What is the Middle East? Or is West Asia the politically correct term? Regardless of what one decides to call the region, it is often classified as the westernmost sub-region of Asia, ranging from Turkey from the West up until Iran in the East. Other than a mere 3% of Turkey being geographically situated in Europe, the entire land is a part of Asia, so why is it the case that it is only ever referred to as the Middle East?
Where did the term originate from? The term “Middle East” became widely used in the 19th century by officers in British-colonized India with the reasoning being it was just about the midpoint between Europe and the East, which was the area containing most of Europe’s illegitimate wealth. Because of this very reason, it is extremely insensitive and further pushes the colonialist and imperialist agenda to keep referring to such a heterogeneous region by its importance to the West.
But the term can’t possibly just be a leftover from the colonial feast. The main motive that the West had for so deeply instilling certain phrases into global writings was to further spread their propaganda psychologically; it was so that even after they had physically left the regions, they still ruled over the inhabitants’ prosperity, culture, progression, and most importantly, their minds. These acts can be termed as ‘soft power’, a phrase coined by Joseph Nye, assistant secretary of defense during Clinton’s administration. However, this apparent soft power can be seen in a state of decline in recent years, an example being Nikki Haley’s utter failure in the UNSC in which the US presented a draft resolution to condemn Hamas and received only one vote in favor, which was their own.
It’s no rocket science that it is only once we decentralize the terms instilled into geopolitical literature by the Western world can the rest of the world begin to construct its own identity; for example, the formation of an Islamic identity in geopolitics can create a new center in an ideal multicenter geographical system. This goes hand in hand with the ultimate goal of the Islamic Republic: a new Islamic civilization.
Imam Khamenei addressed the issue in 2012:
“The interpretation of the Far East, the Near East, the Middle East is not correct. Where from? From Europe. Near what? Europe. That is, the center of the world is Europe. Wherever it is far from Europe, it is called the Far East. The closer it is, the closer the East is; wherever it is in the middle, it is the Middle East! This is the definition given by the Europeans themselves. No, we do not accept this. Asia is a continent; it has east, it has west, it has middle. We are in West Asia. So our region is called the region of West Asia, not the region of the Middle East.”
So, is Turkey in the Middle East? Iran? Iraq? Palestine?
No, there is no Middle East.
They are in West Asia.
Featured image via PickPik.