would by simply impossible task. In turn, the Eastern leaders have an outlook of the West through the eyes of friendly allies or their own nationalist intellectuals. Hence, they too have never been able to comprehend the real languages of the Westerners. Consequently, both sides lack effective means of direct communications with each other. Thus, all forms of communications go through intermediary channels for decryption, decoding and interpolations missing much of the intended message in the process. This writing is an attempt to reflect the prevailing deep feelings of general populations in the region by a concerned citizen without inhibitions.

The Case:

Never in our contemporary times have the Middle East Region been in such a volatile turmoil. The founding bed of many ancient civilizations, the birthplace of major world religions, the origin of many arts, sciences and literature, the core of natural resources of the globe, has now fallen deep into the state of backwardness, dependency, militarism, radicalism and instability faced with a complex range of intra-regional and inter-regional conflicts. The range of conflicts may be defined as conflicts between and amongst: East and West, sub-regions, nations, ethnicities, minorities, genders, the ruling classes and the people of the Region. The persistence and intensification of these conflicts have created a murky future outlook of the entire Region as reflected in the helplessness and the hopelessness of the masses particularly those of the women and the youth. The welfare of the Middle East Region, and the whole world for that matter, rests on the immediate and serious active participation of all concerned people for the amelioration of these conflicts. Failure to address these critical life threatening issues will undoubtedly have chaotic manifestations with, ultimately, catastrophic consequences for each and every citizen of the world.

The Accused:

The entire twentieth century was the period of struggle for independence, constitutional movements, industrialization and the quest of modernization by the peoples of the Middle East. The importance of petroleum for the West, however, hampered all the efforts for the socio-economic and political development of the region. The Region became the battlegrounds of the Western rivalries aimed at fulfilling their respective “vital national interests.” In the post World War II era, the entire Region became the sole proprietorship of the UK/US interests. Every effort towards political reform, democratization and civil liberties by the people of the Region were, without exception, crushed by the rulers supported, and mostly coached, by these Western powers. The fall of Dr. Mossadegh and the rise of the Shah in Iran were vivid examples of such meddling of the Western powers in the internal affairs of the nations in the Region.

The Motive:

Current conflicts in the Middle East Region have their roots in the re-mappings of the Region by UK and US after the World War II period. The carving out of numerous states and re-mapping of the national boundaries and the creation of new “countries” in recent decades, imbedded new seeds of long-term conflicts throughout the whole region. Almost all of the existing problems in the Region emanate from these arbitrary and artificial re-mapping of the Region. The intra-regional conflicts served well the interests of the oil cartels, US, UK and their local allied rulers. The Islamic Revolution in Iran, however, shattered the stronghold of these forces. The entire Region shook so badly that it took more than a decade for the West to have a realistic assessment of the extent of the damages. The fall of the former USSR provided a golden opportunity for the West – meaning the “UK/US Axis” –” to deploy armies of formidable magnitude to, once again, exert claim of sole proprietorship to the resources of the entire Region. Attempts to hide this motive under the banner of “forced democratization” or “liberation” has been nothing more than a subject of ridicule.

The Victim:

The continuous struggles of the peoples of the Region to achieve freedom and progress have produced little tangible results. Progress in the fields of science, arts, literature, industry, agriculture and technology has been dismal. Scares resources allocated to the military build up in the hope of standing up against foreign forces have proven to be of no value. In all conflicts, the armies have proven, time and again, to be utterly useless. In recent times, the military might of the US and UK deployed to most countries of the Region, has created a general sense of insecurity, imbalance and the perception of total occupation by foreigners. People have witnessed defeat of their own armies, destruction of their infrastructures, and devastating effects of bombardments. They have witnessed the Muslim soldiers kneeling and kissing the hands of the USA soldiers for mercy. They have seen pictures of their countrymen tortured, mutilated and murdered. Regardless of political or religious believes, most people have experienced a deep sense of national humiliation. It is a rare occasion when even the most serious political activists identify with the issue of national pride. The entire nations feel to have fallen victims to the occupation, and the occupying forces don’t even have to be present in your own country to sense that feeling. From Marrakech to Bangladesh, lies a vast region with a unique sense of historical/cultural identity crisis. A crisis aroused by the military occupation of the Region by the Western powers. In fact, for the first time since the Ottoman Empire, there seems to exist a regional unity –” the Broader Middle East Region – a region fallen victim to the UK/US unilateral militarism.

