A new issue of the journal Civil Wars focuses on religion and conflict in the Middle East. It is refreshing to see analysts focusing seriously on the religious dimensions of conflict in that region.
Popular journalists sometimes present Middle East conflict as a simple battle between Judeo-Christian and Muslim forces, following Samuel Huntington’s problematic “Clash of Civilizations” model. But, many scholars and policy analysts tend to exclude religion, instead focusing on economic factors, political issues, and natural resources (i.e., oil) as motivators of conflict in the Middle East.
Jonathan Fox’s Introduction of the current issue of Civil Wars presents the subject:
“The role of religion in armed conflict and discrimination in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is receiving increased attention as the focus of the region’s conflicts shifts from nationalism and ethnicity to religion. All of the contributions to this section seek to build knowledge and theories to understand how religion contributes to conflict and discrimination, focusing on the MENA, the world region where religious conflict and discrimination are most prominent. The three articles in this special section of Civil Wars address these changes, each looking at them from a unique perspective including both comparative and quantitative methodology.”
See the Introduction to the issue: Civil Wars 15: 4 (2013).