New Middle East Map
Attention: Several people have left hostile comments on this post, some too hostile to publish. Please understand I am not proposing partitioning up anyone’s proud country, I am simply trying to illustrate that many of the regions borders do not reflect ethnic realities and that this is a source of many of the regions problems. So enough with the hostility, I am proposing debate, not war. Thank you. Doug Stych Berkeley January 16 2008
I came across this curious map in my Internet perambulations. Actually it’s just part of the map, to see the whole New Middle East Map and the original article click on the map. As one can see from the partition of Iraq into four countries, it’s a pretty radical proposal. And it’s not a joke proposal, this is a serious proposal. Though not serious as in anyone is proposing to implement it anytime soon. Serious enough though that people got touchy about it, some Turkish officers at a NATO meeting were not amused.
Ruffled NATO feathers aside, what’s the point of this map? The point is to illustrate how screwed up the borders in the Middle East are. Screwed up as in drawn by foreign colonial powers in decades and centuries past. For the benefit of…foreign colonial powers. The borders in the Middle East make little sense if we want these nations to be modern functioning nation states. In a very real sense, much of the violence and war we have seen in the Middle East now and in past decades has it’s origins in these messed up borders. Other parts of the world, especially Africa also suffers from the same unfortunate colonial legacy.
Iraq for example was cobbled together out of three completely different provinces of the Ottoman Empire. And the Sunnis, the smallest province, were put in charge. That’s how colonialism works, carve up a country and put a minority in charge. The colonial power arms the minority who run country for a price, while the colonial power extracts whatever riches resources it wants. That’s simplified of course, but it is why almost every country in Africa has a minority tribe that rules over a majority tribe. No coincidence, it was deliberate. And an endless source of ethnic strife in the post colonial world.
The map above illustrates how the Middle East would look if the borders were redrawn along more sensible ethnic lines. This in fact is a fairly good representation of where the people in the Middle east actually live. The biggest injustice illustrated is Kurdistan. The Kurds refer to themselves as the “Orphans of the Universe.” There’s about forty million of them, they have had a distinct ethnic identity for thousands of years, yet they have no country to call their own. This is one of the world’s great injustices, and it has been simmering pretty much below the radar in the western media for decades.
More to the point, this map shows how so much of the violence and terrorism in the Middle East (and by extension in Africa) is fueled by ethnic strife. Ethnic strife is far and away the biggest cause of violence and war on this planet, other types of violence including religious violence are a distant second. So if Bush was really serious about ending evil in the world, he would be calling for the maps of the Middle East and Africa to be redrawn.
Sadly I think it’s going to take a world war to accomplish that, or maybe several of them. Could that be Bush’s ultimate plan? He’s off to a good start. Centuries of warfare is how Europe and Asia got their boundaries drawn on more or less sensible lines, it’s a bleak hope but there’s at least hope that the same may one day be true for the rest of the world. Until then the violence will continue.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.
(Use of the above map image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to the subject of the post, and it is an historically important image.)