Throughout crucial role in implementing the forms

Throughout history, the
Middle Eastern region has been known to be backwards as compared to the Western
World. Orientalism is the reform of this mentality. Orientalism is the
distinction between the West and the East. In addition, Orientalism is the
Western style of the reconstructing and the redeveloping of the Eastern region.
This is usually done by Western involvement in the Middle East. Even though the
recent Arab Uprisings that took place  in the Middle East were seen as a
symbol to democratize the region, unfortunately, the recent Arab Spring proved
to the world that the Middle East upheld the form of orientalism. Specifically,
the form that the East will always need the West and that the West will always
view the East as weak and vulnerable. In addition, the media plays a crucial
role in implementing the forms of Orientalism that we know of today. For
example, many media forms broadcast certain news of the Middle East in a
negative manner to reiterate this notion that the world has. That is the notion
that the East is in a way backwards and barbaric.   
            The Editors of Encyclopedia
Britannica stated that the concept of Orientalism was founded by a Palestinian
American scholar and a political activist who had a specific interest
literature in social and cultural politics. His name was Edward W. Said. Edward
W. Said’s Orientalism is based on the concept of the way the West views the
East. Edward W. Said specifically describes the concept of orientalism in his
book by stating, “the basic distinction between East and West as the starting
point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political
accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, ‘mind,’ destiny and so
on.” Furthermore, Edward W. Said explains that, “Orientalism provided a
rationalization for European colonialism based on a self-serving history in
which “the West” constructed “the East” as extremely different and inferior, and
therefore in need of Western intervention or “rescue””. In other words,
Orientalism displays the fragmented need that the East supposedly has for the
West. It was a way for the West to solidify their reasoning for redeveloping
and constantly interfering in the East. In addition, it is also a way for the
West to implement a more modern way to live and govern in the Middle East. Even
though it was not necessarily successful or admired by the people in the MENA
region it was essential for the West because of their false notions of the
East’s culture and political society.
            Historically, the Middle East
has always been viewed as a backwards and uncivilized nations. Even though
there are many reasons why the West views the East the way they do, many things
have been seen as myths or stereotypes of the Middle East. For instance, the
recent Arab Uprisings that have occurred over the last decade have shown the
world that the Middle East is capable of change and standing up against
authoritarian regimes. However, many of these uprisings were not as successful
as hoped. Some have fallen into civil war, like Syria. While others had a
complete change in regime like Egypt and Tunisia. Part of why the Middle East
has constant dilemmas and struggles in their political and social world is
because of the world’s views of them. Specifically, if someone constantly
refers to an individual as a failure, this individual will start to believe it
and even act on it. With this being said, the Western world’s constant
interference in the Middle East is what has the Middle East on edge and
incapable of democratization and social change.
            The Arab Spring that occurred
in 2010- 2011 has shown the world the lengths that the Middle East could go to
for change and democratization. It also points out the the Middle East is not
just prone to its own culture and political economy rather they are open to new
opportunities and new ways of life. The Arab uprisings began in
Tunisia when a fruit vendor set himself on fire in protest in front of a government building. This act sparked
protests across the country calling upon President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and
his regime to step down. Fortunately, the president stepped down from office a
month after the protests erupted (NPR Staff).

Similarly, in Egypt
protests, demonstrations organized by youth
groups on various social media took hold in the capital and in cities around
the country. Protesters called for Hosni Mubarak to step down immediately,
leading the country into the route to democratize. Since the protests were
strong in language and in numbers, the Mubarak regime fought back with weapons
and military tactics.  Even though Mubarak attempted to calm down the
protesters with the idea of him stepping down at the end of his term and naming
Omar Suleiman (his VP at the time) the new president, it did very little to
calm the unrest that was present within Egyptians at the time.
 Fortunately, after almost three weeks of mass protests in Egypt, Mubarak
stepped down as president, leaving the Egyptian military in control of the
country (Al Jazeera and Agencies). As you can see, both Egypt and Tunisia
protested successfully and were on the way to renew their nations after being
under authoritarian regimes for so long.

