This past Tuesday, UCF’s Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies Dr. Günes Murat Tezcür visited Rollins to discuss anti-Americanism in the Middle East. He went over the causes and effects of this anti-Western sentiment that has been growing in the Middle East for decades.
While the causes for anti-Americanism vary, Dr. Tezcür believed that the main source of this sentiment has been Western interference in Middle Eastern affairs since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
The dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that arose in the Middle East stemmed from Western governments put into place after the war. Due to the constant intervention and hypocrisy of the Western voice in the Middle East, a great majority of anti-Americanism was practically inevitable.
Additionally, Dr. Tezcür discussed the importance of conspiracy theories in Middle Eastern thought, since many believe that the United States is at fault for more than they own up to. A combination of history and present-day foreign policy contributes to this belief as well. Tensions with the Middle East also heightened greatly after the Bush administration, due to the extremely controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The effects of anti-Americanism, according to Dr. Tezcür, make foreign policy-making a lot more difficult. Much of the conflict occurring in the present-day Middle East is the result of these Western governments imposing their policies throughout the past several decades. While the Obama administration has lightened the tension between the United States and the Middle East, America’s ties to Israel and Saudi Arabia make it difficult for the United States to be a credible and unbiased voice.
Dr. Tezcür proved to be very well-educated on the subject of anti-Americanism and answered student questions with ease and expertise. Students were able to walk away with a clearer understanding of the context of our conflict in the Middle East both in history and in the modern day, and its effects on both sides.