Crises in the region have been proliferating and competing with one another since 2011, so much so that global media attention is changing on a weekly basis. While one crisis jumps to the forefront of the news, another retreats a little—though this does not necessarily mean that things in that spot of the world have calmed down or become stable. The issue seems to be that the world cannot focus its attention on more than one crisis at a time.
At the forefront of world media attention now, and after some absence, is the conflict in Gaza, where a third war has erupted between Israel and Hamas. Diplomatic efforts to arrange a ceasefire agreement are foundering. But at the same time, the region is witnessing a third and more dangerous crisis, one that has been simmering under the surface for some time now. This crisis has now reached a dangerous climax, prompting world powers to evacuate their diplomats and nationals. The crisis in Libya can be described as having all the trappings of the collapse of a state, with armed militias now having the upper hand. The Libyan government is so helpless that the prime minister was banned from traveling by militias currently locked in pointless violence in Tripoli as ordinary citizens pay the price.
The situation in Mosul and Anbar province provides another model of the disintegration of a country that no longer has control over large parts of its territory. This happened as a result of years of policies which helped strengthen sectarianism and social division to the extent that the conviction that the future of Iraq lies in disintegration and partition has become almost taken for granted. Although everybody knows that the price will be heavy, no one has a solution. All that can be done is to try to help, as France has done in offering to grant asylum to the displaced Christians of Mosul.
The Syrian crisis is no longer the center of attention, though the fighting and bloodshed there have never ceased. On the contrary, the situation there may be more violent than ever. Signs of partition are showing on the surface as large swaths of territory continue to slip out of the state’s control. The Syrian crisis remains the most dangerous in the region, particularly with the continued threats it poses to regional security and the possibility of creating a climate conducive to extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In fact, neither the agendas nor the literature of such groups have a space for slogans of freedom and justice, the real demands that sparked the Syrian uprising before it turned into an armed conflict.