Understanding structural problems in the Middle East’s historical development

It is a truth that all sciences are allied to each other, and in this alliance history plays the role of a sword—not only for human society but in all universal formations. In this sense, human society is not only human history, but also the history of the universe. Throughout time humans, and the society they belong to, seek to form themselves and gain meaning. Chemically all processes are formed by the various combinations of the same atoms and subatomic particles in the universe. While biologically all beings—as proven by the theory of evolution—are the product of the diversification and proliferation of single cells.

It is also another fact that the human fetus evolved until it became human by repeating all these processes in its mother’s womb. In the intellectual field the relation of thought to the waves in the human brain has been determined, and it is almost proven that it is something like energy. In this sense socially, the thought of trying to think about oneself provides the essence of the truth. Humankind’s self-reflection is the basis of all our creations. It is understood that we can only reach the knowledge of all fields from sub-atomic particles to the ever-expanding cosmic universe, only to the extent of the development of social science. The geographical Middle East is one of the areas where the socialization of this universal flow is the strongest. In this sense, the history of the Middle East is also a universal history. For the history of a society to be universal, it must be a stem cell. So, globalization is not just a phenomenon that is experienced today. Both a material and spiritual common cultural formation and its global spread are essential for accurate historical narration.

Undoubtedly, there are social reasons for the historical universality of this region, the Middle East. During historical process, the region was the area where the symbolic language revolution developed. It plays a dominant role in the agriculture-village revolution. It is the area where the neolithic revolution and its values were shaped. It is the area where some of the first examples of civilization and the system based on it developed. Important evolutionary and revolutionary processes for the history of humanity have taken place here, such as the Greek-Hellenic civilizations that have been fed here as well as the area of systematization which developed here. In addition, it is a pivotal area because Islam, the last of the four major religions is dominant over society. In this sense, the social history that started in Mesopotamia, which is the center of the region, forms the main flow of history and can be considered as the basic historical denomination due to its uninterrupted flow.


In order to read and understand history correctly, we cannot treat it as a phenomenon in which only the rulers’ words are mentioned and are dominant, as we read in classical civilization schools. As a matter of fact, everywhere, we see that the phenomenon of history flows into two branches in the form of a stream of central civilization (the statist power tradition) and democratic civilization (the tradition of peoples’ freedom), as the main river divides into two branches. The first is the state-run civilization, which represents domination of oppression, exploitation and male mentality, while the second is the resistance and freedom struggles that societies demonstrate based on commitment to moral values with different organizations. As the social problems arise with the emergence of civilization, which already represents the tradition of the classic statist power, the latter has been inevitable, and continues today.


This statist-civilization, a source of problems for all societies, has experienced three major social crises in the region since the beginning of written history. The first crisis was around 2000 BC., during the years when the Uruk hegemony passed to Ur’s Domination. The second is the period of Islam, which was unable to reform and became dogmatic, pausing technical and scientific developments, so that these shifted this to the west and centralized trade channels there. The third crisis is experienced in every subject, religious, philosophical, scientific, vital, security, moral, political, and that of women’s freedom. In this sense, as stated by the Kurdish people’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, “A problem of mentality is at the root of the problems in the Middle East. Mentality is a problem that concerns all areas of life”.


The Middle East is a biased name. It forms the intentional naming of global hegemony. It distorts the historical facts of the region. It is orientalist* in its understanding. Before Alexander the Great, this place was defined as the East. It was also the East of Rome again during the Roman period. In the period of mercantilism, the definition of Near East, which refers more to the Ottoman Empire’s domination over the Mediterranean, is used. The “near east” of the west. Later, during the first world war, the headquarters of the British established in this area was called the Middle East headquarters. Definitions used in the war process such as the Near East, Middle East and Far East later became the political names of the geographies. Although the Middle East geographically together with Asia Minor, are also named differently. It is better known by the name Asia Minor. Geographically, it is one of the most important regions of the world with an area of approximately 15 million km2 and a population of half a billion. Due to the richness of underground and surface resources, all eyes are focused here. Although it covers the region from the Nile to the Euphrates, these borders were changed with the approach of the ruling states in the region. Even Pakistan and Afghanistan, which do not have serious ties and historical foundations with the Middle East, were included in the field for the benefit of sovereign states after the 1950s. The term Middle East was first used in 1902 by American naval historian Admiral S.A.T. Mahan to describe the gap between Arabia and India. According to the German orientalist (scientific specialist on the region) Udo Steinbach, the Middle Eastern countries are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. Kuwait, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey.


