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Europe’s Middle East Mission

With complex wars threatening to bring about the collapse of sovereign states like Syria and Iraq, and the Israel-Palestine conflict seemingly as far from resolution as ever, it is easier to ask what Europe should avoid than what it should do to help bring peace to the Middle East. The short answer is that it should not take sides.

LONDON – America’s gradual withdrawal from the Middle East puts increasing pressure on Europe to help foster peace in the region. With complex and heated wars threatening to bring about the collapse of states like Syria and Iraq, and the long-simmering conflict between Israel and Palestine seemingly as far from resolution as ever, it is almost easier to ask what Europe should avoid than what it should do.

The starting point must be a simple, fundamental principle: Europe should not take sides. Allowing preconceptions or emotional reactions to overshadow facts could make the situation much more dangerous.

Consider sectarian struggle between Sunni and Shia Muslims – now the prime mover of events in the Middle East. Fueled by religious rhetoric and a bloody history, the conflict engenders a degree of passion and irrationality that is difficult to moderate. As has been said: “Where the fires of faith are burning, the goddess of reason tiptoes silently out of the room.”

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