IntroductionAside from the giant oil reserves of the world, incessant conflicts are undoubtedly thetheme that attracts the most attention about the Middle East. Using comparative researchmethods, we analyze religious conflicts in the Middle East and the influences of the U.S. on thissituation. The topic is chosen based on two reasons. First, the Middle East is where civilizationsare intertwined, making it the homeland of major religions in the world. This leads to a diversityof religious traditions, along with territorial conflicts and power disputes, among the people andcountries there. Second, as the role of a big country, the U.S. should deal with these conflictssince they have been seeking out security and economic interests from the Middle East. Aboutthe outline, firstly, we explore the origins, and patterns of conflicts both between and withindifferent religious traditions. Next, we address the impact of the U.S. on religious conflicts in theMiddle East regarding Sunni - Shia and Palestinian - Israeli tensions.An introduction to religions in the Middle EastThe crucial role that religious beliefs occupy in Middle Eastern society and culture isimpossible to be denied. Three of the world’s greatest religions, including Judaism, Christianity,and Islam, as well as other minor ones that still exist today, emerged from this area. This sectionwill briefly provide some information about these three most significant monotheistic faiths.Judaism is the name of the religion followed by people belonging to the tribe of Judah,one of the twelve sons of Jacob, each of whom later became a whole tribe. The word Judahmeans praise; Judaism therefore literally means the people of praise. They include descendants1
of Babylonian Jews and Mountain Jews from many modern Middle Eastern countries. Thesedays, in the Middle East, Judaism is mainly practiced in Israel (Wenisch, 2014).Christianity is derived from Chris, which is another name of Chris, the primary figure ofthe religion. Christianity in the Middle East is identified by its various beliefs and traditions, incomparison with other parts of the world. Although once being one of the major religions untilmid to late 7thcentury AD, there is now a decline in the number of Middle Eastern Christians insome regions because of some reasons such as extensive emigration and religious persecution.Nevertheless, with around 1,700 million followers around the world, Christianity is still the mostpopular religion (Wenisch, 2014).Islam is derived from the Arabic root silm, meaning to surrender or to give up. This innersurrender can be realized by the submission of oneself’s will to the will of God. Islam is the mostwidely occupied religion in the Middle East with about 20% of the world’s Muslims live in theMiddle East. Many people may mistakenly think that Prophet Muhammad is the founder ofIslam, but he was only a person commissioned by God to teach (Wenisch, 2014).