The editorial staff of the Very Middle East Telegram channel talks about how the West occupied the education market in the Middle East, ensuring the loyalty of young Arabs, and discusses whether in the current conditions there is a chance to squeeze Western players in the regional field.
For the Middle East, classical - the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula (Syria in this conversation will have to be taken out of the brackets for now) - one feature is characteristic: a high degree of participation of foreign countries in the educational process. Both at the individual level (teachers in private schools and teachers at universities) and at the institutional level (branches of universities, educational standards and various student exchange programs between universities).
The former colonial powers, as well as the United States, took part in the birth of the modern educational system in the countries of the Middle East. If we talk about higher education, the United States played almost one of the key roles, thanks to an extensive network of missionary organizations and educators who later played an important role in the opening in 1866 of the first US university in the region - the famous American University in Beirut. The founders of the university set out to provide Middle Easterners with access to higher education according to American standards, which, according to their plan, was to be an excellent start in life. Since the founding of the university - and this happened more than 150 years ago - many prominent regional figures have graduated from its walls. The university to this day holds the position of one of the most popular in the region; it is a center of attraction for many students from all over the world who are interested in the Middle East.
European missionaries have played a huge role in the formation of junior and secondary education. Until now, in the Middle East, in the Levant, there are private schools that remain under the auspices of Christian monastic orders. The main foreign languages taught in schools then and now are English and French.
The focus on education has always been made for a reason. In addition to the purely humanitarian function and enlightenment, education is a brilliant tool for shaping the consciousness of the ward, be it a schoolboy or student. Through education, an individual is formed, molded according to certain patterns, loyal to the West. In the future, he is likely to either leave for the West (if he is especially gifted and from a wealthy family), or he will help strengthen his country's ties with the West from within. Usually graduates form the country's elite and the middle class in the region, albeit not very fat.
John Sexton, former president of New York University, in his 2018 essay, Global Network University Reflection, revealing the university's plans to go to the Middle East as part of the idea of building a cosmopolitan world, wrote :
"Cosmopolitan maintains its place, country, ethnicity, religion and culture, and also accepts, respects, studies and adapts to global diversity."
In his opinion and the position of his associates, other heads of American universities who are starting and expanding their expansion to the Middle East, the spread of liberal ideology and liberal approaches in teaching arts and sciences will contribute to the formation of a tolerant world. They believe that Western education can become a guarantor of de-radicalization and de-Islamization of the region. But there is a significant problem here - the cost of training in branches of Western universities makes its availability limited for the majority and, as a result, contributes to the deepening of the cultural stratification of society and a kind of mental split. However, this is smoothed out by various joint programs of local universities with Western partners, the implementation by regional universities of the American and British education systems.
Diya and his wife Rana, residents of Karakosh, Iraq's largest Christian city, did not know each other before the families arranged their marriage. And family life did not work out. Rana was childless, and Diya, according to the Rana brothers, was very tight-fisted. According to them, he was a tyrant who, even after 14 years of marriage, did not allow his 31-year-old wife to have her own mobile phone. He isolated her from friends, family and guarded her jealously. The house he rented was dilapidated and unsuitable for their sister's life.
Karakosh is located in the Nineveh Plain. It is a 3,900 square kilometer stretch of contested land located between Iraq's Kurdish north and its Arab south. Until last year it was a thriving city, the breadbasket of the country, with a population of 50 thousand inhabitants. The city was surrounded by wheat fields, poultry farms and livestock farms, there were many coffee shops, bars, hairdressers, gyms and other attributes of modern life.
But last June ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation - Ed.) took Mosul, which is less than 20 miles to the west. Militants painted Christian homes in a red Arabic “N,” meaning Nusran or Christian, and took over the city's water supply system that feeds much of the Nineveh Plain. Those who managed to escape to Karakosh told gruesome stories of mass executions and beheadings without trial. People in Karakosh feared ISIS would continue to expand the boundaries of its self-proclaimed caliphate. Today it is an area roughly the size of Indiana and stretching from the Turkish border with Syria to the south to the city of Fallujah in Iraq.
A few weeks before the attack on Karakosh, ISIS cut off the water from the city. The wells dried up and people began to leave the city. In July, when ISIS was reportedly supposed to take Karakosh, thousands of people fled from it. But ISIS did not come and most of the people returned to their homes. Diya refused to leave, he was sure that ISIS would not take the city.
A week later, the Kurdish Peshmerga troops left Karakosh, who were instructed by the Iraqi government to defend the city. (“We had no weapons to stop them,” Jabar Yavar, the Peshmerga's general secretary, would later say). The city was left without protection - at one time the Kurds did not allow the inhabitants of the Nineveh plain to arm themselves and several months earlier they collected all the weapons. Tens of thousands of people in several families packed into cars and fled from the city along a narrow highway to Erbil, the relatively safe capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, 50 miles from Karakosh.
The Rana brothers also fled, shoving ten relatives into their Toyota pickup. On the way, they called Diya several times, asking him to protect Rana. “She cannot leave,” Diya replied to the Rana brothers, as one of them later told me, “ISIS will not come. All this is a lie. "
One man got drunk and fell asleep in his backyard, and when he woke up in the morning, ISIS was already taking over the city.
Diya and Rana hid in the basement of their house. ISIS fighters broke into shops, houses and robbed them. Within two weeks, surveying house after house, they destroyed most of the inhabitants who were hiding in their homes. The armed people walked around Karakosh on foot and in cars. They marked the walls of farms and businesses with the words "Property of the Islamic State."
ISIS captured not only Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, but also the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah (during the war in Iraq, 30% of the losses of American troops were in the fighting in these three cities). In Karakosh, as in Mosul, ISIS offered residents a choice: to convert to Islam or pay jizya - a poll tax that is levied on all "People of the Book": Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews.
Nobody came for Diya and Rana. ISIS fighters did not even search their dilapidated house. On the evening of August 21, there was a rumor that ISIS was ready to offer the last residents of Karakosh "exile and deprivation" - people would be expelled from their homes with nothing, but at least they would remain alive. The good-natured local mullah went door to door with this good news. Hoping to save Diya and Rana, the neighbors told him where they were hiding.
Surrounding the coast of Israel with the deserts of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East is filled with some of the most unusual landscapes and cities in the world. From a spectacular natural phenomenon to exquisite historical sites that reflect the heritage and culture of each country, we list 14 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East.
Dead Sea, Israel | © tsaiproject/Flickr
On the border with Jordan, Palestine and Israel, the Dead Sea is actually salt water, known to be one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, and also one of the most stunning. Due to its high salt content, the shores of the Dead Sea are filled with unusually bright salt deposits and mineral formations that contrast perfectly with its soft sands and the sheer calmness of its waters.
Dome of the Rock | © askii/Flickr
Located on Haram al-Sharif in the heart of Jerusalem, The Dome of the Rock is one of the most sacred sites in the world and a stunning example of Islamic architecture. Built in the 7th century, the temple has an octagonal structure, a magnificent golden dome, and stunning tilework inspired by the Byzantine style. Inside the dome is the Stock Stone, a sacred artifact of great importance to the Muslim and Jewish faiths.
Citadel Bath | © David Stanley/Flickr
On an embankment about 30 meters above the rest of the city lies the Erbil Citadel, the ancient center of the Iraqi city of Erbil and the oldest permanently occupied settlement in the world. The houses along the outside of the citadel form a fort-like structure, while the interior is filled with narrow alleys, arches and intricate brickwork. Erbil Fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, recognizing its immense cultural and historical significance.
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