HUFFINGTON POST
10/02/2014 02:56 pm ET

Pulitzer Prize Winner Lawrence Wright: Middle East Terrorist Groups Are ‘Proxy Armies'

With gruesome videos from the Islamic State and reports of new al-Qaeda cells popping up in Syria and areas in South Asia, there has been no shortage of grim news coming out of the Middle East in recent weeks.

In a HuffPost Live conversation about his latest book, “Thirteen Days In September,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright weighed in on the different crises currently troubling the region.

Wright said that many of the ongoing conflicts cut across state lines. He said that while many of the groups involved are traditionally referred to as non-state actors, they still have some economic and political ties to nation-states. According to Wright, such segmented jihadist groups represent “proxy armies” in a larger conflict within Islam.

“If you look at all those terrorist groups -- I’m talking going back, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, ISIS -- they’re all proxy armies in an Islamic civil war,” he said. “Essentially, they are the function of states [that] are behind them, have funded them, have seeded them. And until we resolve this conflict that is happening within Islam, you’re always going to see these kinds of militant groups.”

Wright also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the topic of his book. The author, who chronicles in "Thirteen Days In September" the groundbreaking 1978 Camp David Accords brokered between the Egyptian, Israeli and American heads of state, explained why a peace agreement would be so difficult to reach for both parties.

“The drift of the conversation has gotten so extreme, and I think people have forgotten their own history. I mean, 25 years ago, you could drive from Gaza to Golan Heights without any roadblocks at all,” he said. “Palestinians went freely into israel. Israelis would go to Gaza for the seafood. ... Now, it’s completely stopped.”

The separation has allowed the two groups to live side-by-side without interacting with each other, which Wright said was a recipe for disaster.

“The Israelis and the Palestinians don’t know each other. They live right there, but they’ve become strangers,” he said. “And it makes it much more difficult to make peace with a person you really don't know, and that’s an obstacle in itself.”

Watch the full HuffPost Live interview above to learn more about the state of "flux" in the Middle East.

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