Trouble in the Middle East

1 October 2001

I often claim that the politics and economics of Zambia shed light on most of the problems of the world. Recent events – that it to say, the events following our last meeting on 10th September – are no exception, and I will use this contact letter to explain.

Leaving aside the problem of Israel, the influence of oil, and the beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists (admittedly rather big problems to leave aside), the main cause of trouble in the Middle East is the same as the main cause of trouble in Zambia: population pressure. I will put on the back of this contact letter the population statistics for the Middle East and nearby countries: they are dramatic and world changing.

Who is to blame?

Christians and Muslims are both pretty good at shifting the blame from themselves onto others; but, at fanning the flames of discontent, once they have chosen the wrong people to blame, Islamic fundamentalists are in an utterly different league. When populations have doubled again, I doubt if peaceful, reasonable Muslims will be able to contain them. Even Europe may find it hard to cope.

Once again leaving aside the problem of Israel, almost the only blame the secular peoples of Europe and the USA should bear for the frustration and poverty in the Islamic countries of the Middle East is that they provided the knowledge which caused the dramatic fall in death rates right across the Middle East and beyond, without pointing out that death control without birth control must end in poverty and trouble.

If Islamic leaders had warned the populace about this certainty, and the warning had been heeded, these countries would now have been prosperous and, just possibly, a little more peaceful.

Gerry Danaher