By Sheetal Bhopal
Edited by Namitha Sadanand, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Reading the headlines alone on the international page of any newspaper daily gives me a chill down my spine. The words of great American scholar, Samuel P. Huntington reverberate in my head that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not primarily be ideological or economic; the great divisions among humankind and the dominant source of conflict will be cultural. It makes me admire the sheer clairvoyance of the man long gone whose ideas continue to live. It makes me think deeper about the problem and take a look at the current situation across the globe.
Recently, Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant group besieged the cities of Mosul, Tikrit and Tal Afar in Iraq. Influenced by the Wahabbi movement, it aims to establish a Caliphate in the Sunni majority regions of Iraq and Syria. However, here the reason remained more immediate when a Shia President, Nour-al-Maliki ousted the Sunni Vice-President. Sunnis are a minority in Iraq and this move by the President only aggravated the fears of the minority community who charged Maliki with monopolizing power.
In fact, Syria herself reels under the sectarian conflict between Sunni dominated rebels and minority Alawite religious group, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam from which President Assad comes.
Amidst the chaos in the region, June 30 revolution in Egypt against the Islamist agenda of Mohammed Morsi ended with a coup d’état by General Abdel Fattah-el-Sissi who promised a secular rule to the people.
On the other hand, the newly carved out country of South Sudan broke into a civil war between Dinka and Nuer ethnicities.
The Somali Civil War erupted way back in 1991 as various clan based military heads competed for control after the collapse of Barre’s regime.
The #BringBackOurGirls campaign hit across the world when Boko Haram (which means western education is forbidden) abducted more than 250 schoolgirls and threatened to convert them to Islam in Nigeria. Founded in 2002 by a Muslim cleric, it aimed to overthrow the government and set up an Islamic Caliphate in its place.
Better known as the world’s most intractable conflict, the Palestine-Israel duel is one of the oldest in Middle East between the Zionist and the Arab population.
The sectarian violence is one of the major reasons behind war in North-West Pakistan. Same holds for the internal conflict in Myanmar where the Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Rakhine and Shan ethnic groups are in a fight against the Buddhist state.
The Ugyurs in Xingjiang province of People’s Republic of China demand separatism on the grounds of belonging to East Turkestan, under Chinese occupation since 1949.
Examples are galore. But the fundamental question remains – What causes conflict? On asking a friend, she replied that two situations cause conflict. One, when someone wants to take away what belongs to you. Two, when you want to take control of something that belongs to you taken away by someone. The lucid answer hit me sharp. But politics is no easy game and definitely with no plain answers.
It made me think only more about what the American scholar said that how the clash of civilizations (wherein he believes civilization to be a cultural entity) will dominate global politics in the post Cold War era. “The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
I wondered more about the battling cultures and if Huntington ever thought about the price at which it will take place. The newspaper gave me account of the people killed, women raped, children rendered homeless – a mutilated and bleeding humanity.
And as I picked up the paper I found a Buddhist in Sri Lanka killing a Muslim. Huntington’s words echoed in my ears. I could only wish the people to rise above social cleavages and join hands in unison to serve the ailing humanity!
Sheetal is a Political Science(H ) student in her third year of graduation. An avid reader and photographer, she aims to join active politics. She has been organising events at her college level through discussion forums like The Symposium Society, known in the University for its Mock Indian Parliament simulations. She is also actively engaged in the National Service Scheme (NSS) of her college where she reads out to blind students. “Elevation of humanity through the smallest efforts” is what guides her day to day actions.