The al-Qaeda terrorist attacks upon the United States on September 11, 2001, in the Western countries commonly acknowledged to be the turning-point in relations with the Islamic world, were merely a reflection of the growing from several decades Muslims' dislike for the West of which initially the most important reason was the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, unsolved from 1948. However, the actual situation was also influenced by: the consequences of the Yom Kipur War in 1973, which proved the dependence of the West, especially Europe, on the Middle Eastern petroleum supplies; the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the rising of the first Islamic republic which was accompanied by gradual rejection of Western influence and values adopted during the colonial period; and finally the Mujahedeen victory during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1978-1989. The success in Afghanistan made many Muslims believe that elimination of the Western influence also from the other Middle Eastern countries is possible. In 1990s the Islamic radicals, including al-Qaeda leaders, succeeded in convincing some Muslims that the West, together with cooperating local Arab leaders, are responsible for the deepening civilizational backwardness of the region. Several awkward statements of Western politicians, including the one of George Bush initially describing the operation of elimination of the Saddam Hussein's regime from Iraq in 2003 as a 'crusade', confirmed many Muslims' opinion on the hostile intentions of the West. However, the chances are that the real causes of the deteriorating economic situation of the Islamic world are internal: above all the very high demographic expansion and the persistent poor economic performance. Both the Western and the Arab experts point out that the Middle Eastern Islamic world needs political and economic reorganization to surpass the obstacles obstructing its development. Unfortunately, nothing yet indicates that the American authoritative attempt to introduce Western-style reforms and democracy in the Middle East was successful. The direct effect that problems of the Southern Mediterranean Coast countries have upon the European security (the increasing terrorist threat, illegal immigration, ecological problems) was the ground of decisions taken by the UE leaders in regards of the policy towards this region. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, initiated in 1995 in Barcelona, is a coordination forum for the cooperation between the Northern and Southern countries. Today it is still difficult to predict the future of the Middle East but it seems that in the most part it will depend on the very inhabitants of the region. Due to those new factors that added to the tension after 1948, at the moment nothing indicates that even the probable resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could fully recover peace in the region but it could at least seriously improve the mutual relations of both civilizations.
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