Such a climate of cohabitants with little or no shared national identity being forced together has made it extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible, for effective democratic institutions to take hold as the primary vehicle of government in the Middle East. For these reasons, monarchies or dictatorships arose in many countries, crushing the human rights of minority groups. Iraq today is a microcosm of this difficulty, as the post-Saddam Hussein democratic government continues to sputter.
Essentially, the Middle East is a region where vastly different peoples were forced by the victors of a war sixty years ago to live and build societies together and scramble to beat each other to fill the power void left by the colonial powers' abandonment of the area. Those who lost out on power and influence in the direction of their own political future have understandably become disillusioned with their status, and angry with the great powers of the world - particularly in the West - to whom responsibility for their plight can be directly traced. Ultimately, these disenfranchised groups who lack meaningful economic opportunities have not surprisingly turned to terrorist activities as an effective means to make their voices heard. This is arguably the biggest risk posed by the deprivation of self-determination as an ingredient in the formation of nation-states.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is arguably the central issue fueling the discord that permeates the Middle East. A solution to this seemingly intractable problem would go a long way toward stabilizing the entire region. This conflict represents a poignant rallying point for Muslims and pan-Arab nationalists that will continue to feed violence and unrest until it is resolved. Thus, both Israelis and Palestinians wield a tremendous amount of influence over the state of the region. With the political will and strength of leadership on both sides, these two peoples have the potential to transform the Middle East.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has recently stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root cause of problems facing Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. In order to solve the other problems in the region, according to Blair, ""we should start with Israel-Palestine. That is the core.' If progress can be made there and in Lebanon, Blair said, moderate Arab and Muslim countries could be united to push for peace throughout the region, including Iraq" (Hall, par. 15). The extent to which the problem in Palestine reverberates throughout the region is clear. Blair calls the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ""single biggest issue" in blocking progress toward peace in the Muslim world was not Iraq but Palestine" (par. 18).
Despite international perceptions of Palestinian resistance tactics as being terrorist in nature, Palestinians themselves do not see it that way. As one Palestinian has stated, "the international community must understand that we have rights - Palestine is ours. We are not terrorists, we are not criminals, we don't want to kill, but we are the rightful owners of the land" (Kelbie, 5). To be sure, it is unlikely any country in the world would want to have their