In the current situation, there is a serious confusion in this region. There is a World War and a crisis. Scientifically, it is better to call this chaos. So, what are the factors that cause chaos in the Middle East in the current situation? What are the political developments that have developed this chaos based on this historical phenomenon? In the first stage, the wrong approach to the phenomenon of religion is a cause of the chaos we experience today. Second, we see that the phenomenon of government plays a similar role. As a phenomenon that emerged for the first time in the Middle East, it has a role that it played with the conditions and development of the state, and it is the cause of deep chaos that cannot be overcome in the present day. The third is the issue of women. With the onset of the Patriarchal era, which replaced the egalitarian life system, destroyed by cheating, violence, extortion and exploitation, and the introduction of a systematic slavery and exploitation on women, the problem of women has become one of the most fundamental issues in the region as well as everywhere else. Besides, ethnicity, nation, homeland, economy, etc. many other concepts cause chaos. In this sense, the chaos of the Middle East lies not only in the current situation, but also in a dilemma that has a historical dimension. It isn’t the developments that create chaos, on the contrary, it is the chaos that arises in the historical development of the Middle East, and this political situation, which plays certain functions, roles and dilemmas that deepen the upheavals in this chaos.


Mentality problem

A Mentality problem is at the root of the problems in the Middle East. Mentality is a problem that concerns all areas of life. Öcalan, the Kurdish people’s leader, sets out solutions while addressing this problem in detail in his book The Crisis of Civilization and The Solution of a Democratic Civilization in the Middle East. In addition to his findings about the origin and roots of chaos and problems in the region, we will also touch on some of the issues opened by Öcalan, who thoroughly analyzes the history of people’s revolution and resistance.


Religion and Sectarian issues

Islam is a period, a synthesis and a moment in the universal flow of culture and civilization of the Middle East. While the hegemonic collapse of Islam in the sense of civilization is resolved, sectarian clashes inside are shown as the main cause with the invasions and occupations of the Mongol Genghis Khan Dynasty coming in from the outside. This is an incomplete expression. The main reason is that it could not perform a cultural Renaissance. In fact, the governments of the Abbasid (750- 1258 Islamic caliphate of the descendants of Abbas) were aware of this fact. As a message of salvation and peace, they knew that Islam could not sustain the empire with its religious function only. In the 800-1200 period, efforts approaching an Islamic Renaissance were exhibited intensely. Serious expansions were made in science and philosophy. It was ahead of Europe in medicine, biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, history and social sciences. The philosophy had serious implications for wisdom, mysticism, logic, theology and justice. But ultimately, having been overpowered by religious dogmatism, these studies were atrophied, even cursed and stopped. While religion has developed identities on one hand, separation and the concealing of ethnic identities have been made on the other. Every tribe made religious, sectarian or even dozens of religious orders according to their own interests, such as the culturalization of Jews in their entirety with their religion, the Arabization of Islam and the opposition of those who resisted it with different sects and religions, the separation of Sunni, Alevi, Druze, and the development of Shia in Iran. The same denomination applies to Christianity. When we investigate the material basis of all these sectarian and religious issues, it will not be difficult to see that the widespread and intensifying devices of oppression and exploitation play a key role.


The Reality of Women

Woman, who played a fundamental role in the social formation of the first humanity and pulled and turned a certain social era, lost her position with the emergence of monotheistic religions and the state. But, despite losing this position, she played a fundamental role in the emergence of state, class and exploitation. The sexist view and upbringing means the bringing down of women, the bringing down of men, and the destruction of social reality as a whole. As everywhere, female labor is in the category of cheap or worthless labor. It is detached from nature and sociality and isolated to narrow borders. Woman was alienated from her own history and then made into one of the executives of the male dominant system by taking advantage of her loss of memory. It is very common all over the region to be a child-making machine, to be sold like merchandise with a dowry, to blunt her sexuality by things like circumcision, women’s massacres and extreme violence. Inequalities in the face of existing laws are numerous. This situation, which abounds in different examples, can only be restored by looking at every field that concerns society, including science, and organizing accordingly. Today, the struggle and organization developed by many women’s movements and especially the Kurdish women’s movement shows us that this cursed history can be reversed only if the theory and practice are intertwined and revolutionary organization is done accordingly.


The problem of class, hierarchy, family, power and state.

