The Status Quo
On 11th September 2001, the world watched in shock and horror as the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City were reduced to rubble by an unspeakable act of terror. In the terrible aftermath of that tragedy, a region largely ignored by the West for a decade has become very real in the Western consciousness and a tangible, perceived threat to the very existence of Western civilization.
Since that day in 2001, terms such as “fundamentalist”, “militant” and “extremist” have developed new and frightening connotations in a political landscape plagued by essentialism and the polarization of political ideology – both in the West and in the Middle East.
Simultaneously, the uneasy balance of the region has been rocked by new conflicts, civil wars, continual social and religious upheaval and the rise of a new brand of fundamentalist politics that has further divided societies, politically and religiously: since the Iraq war, the bitter enmities between Salafist and Sunni Arab nationalist groups have given way to cooperation or even mergers; simultaneously, the ostracism of Iran by the West has led to an intensification and amplification of Iran’s political rhetoric and its increasingly active promotion of Shi’a militant groups beyond its borders. Even in the countries with some sort of democratic tradition, divisions abound and are complicated by new, fringe groups seeking to usurp the precarious equilibrium, impose theocracy or merely disenfranchise large sections of the population based on their religion or sex.
The world economic crisis has further exacerbated these trends, disenfranchising a large proportion of the younger generation and leaving them prey to extremist groups of all persuasions. The consequent uncertainty in the Middle East poses a material threat to the stability of the world, both politically and economically. It jeopardizes the lives and liberty of future generations in the Middle East, substantially limiting their options, reducing their access to educational opportunities and perpetuating the cycle of terror and internecine conflict.
It is these problems that Saving the Next Generation seeks to address.