81 IRAQNOTONLYOIL – I ROTARY- Pag. 24-27 - 10-20 The speech of the PDG Piero Marcenaro on the n.5 of "Rotary", May 20, was an in- centive for me to deepen the subject and express my thoughts on a situation that does not concern only and exclusively oil. The armed intervention in Iraq has deep and remote roots that I could trace back more than a century ago and concerns the situation of the Middle Eastern Arab wor- ld in general. In particular, I refer to some events that have profoundly affected the feelings of the Arab peoples towards the West, the U.S.A. in particular, propitiators of armed intervention in Iraq. Religious factor in Arab countries The temperament and tradition of the populations living in the southern part of the Mediterranean area make them particularly sensitive to religious invol- vement. We can better understand such an attitude if we take into consideration the fact that the whole society is impre- gnated with religious characters. It is enough to think that it is precisely from the Koran that every Arab State with a Muslim majority draws the laws gover- ning the coexistence between citizens. Islam, both as a state and as a religion, contains an immutable social project, as the Koran has laid the foundations for civil society for people of all times and places. All Muslims are part of the same Umma community. Despite national borders, the concept of the Umma predominates in Muslim philosophy. From this one under- stands that the religious factor cannot be overlooked in addressing the problems of the Middle East. Movements and parties constituted on an Islamic religious basis have in common an anti-Western vision and intend to change society in such a way as to reconstitute, rightly or wrongly, a situation existing in past times where life was created according to the true values of Islam. They believe they have a model of civilization to offer, and they want to replace ours. The fundamentalist current, however, aims to take possession of the world and to expand beyond national bor- ders with a spirit of conquest that at times does not exclude violence. Poverty and ignorance have favoured the extension of religious extremist culture (not to be confused with terrorism). In the last forty years there has been a very strong demo- graphic growth in Muslim society, which has led to a doubling of the population. And this has happened in geographical areas which, with the exception of a small privileged minority, are characterized by a very low economic level compared to that of the West, which results into waves of migration towards Europe. Population growth and economic backwardness are the two main reasons for the migration to the West, which has become, particularly in recent years also due to its geographi- cal proximity. Europe has become a pole of great attraction for many emigrants from Arab countries. We see then that religious extremism, combined with eco- nomic and cultural underdevelopment, manages to include population across the social classes, who are disappointed by the lack of economic development and social reforms always promised (and ne- ver implemented) by the so-called socia- list governments. Islam is therefore per- ceived as an opportunity for redemption and fundamentalism exploits the igno- rance of these social strata regarding its