And to what extent do you believe that these cultural differences are linked to prosperity? I mean, the concept of the nation-state has been the backbone of global culture since the 17th century (the idea introduced in the Treaty of Westphalia in 16-something-or-other), and yet, in recent decades, this culture, this idea has been slowly - but surely - fading in the name of greater prosperities.
Other cultures are also fading in the Western World due to greater prosperity - look at the relative diminishing importance of the monarchies in Europe. And, on other levels, the changes in architecture. Equal rights, democracy, and personal freedoms also seem to become of far greater importance as wealth increases.
When I look at the Middle-East, I see that the views of the people are very similar to the views of Europe centuries ago. Borders are still issues worth going to war over, frequent and frivolous use of capital punishment, in-equal rights between ethnicities and genders, strong monarchies and/or dictatorships.
What the Middle-East really needs is a democratic revolution, and it is happening, though maybe only on a small scale for the moment - Iraq and Afghanistan are being pushed forward by the hands of the West, but we are starting to see grass-roots movement for democracy in countries like Iran - remember those protests last year? What Europe showed is that no matter how hard the Government may try, those protests will forever continue until democracy prevails. The Government can merely delay the revolution, it cannot deny it.
When democracy does finally stretch itself across the Middle-East, development will be rapid - secularism will happen over time, though it may not be immediate - and other Western cultural ideas will start to prop up alongside it - equal rights, reduction of capital punishment, etc.
By this point, the Middle-East will probably see capitalism slowly enter throughout - stronger property rights and contract laws - favoured by democratic Governments - will see small domestic businesses popping up and prospering, as well as huge levels of foreign investment.
At this point, I honestly believe that it will only be a couple of decades before the Middle East becomes a dustier version of Europe.
Basically, what I'm getting at is that the huge, gaping differences in culture are strongly linked to the huge, gaping differences in wealth.
Iran has actually been one of the more forward countries, given that they adopted a Constitution way back in 1906 (with quiet nudging from Britain and Russia, both of whom wanted an Iran neutral from one another, and hoped democracy would make that easier).
Iran went to radical Islam primarily as a reaction to Western interference, since Western influence helped bring democracy, Western influence took it away more directly in 1953 with a CIA-supported coup against the Democratic government because it was leaning a little too far to the left for comfort, so they let the pro-Western shah take total control, which in turn laid the seeds for the Islamic Revolution
Larger forces often influence the political growth of nations, and most of the regimes currently existing in the Middle East have their roots from global influence. Iraq's American-funded democracy, the British-approved Sheikhs of the gulf-coast and Jordan, the post-cold-war regime in Yemen, the UN-installed Israelis, and the reactionary Syrians and Iranians. Only Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Lebanon's current government systems were defined by either domestic or at least local concerns
Monster Hunter: pissing me off since 2010.