Terrorism has been a major source of modern era complexities in the Middle East. In the 90s Jihad metamorphosed into terrorism. There was a rise in Islamic radicalism making terrorism a form of political power. There was an increase in politically driven suicide bombing. Western imperialists stopped influencing the region as a block and targeted specific countries. Oil enabled the region to ward off western influences and any challenges the west fronted. Terrorism became the solution to the challenges posed by the west. Terrorism became pronounced in the mid and late 90s with the rise to prominence of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization that was then headed by the late Osama bin Laden. In 1998, the organisation attacked American targets in East Africa, before spearheading the world’s worst terrorist attack in US on September 2001. United States of America responded by waging war on terror, targeting Iraq and Afghanistan. United States invasion of Iraq created tension among Middle East countries as majority of the nations opposed the invasion, while others such as Saudi Arabia supported US activities in Iraq.
The first decade of the 21st century witnessed religion falling down the pecking order as the basis of jihad and terrorism, though it continued to influence other political motives. The region became increasingly fragmented as each nation was able to stand on its own buoyed by the economic impact of oil production and sales. Despite this fragmentation, western influence was unable to creep back into Middle East. Each Middle East nation stood on its own against other Middle East nations and against the west. Politics revolving the alleged nuclear enrichment programs have also contributed to modern era complexities in the Middle East. Iran is one of the countries in the Middle East that is feared to be pursuing a terrorist agenda through its nuclear missile program. Though Iran has denied that it does not poses nuclear weapons. United States insists that Iran is illegally pursuing a nuclear agenda. As a result, United States has imposed economic sanctions on Iran. The sanctions affect Iranian companies especially those linked with terrorism or nuclear proliferation. These sanctions are supposed to supplement the efforts of the United Nations Security Council which had imposed some limited sanctions on Iran because of its stance on terrorism. The United Nations Security Council had frozen assets belonging to extremist Iranian firms and issued travel bans on extremist individuals who are the main architects of the Iranian proliferation program. These sanctions have dealt the economy of the country a big blow because it has been squeezed to the edge to Isolation. Prior to the imposition of these sanctions, Iran was the leading economy in the Middle East. At the moment, these sanctions have cost Iran more than $500 billion, taking a heavy toll on the economy. The fall of Iran as an economic giant has affected the economies of its main trade partners in the Middle East, especially because most of the companies that were affected by the sanctions had spread their wings all over Middle East.
In 2010, Middle East was hit by political unrests which originated in Tunisia. The revolutionary unrests that managed to topple regimes in North Africa quickly spread to Middle East. Several Middle East countries such as Yemen, Syria, Libya, Oman, Iraq, Bahrain, Oman and Jordan have been hit by a series of unrests. One of the most devastating conflicts originating from the revolutionary unrests that have been christened “Arab Spring” has happened in Syria where more than one hundred thousand people have been murdered by Bashar al Assad regime. The Syria question is now emerging to be the factor contributing to complexities in the Middle East.