The Conflict:

The West accuses the Broader Middle East Region of “radicalism”, “terrorism”, “fundamentalism”, “totalitarianism”, and in the quest to build weapons of mass destruction. They, in turn, accuses the US/UK axis, of meddling in the internal affairs of the nations in the Region to keep or to put friendly forces in power in order to preserve their own “vital national interest” – meaning continuous, smooth, cheap and increasing flow of oil and natural gas. In addition, all monies gained by the nations of the Region must be spent as specified by the West. These are the diametrically opposing forces that constitute the core of the inter-regional as well as the intra-regional conflicts. These forces run counter to any political stability, economic development and democratization processes of the Region.

The Challenge:

The ruling powers of the East and the West are unable or unwilling to communicate with each other. Apparently, they lack a common set of values, common language or common means of communication. It seems they do not share the same communication protocols. Often, messages sent back and forth are encrypted at one end and decrypted at the other end. The signals transmitted by one side are often interpolated by the other side as having hidden agendas. Hence, the end result is a complete miscommunication. Messages of Ahmadi Nejad or the call for dialogue by Khatami do not differ significantly in meaning. No wonder, the Western rulers have been trying to explain the meaning of “Real Islam” to the Muslim leaders and they, in turn, have been trying to define the meaning of “true democracy” to them. The third party intermediaries and interpreters have further exasperated these complexities. The challenge to solve this miscommunication debacle is to decode the signals transmitted by both sides and translate them into a simple conversational language. The forces in power have opposing view of the world affairs, their values, objectives and strategies are, therefore, in opposing directions. Thus, no realistic solution could come out of these contradicting sides. The answer lies in the communication between forces that have similar values. Namely, the people of all races and all places who have no interest in the continuance of the violence – the concerned citizens of the world.

The Citizens:

The citizens of the Middle East Region have specific duty in these critical times. They are the real victims who have suffered from the conflicts. They are the true beneficiaries of peace, progress and political pluralism. They have no conflicting interests with other peoples of the world. And they are the real forces that can assure national sovereignty, stability and democratization of the Region. People are not in favor of any war because they are the ones who have to make all sacrifices in any war. People are generally tolerant, accommodating and peaceful. People of the Middle East want to live in peace with themselves, their neighbors and the rest of the world. And the world respects the will and the values of these people and are willing to live with them in harmony side by side. The Clash of Civilizations is nothing but a myth. Only the clash of ruling powers is the tragic reality. The people need and want peaceful co-existence everywhere. And, only through active participation of the citizens in the political processes of the Region can peace be achieved and sustained.

The MECA: [1]

Never in history, have the common people of the Middle East Region had the opportunity to assemble around a common cause. The Region as a whole has been mostly a closed system with little or no interactions between the nations and the peoples of the region. The Middle East Citizens Assembly –” MECA was a spontaneous response to the post September 11th tragedy. It was initiated by a dozen of people during the Seminar on the “War on Terror” sponsored by the Helsinki Citizens Assembly and the Interchurch Organization of the Netherlands held in Istanbul, Turkey December 8th-11th, 2001. Representatives from Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands initiated the Assembly. Since that date, MECA membership has increased to include people from Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria, Oman and others. There have been seminars, meetings, workshops and field trips in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Netherlands. Some country chapters namely in Iran, Palestine and Morocco have been established. MECA members exchanged ideas and recruited many new members during the Seminar on Political Pluralism held in Inter-European University Center for Human Rights, July 19th-24th, 2005 in Venice, Italy. All in all, initial steps, albeit very small, have been taken. Much more efforts are needed to gain adequate momentum for spreading the word across the Region. The General Assembly of MECA in Amman, Jordan in March 7th-9th, 2006 is another benchmark of the efforts. With the adoption of the MECA Charter and a plan of action for future work, hopefully, grounds will be laid to involve as many citizens as possible in the political processes of the Region.

The Declaration:

Middle East Citizens Assembly (MECA) is the peoples’ initiative for peace, progress and political pluralism in the Broader Middle East, Caucuses, Central Asia and North Africa Region. It is a collective effort by the activists of the Region and their supporters from Western countries. It advocated peaceful change and opposes all forms of military interventions. It stands for intra and inter-regional free flow of people, products, capital, material, ideas and information. MECA calls for the elimination of all existing, ongoing and planned programs of Weapons of Mass Destruction throughout the entire Region without exceptions. MECA calls for cooperation between the peoples of East and West to promote peace and progress for all. MECA supports all efforts towards enhancement of Civil Liberties, Human Rights, Political Pluralism, Transparency, Good Governance and strengthening of Civil Societies. MECA advocates the formation of a free and democratic Middle East Union. MECA calls for the immediate withdrawal of all Western military forces from the entire Middle East Region.


[1]. Media Monitors Network (MMN) / MMN International Inc. is NOT affiliated with Middle East Citizens Assembly (MECA) in any capacity whatsoever.