While forming a dynasty turns into the focus of power and form of state, familism has become the official mother cell of all societies. Power struggles, which have been carried out throughout history for the establishment and destruction of dynasties and families, are not calculated. Societies are not only turned into a source of problems with these wars, they are consumed internally. Most importantly, the dynasty is the institution that accustomed other tribal systems, especially their own tribes and clans, to the first division into classes and slavery. The transformation of dynasty into official ideology also marked the family structure and led to sub-ideology in the form of ‘familism’. However, there were many different forms of male-female togetherness throughout and before in history. There was a female-weighted family type, and in this family type, men and husbands were not known much. Maternal uncle and children were more important. The system of the male leader was developed much later and as a projection of the dynasty-power-state trio. In this sense, resolving the family is essential for resolving the relationship between power-state-class and society.


Contrary to popular belief, class does not give rise to power and the state. On the contrary, power and state formations based on dynasty, familism (hierarchical organizations) lead to classification. Slavery is not only built on material labor. It is primarily built on mentality, emotions and bodies. Material labor slavery does not develop until ideological slavery develops. Seeing the power and state constructions in the Middle Eastern, society as political rent (profit generating profit) brings us closer to reality. Social accumulations are made in the form of seizure of power and state focuses rather than master-slave relations. Power is a more common phenomenon than the state. Even when there is no state, power can be experienced intensely. Therefore, power focuses should be considered as a kind of capital, capital monopolies. There is no point in being in power unless there is profit. The state is a different phenomenon than power. It is also based on power, but in a different form. First, when many powers of power unite and see that they will make more profit, they aim at nationalization as a violent passion. The state is always built as a joint profit organization of different power centers. With this, an attempt is made to dominate the society by creating a morality, culture and management style that contrasts with the natural values of society.



Economic and Ideological Problem of the Middle Eastern Society

An important difference in Middle Eastern society is the leakage of economic surplus by the state. In fact, considering that stateless profit is a dream in European civilization, in the final analysis, the state is the only legitimate owner of social waste. Seeing yourself as the owner of the property is already enough reason for this. In this sense, the history of civilization is an anti-economic history. All economic problems are experienced as a result of this contradiction. The more the ruling class, the city and the state withdraw their hands from the economy, in other words, and shrink and leave the economy to their real owners, the more economic problems will be solved. This determination, which is true for the global economy, is even more the case for Middle Eastern economic life.


There is no society without ideology as a spiritual cultural power. Ideology is related to mentality, but it is a different concept. It is possible to talk about the minds of animals, even plants and atoms, but ideology is unique to human society. Its task is mainly to make sense of and to organize life. What is important for the Middle Eastern ideological world is to see how mythological ideology has turned into religious ideology, how religious ideology has turned into philosophical ideology and the latest scientific theories.


Economic and social life problems definitely find their worth in ideology: as much as the ideological space is necessary to grasp the material problems, so the opposite is also a necessity. It is necessary to search and see the connections between them, as well as to distinguish the two sides. Today, heavy social problems are turned into these directional ideological problems. This is perhaps because of their belief that they can be resolved more easily. We see this situation in the revival of traditional Islamic ideology in the region since some circles cannot find more progressive, unifying and democratic methods to social problems. Again, the failure of modernist Western ideologies to be a solution results from the fact that they cannot establish realistic connections with social problems. Failure in traditional (religious) or modernist (liberalism, nationalism, religiousism, scientificism, real socialism, etc.) is about their failure to accurately analyze and reflect social problems. The solution is found in the fact that the truth is experienced both in discourse and in action with both evolutionist and revolutionary styles.


The Capitalist Intervention and the Problem of Social Revolution

The last stage of the crisis in the Middle East under the name of the “Orient Problem” has gotten increasingly severe since the 1800s, when the central civilization system of Europe took over hegemony and turned towards the region. The search for traditional and modernist solutions based on capitalist modernity** has led to deepening of the problems. The crisis has led to negativities up to the brink of genocide and suicide and remains ongoing. The Suez Canal***  first, and the rich oil deposits of the Middle East second, both of which the European big states could not keep their eyes off, are the groundwork of the chaos if modern times. Artificial borders****, puppet governments, and semi-autonomous statisms characterized by collaborative monarchies have been created. Religious and ethnic quarrels, tribal conflicts, constitutional crises, monarchical rights claims and accompanying colonial policies were carried out in all of these statisms, which were formed by the social Darwinism logic of the West, the dominance of the strong, the conduct of genocide with superior racial logic, …


After a while, the actors in the region changed and the British and French began to be replaced by the USA and multinational companies on the eve of World War II. Can the region, which is now going through a third world war, succeed with the US administration policies that have not been successful in 100 years? If we look at the fact that it does not approach social values and mentality problems on a correct basis, let’s leave it at that, the solution seems to cause greater suffering and problems.

