Seminar: The Middle East - Why So Much Conflict?

Ref: C3743050

The Middle East is the most violent region in the modern world with inter-state rivalry, competition for resources, inter-ethnic group hatred, and demands for freedom. Essentially, there are three major struggles which in turn affect each other: a post-Arab Spring clash between democracy and authoritarianism, an ongoing holy war between two Islamic sects, Sunni and Shi'a, and a struggle for regional influence between Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shi'a). The interaction of the above happens across a region now consisting of two dozen separate states with boundaries substantially defined by Britain and France in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Interference from outside continues today although the leading powers now are the United States, Russia, China, and the European Union. The factors to be identified in this session affect each Middle Eastern country differently according to the particular national 'mix' of local circumstances in each case.

Additional information about this course

This course is not supported by The Education and Skills Funding agency and does not have a fee waiver but concessions may be available. Contact the branch for further details.

Course aim

This session aims to identify the principal factors contributing to conflict in the Middle East- a region with only 5% of the world's population nowadays but nearly half of all conflict between states, communities and groups.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • Anyone with a concern to understand the world we live in will be able to build on their knowledge and understanding of the modern Middle East.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify some of the main factors in the current range of conflict in the Middle East.
  • Understand that news about the Middle East is often reduced to identification of 'goodies' and 'baddie's.
  • Realization that 'Let them sort themselves out!' is not a rational attitude.
  • Realize the importance of use of language: one person's 'terrorist' is probably another's 'freedom-fighter'.
  • Get a flavour of the relevance of the Middle East past to an understanding of the 'western world'.

How will I be taught?

  • This will be a single session of lecture plus Q & A discussion of points raised.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • As a single session event the tutor will gauge feedback from question and reactions within the discussion after the more formal pesentation.

What else do I need to know?

  • The main need is a willingness to question 'facts' and to understand reality in its own terms. No need to bring other than writing materials,etc.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • An interest in what is happening in the Middle East is a good start- built perhaps on news from TV, radio, and the press. A rough 'mental map' of the Middle East would be a helpful bonus but will develop during the session.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Ideally one would have a sharpened awareness of the complexity of conflict in the Middle East today and an interest in following future developments more effectively.

Download full course information sheet

Seminar: The Middle East - Why So Much Conflict?


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  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
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