A conflict multiplier

The mass media often play with our senses, spreading headlines about conflicts all over the world. Playing with fear and anxiety, curiosity and envy. Conflicts are depicted like a daily show, with weapons and blood, with casualties and pain. All conflicts are depicted in a very simple way, as if we were children, as if we were asked not to think too much about it. As if we were forced to remain well seated, in a very passive way. However the truth around all kinds of conflicts is way more complex than it seems at first glance. All it takes us is to stay away from our manichean culture. Then we may be able to distinguish several factors that fuel a conflict:

national policies (government change, new laws, etc.) leading to instability
international relations (disagreements and tensions with neighbouring countries, pressure from other remote countries having strategic interests in the region)
economic issues raising tensions in the country
religious or ethnic tensions religieuses, increasing intolerance (with fanatic and groups…)

Look at the Middle East and Africa. First, in Syria, a conflict hard to avoid nowadays in the news, but hard to clearly identify. Is this a new war of religion, a political chaos, a humanitarian tragedy? A terrorist expansion? Or do we face another epic consequence of the western world interference (further to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.)? Not to forget the divergence between Iran and Gulf countries regarding Syria. And shadow financing of the conflict.

Second, comes the case of Nigeria. A famous country in terms of demography (meaning a huge potential market) and oil reserves (meaning an attractive investment for the big oil companies). That was just before the terror attacks of Boko Haram, in the North of Nigeria. A region that faced severe draughts and food production issues. Terrorisme there: how could the country let this happen? Well, we should ask the same question regarding Syria, whose current president was officially invited four times in France, not so long ago? Did Bashar and Nicolas only talk about wine, cool watches and the weather?

In the nigerian and in the syrian cases, a conflict multuiplier popped up, unexepectedly. Maybe the South of Nigeria was priviledged, because of oil, compared to the less wealthy North, that now looks abandoned. The Pentagon, in Washington D.C., gave a new role to climate change. It’s believed to play the role of a conflict multiplier. In other words, prolonged draughts and desertification mechanically increase social and economic issues! This is a new way to look at massive population flows in Syria, from the countryside to the urban areas. An estimated two to three million people! Followed by severe issues regarding resources, joblessness and poverty. In such a context, it’s easy to understand that there won’t be any quick fix to solve this tragedy.

Beyond the climate issue, we may wonder about the role of foreign companies, and the way they « manage » local resources (food, water, energy…) Kaveri Marathe, who works at the consultancy group Xyntheo, reminds us that no one can solely blame a government, like an easy scapegoat, without cheking the role played by the private sector locally involved.

Finally, it’s hard to spot the conflict multiplier in an era of short-term information, short-term memory and lack of critical sense! We seem to be dealing with a series of emergencies and emotions. The less time we invest in going through things in a calm but resolute way, the more we tend to stick to easy versions, superficial understanding of the world we’re living in. Information has been transformed into a mass market consumable. But the root causes of the global issues are stubborn and won’t fade away!

Laurent

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