We can interpret the history of the Middle Eastern civilization as a history of counter-revolution. What counter-revolution? A counter-revolution against all social elements excluded from the civilization system. Counter-revolution against women, youth, agro-village society, nomadic tribes and clans, secret sects and believers, the enslaved. Against the reality of common life. However, as the revolution moves away in moral, political and democratic practices, it begins to move away from capitalist modernity and embody democratic modernity. It is important to identify a difference in the question of revolution in the way of life and action. The more erroneous linear approaches, memorization and cheating practices, the more open the theory-practice distinctions, the more we will be led to erroneous actions. It should be well known that there are no different lifestyles for pre and post revolution.


The Problem of Ethics, Politics and Democracy of the Middle Eastern Society

Regimes created in the region do not lead to possible solutions as they are the source of the problems. There is no chance of a solution from these regimes, which are facing great congestion today, to solve the Arab-Israeli problem that has been going on since the Pharaoh, the disagreements caused by the attacks against the Kurds since the Sumerians, and the mentality complex in the main subjects of religion, science, nation, morality, etc. They even provide deepening of problems and widespread wars. Outside interventions always leave the region diseased and contradictory. Even if we only look at some problems such as Mosul-Kirkuk, Kurds, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, radical Islam, Cyprus, Antakya, Afrin-Serikani, Kuwait, Morocco, Berber, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, we can see the violence and deadlock created by external forces.


As a result; The central civilization of the Middle East has developed in contradiction and in oppposition with these three basic facts and conceptual expressions of society. There is a basic dialectical relationship between them. The more developed the civilization society (city-class-power), the lower the morality, politics and democracy. At the same time, there is the same amount of tension and struggle between them. The fact that the tendencies of state and power are still strong, on the other hand, suggests strong moral, political and democratic problems, need and even existence. Reality can only be expressed in this way due to the dialectical contradiction between them. Even based on this short explanation, we can easily state that the potential of democracy, morality and policy in the Middle East society is strong. With the common struggle of peoples, the change of success and mentality to be achieved in the region will gradually spread its influence on the whole world. The source of the current chaos is the policy applied to the region for the last two centuries by the capitalist modernity mentality, which dominates the world. The main solution is to deal with this mentality and politics with the democratic values of the peoples on the right basis and to strengthen the Democratic Modernity movement, which is a branch of the main river, which we mentioned above. The right approach to the problem of religion, ethnicity and women in this region will facilitate the solution.


There is no big obstacle for the region to realize its own (i.e. not a copy of the West’s) Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment, by addressing it with a mental revolution. If today’s sovereigns are involved in all kinds of cooperation, manipulation and populism in order to continue their existence with the support they receive from external powers, then why should the peoples and communities of the countries mentioned above not establish a common resistance front. The example of the struggle and social revolution experienced in Northeastern Syria and Rojava-Kurdistan in recent years with the participation of all ethnic and religious groups in the region can be a precedent in this regard. It is not at all difficult to take root issues and engage in common organization and struggle by highlighting our common sides and gathering on confederal platforms. It is quite possible to create heterogeneous associations by reflecting the geo-culture of the region in its geopolitics. The important thing is to do this in a democratic style, with a new social science and seeing our differences as wealth. It is now inevitable to be in a collective struggle against their disaggregating and hostile policies. Taking the struggle from the root it will be anti-capitalist, anti-Modernist and anti-monopolist, and will pave the way for permanent solutions and alternatives and create a synergy in resistance.


Adem Uzun




*(Orientalism: the handling and approach of the East with a Western mentality. The theory of alienating and self-embarrassing the East. In this logic, the West becomes ‘Career’ while the East becomes ‘Object’ and the West becomes ‘We’ while the East becomes ‘Others’. Even the West ‘Forward’ East is set to be ‘Back’. As a result, the West’s intervention in the East was legitimate and the ground for handling it as it should be)


** (Modernity is the social lifestyle of an era. Material, Spiritual and cultural are all the technical, science, art, politics and fashion that make a mark on the era. It is the lifestyle of the age that is passed through it. we see it developing)


***(It is in the form of a bridge connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It is on the western part of the Sinai Peninsula on the Egyptian territory. The channel opened by the UK connects Europe to Asia. This is the period when the industrial revolution was founded on the imperial ambitions of the West. It is the expansion of geographical domination to supply raw materials and export manufactured goods. With this policy, they created new occupation areas, new colonial areas and new expansion areas while creating cheap labor and markets.)


****(Sykes-Picot May 1916 agreement; secret agreement between the British and the French for the division of the Ottoman lands described as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ after World War I)