Despite
the fact that the Middle East progressed to democratize, the West found ways to
interfere with their revolutions. For example, Syria’s uprising was one of the
ones that turned into a traumatic situation because the country broke out in a
civil war and civilians were forced to flee to other countries. The Syrian
government was backed with Russian forces and aid. In the article, Putin’s
Power Play in Syria: How to Respond to Russia’s Intervention, Angela Stent
states, “… Russia began conducting airstrikes in Syria ostensibly to combat
terrorist groups. The strikes constitute Russia’s biggest intervention in the
Middle East in decades. It anticipated military foray into Syria has
transformed the civil war there into a proxy U.S.- Russia conflict and has
raised the stakes in the ongoing standoff between Moscow and Washington.”
Furthermore, not only is Russia’s involvement in the Syrian crisis involved the
entire Western world, it also added to the tensions and hate between the West
and the East. Rather than leaving the Syrians to deal with their president and
force out the authoritarian regime of Bashar Al Assad their way, Russia
worsened the condition by aiding this regime and forcing millions to leave
their homes and flee. This is just another example of how the West constantly
intervenes in Middle Eastern affairs and then blames the Middle East for being
uncivilized and backwards. In addition, this is the perfect example that refers
back to Edward W. Said’s Orientalism and his idea that the West constructed the
East as inferior. Thus, the East will always need the West to save them. As was
seen in the Syrian crisis, the Western world’s involvement constructed the need
for Western rescue from the traumatic conditions that Syria is in as of right
now.

On the
other hand of the spectrum, the West discusses the Arab uprisings in multiple
media outlets as an awakening or a final realization that the Arab world is
coming into, after so long. However, many of these Western leaders have allied
themselves with these authoritarian regime leaders only when it had benefited
them and their nation. We also see this when Joseph Massad in Al Jazeera News
points out:

As for the larger Arab context, those who call
what has unfolded in the last year in the Arab World as an Arab
“awakening” are not only ignorant of the history of the last century,
but also deploy Orientalist arguments in their depiction of Arabs as a
quiescent people who put up with dictatorship for decades and are finally
waking up from their torpor. Across the Arab world, Arabs have revolted against
colonial and local tyranny every decade since World War I. It has been the
European colonial powers and their American heir who have stood in their way
every step of the way and allied themselves with local dictators and their
families (and in many cases handpicking such dictators and putting them on the
throne) (134).

With this being said, not only does the West
occasionally get involved because the East needs “rescuing” as Edward W. Said
has stated earlier, but the West is actually the main factor for the many
problems that the Middle East has been facing. Furthermore, Joseph Massad’s
remark is crucial because it points out that despite the fact that the Middle
East has been fighting unjust regimes for many years, it has gone unnoticed
because the West is only interested in what is best for them.

In
addition to Western involvement in the Eastern world, the media has played an
important role in shaping the way the East is viewed. For instance, the way
that the Arab Spring was broadcasted speaks a lot of the way they are portrayed
and seen as. Specifically, there seemed to be a lack of consistent media
coverage regarding various regions in the Middle East. For instance, various
media outlets have covered stories that only convey interests of the American
government. The New York Times, for instance, devoted intense coverage
to unrest in Syria, an enemy of the United States (though such alliances are
never as clear-cut as government officials would have it). If we compare the
coverage of unrest in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, strong American allies, during
the same period, we see that the two countries, which brutalized protest, were
virtually ignored beyond their diplomatic roles in the Arab World.
 Repression in Bahrain was comparable in brutality to that of Syria, yet
Syrian violence against civilians received disproportionate coverage. In other
words, news media only broadcasted negative news that were from nations they
were on bad terms with or nations they had not allied benefit from. Since Saudi
Arabia has always been a beneficial factor to the Western world, Saudi Arabia
lacks any form of negative media coverage.

In
conclusion, media plays a crucial role in implementing the orientalist ideas
within the Western world. Specifically, Orientalism has shaped the relationship
that the Middle East has with the West. Orientalism, as
discussed above, is the distinction between the West and the East. In addition,
Orientalism developed into this idea and notion where the East needs the West
to rescue them from any specific problems they were facing at the time. This
notion became crucial in history because as media presented itself, the world
only saw negative coverage from nations that were unfavorable to the West.
However, when it came to countries that were in good relations with the West,
the media either had little to no coverage or presented them in an honorable
way. Lastly, throughout my paper the discussion of the Arab Spring and what it
signifies only further explained the idea that the East has always been viewed
as uncivilized and barbaric and only now are they standing up against unjust
forms of government.

Despite the fact that
they have been in constant war with regimes that were originally caused by the
Western leaders, the blame always falls on the shoulders of the Eastern
leaders. Afterall, Recep Tayyip Erdogan once said, “The Muslim world and its
subset the countries of the Middle East have been left behind in the marathon
of political, economic and human development. For that, there is a tendency to
blame others as the primary source.” With this
being said, the Middle East and The Western world have a long way to go to be
able to work together for world peace. However, who knows what the future has
in stakes for us.

                                   

                       

 

                                               

 

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