FAQ: Causes of Terrorism

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What is the main cause of violence in the Middle East?

Violence has a long and rich history within the Middle East. Although extremist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, argue this violence is associated with re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate, this is far too simple a response. Other factors of key importance, such as cultural changes introduced by globalization, the political volatility of the region, and weakened economic growth, contribute to violence in the region. These issues are only further exacerbated by feuds, sometimes century-old, between the region’s rival ethnic groups.

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Who is at fault for the violence in the Middle East? Is this violence caused by Western imperialism?

Violent extremism in the Middle East is a complex phenomenon. While the region’s post-colonial history has been dominated by violence, imperialism is not the root cause. The violence is driven by a wide array of factors, including economic, political, ethnic, and social. Blaming one entity is not appropriate because political actions and decision-making happen in an ever-changing environment. There will always be individuals who are unhappy or dissatisfied with the way the current government acts or their policies, choosing violence to attempt to right their perceived wrongs.